On 26 August, the Department for Transport announced all the latest changes that have been made to the traffic light system. In the new update, seven countries have been given the green light, while two countries moved from the amber to red list. The changes will come into effect at 4:00am on 30 August.
Changes in the traffic light system
Canada, Denmark, Finland, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Switzerland, and the Azores in Portugal, have finally been moved to the green list. This means that travellers returning to the UK from these countries no longer need to complete the mandatory quarantine if they test negative for COVID. However, they will still be required to go through an extensive testing process which includes one test three days before departure and another on day two upon arrival.
Montenegro and Thailand are the only two countries that moved from the amber to the red list. This means that everyone, including double-jabbed travellers, who is coming from these destinations will have to undergo a 10-day quarantine period in a government-managed hotel as soon as they arrive.
The Scottish government has implemented the same changes to their travel list, with Micheal Matheson, the Scottish transport secretary, saying:
The latest changes are welcome for Scots with loved ones in Canada but once again show that international travel remains challenging.
The Welsh government has yet to announce their own updates.
Chaos in the travel industry
With only 45 countries in the UK's green list, stakeholders in the airline industry are urging the government to expand. They claim that compared to the US and EU, the UK's list is relatively small which is making travel more expensive and unpredictable. Sean Doyle, British Airways’ chairman and CEO told BBC:
We also need to urgently end the uncertainty caused by the constant threat of changes to countries' traffic light status.
Our green list is much smaller than that of the US and EU, despite no new variants being transported into the UK.
Last week, Sky News reported that since the first lockdown in 2020, holidaymakers had to endure 50 travel rule changes. Johan Lundgren, chief executive of easyJet, said to the news channel:
It's no wonder that consumers in the UK are confused.
Now is the time for the government to simplify the rules around travel, make green truly green and restriction-free, remove expensive and unnecessary testing requirements for the fully vaccinated travelling from amber countries, and put an end to this constant rollercoaster of changes.