The change will take effect from 4 a.m. on Sunday along with other new changes to the countries’ lists in the UK’s traffic light system for international travel.
Germany, Austria, Norway, Latvia, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia will be moved from the amber list to the green list. Arrivals from these countries will no longer be required to self-isolate for 10 days, but are still subject to a pre-departure test and a post departure test two days after arrival.
United Arab Emirates, Qatar, India, and Bahrain will be moved from the red list to the amber list, meaning people who are not British or Irish citizens or residents will be allowed to enter the UK, and arrivals from these countries can now self-isolate for 10 days instead of going into a managed hotel quarantine.
Georgia, Mayotte, Mexico, and Réunion will be moved from the amber list to the red list. Only British or Irish citizens or residents can travel to the UK from these destinations, and travellers are required to book a government-appointed hotel for a 10-day quarantine.
There are currently 16 countries and areas on the “green watch” list, meaning they are at risk of being moved to the amber list.
France was the only country on an “amber plus” list. There were also plans to have an “amber watch” list, which was scrapped to simplify the system.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps highlighted the change on Germany, Austria, and Norway as “key destinations,” as the government has been under pressure to loosen up its travel rules to revive travel and hospitality industries.
Scotland and Northern Ireland have followed England in introducing the same travel relaxations, but the Welsh Government, which has continued to advise against “all but essential” travel, criticised the changes.
Confirmation that France is joining the amber list is “positive” especially during the “critical” school holiday period, said Mark Tanzer, head of Abta, the travel association.
He said: “As a result, the UK is falling behind our European competitors and the opening up of international travel from the UK is progressing at a snail’s pace—making it extremely difficult for travel agents and tour operators to generate enough income to kickstart a recovery, which is desperately needed to protect jobs, businesses, and livelihoods.”
James Martin, director of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce welcomed the changes, but said that it’s time for the government to “fundamentally simplify” the international travel system.
“Businesses need the confidence and clarity provided by a system which places countries in either green or red categories, removing the ambiguity of the amber designation, which now relies on very different rules for the vaccinated and non-vaccinated,” Martin said.
He also called on the government to step up efforts to drive down the cost of CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus tests, saying it “remains a significant barrier to both business and leisure travellers.”
Other recommendations include protecting airport capacity, providing all-year business rate holidays, and reinstating the VAT rebate scheme for the sector.
PA contributed to this report.