//Traffic light system to be scrapped
Can I travel to Turkey?

Traffic light system to be scrapped

Turkey and Maldives to be removed from red list

The government has confirmed that the amber list will be removed on October 4 in a major change to UK travel policy. The traffic light system will be replaced by a new system that means there will be a red list with all other countries considered green.

The government has also announced that eight countries are to be removed from the Red list including Turkey and the Maldives.

Grant Shapps, transport secretary, said: “Today’s changes mean a simpler, more straightforward system. One with less testing and lower costs, allowing more people to travel, see loved ones or conduct business around the world while providing a boost for the travel industry. Public health has always been at the heart of our international travel policy and with more than eight in 10 adults vaccinated in the UK, we are now able to introduce a proportionate updated structure that reflects the new landscape.

From 4am on October 4, pre-departure tests will no longer be required for fully-vaccinated travellers arriving into England from non-red list countries.

From the end of October, eligible fully vaccinated passengers and those with an approved vaccine from a select group of non-red countries will be able to replace their day 2 test with a cheaper lateral flow test, reducing the cost of tests on arrival into England. The government wants to introduce this by the end of October, aiming to have it in place for when people return from half-term breaks.

ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “ABTA welcomes today’s announcement that fully-vaccinated travellers will no longer have to take PCR tests when returning from low-risk destinations. We await confirmation of the date this will be implemented and we urge the Government to do all it can to have this in place before October half-term. We have raised repeatedly with Government the fact that high PCR charges are one of the main barriers to overseas travel and it is good to see them respond to these calls. The removal of the need to take a pre-departure test for this group will also help bring much-needed confidence to the market and further reduce costs for travellers.

“We have also been asking for the green and amber categories to be removed and are pleased to see this happen under this new system. We also welcome the removal of eight more countries from the red list, some of which are important winter sun destinations, though we need more countries to come off the red list in due course. Although we recognise the need to retain a red list, the government needs to be much more transparent in its criteria for placing countries on it and it should only be retained for the management of known variants of concern.

“Today’s announcement is a good step in the right direction, but it will not in itself be enough to undo two years of damage to the overseas travel industry, caused as a direct result of government policies. Targeted financial support for travel agents and tour operators is the only way to make good this damage and stem further job losses following on from the nearly 100,000 jobs which have already been lost in the outbound travel sector.

“As these new measures apply to England, we urge the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to update their international travel policies as soon as possible.”

Other countries to be removed from the Red list are Egypt, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Oman, Bangladesh and Kenya.

Sam Ballard is a director and co-founder of Waterfront Publishing, creator of ABTA Magazine, Cruise Adviser, Solus and more.