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Explained: What changes for travellers as the UK moves India from its ‘red’ to ‘amber’ list?

The United Kingdom has moved India from its 'red' to 'amber' list. What is the classification, and what changes for travellers? What is the Covid-19 situation in the UK?

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: August 11, 2021 1:39:40 pm
Passengers arrive at Terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport in London, Monday, Aug. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

The United Kingdom on Wednesday moved India from its ‘red’ to ‘amber’ list, a categorisation created for international travel amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The classification makes it easy for people travelling to the UK from other countries to understand the rules they must follow to enter the country.

The UK’s traffic light system, as it has been named, lists countries into three categories — red, amber and green. The segregation is done based on “the risk posed by individual countries and territories”. The UK says each country is “continuously monitored”, and the lists are reviewed every three weeks. However, the UK has stated, “if there is a sudden change in conditions, a country or territory may be moved between lists without warning.”

The latest changes were announced on Wednesday, and come into effect from 4 am local time (8.30 am IST) on Sunday (August 8).

First, what is the UK’s traffic light system?

Entering the UK from abroad depends on where you have been in the 10 days before you arrive. The traffic light system comprises three categories, each of which have different guidelines for testing and isolation.

🔴 Red list: The UK has advised its citizens not to travel to countries on the red list. And, only British and Irish nationals, or those with residence rights in the UK, can enter the country from places on the red list.

On arrival in the UK, travellers are required to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days and take three Covid-19 tests, including one before departure from the origin country.

🟠 Amber list: Entering the UK from places on the amber list requires three Covid-19 tests — the first, at least three days prior to departure; the second, on the day of arrival or before Day 2; and the third, on or after Day 8. Home quarantine for 10 days is also mandatory.

For UK nationals who are fully vaccinated, neither quarantine nor the Day 8 test are required.

People who have been fully vaccinated in the United States or many European countries will not need to quarantine when they arrive in England or take the Day 8 test.

🟢 Green list: Before entering the UK, a Covid-19 test must be taken. On arrival, a second test must be taken on or before Day 2. Quarantine is required only if the test result is positive.

There is also a “Green watchlist”, for countries at risk of moving from green to amber.

So, what are the new rules for Indians travelling to the UK?

India has been moved from the UK’s red to amber list. This means, travellers who are fully vaccinated are no longer required to undergo hotel quarantine for 10 days, and can remain in home isolation. The three Covid-19 tests, as explained above, have to be taken.

India was previously on the red list due to the second wave of Covid-19 in the country, powered largely by the Delta variant. This meant Indians were banned from travelling to the UK, unless they were British nationals or residents.

But, are Covishield and Covaxin vaccines accepted by the UK?

The UK only recognises vaccines being given in its country — Moderna, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech — or under its vaccine programme overseas. The list does not include the three vaccine being administered in India — Covishield (Serum Institute of India), Covaxin (Bharat Biotech) or Russia’s Sputnik.

According to news agency PTI, however, Covishield, which is the Indian version of Oxford-Astrazeneca, is likely to get approved.

A spokesperson of the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care was quoted as saying by The Guardian, “We recognise there are a large variety of Covid-19 vaccines being administered worldwide and work is ongoing to determine which non-UK vaccines and certification solutions to recognise.”

Where do other countries stand in the traffic light system?

The United States is on the amber list, along with Canada, China, France, Iran, Italy, Japan, Mexico, North Korea, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam.

The green list includes about 35 countries, including Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Singapore.

Karen Tyler runs to hug her son Jonathan, who she’s not seen for over a year and a half as he arrives on a flight from Houston, Texas, in the U.S., at Terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport in London, Monday, Aug. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

What about India’s neighbours?

All of India’s neighbours are currently on the red list, with the exception of Bhutan. Take a look:

* Pakistan – Red List
* Nepal – Red List
* Bangladesh – Red List
* Myanmar – Red List
* Sri Lanka – Red List
* Maldives – Red List
* Bhutan – Amber List

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What is the Covid-19 situation in the UK?

The UK has so far detected over 59 lakh Covid-19 cases; nearly 30,000 new cases were reported on Wednesday. The country has reported 130,000 deaths.

According to the BBC, the average number of daily cases rose sharply in June and early July, but appears to be falling now. The rise in cases has been largely due to the Delta variant, which first emerged in India.

The BBC reports that 47 million, or nearly 90 per cent of all UK adults have received the first dose of vaccine. Nearly 39 million, or 73 per cent, have been administered their second doses. At present, the UK is allowing everyone over the age of 18 to get vaccination. Vaccine experts have recently recommended extending the inoculation programme to those 16 and above.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has lifted most restrictions in the country, but warned its citizens that the pandemic is far from over.

What is the status of travel to other international destinations?

The UK’s decision comes in the backdrop of several other countries, including Spain, France, Germany and the UAE relaxing travel rules for certain Indian passengers. While regular international scheduled flights have been banned by the Indian government, flights are operating under the air bubble arrangements with a number of countries.

— With inputs from Pranav Mukul

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