TORONTO — The UK’s decision to ditch its traffic light system of COVID-19 travel policies in favour of more streamlined protocols includes good news for Canadians with mixed vaccine doses.
Travelweek reached out to VisitBritain to get the latest update.
While so far only relevant for travel to / from England, the new policies taking effect Oct. 4, 2021 include a thumbs-up for travellers fully vaccinated (at least 14 days prior to departure) with a full course of Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna or Janssen vaccines, from a relevant public health body in a long list of countries, including Canada.
“Mixing between two-dose vaccines (Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna) in this list is also recognized,” according to the new policy.
Existing approval for fully vaccinated travellers under an approved vaccination program in the UK, Europe and the U.S. is also in place.
UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced the simplified system for international travel this past Friday. Starting Oct. 4, 2021 the current Traffic Light System of red, amber, green will be replaced by a new two-tiered system – a single ‘red list’ of countries and territories and a ‘rest of the world’ list.
Plus, testing requirements are being reduced for eligible fully vaccinated travellers from non-red list countries, who will no longer need to take a Pre Departure Test when travelling to England.
More details can be found here.
Canada had recently been added to the UK’s green list.
For now international arrivals into England must still …
- book and pay for a day 2 COVID-19 test – to be taken after arrival in England
- complete their passenger locator form – any time in the 48 hours before you arrive in England
- take a COVID-19 test on or before day 2 after arriving in England
However starting at the end of October 2021, eligible fully vaccinated passengers (and those with an approved vaccine from a select group of non-red countries) will be able to replace their day 2 test with a cheaper lateral flow test, reducing the cost of tests on arrival into England.
Also starting in late October, changes are being made to allow passengers who change flights or international trains during their journey to follow the measures associated to their country of departure, rather than any countries they have transited through as part of their journey.
Says VisitBritain Deputy Chief Executive Patricia Yates: “The announcements from the UK Government on overhauling the traffic light system, easing pre-arrival testing for fully vaccinated travellers from 4 October and the move to lateral flow tests on day 2 by the end of October are welcome steps to further reopening international travel and to boosting consumer confidence in visiting Britain.”
Yates added that “simplifying the testing regime has been a clear ask from the international travel industry. Tourism is a competitive global industry and we have already forecast a slow recovery with overseas visitor spending in the UK this year of £5.3 billion compared to £28.4 billion in 2019. Being able to welcome more visitors by safely reducing barriers to travel is critical to building back demand and visitor spending.”