Tue | Oct 19, 2021

Update | Jamaica to benefit as England simplifies COVID-19 travel rules

Published:Friday | September 17, 2021 | 1:16 PM
Britain's Transport Secretary Grant Shapps leaves a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street, in London, Tuesday, September 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

LONDON (AP) — Jamaica is set to benefit as the British government today announced a major simplification of its rules for international travel, heeding complaints from travellers and businesses that its regulations aimed at staving off the spread of COVID-19 were cumbersome and ineffective.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the “simpler, more straightforward system” would allow “more people to travel, see loved ones or conduct business around the world while providing a boost for the travel industry.”

He said the changes were possible because of Britain's high vaccination rate.

Almost 82% of people 16 and up in the UK are fully vaccinated.

Shapps said the UK is scrapping its “traffic light” system that ranks countries as red, amber or green — high, medium or low risk from the coronavirus.

Jamaica currently falls in the amber category.

The categories have been criticised as unfair, and sudden changes to countries' status have caused headaches for thousands of travellers.

From October 4, there will be a two-tier system, with several dozen countries where COVID-19 is widespread classed as red, and the remainder as open.

The change will benefit Jamaica.

Eight countries will be removed from the red list on Wednesday: Turkey, Pakistan, the Maldives, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Oman, Bangladesh and Kenya.

Testing requirements will be eased for fully vaccinated arrivals to England from open countries, who will no longer have to take a COVID-19 test before travelling.

Travellers will still need a test after landing, but from the end of October, an inexpensive lateral flow test will suffice, rather than a more sensitive - but pricier - PCR test.

Unvaccinated travellers will still have to self-isolate for 10 days, as well as taking coronavirus tests before and after their trips.

In a boost to tourism, Britain said it will recognise vaccinations given in 17 more countries, including Australia, Canada, Japan and South Korea.

It previously had recognised only shots given in the UK, the US and the European Union.

The changes initially apply to England. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland set their own policies and have not yet said what they plan to do.

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