The United Kingdom on Friday eased travel restrictions for people arriving in the country. The relaxations would help vaccinated people coming to and from England, and could particularly benefit Indians.
Traffic light system scrapped
The UK will scrap the red, green, and amber countries — the traffic-light system — based on Covid-19 risk levels from 4 October. It will only retain the red list that denotes Covid-19 hotspots.
The new two-tiered system could remain in place till the year-end, with further reviews planned early next year.
India, which was placed in the amber list, will benefit from the rules. It will reduce the cost of travellers.
However, India is still missing from the UK’s expanded list of countries whose vaccines it recognises, meaning Indians who had taken the Covishield jab would still require to undergo a Covid-19 tests before departure and upon arrival in the UK.
Visitors from 17 additional countries travelling to the UK from October 4 would no longer require to undergo a pre-departure RT-PCR test after the country recognised their vaccines. These countries include including Malaysia, Japan, Canada, South Korea, Australia, and Singapore.
From October-end, fully vaccinated passengers travelling to the UK from non-red list countries would be able to undertake the lateral flow tests, a cheaper alternative to the current day-two PCR test.
The UK will also ease testing requirements for vaccinated travellers from open countries. While the travellers will still need to undergo a test upon arrival, they can opt for the cheaper lateral flow tests instead of the pricier PCR test from October-end.
UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the changes entailed a simpler and straightforward system.
He added the UK’s international travel policy always had public health at the heart. With the country vaccinating over 44 million people, it can now afford to introduce an updated structure reflecting the new landscape, he said.
The UK also removed Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Pakistan from the red list alongside Turkey, Egypt, Kenya, Oman, and the Maldives.
UK health Secretary Sajid Javid said the country had simplified the travel rules so that those could be easily followed, and opened up tourism.
With global vaccinations accelerating and more people getting protection from the virus, it is right that the country’s rules keep pace, he added.