It took almost a year since the first global lockdown, but at the start of 2021 the UK – finally – significantly beefed up its border controls.
Enter the traffic light system – and those dreaded, expensive PCR tests. At the very extreme, the country announced that UK residents returning from the worst-affected ‘red list’ regions would have to quarantine in hotels. Meanwhile, everyone except British and Irish citizens (and official residents) would now be turned away at the border.
But as of today, the country is opening up to a vast swathe of the world once again. The ‘red list’ has been slashed from 54 countries to just seven – Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. That means British travellers will now be able to visit destinations including Mexico, Brazil and South Africa. Meanwhile, the ‘amber’ and ‘green’ lists have been replaced by one ‘OK to travel’ category.
Travellers who are able to return from those remaining ‘red list’ countries must provide a negative test result on arrival from within the past 72 hours, along with a ‘passenger locator form’. They must quarantine in government-provided hotels at a cost of £2,285 per head – covering food, accommodation, transport and testing.
Since February, all ‘red list’ arrivals have also had to take tests on days two and eight after they arrive. If either of the tests come back positive, the traveller has to quarantine for a further ten days from that date. Steep fines apply to anyone who fails to take tests, provide information or quarantine in a hotel.
Here is the latest ‘red list’ in full:
The UK’s Department for Transport has said that any travel exemptions that currently exist – such as for business trips – do not apply to these ‘red list’ countries. In other words: no travel is allowed whatsoever, for any reason.
Despite the latest ‘red list’ cull, worrying strains of the virus continue to circulate around the world, and it’s very possible the list of banned nationalities could expand again over the coming weeks. Watch this space.
Here’s everything you need to know about travel from the UK to Europe after Brexit.