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The red list could be scrapped as soon as this week after reports that Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has convinced colleagues to ease restrictions on travellers.
The move is expected to be approved as early as this week and that hotel quarantine could be replaced with testing for the fully vaccinated travellers, according to the Mail on Sunday. It’s so far unclear whether restrictions would remain for the unvaccinated.
The news follows signals from the Government that red list rules would be reconsidered due to the widespread transmission of the omicron variant in the UK.
In the Commons last week, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said that, as omicron became the dominant Covid variant, there would be “less need to have any kind of travel restrictions at all.”
Meanwhile, during a press conference, when asked whether travellers could instead isolate at home for the required 10 days if fully vaccinated, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We will be looking at the red list and the way to do it.”
Eleven countries, including South Africa, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Namibia have been added to the previously empty hotel quarantine list, with stays costing £2,285 per person.
Scroll down for the latest updates.
What the Covid rules mean for Christmas travel
The Prime Minister did not announce any extra international travel restrictions during his national address last night
As such, the situation stands from the added travel restrictions that were already in place following the discovery of the omicron variant.
Eleven African countries were added to the travel red list and a number of nations – including France, Portugal and Spain – are imposing stricter restrictions on arrivals from the UK.
Travel testing rules had also already been tightened: anyone travelling to the UK must now take a PCR test by the end of the second day after their arrival, and self-isolate until they have received a negative result – regardless of the country they are travelling from, or their vaccination status.
Additionally, all people aged 12 years and over must take a PCR or lateral flow test before they travel to England from abroad.
Covid alert levels explained: What Level 4 means for you
The UK Covid alert level has been raised following a rapid increase in omicron cases being recorded.
The country’s four chief medical officers and NHS England’s national medical director have recommended to ministers that the UK go up to Level 4 from Level 3.
Boris Johnson addressed the nation at 8pm on Sunday to warn of a “tidal wave” of omicron, which is more resistant to vaccines, and said from “bitter experience” the situation could deteriorate rapidly.
However, there have been no changes to the rules regarding international travel.
Covid travel restrictions are haphazard and disproportionate, airlines tell Boris Johnson
Britain’s biggest airlines and tour operators have accused Boris Johnson of a “haphazard and disproportionate” approach to travel that has “unnecessarily disrupted” the Christmas holiday plans of millions of Britons.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, they said that he has broken his promises to fix the “rip-off” PCR testing for travellers that exposes them to charges of up to £399 and presided over a quarantine hotel shambles where customers have been double booked and forced to pay twice.
“We and our customers feel sincerely let down, having believed a more pragmatic, evidence-led approach to travel, in line with the rest of the world, had been achieved and agreed by all concerned just a few months ago,” said the chief executives of the airlines, among them British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Ryanair and Tui.