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COVID-19: All countries to be removed from travel red list meaning no hotel quarantine for UK arrivals

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The remaining seven countries on the government's travel red list are to be removed, meaning there will no longer be a requirement for hotel quarantine for arrivals to the UK.

Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela are being taken off the list from 4am on Monday, which will leave no countries left in the highest category of travel restrictions.

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However, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the red list category and mandatory hotel quarantine was not being scrapped entirely and would be reviewed every three weeks.

"We will keep the red list category in place as a precautionary measure to protect public health and are prepared to add countries and territories back if needed, as the UK's first line of defence," Mr Shapps posted on Twitter.

The transport secretary also announced that a further 30 new countries and territories, including Peru, Uganda, Argentina, Tanzania and Cambodia, were being added to the list of locations with approved COVID-19 vaccine programmes.

It brings the total number of countries on the list to 135.

Those travellers arriving in the UK from these destinations, who have had a full course of a COVID vaccine, do not need to quarantine for 10 days on arrival, take a pre-departure test or a day eight post-arrival test.

By contrast, those who arrive in the UK from a country or territory not on the list of locations with approved COVID-19 vaccine programmes do not count as fully vaccinated at the UK border.

The system of managed hotel quarantine was introduced by the government in February in response to the emergence of new coronavirus variants in different parts of the world.

Ministers had also been under pressure to introduce a hotel quarantine system to follow the example of countries like New Zealand and Australia in keeping COVID rates related to international travel low.

Those arriving in the UK from a red list destination - or who have been in or travelled through a country or territory on the red list in the 10 days before their journey to the UK - have been required to spend 10 days in a managed quarantine hotel immediately following their arrival.

This is at a cost of £2,285 for adults, with lower rates for children. Breaking the quarantine rules could see penalties of up to £10,000.

Speaking to broadcasters on Thursday, Mr Shapps said the government would keep "several hundred" hotel rooms available as a "prudent" step.

"We'll review it again in the New Year," he said. "But we don't want to have to reset up a system from scratch if a particular concern was seen in a particular country and we wanted to be able to have quarantine as a mandatory facility.

"So we're just keeping those on standby, but actually we won't be using them.

"As of Monday, there will in fact be zero countries, no countries at all on the red list, which is another great boost for travel and for all those people employed in the travel sector as well, of course, in this country."

Mr Shapps said the remaining seven countries on the red list were being removed as the UK's chief medical officers had advised there were no longer concerns about COVID variants in those countries.

"They've been saying that the reason we can take these remaining seven countries off the list is because we're no longer concerned about their particular variants, which were the lambda and the mu variant," he added.

"They're all being squeezed by the delta variant in those countries, so we no longer have significant concerns."

Since the system of managed hotel quarantine began in mid-February, more than 200,000 people have spent time in a quarantine hotel in England.

This includes more than 3,100 in the last week of September, and more than 4,450 the week before, according to latest NHS Test and Trace data.

In comparison, more than five million people have quarantined at home in England since mid-February.

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As recently as this month, there had been 54 countries and territories on the government's travel red list.

However, 47 of these were removed on 11 October as health officials pointed to the progress of coronavirus vaccine programmes both in the UK and around the world.

Earlier in October, the system of UK travel restrictions was simplified with the removal of the "traffic light" system and "amber" countries.

It means that there are now only two categories of foreign destinations - red list countries requiring hotel quarantine, and the rest of the world.

Those arriving in the UK from non-red list countries who are fully vaccinated, or under 18, have - since 4 October - not needed to complete a pre-departure test, a day eight test or enter a 10-day self-isolation period at home.

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