Health Secretary Sajid Javid told the Commons today (Tuesday, December 14) that the 11 countries currently on the red list for UK arrivals will be removed at 4 a.m. on Wednesday, December 15. The countries are: Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Mr Javid said the red list is now “less effective” due to the spread of the new variant of the Omicron coronavirus. He told MPs: “Although we maintain our temporary testing measures for international travel, we will remove the 11 countries from the travel red list as of 4 a.m. tomorrow.”
The change means that people arriving in any of the four UK countries from those Red List countries will no longer have to pay to spend 11 nights in hotel quarantine at the cost of Â£ 2,285 for travelers in solo. You will, however, need to continue to meet current testing requirements – see below for more on this.
Check out our guide to coronavirus travel rights to learn more about the rules and restrictions.
‘Urgent advice’ is sought on whether travelers currently quarantined at the hotel have yet to complete their stay
It’s unclear what the change means for those currently in quarantine hotels and whether they will be able to leave early and, if so, receive a partial refund. We have asked the government and will update this story when we know more. We also asked if people arriving in the UK from a Red List country before 4am tomorrow still have to go into managed quarantine, and if so, for how long.
Commenting on this issue earlier, Mr Javid said: ‘These people already in managed quarantine, I have been told that the practice in the past on this requires them to complete their period of quarantine. However, I understand the importance of this and have asked for urgent advice on what it means and hope to act on it very quickly. “
You still need to take a PCR test before and after you return to the UK
Despite the redlist changes, Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps said all current testing measures will remain in place and will be reviewed in the first week of January 2022. This means:
- Anyone aged 12 and over should have a cheaper PCR or rapid antigen test abroad within 48 hours of leaving for the UK.
- All vaccinated travelers must then have a PCR test within 48 hours of arriving in the UK and self-isolate until they test negative. During this time, all unvaccinated travelers to the UK must have a PCR test within 48 hours of arrival, plus an additional PCR test on day 8 and quarantine for 10 days (although they can end the test. ‘self-isolation earlier in England only by passing a PCR test on the fifth day as well).
Check out our guide to Cheap Covid Travel Tests to find the cheapest tests.
Additional reporting by the Press Association.