After a passage on the list known as “amber plus”, France’s return to amber means fully vaccinated travelers returning from there to England, Scotland and Northern Ireland no longer need to self-quarantine.
India, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) change from red to amber, while Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Latvia, Romania and Norway change to green.
People arriving from Green List countries do not need to self-quarantine regardless of their vaccination status – but it is the additional Amber List destinations that seem to have generated the most interest.
Ahead of the listing changes going into effect at 4 a.m. today, travel agencies reported a surge in interest in travel to France and the United Arab Emirates.
Brittany Ferries said bookings between the UK and France more than doubled after the government’s announcement earlier this week, Eurostar said it was ready to increase capacity on its London-Paris route, while as Skyscanner reported a threefold increase in searches for Dubai.
But today also marks the addition of several places to the Red List – meaning newcomers must spend 11 nights in a quarantine hotel.
The new countries on the red list are Mexico, Georgia and the French overseas territories Reunion and Mayotte.
For now, solo travelers staying in quarantine hotels face a rate of £ 1,750 – but that will rise to £ 2,285 on Thursday.
British holidaymakers from these new red list countries have rushed home to avoid having to quarantine themselves, with British Airways (BA) implementing additional flights from Mexico – notably Mexico City and Cancun.
A BA flight from Cancun was scheduled to land at Gatwick at 3:05 am – less than an hour before the deadline.
Such frenzied flight plans have so far been a summer staple for UK tourists, drawing criticism from the travel industry and politicians across the Commons.
Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps has promised the latest changes to travel lists will be in effect for at least three weeks, barring unforeseen developments.
Despite Green List additions and allowances for fully vaccinated Britons to travel to Orange List countries, the Prime Minister is warned that more needs to be done to make holidays abroad viable for families.
Boris Johnson has been told by travel industry executives and Tory backbench MPs that the cost of testing is a major hurdle, with many holidays requiring up to three tests to be arranged for each person.
Some countries, including France, have dropped the testing requirement for arrivals if they are fully vaccinated.
But there are no signs yet that the UK government is following suit – and Orange List arrivals Spain and its islands are actively advised to use a PCR test as a pre-departure test where possible. “As a precaution against the increased prevalence of the virus and variants in the country”.
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Earlier this week, Tory MP and Chairman of the Transport Select Committee, Huw Merriman, tweeted: “Passengers get ripped off with expensive PCR tests.
“We are told that it is justified to sequence for the variants but only 5% of the tests are.
“This barrier to affordable travel must end now. “
Mr Merriman has called for cheaper lateral flow tests to be used for travel, with only people who test positive then requiring a PCR test.
Called previously so that lateral flow is used for all tests. Those who test positive would then have a more expensive PCR test and sequencing. 5/7
– Huw Merriman MP (@HuwMerriman) August 4, 2021
The government says a cautious reopening of the travel industry is needed to protect the vaccine rollout in the UK, with nearly 47 million adults now having been double bitten.
Latest figures showed that 35,665 additional first doses and 162,827 second doses were given, while 28,612 additional cases and 103 deaths were also reported.