The COVID 'traffic light' travel system is over - so can we go away at half term?

·4-min read

Watch: Traffic light system scrapped as travel rules simplified

After a summer of foreign travel disruption, some families have been pinning their hopes on a half-term getaway, so news that the government have scrapped their traffic light travel system will be welcome for many. 

New rules surrounding coronavirus and designed to make travel "easier and cheaper" came into force at 4am today (Oct 4), giving hope to many dreaming of heading to sunnier climes this half-term. 

The move, which has been welcomed by families and the travel industry alike, will see the traffic light system of green, amber and red lists ditched. 

Instead, some locations will simply be categorised as red list.

The traffic light system has changed from today. (Getty Images)
The traffic light system has changed from today. (Getty Images)

People arriving in the UK who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and everyone under the age of 18, will also see changes.

Those coming from countries not on the red list can enter the UK without a pre-departure test.

They will no longer need to take a PCR test eight days after their arrival or self-isolate at home.

Just a single test, (currently a PCR) is now needed on the second day after arrival in the UK.

The move comes amid reports that the number of countries on the red list will be slashed to nine from 54 later in the week, with destinations such as Brazil, Mexico and South Africa expected to open up to quarantine-free travel.

05Dec2019 | Baja
Does Mexico beckon? (Getty Images)

Read more: An icy welcome: Why Arctic tourists are getting glacial treatment in Svalbard

While there have been changes involving green and amber list countries, those coming from red list destinations must still pay to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days.

Commenting on the changes, transport secretary Grant Shapps said:

"Our priority remains to protect public health but, with more than eight in 10 people now fully vaccinated, we are able to take these steps to lower the cost of testing and help the sector to continue in its recovery."

Watch: Government hoping to axe PCR tests for vaccinated holidaymakers by October half-term, minister says

Despite the changes in the travel system there have been further calls to switch the required PCR test two days after arrival into the UK for a cheaper lateral flow. 

While no date has officially been set for this change, the government has said later in the month fully vaccinated people coming to England may no longer have to take a PCR test two days after arrival and can take a cheaper lateral flow test instead.

Ministers are aiming to have this switch in place in time for the half-term school break, but travellers may still need to arrange tests depending on the requirements of airlines and their destination country.

But according to the BBC, so far, no other UK nation has followed suit.

Scotland has said it will "align with the UK post-arrival testing regime" but has not announced further details.

The Welsh government said it had "concerns" about easing its testing regime.

Read more: 'We live in a bubble': What life has been like on the European island with zero COVID cases

Half-term holidays could be back on. (Getty Images)
Half-term holidays could be back on. (Getty Images)

Read more: Go west: The great American travel bucket list

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of trade body Airlines UK, said: "Things are moving in the right direction and the removal of these restrictions will make it easier and cheaper for people to travel.

"We've seen a good response to the announcement in terms of bookings and given current trends we would hope to see more countries come off the red list and further mutual recognition of vaccine status.

"There is still much to do though. This is not job done, and ministers need to keep in mind that we remain an outlier on arrivals testing for vaccinated passengers.

"In the short-term the removal of PCR testing by the October half-term week is critical, and we look forward to clarity on the start date for this as soon as possible."

Watch: ABTA welcomes government travel decision

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting