double decker buses on a street in front of a large building
Image by Alfred Derks from Pixabay

Arriving in the UK is a bit of a game right now, and a bit of a gamble as well. What you’ll face, in terms of testing protocols, and any potential quarantine are a matter of where you are coming from, including where you transit. And all can change overnight.

Your departure country could be all clear when you book, and then become a “red list” country when it’s time to travel, taking a fully vaccinated person from a pre-departure test and no quarantine period needed, to 10 days in forced and monitored isolation at great expense.

It’s crushed the fledgling UK travel industry, but after more than a year of the chaos, rumors suggest UK Government will start listening to the science and data based advice offered by the travel industry offered more than a year ago.

Going forward, entry rules would be assessed based on vaccination status of each arrival, with a simple go and no go list, rather than the utterly complicated traffic light system, with conflicting rules galore.

a double decker bus in front of a building
The Sofitel St. James in London, an Accor ALL loyalty program hotel.

Rumored UK Travel Changes

Ministers are under increased pressure from the travel industry, with furlough set to expire and many jobs on the line. By October 1st, the UK will also have completed its goal of offering all adults 18+ covid-19 vaccination, as the pandemic becomes endemic.

In line with policies from other countries, including the United States, suggestions are now in place to scrap the UK green, amber and red list system, in favor of a simple “go” and “no go” system from October 1st.

There would be a “red list” and nothing else. A fully vaccinated traveler coming from anywhere but a very selective list of red list countries would be able to enter without quarantine, and without the paranoia of rapid changes.

Fully vaccinated visitors from most of the world would not face any risk of quarantine, and would be able to purchase travel with confidence, knowing just a pre-departure test and test after arrival is all that’s required. Even the post arrival covid-19 test could be scrapped. Some are calling for all testing of vaccinated travelers to be scrapped.

Uncertainty Is Holding Travel Back

Many fully vaccinated travelers no longer cite virus concerns as a reason for staying home, or avoiding international destinations. It’s uncertainty around what awaits if a positive test abroad, or unexpected change in entry policy were to occur before or during travel.

UK Ministers have promised an overhaul review by October 1st, which could boost inbound travel to the UK and help protected many hundreds of thousands of jobs in the vital sector, as furlough begins to wind down and financial pressures set in.

Even with the modest relaxation of the current rules for vaccinated travelers from certain countries, too much uncertainty presently exists to drum up enough demand.

Bizarre bans of UK and EU travelers from the United States are also adding to frustrating times for travel, where Americans can enter the UK without issue, but UK visitors remain banned from the United States, despite higher levels of vaccination.

Pressure is now mounting on both sides of the pond for sense and science based approaches to travel, which help kickstart the economic and social recovery from the global pandemic.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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