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In a major relief to international passengers, the United Kingdom government, on Friday, September 17, announced a major relaxation of rules for vaccinated people flying in and out of England. From October 4, the current traffic light system of red, amber and green countries - based on levels of COVID-19 risk - will be scrapped and replaced with one red list only. This relaxation extends to long-haul routes between India and the UK. India is currently on the amber list.

The scrapping of an amber list per the new relaxation means a reduced cost burden for travellers, arising from compulsory quarantines and RT-PCR tests. From October 4, travellers will also no longer need to take pre-departure RT-PCR tests for travelling into England from abroad.

"Today's changes mean a simpler, more straightforward system. One with less testing and lower costs, allowing more people to travel, see loved ones or conduct business around the world while providing a boost for the travel industry," said UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

"Public health has always been at the heart of our international travel policy and with over 44 million people fully vaccinated in the UK, we are now able to introduce a proportionate updated structure that reflects the new landscape," he said.

In the latest update, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are among eight red list destinations moved off the travel ban list from next Wednesday, September 22.

From the end of October, fully vaccinated passengers from non-red list countries will be able to replace the current compulsory day-two PCR test requirement with cheaper lateral flow tests. Anyone testing positive for coronavirus will need to isolate and take a free confirmatory PCR test, which would be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants.

Recently, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) allowed the entry of fully-vaccinated persons from countries that were previously on a suspended list, which included India. Such individuals, however, need to hold a valid residency permit and be fully vaccinated with vaccines approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
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