23.09.2021. You’ve probably heard the news. After months of confusing traffic light systems, government U-turns and expensive private PCR testing, travellers and travel companies heaved a collective sigh of relief during last Friday’s UK travel update. That’s because the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced a huge simplification to England’s travel rules. This will make life much easier and simpler for those looking to escape for a holiday. In this article, we’ll summarise the changes for you.
A quick note – the following information applies to England only. Travellers living in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will have to follow slightly different rules, as travel policy is set by the devolved administrations.
What changes were announced at the UK travel update?
Two huge changes to England’s travel rules were announced, which will come into force on the 4 October 2021. The first is that the amber list has been scrapped. Instead of having three different categories with differing rules, there are now just two, red and green.
The red list remains as it did before, with travellers returning from high-risk countries still having to quarantine for 10 days in a government-approved hotel, at a cost of £2,250 per person. But the good news is that eight countries, including several popular holiday destinations, have been removed from the red list.
These countries are Bangladesh, Egypt, Kenya, the Maldives, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Turkey. Holidays to these countries are back on the cards, because the incredibly expensive forced hotel quarantine is a thing of the past. But what about those pricey PCR tests?
That brings us on to the second change that has been announced. From the 4 October 2021, PCR tests will no longer be required for fully vaccinated travellers returning to England. They will still have to take a test two days after they get home, but Mr Shapps suggested that later in October this will be replaced with a much cheaper lateral flow test.
Give me an example
If I were to travel to Greece under the current travel rules, then I would need to purchase two tests. One lateral flow to take before I fly home at approximately £15 – 30 and one PCR test to take two days after I return, costing approximately £60 – £90. That could be more than £100 in extra costs for my holidays. Bear in mind that some countries also require a negative PCR test to enter (another £60 – £90), and the costs can become astronomical.
Following this UK travel update, if I travel to Greece after these changes are implemented, then I will no longer need to purchase the first test. And the second one will be replaced by a lateral flow (from mid-October) costing around £15 – £30. That’s a large saving in both money and hassle.
What does all this mean?
This UK travel update means that the tentative steps forward that travel had been making can begin to accelerate. Already many companies are reporting a surge in bookings, as people look to make the most of these new rules.
It also means you can now book a holiday at much less expense and without the stresses of having to organise private PCR testing. Though of course, there may still be certain entry requirements in your destination. So make sure to check before you travel.
Why not browse our range of award-winning group tours? From Egypt to Turkey, we have plenty of formerly red, now green list destinations to offer!