'Africa' removed from UK red list

The number of countries on the UK Covid travel red list will be cut from 54 to seven, the government has announced.

Strict hotel quarantine requirements will also be dropped for travellers from dozens of countries.

Zimbabwe, South Africa, Brazil and Thailand will be among those removed from the list from 4am next Monday, but those remaining on it will be Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Venezuela.

The step means thousands of people hoping to visit England who would have had to undergo an 11-night hotel quarantine at a cost of more than £2,000 may be able to avoid isolation altogether, depending on their vaccine status.

In a statement, Grant Shapps, Britain’s transportation secretary, said: "We’re making it easier for families and loved ones to reunite, by significantly cutting the number of destinations on the red list, thanks in part to the increased vaccination efforts around the globe."

Fully vaccinated people arriving from countries not on the red list will no longer be required to take a coronavirus test before travelling to England, although they must still pay for a test on the second day after their arrival.

In addition to the shorter red list, the government said passengers would soon be able to use a photograph of a lateral flow test as a minimum requirement to verify a negative result.

This change - affecting tests taken by eligible fully-vaccinated people from non-red list countries two days after arrival in England - would come into effect in "late October", the Department for Transport (DfT) said.

While pandemic travel rules in the UK have recently been simplified, with the amber list cut, and advice against holidays changed for 32 countries, consumer group Which? warned the changes only reflect requirements for arriving back in the UK.

"Travellers should be aware that they may still face restrictions on entry to many destinations, especially those under 18 who are not yet vaccinated," it said.

In the run-up to Christmas, attention will turn to whether the tougher travel restrictions will remain in force for some countries, or whether ministers will try to abolish the red list.

All the countries that will be removed from red list from 04:00 BST on Monday:

Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Cape Verde, Chile, Congo (Democratic Republic), Costa Rica, Cuba. Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, French Guiana, Georgia, Guyana, Indonesia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mayotte, Mexico, Mongolia, Montenegro, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Paraguay, Philippines, Réunion, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Suriname, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Uganda, Uruguay, Zambia and Zimbabwe.