England Relaxes Quarantine Requirement for Travelers From 47 Countries

England is relaxing quarantine requirements for travelers from 47 countries, including South Africa, Mexico and Thailand, the British government said Thursday.

Travelers from the 47 countries will no longer be required to quarantine in a hotel when arriving in England. The other countries in the U.K.—Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland—are likely to follow suit.

The change will go into place on Monday, leaving only seven countries on the "red list" that requires visitors to enter hotel quarantine for 11 nights, which costs 2,285 pounds ($3,100) for individual travelers. Travelers from Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela are the only countries that will still need to meet that requirement.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

England COVID
On Monday, 47 countries will be removed from England's "red list," which requires travelers to quarantine for 11 nights in a hotel. Above, passengers gather in the departures lounge at Bristol Airport on October 3, 2021, in Bristol, England. Hugh R. Hastings/Getty Images

As well as dramatically whittling down the number of places from which travelers will be required to quarantine in a hotel, the government said it would recognize the vaccination programs of dozens more countries.

However, travelers will still need to take a series of coronavirus tests before and after their arrival, and go into self-isolation for ten days unless the British government recognizes a country's vaccination status certificates and the vaccines used. It recognizes the vaccines of AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, as well as their formulations such as AstraZeneca Covishield.

Another 37 countries and territories will be added to that list from Monday, reducing entry requirements from countries like Brazil, Ghana, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Thailand and Turkey.

The decision means eligible fully vaccinated adults and under 18s entering England from these locations will in effect be treated like fully vaccinated British nationals. They will no longer have to take a pre-departure test, nor a test on the eighth day after arrival and will be spared the period of self-isolation.

With the nights drawing in earlier ahead of the school half-term break later this month, and winter fast approaching, the changes may well give a boost to the travel industry that's suffered perhaps more than others during the pandemic.

"With half-term and winter sun around the corner, 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," Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said.

The government also restated its ambition to allow eligible fully-vaccinated arrivals to use a lateral flow test, rather than the more expensive gold standard PCR test, by the end of the month. Travelers, it said, will be able to verify they have completed a lateral flow test by sending a photograph.

British Airways announced it will resume services and increase frequencies to a number of winter destinations removed from the red list, such as Cape Town and Johannesburg, Mexico City, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires.

"It finally feels like we are seeing light at the end of a very long tunnel," its chief executive Sean Doyle said. "Britain will benefit from this significant reduction in red list countries and now it's time to turn our attention to eradicating testing for fully-vaccinated travelers to ensure we don't lose our place on the global stage."

England Travel Restrictions
The British government said Thursday that it's relaxing pandemic travel rules applying to dozens of countries. Above, a passenger arrives from a flight at Terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport in London on August 2, 2021. Matt Dunham, File/AP Photo