The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Robert Courts)
After a hugely challenging 16 months for the aviation industry, I am delighted that new rules allowing fully vaccinated people to travel to nearly all amber list countries, without isolating upon return, came into effect this morning, although people will still need to comply with necessary testing requirements. This coincides with a change in our advice, meaning that the do-not-travel rules for amber countries have now been relaxed, which will be a huge boost to our aviation and travel sectors ahead of the vital summer season.
Also from today, children under the age of 18 will not have to self-isolate when returning to England, making family reunions and holidays far more accessible. Children aged four and under will continue to be exempt from any travel testing, while children aged five to 10 will only need to do a day two PCR. Eleven to 18-year-olds will need to take both a pre-departure test and a day two PCR, as is the case for arrivals from green list countries.
I must reiterate that public health remains our priority, and with our measures on international travel we are safeguarding the gains made by our successful domestic vaccine programme. That is why, on Friday, the Government took the decision to exempt France from the new arrangements for fully vaccinated people returning to England. This decision was taken after concerns were raised by the Joint Biosecurity Centre over the persistent presence of cases in France of the beta variant, which was first identified in South Africa. I understand that the Minister for Covid Vaccine Deployment, my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Nadhim Zahawi), will be able to answer questions on the data and the concerns raised by the JBC in a statement shortly.
I can also confirm to the House that, since 4 am this morning, there have been changes to the countries in the traffic-light system. Bulgaria, Croatia, Hong Kong and Taiwan have been added to the Government’s green list; Croatia and Taiwan have also been added to the green watchlist, signalling to passengers that these countries are potentially at risk of moving from green to amber at short notice should swift action be required to protect public health in England.
The Balearic islands and the British Virgin Islands have been added to the amber list and, unfortunately, Cuba, Indonesia, Myanmar and Sierra Leone have been added to the red list.
We keep all these measures under constant review to ensure that they remain necessary and proportionate. The system we have designed is adaptable to the evolving epidemiological picture, and the UK Government are prepared to take action at any time to protect public health.