The United Kingdom removes all 11 countries from Covid travel red list

Published on: 15 December 2021


The government of the United Kingdom announced on the 14th of December 2021 that the removal of 11 countries from its travel red list on the 15th of December 2021 at 4 am. This announcement was made as the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus spread in numerous countries all over the world. This is following the review of the most recent risk assessment from the United Kingdom Health Security Agency or UKHSA.

Starting on the 15th of December 2021 at 4 am returning passengers from Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe are no longer required to stay in a managed quarantine hotel upon arriving in the UK.

Although the red list has helped in slowing down the spread of Omicron and giving health authorities enough time to learn more about it and make the necessary preparations for its possible effects, Omicron cases have increased in the UK and other countries all over the world and this has made the red list and other temporary measures no longer effective.

However, all vaccinated passengers arriving in the country still have to take either a PCR or lateral flow pre-departure test 2 days before departing for the UK. They also need to take another PCR test on or before the second day and practice self-isolation until they obtain a negative test result.

On the other hand, unvaccinated passengers must also take the pre-departure test and PCR tests on days 2 and 8 and practice self-isolation for 10 days. Test to release is an alternative for those who would like to shorten their time in self-isolation.

Although no country remains on the red list, the managed quarantine hotel policy is still in place to protect the UK and its people from the possible importation of other variants of concern. Should there be a need to protect the public, the restrictions will be reinstated without hesitation.

With early evidence of the Omicron variant’s reduced incubation period, all passengers are strongly advised to continue to take pre-departure tests as close as possible to their scheduled flights but not earlier than 2 days before departure.

Airlines are also reminded that it is their responsibility to check every passenger for pre-departure tests and also their completed passenger locator form. Those who cannot submit a negative test result will be barred from boarding their flight.

Although the public’s safety is the government’s primary concern, the government also recognizes the impact that the virus has had on the travel and aviation industry and as such, the measures in place will be continuously reviewed to determine if they are still necessary or not.


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