England’s new traffic light system for travel allows people to travel abroad once again, with green, amber and red lists that set out the rules for testing and quarantining travellers.
Which list a country is put on depends on a number of factors including the percentage of the population that has been vaccinated, infection rates and the prevalence of variants of concern.
Countries such as Brazil, South Africa and India are on the red list, with high infection rates and variants forcing arrivals from these countries to go into hotel quarantine.
But other countries with high infection rates are still on the amber list, with some having higher infection rates than red-list countries. This has prompted concerns that the UK government will allow new cases – and variants – to be imported back into the country.
Such a mismatch between the data and countries’ travel status has drawn criticism. Yvette Cooper, the chair of the home affairs select committee, told BBC Newsnight that “we need a transparent system so that everybody can see what is the data, what is the evidence, on which decisions are being taken. So that we could tell, for example, why the government didn’t put India on the red list much earlier when they should’ve done, but also so we can see why they took the decision to put Portugal on the green list and then to take Portugal off the green list.
“Otherwise what we’ll end up with is a summer of just chopping and changing, which will just end up being chaotic for everyone, rather than actually having a clear transparent way of taking sensible public health decisions.”
Whichever list a country is on dictates whether and where passengers arriving from them need to quarantine:
- Green list countries: travellers need a negative pre-departure Covid test, and they do not have to isolate at all on their return. They have to take PCR test on day two after their arrival.
- Amber list countries: travellers arriving from amber list countries need a negative pre-departure Covid test, and have to isolate at home for 10 days and get a PCR test on days two and eight. They can still use the test-to-release system on day five, a negative test result meaning they can end their quarantine immediately.
- Red list countries: travellers arriving from red list countries need a negative pre-departure Covid test, and have to undergo managed quarantine at a hotel for 10 days that cannot be cut short and get a PCR test on days two and eight.
The lists will be formally reviewed every three weeks, with the chance of countries being bumped up or down the traffic light system.
Vaccination rate data is sourced from Our World in Data and shows the latest available data for total vaccinations for every 100 people in a particular country. Countries that have not recorded a vaccination rate to date have not been included.
Cases data is the latest available from Johns Hopkins University, and shows the average number of new daily cases across the last two weeks.
Each country’s dot is sized by the number of visitors it received from the UK in 2019, as sourced from the ONS.
Case and vaccine rates data is the latest available. It does not reflect the data at the point at which a country was placed in its travel category.
The Republic of Ireland is not included as its inclusion in the Common Travel Area means that it is exempt from the travel lists.