US remains on UK’s amber list, requiring 10-day quarantine

Jun 3, 2021

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The government has made its first round of changes to its green, red and amber lists. On Thursday, the government outlined the latest moves to the highest-risk red list, as well the first country to move from green to amber — and the United States has remained exactly where it was nearly one month ago.

At this time, the government is not adding any new countries to the green list as of 4 a.m. on Tuesday, June 8. However, also as of that date, seven countries will be moved from the amber list to the highest-risk and most-restricted red list. The countries moving to the red list are Afghanistan, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Egypt, Sudan, Trinidad and Tobago and Sri Lanka.

Finally, Portugal, which has been on the green list since May 7, will be downgraded from the green list to the amber list as of 8 June, meaning that as of that date arrivals to the U.K. from Portgual will need to undergo a 10-day quarantine.

All countries and territories that are on the UK’s green list
All countries and territories that are on the UK’s amber list
All countries and territories that are on the UK’s red list

The majority of the world’s countries will remain on the amber list, which requires that travelers quarantine for 10 days on return to the U.K. and take two pre-booked COVID-19 tests whilst in quarantine. Amber arrivals have the option to reduce the length of their quarantine if they arrive in England and purchase an additional COVID-19 test using England’s Test to Release scheme. After five full days of quarantine, they can take the third PCR test. If it returns a negative result, they can forgo the rest of their quarantine period, though they will still need to take the pre-booked day-eight test.

Related: How amber arrivals can use Test to Release to reduce their quarantine period

Red arrivals, meanwhile, continue to face the strictest requirements. As of 8 June, there will be a total of 50 countries on the red list, following the addition of Afghanistan, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Egypt, Sudan, Trinidad and Tobago and Sri Lanka. Only British nationals or third-country nationals with residency rights in the U.K. are allowed to enter the U.K., though they must pre-book and undergo a 10-day quarantine stay at a government-approved hotel.

The government first released its green list on 7 May. Since that time, only 12 countries and territories have been on the green list, which don’t require a quarantine on return to the U.K. However, the vast majority of the destinations on the green list remain off-limits to British tourists. In fact, only three destinations out of the 12 on the green list don’t require a quarantine on either end of the trip. And as of next week, the number of green list destinations will drop to 11 and there will only be two without quarantine on either end.

Related: The 3 countries and territories you can visit from the UK without quarantine on either end

With that in mind, note that just because a destination is on the green list, that doesn’t mean it’s automatically an option for British travelers. The arrival country has to be willing to accept Brits, and each country will offer their own entry requirements. If you are interested in visiting a green-list country, check on its entry requirements to ensure that it will be open and accepting Brits. Australia, for example, which is on the green list, is not open to international travelers and isn’t expected to reopen its borders until at least 2022.

As a reminder, here’s a look at the requirements for each traffic light category, which travelers will have to abide by on their reentry to the U.K., noting that Test to Release only applies to England arrivals:

Shapps has said previously that the government will review the countries on its green list regularly — once every three weeks. It will also implement a “watch list” for travelers to know if a country is near a move from one level to another. For example, a “green watchlist” will show if a country is at risk of moving from green to amber.

Many who have monitored the situation expected Portugal to be added to a watch list, rather than being moved to amber straight away. It remains to be seen what criteria the government is looking at when determining whether a destination will move levels or be added to a watch list.

In light of Thursday’s announcement, the travel industry expressed frustration.

“This is incredibly disappointing and confusing news, not just for aviation but also for our customers,” a British Airways spokesperson said in a statement. “The U.K. has reached a critical point and urgently needs travel with low-risk countries, like the U.S., to re-start the economy, support devastated industries and reunite loved ones. With high levels of vaccinations in the U.K. being matched by other countries, we should see the U.K. government adding destinations to ‘green’ as soon as possible – not turning its back on a traffic light model which we were led to believe was based firmly on scientific data.”

Meanwhile, EasyJet CEO Johan Lundgren echoed that sentiment, saying, “This shock decision to add Portugal to the Amber list is a huge blow to those who are currently in Portugal and those who have booked to be reunited with loved ones, or take a well-deserved break this summer. With Portuguese rates similar to those in the U.K. it simply isn’t justified by the science.

“And to add no more countries to the Green list when most of Europe’s infection rates are on a downward trend and many places with low infection rates below that of the U.K., such as the Balearics with a current rate of 33 in 100,000 and Malta, with just 12 in 100,000, this makes no sense. Especially when domestic travel is allowed within the U.K., despite a number of cities having infection rates 20 times greater than much of Europe.”

Featured photo by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy.

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