Covid travel rules: Red list to be scrapped in England and Wales, Sajid Javid announces

Sajid Javid announced the change in rules in the Commons. Credit: PA

The red list for international travel is set to be scrapped in England and Wales, the health secretary has announced - it is unclear whether Scotland and Northern Ireland will follow.

Sajid Javid told MPs it is no longer necessary to block arrivals from a number of countries where the Omicron Covid variant has been discovered because there are now several thousand cases in the UK.

The 11 countries on the red list, all in Africa, will be removed from 4am tomorrow morning.

Those nations are:

  • Angola

  • Botswana

  • Eswatini

  • Lesotho

  • Malawi

  • Mozambique

  • Namibia

  • Nigeria

  • South Africa

  • Zambia

  • Zimbabwe

The red list, which was reintroduced in late-November, forces 11 nights of hotel quarantine upon everyone who arrives from those countries at a cost of £2,285 for solo travellers, regardless of their vaccination status.

Other border measures, brought in as a response to the Omicron variant, will remain in place.

All travellers entering the UK are required to take a pre-departure test, and to self-isolate until they receive a negative result from a post-arrival PCR test, even if they are fully vaccinated.

The travel sector has been criticising the use of the red list, urging the government to relax the strict border controls so the industry can resume its recovery following numerous coronavirus lockdowns.

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: "With Omicron so prevalent in the UK, the inbound red list is now irrelevant and should have no countries on it. That would also mean the end of hotel quarantine.

"No government would want to be putting inbound travellers in forced hotel isolation during the Christmas period, so ministers will have to abandon it."

He added: "Ministers have to adopt individual not blanket measures. Those who have been fully boosted should have no restrictions placed on them at all, if only to act as an incentive for people to get topped up."