In a bid to curb the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus, the government has introduced new travel rules including changes to the red list and the tests required for pre-departure and return to the UK.
In November, all of the countries on the red list were removed, but due to Omicron 11 have since been added including South Africa which was the first to report the new variant to the World Health Organization (WHO). The risk posed by individual countries and territories is monitored continuously, and the red list is reviewed every 3 weeks. Countries and territories can be added to the list or taken off it more frequently if conditions change.
Under the rules, which have now come into force, travellers returning to the UK from red list countries will be required to quarantine in a hotel for 10 nights.
The red list travel rules:
Only British/Irish nationals and those with UK residence rights will be allowed to enter the UK from a red list country.
If you're returning to the UK from a red list country, you'll need to do the following;
Take a pre-departure test within 48 hours before you travel
Fill out a passenger locator form
The Government guidance states that anyone travelling to England from a red list country must quarantine in a managed hotel package which includes two COVID-19 PCR Tests.
Staying in a quarantine managed hotel will involve extra costs and a period of isolation before you can return home.
These rules apply no matter what your Covid vaccination status. You can also get more information in the government red list guidance.
If you are returning from a country not from the Red list:
If you're returning from a country which isn't on the red list, there are new travel rules in place. Anyone returning to the UK will need to take a pre-departure test within 48 hours before travel, which can be a PCR or lateral flow test. If you're vaccinated, you'll need to then self-isolate for two days and take a PCR test on day two, where a negative result releases you from self-isolation. If you're unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, you'll need to self-isolate for 10 days in the UK and take PCR tests on days two and eight.