Travel

Heathrow and Gatwick: Covid travel rules to change with rumours the traffic lights system could be scrapped

The prospect of travelling has become a fantasy for most Londoners over the course of the last 18 months as the Covid-19 pandemic brought all non-essential flights abroad to a standstill.

Even as domestic rules start to ease, holidaymakers still have to navigate the obstacle of the traffic-light travel system. However, this may all be about to change.

Currently, requirements vary depending on whether a traveller is arriving from a green, amber or red location, and whether or not they are fully vaccinated, reports Wales Online.

READ MORE: Heathrow and Gatwick: All the countries on the green watchlist and when the next travel review is

Experts have suggested the UK’s traffic light system for international travel could be scrapped within weeks – bringing joy for holidaymakers frustrated by the complex regulations.

As it stands, the travel lists are updated every three weeks, with next changes due next week. With that being said, a wider overhaul of the rules is scheduled to take place by October 1.

Travel specialist Simon Calder said: “I think we might see the traffic light system effectively-being scrapped, particularly with thankfully vaccination rates in the UK now being so high.



London Heathrow Airport arrivals have been facing huge queues for much of this week (file image)
London Heathrow Airport arrivals have been facing huge queues for much of this week (file image)

“It will just be assumed that everyone is vaccinated and therefore wherever you are going, perhaps with a relatively small list of places, you won’t need to quarantine.”

New rules could focus on the vaccination status of travellers rather than the Covid rating of the country they are visiting. Green and amber categories would be dumped although red will remain with travellers still required to quarantine in hotels on return from high-risk destinations, it has been reported.

Any scheme to introduce high-risk and low-risk status for countries would bring the UK more in line with other nations, and focus travel on the vaccination status of holidaymakers. Ministers hope it would provoke anyone still not fully-jabbed to get vaccinated.

However, it is doubtful the need for PCR tests will be discarded, although there are demands to replace them with cheaper lateral flow tests.

Paul Charles, founder of The PC Agency, tweeted: “The traffic light system is expected to be scrapped by 1st Oct – at last. Airlines and some of us in the sector are aware of plans to create a simpler system, where countries are either red or not. This would be the US model in effect, which I’ve been calling for.

“Scrapping of traffic light system would be a relief to pretty well everyone and herald a ‘living with an endemic’ approach rather than blanket country measures.”

British Airways chief executive Sean Doyle has already said rules relating to coronavirus testing and quarantine for arriving travellers must be simplified.

Mr Doyle added: “We had the traffic light system over the summer. There was some progress made. But I think it’s not fit for purpose.

“It needs to be adapted in the same way that we see in Europe and in the US.”




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