taj mahal india

There are going to be some emotional arrivals and departures at Heathrow and other British gateways in the months to come.

After months of separation, countries once added to the dreaded UK “red list”, which effectively banned travel, are being taken off, allowing loved ones to reconnect, from India to the UAE and beyond.

For other destinations, a simplified travel system means holiday planners need not worry quite as much about knee jerk changes throwing their plans into the dumps. A bunch of countries are being added to the green list, and France is no longer being singled out on an obscure list. Spain won’t be joining, either.

Here are all the big moves from the UK travel announcements and what they mean for your trips…

taj mahal india

UAE, India, Bahrain And Qatar No Longer Red

The one consistent thing with UK travel during the pandemic is that “red list”, is not good. All arrivals from red list countries are required to pay £1750 per person and endure 10+ days of hotel quarantine, under full supervision.

The UAE, India, Bahrain and Qatar are all being moved off the “red list” to the “amber list”, which means fully vaccinated Brits, and or visitors from the EU and US can enter the UK without quarantine, when coming from one of these countries.

Yep, Dubai weekend breaks are back on, transit flights through Qatar are totally ok again and reconnecting with family from India, or in India is totally ok too. Again, it’s a lot easier if you’ve been fully vaccinated in the UK, USA or EU.

UK Ditches Amber “Plus”, France And Spain Spared

As decoupling between case counts and bad outcomes continues to grow, many top health officials are focusing less on cases, and more on any spikes in hospitalizations and death. There’s less “knee jerk” panic.

Accordingly, England is dropping its controversial “amber plus” list, which saw France briefly isolated and put into its own category requiring 10 day quarantine.

During the drama, there was worry that Spain would be added to this complicated new shade of traffic light, but that’s been averted, and France is no longer on its own.

France and Spain are both now on the travel ‘amber list’ which means fully vaccinated arrivals from either country are able to skip any quarantine, and simply take one pre-departure test, and one post arrival test, as per the new rules.

a beach with buildings and a body of water

Mexico Going To “Red List”

Mexico has been the world’s most popular travel destination during the pandemic, with no entry restrictions at any point. Certain areas of the country are now requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test for most activities, as officials weigh new risks.

The UK is placing Mexico on its “red list” beginning Sunday, August 8th, and any arrivals from this time will need to quarantine in a hotel, and pay £1750 for the stay. If Mexico was on the trip list, it might be time to place this on hold.

Just Make It Green Or Red, Right?

If you’re fully vaccinated in the UK, EU or USA, there’s effectively no difference between arriving from an amber list country and a green list country. You can enter without any quarantine, and take one test after arrival.

This has many in the travel sector asking the question: why complicate things with three colors, when two would suffice?

The UK is quickly simplifying travel entry rules and requirements, as it hopes to reinvigorate the economy. Recent changes are a significant step in making that dream a reality, but there’s a ways to go, to get people “comfortable” crossing borders again.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has called on PM Boris Johnson to further simplify rules, and drop additional restrictions – which should mean more changes are on the way, which hopefully make travel an even clearer picture than they are today.

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...

Join the Conversation


  1. One small point, hidden in the announcement was also an increase in the cost of hotel quarantine to £2285 from 12/08/21 it seems to be based on the date of booking not the date of occupancy, so a small window for some to save over £500…

  2. Have they made any updates to the “Transiting/Layover” guidelines? It looks as though the update effective 07/30/2021 Transiting, even if you remain airside, will now require a negative C-19 test no more than 3 days prior to your flight to the UK in addition to proof of vaccination? Looks like family day at the testing center. Thankfully it’s covered by my health insurance. Oi Vey!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *