The UK’s “traffic light” travel system could be scrapped from next month, according to industry figures.
The BBC has been briefed by an industry source that the new system could “allow vaccinated travellers to go to countries with similarly high levels of vaccination as the UK without the need for quarantine”.
The government has reportedly asked senior travel industry leaders to make proposals for a new system around international travel, which will replace the current traffic light lists.
The source also said that the red list of countries that are unsafe to visit will remain.
A source “briefed on the proposal” has also 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’.”
The government declined to comment on the changes, saying: “Our international travel policy is guided by one overwhelming priority – protecting public health.
“The next formal checkpoint review will take place by 1 October 2021.”
In other news, Ryanair is launching six new routes from Birmingham Airport, including Lisbon and Vilnius, in newly green-listed Lithuania.
Follow the latest travel news below:
When will the UK travel traffic light system end?
Want to know when the UK’s travel traffic light system is expected to end? Us too. Reports of multiple sources claiming to know the government’s plan for scrapping the controversial system are gaining momentum. However, the Department for Transport has not confirmed any changes to the travel system so far, saying only: “Our international travel policy is guided by one overwhelming priority – protecting public health.” With a further travel update expected from the government on or around 16 September, is it time to say goodbye to this frustrating system?
Read on for everything we know so far.
Tom Parfitt9 September 2021 13:23
Testing should be eased and ‘super green’ rules extended to Europe, says Simon Calder
The Independent’s travel correspondent Simon Calder has given his views on the potential new travel rules system that could be set to replace the UK’s “traffic light” lists.
“To avoid further destruction of the UK’s previously world-leading travel industry – and to revive the near-moribund inbound tourism sector – fundamental changes are needed to end the complex, expensive, incoherent and constantly changing rules,” wrote Calder.
“Testing needs to be eased – ideally with most European countries moved to “super green,” alongside Ireland.
“At the very least, for vaccinated travellers from lower-risk countries (which includes almost all our holiday favourites), the “day two” PCR test – which must be taken on the day of arrival or one of the two following days – should be scrapped.
The 60-plus countries on the red list, requiring mandatory hotel quarantine, should shrink to a relatively small number of nations with very high infection rates, unreliable data and/or fears about variants.”
Lucy Thackray9 September 2021 12:42
France ‘could go on green list’, says expert – if there still is one
France could be a candidate for the green travel list, a prominent data analyst has said, at the next travel rules update – expected to be 15 or 16 September.
“France would have reasonable claims to go on the UK green list, if indeed there is still to be one,” tweeted Tim White, alluding to the news that industry sources have said the entire traffic light system may be axed before or around 1 October.
“New Covid-19 cases today falling 27% compared to this time last week, with 12,828 infections diagnosed,” said White of the current Covid stats for France.
Lucy Thackray9 September 2021 12:05
Manchester ranked third in Time Out’s World’s Best Cities list
According to a new Time Out list, Manchester is the third best city in the world.
The northwestern city came top in categories including friendliness, resilience and nightlife in the lifestyle brand’s annual round-up of the world’s 37 best cities.
Time Out polled 27,000 residents in cities around the world about food, drink, social life and sustainability, and combined their findings with insights from their own staff and experts around the world to in order to rank them.
San Francisco was number one, with its “progressiveness, inclusiveness and innovation” singled out for its top spot.
Lucy Thackray9 September 2021 11:08
Ryanair launches six new routes from Birmingham
Ryanair has announced six new routes for winter 2021/2022, all departing from Birmingham Airport.
The new flights are to Bergamo and Turin (Italy), Lisbon (Portugal), Bucharest (Romania), Shannon (Ireland) and Vilnius (Lithuania).
The latter is likely hoping to capitalise on Lithuania’s recent move to the UK’s travel green list. Vilnius has only recently hit British travellers’ radars as an offbeat European city break.
Ryanair’s director of commercial, Jason McGuinness, used the announcement as an opportunity to call for an end to Air Passenger Duty.
“APD makes UK airports very uncompetitive versus Europe, where Ryanair continues to add capacity, having opened a number of bases in recent months in the likes of Zagreb, Stockholm, Billund and Riga,” he said.
