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Explained: the latest travel rules for entering the UK

The latest travel rules for those returning to the UK have come into force, including changes to quarantine and PCR testing requirements.

The traffic light system no longer applies, with countries no longer placed on a green, amber or red list. Instead, there is a single red list and the rest of the world. The rest of the world list is made up of countries that the Foreign Office allows non-essential travel to.

The rule changes bring the return of international travel at scale a step closer. The difficulties of international travel have been one of the major barriers to business for event professionals ever since the pandemic began.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said that people who are fully vaccinated “won’t need a pre-departure test before arrival into England from a non-red country,” and from later this month, the day-two PCR test will be replaced with a lateral flow test.

Scotland is also scrapping the requirement for vaccinated people to provide negative coronavirus tests before they arrive, after Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon acknowledged the practical consequences of not having an aligned position.

She said: “We have to be realistic about the fact that people living in Scotland could decide to return here via airports based in England, if different rules are in place for Scottish airports. The result of this would be a disadvantage to our aviation and travel sector, but without any significant public health advantage.”

The replacement of the PCR test with the cheaper lateral flow test will make travelling from these countries less expensive.

Shapps added that the changes were about “striking the right balance to manage the public health risk as a number one priority”.

Unvaccinated travellers still need to take the pre-departure test for travelling into England, still have to quarantine for 10 days on arrival, and still have to purchase a PCR for their day-two test.

And anyone travelling from a country on the red list is still required to pay £2,285 to quarantine for 11 nights at a government-approved hotel.

The following countries are currently on the red list:

Afghanistan
Angola
Argentina
Bolivia
Botswana
Brazil
Burundi
Cape Verde
Chile
Colombia
Congo (Democratic Republic)
Costa Rica
Cuba
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
Eritrea
Eswatini
Ethiopia
French Guiana
Georgia
Guyana
Haiti
Indonesia
Lesotho
Malawi
Mayotte
Mexico
Mongolia
Montenegro
Mozambique
Myanmar
Namibia
Nepal
Panama
Paraguay
Peru
Philippines
Réunion
Rwanda
Seychelles
Sierra Leone
Somalia
South Africa
Sudan
Suriname
Tanzania
Thailand
Trinidad and Tobago
Tunisia
Uganda
Uruguay
Venezuela
Zambia
Zimbabwe

Travellers should continue to check GOV.UK travel guidance to keep up to date with entry requirements into the UK.

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