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All 11 countries to be removed from the UK's travel 'red list' less than two weeks after being added

All 11 countries on the UK's so-called 'red list' will be removed from 4am on Wednesday, meaning arrivals will no longer have to isolate in a Government-approved quarantine hotel.

The health secretary, Sajid Javid, told the Commons today (Tuesday, 14 December) that the 11 countries currently on the red list for arrivals to the UK will be removed at 4am on Wednesday 15 December. The countries are as follows: Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe. 

Mr Javid said the red list is now 'less effective' due to the spread of the new Omicron coronavirus variant. He told MPs: “Whilst we’ll maintain our temporary testing measures for international travel, we will be removing all 11 countries from the travel red list effective from 4am tomorrow." 

The change means people arriving in any of the four UK nations from these red list countries will no longer have to pay to spend 11 nights in hotel quarantine at a cost of £2,285 for solo travellers. You will, however, need to continue to meet the current testing requirements - see below for more on this. 

See our Coronavirus Travel Rights guide for more on the rules and restrictions. 

'Urgent advice' is being sought on whether travellers currently in hotel quarantine still need to complete their stay

The Government has confirmed it will allow those currently in quarantine hotels early release but it hasn't determined the full details yet, including whether travellers will get partial refunds. 

Commenting on this issue earlier, Mr Javid said: “Those people already in managed quarantine, I’m told that the practice in the past on this has been requiring them to complete their quarantine period. However, I do understand the importance of that and I have asked for urgent advice about what this means and I hope to act very quickly on just that.”

All other testing measures will remain in place

Despite the changes to the red list, transport secretary Grant Shapps says all current testing measures will remain in place and will be reviewed in the first week of January 2022. This means:

  • Everyone aged 12 and above must take a PCR or cheaper rapid antigen test while abroad within 48 hours of departure to the UK.
  • All vaccinated travellers must then take a PCR test within 48 hours of arrival to the UK and self-isolate until they get a negative result. Meanwhile, all unvaccinated travellers to the UK must take a PCR test within 48 hours of arrival, plus an additional PCR test on day eight and quarantine for 10 days (although they can end self-isolation earlier in England only by taking a PCR test on day five too).  

See our Cheap Covid travel tests guide to find the cheapest tests. 

Additional reporting by the Press Association. 

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