Expats welcome easing of UK travel rules

In a move that has been welcomed by expats across the world, a major relaxing of travel rules for people entering and leaving England has been confirmed.
From 4 October, the current ‘traffic light system’ of red, amber and green countries will be scrapped and replaced with one red list only, the UK government has announced.

Any where not on the red list is considered green and clear for travel – there will no longer be an amber list. This means that travelling to and from the UK to major expat destinations including Cyprus, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Greece, and Poland, amongst others is about to become much easier. Since the pandemic began many expats have found it difficult – and expensive due to the required testing and quarantining – to see loved ones in Britain due to the stringent rules and regulations. Once the new rules kick in, passengers who are fully vaccinated will no longer be required to take a pre-departure test for travelling into England from non-red list countries. Then, from the end of October, people will be able to replace their day-two PCR test with a cheaper lateral flow test. Those unvaccinated will still have to pay for PCR tests. Anyone testing positive will have to self-isolate and take a free PCR test.

Red list removal

In addition, the UK government has said that from 4am on 22 September, eight countries will be removed from the red list. The destinations are:

• Turkey
• Pakistan
• The Maldives
• Egypt
• Sri Lanka
• Oman
• Bangladesh
• Kenya

People going into England from countries that remain on the red list will still need to spend 10 days in a government-authorised quarantine hotel.

Controversy over jabs

Despite the easing of travel rules in the UK, those who received their vaccines in the UAE, India and some other countries will be considered ‘unvaccinated’ by the British authorities. According to the rules, passengers who aren’t recognised as being fully vaccinated will have to take a pre-departure test, further PCR tests on Day 2 and Day 8 of arrival, and self-isolate at their given address for 10 days upon entry. The UK government said it will recognise vaccinations given in 17 more countries, including Australia, Canada, Japan, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and South Korea. It had previously recognised only shots given in the UK, the US and the European Union. However, James Cleverly, Minister for Middle East & North Africa in the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, said the UK government is finalising arrangements to include the UAE in the plans. “We are finalising arrangements with UAE to include their nationals and residents in our plans to open up to the fully vaccinated from other countries from 4 October,” he said in a tweet. UK expats living in the UAE responded angrily to the tweet. @EnsOrenda replied to Cleverly: “UAE has a very high vaccine rate, low case rates & v.low death rates. We are obliged to wear face mask in all public places still. The UAE represents a much lower risk than many approved countries. So, it makes sense to recognise Pfizer and AZ vaccines administered from UAE too.”

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