06:00AM, Saturday 25 September 2021
The Government’s new clearer travel system is ‘a step in the right direction’ for holiday-makers, says a Maidenhead travel agent.
Last Friday, transport secretary Grant Shapps announced a simplified system for international travel, which spikes the ‘amber’ list of countries. Instead, there will be a single red list.
Eight destinations will be removed from the red list in addition: Turkey, Pakistan, the Maldives, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Oman, Bangladesh and Kenya.
There will also be simpler rules and cheaper procedures for fully vaccinated travellers from non-red countries.
From October 4, passengers will no longer need to take a pre-departure test.
From the end of October , day 2 PCR tests will be replaced by cheaper lateral flow tests.
“It’s a step in the right direction from a system that’s been shambolic and confusing to deal with for us and our customers,” said Mark Pollard, director of Tony Sheldon Travel in Maidenhead.
“The amount of phone calls I’ve had from people who haven’t been able to find the right information is phenomenal. That ‘amber’ is gone is fantastic news.”
The Government now also recognises full vaccinations from a further 17 countries and territories, including Japan and Singapore.
“Europe and America are pretty much open again, which is fantastic too,” said Mark. “What we need now is consistency and stability in the rules.”
However, the changes to UK requirements is only half the story, he added, as everything is still dependent on overseas requirements, and a large proportion of the world are still leery of British visitors.
“The industry has been decimated. We are making single-digit percentages of what we were pre-COVID,” Mark said.
As the Government is not looking to prop the travel industry up further, what it needs now is for more people to take a chance.
“People gain confidence when they hear from friends and family who have been away, saying it’s all worth all the agro,” he said.
“It’s about building confidence again. There have been so many negative stories.”
From late October, the Government will also be making changes to allow passengers who change flights or international trains during their journey to follow the measures associated to their country of departure, rather than any countries they have transited through as part of their journey.
Passengers who are not fully vaccinated with authorised vaccines will still have to take a pre-departure test, a day-two and day-eight PCR test and self-isolate for 10 days upon their return from a non-red list country.
All passengers will still need to fill in a Passenger Locator Form ahead of travel.
A student from Maidenhead who suspects she was spiked with a needle on a night out after waking up in hospital the next day has urged people to report similar incidents to the police.