The UK on Sunday eased travel restrictions for India by moving the country from its “red” to “amber” list. With this revision, fully vaccinated Indian passengers will no longer be subjected to a compulsory 10-day hotel quarantine on their arrival in Britain.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has confirmed that all arrivals from India who have been vaccinated in India, which is on the amber list as at 4 am local time on Sunday, are required to isolate at home or their designated location mentioned on the compulsory locator form.
UK’s traffic light system
The United Kingdom incorporates a ‘traffic light’ system for international travel, under which there are separate coronavirus disease (Covid-19)-related rules and protocols for each of the coloured lists, classifying zones according to the risk they pose.
When a certain country is on the United Kingdom’s ‘red list’ (like India was till now), passengers from that country cannot freely travel to England. Only British and Irish nationals, or those who hold residency rights in the United Kingdom, are allowed to enter the country from places on the red list. Moreover, British citizens are also advised to not travel to countries on the red list.
Passengers travelling to England from any of the red-listed countries are required to go under quarantine at a hotel for 10 days and take a total of three Covid-19 tests, which includes one before departure from the origin country. Most of India’s neighbours, with the exception of Bhutan, are on the United Kingdom’s ‘red list’ for travel. This includes Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives.
Countries on UK’s ‘amber list’ (where India has presently moved to) are categorised as medium-risk zones and passengers can find it relatively easier, as far as travel guidelines are concerned. Although entering England from the amber-listed countries still require a passenger to take three Covid-19 tests in total, the hotel quarantine rule is not mandatory.
Here’s what the new changes mean for Indians flying to the United Kingdom:
Passengers from India, which is now on the amber list, can now quarantine at home or a place of their choice for 10 days after arriving in the UK. They will retain the option to ‘Test to Release’ after five days of quarantine. The requirement for a compulsory 10-day self-isolation in a government-approved facility at an additional cost of 1,750 pounds per head will no longer apply.
For passengers from amber-listed countries, the first coronavirus test must be taken at least three days prior to departure. The second is to be taken on the day of arrival or before the second day of stay. The third must be taken on or after the eighth day of stay in the UK, according to the official foreign travel advice. If the said passenger is a UK national, they are also not required to take the eighth-day Covid-19 test.
It is worth adding that there had been some speculation over Covishield, the Serum Institute of India made Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, being considered within the wider UK-approved vaccines ambit. However, the government has clarified that the India-made version of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine so far approved by the UK’s Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is branded as Vaxzevria and that is the only one currently recognised under the exemption rules.