The United Kingdom announced on Thursday that it would remove the remaining seven countries from its “red list.” This will make visiting Britain from these countries easier because incoming travelers who have received the COVID vaccine will no longer need to quarantine at an approved hotel upon arrival. The change goes into effect at 4 a.m. on Monday.
Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela were the last countries still on the UK’s red list. The announcement is good news for vaccinated travelers from these countries because an 11-day quarantine stay at a government-approved hotel can cost upwards of 2,000 pounds (or around $3,000).
Grant Shapps, the secretary of state for transport, said that the UK would not entirely eliminate the category “as a precautionary measure” because it may be necessary later on. Shapps also announced that the government would recognize vaccinations from 30 more countries. These additions mean that the British government now accepts vaccine records from about 135 countries in total.
In addition to the red category, the UK also had an amber list for medium-risk countries and a green category for countries considered low risk. The government eliminated the amber and green classifications on October 4. While the red list still remains, most countries aside from the final seven were taken off 3 weeks ago.
Chief executive of the Airport Operators Association Karen Dee called the decision “a welcome and significant step forward to normalizing international travel.”
While the UK government is only responsible for defining England’s health policies, Scotland and Wales have agreed to sign off on the changes. Officials from Wales did, however, bring up worries that the updated list could lead to further issues with COVID variants that could be more resistant to existing vaccines.
In their report on the change, the Associated Press noted that the United Kingdom has recorded over 140,000 confirmed deaths due to COVID-19, calling the pandemic in the country “one of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreaks.”
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