England has reduced the number of “red list” countries to just seven, which it considers to be at highest coronavirus risk and which require travelers to quarantine in government-designated hotels upon arrival.
The change, announced on Thursday, removes 47 countries and territories from the list, including Afghanistan, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa. Effective Monday at 4 a.m. local time, it lifts restrictions that have isolated family members and thwarted business travel and holidays.
Residents and officials in restricted countries have called for the measures to be lifted in recent months as their infection numbers have fallen and vaccinations have increased. An online petition demanding Turkey’s removal from the list garnered nearly 49,000 signatures.
Britain’s transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said in a statement: “We are making it easier to reunite families and loved ones by significantly cutting the number of destinations on the Red List, thanks to increased vaccination efforts around the world.” Statement.
All the remaining countries on the list are in Latin America or the Caribbean: Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.
Fully vaccinated people arriving from countries not on the Red List will no longer be required to take a coronavirus test before traveling to England, although they will still have to pay for the test on the second day after their arrival.
Unvaccinated people traveling from these destinations will still have to undergo a pre-departure test, as well as test on their second and eighth days after arrival, and still have to isolate for 10 days.
The changes followed an announcement this week that England’s three-level traffic light-inspired system was being reduced to a “red list”. Testing and quarantine requirements were also relaxed for full immunization.
UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid cited the country’s “unprecedented progress” in vaccination. According to data collected by Our World in Data, 73 per cent of people in the UK have received a single dose, and 67 per cent are fully vaccinated.