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England's traffic-light system for international travel return takes off

UK proceeds with quarantine-free overseas travel to 12 countries and territories including Australia and Iceland. 

The British authorities will review the countries on the green, amber and red lists every three weeks from 17 May.
The British authorities will review the countries on the green, amber and red lists every three weeks from 17 May.

Singapore, Brunei and Australia are among the 12 countries and territories that British travellers can now visit without quarantining on their return to England, as the 'Stay in the UK' regulation is lifted today, 17 May.

British transport secretary Grant Shapps unveiled the differing levels applied to travellers returning to England from countries based on a 'traffic light system' categorising destinations based on Covid-risk levels. He said these countries on the green list "pose the lowest risk".

On 12 May, Shapps confirmed once more that England will proceed as planned — although PM Boris Johnson said on 13 May that he was "anxious" about the Indian-originated B1.617.2 strain, which has already begun spreading in certain areas across England with 1,313 cases reported last week.

Set in place by the local Global Travel Taskforce, travellers can skip quarantine, but will still need to take a pre-departure test up to 72 hours before their return travel, and a single PCR test on or before day two of arrival into England.

Destinations listed as green include Portugal, Israel and Jerusalem, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, Brunei, the Faroe Islands as well as some smaller remote islands under the British Overseas Territories.

However, Shapps warned that many of these destinations continue to impose restrictions on travellers from the UK — which discovered the more contagious B117 virus strain late 2020 — thus advising passengers to check all requirements before booking their travels.

The US, which in early April gave the green light to international travel for vaccinated Americans, has been put on the amber list. Spain, France, Italy and Greece are also classified as 'amber' destinations.

British travellers returning from amber countries are required to self-isolate at home for 10 days, although they can reduce that time if they take an additional negative test on day five.

On the red list are Brazil, India, South Africa and the UAE, with the Maldives, Turkey and Nepal the most recently added.

This would mean that passengers returning from countries designated as red must quarantine in a hotel for 10 days, and must book and agree to pay for a quarantine package before departing for the UK (which includes PCR test required on days two and eight of quarantine).

The British authorities will review the countries on the green, amber and red lists every three weeks from 17 May, taking into account factors such as genomic surveillance capability, Covid-19 transmission risk, and variant of concern transmission risk.

To that end, Singapore, which is on the green list, may soon be under review, following a recent resurgence in cases.

Singapore's minister of health, Gan Kim Yong in a 11 May parliament session said the "particular B1.617.2 strain appears very infectious" and expected "other variants just like this". On 14 May, the Lion City announced another round of restrictions, this time cutting group sizes from five to two people during a "heightened alert" period from 16 May to 13 June.

Source: Travel Weekly Asia


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