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Covid Travel: Green List, Amber List & Quarantine Hotels (Updated)

Fully vaccinated passengers returning to England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland from France will no longer need to quarantine after Sunday (8 August).

As one of the most notable changes to the traffic light system for travel, France is moving from amber-plus to amber.

Last month, the country was added to the list due to concerns about the Covid Beta variant, which scientists believe to be much more resistant to vaccines.

In addition, Germany, Austria, and Norway are also among the seven nations being added to the green list for travel.

However, despite speculation, Spain will remain on the amber list, allowing fully vaccinated travellers to enjoy a quarantine-free return.

However, the Department for Transport has now said “arrivals from Spain and all its islands are advised to use a PCR test as their pre-departure test wherever possible” instead of the cheaper lateral flow tests.

But in a series of tweets, Conservative MP Huw Merriman, Chairman of the Commons Transport Select Committee, expressed his frustration over the ‘expensive’ PCR tests, citing it as an ‘unnecessary rip-off’ and a ‘barrier to affordable travel’.

More destinations to have been moved from the red list to the amber list include Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. Following this, Mexico is now among four countries that are considered to be among the highest risk destinations going on to the red list.

Before returning to the UK from an amber list country, you’ll have to take a Covid-19 test at least three days before you fly and complete a passenger locator form. 

Upon arrival, you will be able to quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 10 days – this includes two PCR tests taken on days two and eight. 

Fully vaccinated Brits and people under the age of 18 do not need to quarantine or take a day eight test if you are either:

  • Fully vaccinated in the UK or under the UK vaccine programme overseas.
  • Under 18 on the day you arrive in England & a resident in the UK or in a country with a vaccination programme approved by the UK.

Here are the latest changes

  • From amber to green: Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway
  • From red to amber: India, Bahrain, Qatar & the United Arab Emirates
  • From amber to red: Georgia, Mexico, La Reunion and Mayotte
  • From amber-plus to amber: France

When in effect (from 04:00 BST on 8 August), this change will increase the number of countries on the green list, which will mean that travellers can return from over 36 destinations without having to quarantine instead of only 29 destinations.

It is, however, imperative to keep in mind that other countries will have their own rules about allowing visitors from the UK. Therefore, being present on the UK’s green list does not secure a completely quarantine-free holiday.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We are committed to opening up international travel safely, taking advantage of the gains we’ve made through our successful vaccination programme, helping connect families, friends and businesses around the world.”

Health Secretary Sajid Javid noted that while changes significantly raised more countries in the green list, the additions to the red list showed that there was still a need for caution.

With news of the additions to the amber & green list comes the slightly unfortunate news of quarantine hotels, for which the cost of staying is experiencing a steady increase. The price for single adult travellers will increase from £1,750 to £2,285 from 12 August, and £1,430 for a second adult. The cost for children aged 5-12 will remain as £325; it is free for children aged under five.

According to the government, the new prices will better reflect the costs involved – including transport to the hotel, security, provision of welfare services and the two PCR tests which must be taken on day two and day eight of the hotel stay.

The UK government sets the red, amber and green lists for England, while the other nations are responsible for their own lists. Northern Ireland and Scotland have also confirmed to adopt the same changes as England.

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