UK Travel Update: ‘Traffic Light’ Laws will be Overhauled.

International

The UK government is likely to unveil changes to foreign travel regulations later this year.

Ministers are contemplating removing the requirement for double-jabbed individuals returning to the UK to undergo PCR testing.

The traffic signal system may potentially be simplified by removing the amber list completely.

Because the UK’s devolved governments are in charge of their own travel restrictions, any changes would first apply to England.

Meanwhile, the Guardian and the Times have reported that dozens of nations would be removed from the red list – the highest level of caution for foreign travel, which requires returning visitors to spend 11 nights in hotel quarantine at a cost of £2,285.

Currently, 62 nations are on that list.

Travelers who are not completely vaccinated are currently compelled to quarantine upon their return to the UK from an amber list country.

By eliminating the amber category, only travellers traveling from countries on the red list would be required to quarantine at a government-approved hotel.

Ministers have also been pressed to alter travel testing rules, with the sector and tourists hoping for a change before the October half-term vacation.

People coming from green list nations must undergo a Covid test immediately before their return and submit a PCR test on their second day in the UK, according to current guidelines.

According to Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, testing regulations are hindering the UK travel industry from competing with European counterparts.

He also cautioned that if limitations stay in place until furlough support expires, thousands of jobs might be jeopardized.

Huw Merriman, Conservative chairman of the Commons Transport Select Committee, claimed PCR tests were too costly and were discouraging people from traveling, but fast lateral flow tests were “just as safe.” A lab-processed PCR test costs the NHS £68.

He believes that fully vaccinated persons should only require a PCR test as confirmation if their lateral flow test was positive.

One reason for needing PCR testing is because they may be used to sequence genes and track coronavirus variations.

However, Mr Merriman said that just 5% of positive tests were sequenced in July, and that individuals were being “ripped off.”

Alan McNally, professor of Microbial Evolutionary Genomics at the University of Birmingham, indicated that lateral flow testing would be “adequate” for travelers given the UK’s high Covid prevalence, but that genome-level surveillance of travel-related Covid cases was “vitally necessary.”

“I would really hope that there will be a very clear mandate that any [lateral flow] testing from travel have to have a confirming PCR test,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

He stated that previous experiences, as well as the development of the Delta variant, demonstrated that travel-related Covid cases posed a “very high danger” to the UK and might cause “great difficulty” if not well monitored.

Countries like the EU, he says, have a higher level of confidence that variations are being reported and immunization records are reliable. However, he stated that in certain cases, it may be less definite.

“Our main goal is to safeguard public health,” a spokesperson for the Department of Transport said. “Decisions on our traffic light system are kept under frequent review and are guided by the current risk assessment from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and wider public health factors.”