The final seven countries on the UK’s red travel list have now been removed, ending the need for people to quarantine in a hotel.
Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela were the only countries that remained on the red list – but as of 4am they were taken off it.
This means people will no longer need to spend 11 nights in a quarantine hotel when they arrive in the UK – a requirement that came with a cost of £2,285 for adults.
However, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said the red list category will remain in place as a “precautionary measure to protect public health” and the government is “prepared to add countries and territories back if needed, as the UK’s first line of defence”.
Announcing the decision last week, he said the government would keep “several hundred” hotel rooms available as a “prudent” step.
“We don’t want to have to reset up the 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,” he added.
“So we’re just keeping those on standby, but actually we won’t be using them.”
The hotel quarantine policy was introduced in February as part of measures to reduce the risk of arriving travellers infected with COVID-19.
Since then, more than 200,000 people have spent time in a quarantine hotel in England.
But the system has been blamed for contributing to UK travel firms struggling to recover from the pandemic.
At the time of the announcement, the head of the Business Travel Association, Clive Wratten, said: “The removal of all countries from the red list is appreciated.
“However, the lurking threat of further introductions to this list and the continued existence of quarantine hotels means that it does not give travellers the confidence that they need.”
From today, the government will also recognise coronavirus vaccines for arrivals from more than 30 new countries and territories including Peru and Uganda.
This takes the total of countries on that list to 135.
Earlier in October, the UK’s travel restrictions were simplified with the removal of the “traffic light” system and amber list countries, meaning there were only red list countries and the rest of the world.
People arriving in the country from non-red list locations, who are fully vaccinated or under 18, do not need to complete a pre-departure COVID test, a test on the eighth day of arriving, or isolate for 10 days at home.