“While Ryanair is committed to the UK and its Birmingham airport, the lack of government support continues to create further barriers to boosting traffic and growth.”
Lucy Thackray9 September 2021 10:39
Risk of contracting Covid-19 on flights is 0.1%, says news data
The risk of exposure to Covid-19 on a flight where every passenger has tested negative is less than 0.1 per cent, according to new research.
The new peer-reviewed study used data from nearly 10,000 air travellers on Delta’s Covid-tested flight corridors between New York’s JFK, Atlanta and Italy’s Fiumicino airports to conclude that a single molecular test performed within 72 hours of departure could significantly decrease the rate of people infected onboard a commercial aircraft.
The research, conducted by the Georgia Department of Health and Mayo Clinic in conjunction with Delta airlines, states that infection rates on Covid-19 tested flights constituted 0.5 per cent, or five in 10,000 passengers, compared with 1.1 percent, or one in 100 people, in the community.
Lucy Thackray9 September 2021 10:02
easyJet rejects takeover bid
Britain’s biggest budget airline has rejected a takeover bid.
In a financial announcement, easyJet said: “The board recently received an unsolicited preliminary takeover approach.
“This was carefully evaluated and then unanimously rejected.”
The airline said it was a “low premium and highly conditional all‐share transaction which, in the board’s view, fundamentally undervalued the company”.
No clues were given to the identity of the potential bidder – which may have been a rival airline or a firm outside the aviation industry.
Simon Calder9 September 2021 09:41
Government accused of ‘killing the aviation industry’
A senior Labour MP has accused the government of “killing the aviation industry”.
Ben Bradshaw, a former cabinet minister and current member of the Transport Select Committee, tweeted: “Johnson’s outdated and costly travel rules are killing an industry.
“With furlough ending this month, he must scrap his nonsense traffic lights and adopt the risk based approach of Germany and others.”
At present the UK has the highest coronavirus infection rates of any major European country, and the toughest travel restrictions.
The next “traffic light shuffle” of red, amber and green lists is due next Wednesday or Thursday. A full revision of travel restrictions is expected by 1 October.
Simon Calder9 September 2021 08:57
New system: ‘It is critical that we remain vigilant in preventing new variants’ says immunologist
A leading immunologist has commented on the reports that the government will replace the current traffic light travel system with something based on vaccination status.
“On one hand, this could be a positive step forward for anyone travelling abroad or visiting the UK. On the other hand, it is also critical that we remain vigilant in preventing new variants from coming into the UK,” said Professor Denis Kinane, an immunologist and founder of testing provider and diagnostics company Cignpost.
“During the Spring, when the Delta variant entered the country, Cignpost saw a huge spike in positive results from those traveling into the UK from the Indian subcontinent – despite them having tested negative with a Lateral Flow test before boarding. The testing and border lapses then, allowed the delta variant to flourish quickly,” he added.
He also called for the “day two” PCR test currently required of UK travellers on their return to be changed, calling it “confusing” and saying that results often arrive too late to be useful for tracking the virus.
“The solution we would recommend is to change the confusingly named “Day two test” to a “Day-of-Arrival” test so that we can identify infections much faster – and so move more quickly if a new variant comes into the country. It would also mean we could identify any potential new variants much quicker – and take action to prevent it spreading across the community,” said Kinane.
Lucy Thackray9 September 2021 08:55
Ask Simon Calder your travel questions
Ever since the latest travel update on 26 August, there have been hints that international travel is starting to open up again, albeit cautiously.
US travellers have had a step backwards, however, as the EU moved the country to its ‘unsafe’ list due to the high number of Covid cases – prompting countries including Italy, Denmark and Sweden to up their restrictions for testing and quarantine for travellers from the States.
So, should you ignore the risk and book your next holiday? Join The Independent’s travel correspondent, Simon Calder, tomorrow, 10 September at 1pm, when he’ll be on hand to answer your travel questions about all the latest rules and restrictions.
Ask your questions in the comments section here, then follow the event live tomorrow:
Lucy Thackray9 September 2021 08:17