The traffic light system for travel during the Covid era – detested by the industry as complex and unecessary – looks set to be replaced, with an announcement due by the end of the month.
The UK government is due to assess the necessity of the system, which delegates destinations as green list, amber list or red list, by 1 October, and according to reports it’s likely to be given a drastic overhaul that will reduce testing requirements for a swathe of arrivals back into the UK.
Vaccinated Brits look set to skirt costly “Day 2” PCR tests, which would drastically open up large swathes of Europe and beyond and cut overall holiday costs, according to the Times.
Those who haven;t had both jabs will likely face some form of PCR testong upon return to the UK.
Hotel quarantine will still be required of returnees from high-risk destinations that previously would have been on the red list, according to the Telegraph.
With the vast majority of UK adults vaccinated against Covid, most arrivals from green list and amber list destinations require pre-departure antigen and Day 2 PCR tests.
However, airlines and tour operators have largely panned the traffic light system, which added hundreds of pounds in added costs for trips abroad.
Countries switching from amber to red have lead to mad scrambles for Brits to get back home in order to avoid £2,200 quarantine costs – a threat that would likely remain after October with a two-tiered system.
On top of that the competition watchdog has recently slammed some PCR test providers for shoddy service and long wait times.
The traffic light system for travel and the self-isolation and PCR testing requirements also dented UK inbound tourism, with data out today showing the UK performed the worst out of major European travel markets for Covid recovery.
Air ticket data from ForwardKeys showed that in July and August international arrivals into the UK were only at 14 per cent of the 2019 level. Greece topped the list with 85 per cent of pre-Covid levels.
A steady stream of cancellations came from ever changing rules as the pandemic evolved, meaning many leisure travel bookings were made at the last-minute.
On The Beach, meanwhile, became the first travel firm to offer free PCR tests included in holiday bookings in an attempt to reassure travellers to book ahead.
The UK’s testing requirements are only one half of the challenge for the industry and families alike, as most destinations still have some form of restrictions, particularly for the unvaccinated travellers.
The US in particular has not reciprocated the reopening of the UK and EU’s borders for American leisure travellers, dampening the outlook for carriers such as British Airways.