The U.K. government is removing the so-called “traffic light” system that’s currently operating for international travel into England.
From Oct. 4, instead of the existing red, amber and green lists, there will be a single red list and “simplified measures for the rest of the world.”
The government has also updated its guidance to say that from Oct. 4 fully vaccinated travellers will not need a “pre-departure test” when arriving into England from a non-red list country and, from later in October, instead of being required to take a PCR test on the second day after arrival, travellers will be able to take a cheaper (and faster) lateral flow test instead.
Fully vaccinated passengers from non-red list countries will no longer be required to take Day 8 tests or quarantine on arrival but will still be required to fill out passenger locator forms before arriving in England.
Meanwhile, non-fully vaccinated passengers will still be required to take pre-departure tests before arrival in England, complete Day 2 and Day 8 tests after arrival and quarantine for 10 days.
All passengers arriving from red list countries from Oct. 4 at 4 a.m., regardless of vaccination status, will only be allowed into England if they are a British or Irish national or have residence in the U.K. Those passengers permitted to enter from red list countries will be required to take a pre-departure test, book a hotel-based quarantine package and complete a passenger locator form.
However, in addition to the new rules, Shapps announced that from Sept. 22 at 4 a.m. eight countries including Turkey, Pakistan and Maldives will be removed from the “red list,” which requires visitors from those countries to quarantine in mandated hotels for 11 days at vast expense.
“Today’s changes mean a simpler, more straightforward system. One with less testing and lower costs, allowing more people to travel, see loved ones or conduct business around the world while providing a boost for the travel industry,” said Shapps.
“Public health has always been at the heart of our international travel policy and with more than 8 in 10 adults vaccinated in the U.K., we are now able to introduce a proportionate updated structure that reflects the new landscape.”
The streamlined measures have been welcomed by the film and TV production industry.
“Any measures that simplify the regulations around travel abroad (particularly the testing in order to return to the U.K.) are welcomed by indies,” said Max Rumney, deputy CEO of Pact, the U.K. trade body representing indie production companies. “The cost of testing has further exacerbated the COVID safety costs that producers have had to bear in order to make their programmes and films in accordance with Government regulations.”
“Along with forthcoming changes to travel announced by Government today, we are delighted to confirm that the quarantine exemption for film and high-end TV will be re-instated,” said chief executive of the British Film Commission, Adrian Wootton. “This news is immensely welcome and a clear recognition of the importance of the film and high-end TV sector to the UK’s economy, providing UK plc with billions of pounds of investment and supporting thousands of jobs.”
“The British Film Commission has been working closely with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to secure the reinstatement of the quarantine exemption as soon as it was safe to do so,” Wootton continued. “In tandem with our ‘Working Safely During COVID-19 in Film and High-end TV Drama Production’ guidance and productions’ own stringent COVID-19 protocols, this exemption will ensure the UK film and high-end TV industry can safely continue to produce award-winning content for global audiences.”