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Wed, 15 December 2021

UK Removes All Countries from Red List

(15 Dec 2021)  The UK has removed all countries from its recently reintroduced red list.

The eleven countries which had been on the list were: Angola, Botswana, Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland), Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Those countries were removed from the list at 04:00 UK time on Wednesday, 15 December 2021, because

All those who have been staying in a quarantine hotel, as per regulations, will now be allowed to leave as long as they test negative for COVID19.

Windsor Castle in England. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com Click to enlarge.
Windsor Castle in England. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com

All vaccinated passengers arriving in the UK must continue to take a pre-departure test (PCR or lateral flow) 2 days before they depart for the UK and must take a PCR test on or before day 2 and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.

Unvaccinated passengers must also take a pre-departure test, PCR test on day 2 and 8, and self-isolate for 10 days.

Test to release remains an option to shorten their self-isolation period.

"With community transmission here as well as similar rates around the world, its right that we remove the 11 countries from our red list and these changes are the next sensible steps as we continue to tackle this variant. We remain focused on meeting our booster target for all adults by the end of the year, and while we will keep our travel testing measures in place for now, we will review this position in the first week of January," said  Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary. "While all countries have now been removed from the red list, the managed quarantine hotel policy remains in place to act as a crucial line of defence against the importation of variants of concern. Restrictions will be re-imposed should there be a need to do so to protect public health."

As early evidence seems to point to a reduced incubation period for the Omicron variant, passengers are being advised to take the pre-departure test as close as possible to their scheduled departure to the UK and no earlier than 2 days before departure.

Airlines are supposed to check all passengers for their pre-departure test result as well as completed a Passenger Locator Form. Passengers will not be allowed to board a flight without providing evidence of a negative test result. 

In a televised address on Sunday evening, Boris Johnson, PM, said the UK is "now facing an emergency in our battle with the new variant, Omicron" and that "there is a tidal wave of Omicron coming, and I am afraid that it is now clear that two doses of vaccine are simply not enough to give the level of protection we all need."

The new measures, including the red list, testing for arrivals and self-isolation requirements for vaccinated travellers, will be reviewed again early on 5 January 2022.

Boris Johnson Warns of a Tidal Wave of Omicron

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