Government may scrap green and amber traffic light travel rules in big win for holidays

The much-hated traffic light system for holidays abroad could be cut under new plans written up by ministers, reports say.

Over the last year, Brits have had to plan their trips abroad around the coronavirus restrictions set by the UK and their destination – including quarantines, expensive private tests and last minute dashes home.

The uncertainty of the system – which places countries under a ‘green’, ‘amber’ or ‘red’ category – means many holidaymakers have missed out on trips or had to leave early to avoid paying thousands in isolation hotel fees.

But, officials have now been told to create a new system based on the vaccination status of travellers rather than the destination’s Covid rating, reports the Telegraph.

This means that amber and green may disappear as distinct categories though it’s thought that red countries will still exist and those returning from the high-risk locations will need to quarantine in hotels.

Brits who have had both of their jabs are already able to go to amber countries without the need to quarantine.

The changes would affect the rules for unvaccinated tourists

This means that double vaxxed tourists only need pre-departure tests and then a PCR test within two days of coming home from amber or green countries.

Currently, the site states that unvaccinated travellers returning from amber countries must:

  • Quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 10 days
  • Take a COVID-19 test on or before day two and on or after day eight

If the rules changed into a two-tier system then people who are not fully vaccinated may also be able to follow the same rules as double-jabbed people, but it’s unknown if they may still need to follow extra precautions or take more tests.

The re-design of the holiday system was sparked by the Government’s promise to review it by October 1 and comes at the end of the vaccination rollout where all adults have been offered both their jabs by the end of September.

Some MPs and the travel industry have reportedly criticised the system’s over-complicated nature including the “watch list” and “amber plus” tiers.

Sean Doyle, BA’s chief executive stated that the traffic light system is “not fit for purpose” and needs to be “adapted” to be more like the European system.

A simpler two-tier categorisation system would bring Britain more in like with other countries around the world.

Tourists may no longer need to quarantine when returning from amber countries
Tourists may no longer need to quarantine when returning from amber countries

A source who was allegedly briefed on the proposal told the Telegraph: “It’s about whether you are vaccinated or not, rather than the country you are travelling to.

“What it means is that green and amber disappear and only vaccination status will count for where you travel. For a vaccinated person, just as now all countries apart from red are ‘green’.

“For an unvaccinated person, it means that your travel to a green country might be slightly more difficult. There’s a potential psychological boost in that a lot of people think travel to amber is risky whereas if it disappeared, people may be more willing to travel to X, Y or Z.”

It’s hoped that the re-vamp will encourage more people to get their Covid jab.

A Government spokesperson said: “Our international travel policy is guided by one overwhelming priority – protecting public health.

“Decisions on our traffic light system are kept under regular review and are informed by the latest risk assessment from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and wider public health factors. The next formal checkpoint review will take place by Oct 1 2021.”

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