Despite scrapping its traffic light system for international travel earlier this year, England has reimposed a “red list” for the countries that are deemed to be the highest risk for coronavirus.
The list dictates different rules for testing and quarantining travellers. A country may be placed on it based on factors including the percentage of the population that has been vaccinated, infection rates and the prevalence of variants of concern.
South Africa and five other southern African countries are currently on the red list, after concerns were raised over the new B.1.1.529 variant.
Other countries with high infection rates have relatively free travel permitted, with some non-red-list countries having higher infection rates than red-list countries.
Such a mismatch between the data and countries’ travel status has drawn criticism. When the travel list was imposed, Yvette Cooper, the chair of the home affairs select committee, told BBC Newsnight that “we need a transparent system so that everybody can see what is the data, what is the evidence, on which decisions are being taken. So that we could tell, for example, why the government didn’t put India on the red list much earlier when they should’ve done, but also so we can see why they took the decision to put Portugal on the green list and then to take Portugal off the green list.”
Whether a country is on the red list, as well as the vaccination status of the traveller, will dictate whether and where they need to quarantine:
- Red list countries: travellers need a negative pre-departure Covid test, and will need to stay in hotel quarantine and complete a passenger locator form.
- Non-red countries and with approved UK vaccine: travellers need to show proof of vaccination and take a day-two test (which may be a lateral flow test).
- Non-red countries and without approved UK vaccine: travellers need a negative pre-departure Covid test, and will need to take day-two and day-eight PCR tests and self-isolate for 10 days (with option to test to release after five days).
Vaccination rate data is sourced from Our World in Data and shows the latest available data for total vaccinations for every 100 people in a particular country. Countries that have not recorded a vaccination rate to date have not been included.
Cases data is the latest available from Johns Hopkins University, and shows the average number of new daily cases across the last two weeks.
Each country’s dot is sized by the number of visitors it received from the UK in 2019, as sourced from the ONS.
Case and vaccine rates data is the latest available. It does not reflect the data at the point at which a country was placed in its travel category.
The Republic of Ireland is not included as its inclusion in the Common Travel Area means that it is exempt from the travel lists.