Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in the United Kingdom, the government has all but prohibited the entry of travelers from “red list” countries. For the first time in a long time, there are no countries or territories on the red list for travel to the UK. However, this does not mean that the list will be empty in the future. Mindful of the ever-changing nature of the global COVID-19 pandemic, today’s blog will discuss the current state of the red list and the general restrictions affecting future red list travelers. 

Travel to England

  • The United Kingdom, like many states, categorizes third countries by color in terms of the threat they pose for the transmission of COVID-19. All countries outside of the UK are therefore placed on one of the following color lists: green or red (the middle-tier amber list was recently discontinued). 
  • The color of the country you are arriving from will determine the COVID-19 related entry restrictions you will face when you travel to England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, or Wales. Travelers from “green” countries are subject to the fewest/least stringent restrictions, while those arriving from a red list country are subject to the most.   
  • States that pose a high threat (i.e. places that have high rates of COVID-19) are placed on the red list of countries and territories. For those arriving from a red list country, travel to England and the rest of the UK is banned, with a few exceptions. Since the pandemic began, a number of states have been placed on the red list of countries and territories.  

What are the red list countries for the UK?

  • At the moment, the UK red list of countries and territories is blank, meaning that the UK has chosen not to identify any countries as “red,” (i.e. presenting a significant threat in terms of COVID-19).
  • However, while the UK red list may be empty now, the government reserves the right to add countries to the list whenever it has cause. Because of this, before you travel to England, you should always check the rules affecting travelers arriving from your country. In the past, this advice was particularly relevant for people arriving from countries on the amber list, as states on the amber list were most likely to be moved to the red list. 

What are the red list countries rules and restrictions?

  • If you are arriving from red-list countries, you will be subject to the following: 
    • Submission of passenger locater form. 
    • Pre-departure testing (three days prior to trip). 
    • Pre-departure reservation at a quarantine hotel. 
    • Post arrival testing (on/prior to your second and on/after your eighth day of quarantine). 
    • Post-arrival quarantine (for 10 days in the hotel you pre-reserved). 

Travelling with children – red list rules

  • If you are travelling with children, the red list rules include the following: 
    • Pre-departure testing for minors 11 years old-17.
    • Post-arrival testing for minors 5 years old-17 on/prior to the second and on/after the eighth day of quarantine).
    • Post-arrival quarantine (for 10 days in the pre-reserved hotel).
  • Please note that minors 0-4 years old must quarantine, but are otherwise not subject to the above red list rules.

Transiting through a red list country on your way to UK

  • In general, travelers entering England are only subject to the restrictions that apply to the country they are arriving from. However, if you have recently travelled to other countries (outside the country you are arriving from) or if you are transiting through a red list country on your way to UK, you will likely be subject to the restrictions affecting travelers from red-list countries. 
  • For example, say you are attempting to enter the UK from a green-list country, but you have a layover in a red list country that requires you to go through border control. Even if you never left the airport, you will still be subject to red-list travel rules before you travel to England. 
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