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08th Sep 2021

UK’s Covid traffic light system ‘to be scrapped by October 1st’

Kieran Galpin

UK's traffic light system for foreign travel is set to be scrapped

Bye-bye traffic lights and hello free travel!

The UK’s Covid traffic light system for overseas travel could be scrapped by next month, according to a travel industry insider.

The PC Agency’s CEO, Paul Charles, tweeted on Tuesday: “The traffic light system is expected to be scrapped by 1st Oct – at last. Airlines and some of us in the sector are aware of plans to create a simpler system, where countries are either red or not. This would be the US model in effect, which I’ve been calling for.”

He continued: “Scrapping of traffic light system would be a relief to pretty well everyone and herald a “living with an endemic” approach rather than blanket country measures. Would be a relief to countries in #Africa ##SouthAmerica #Asia which don’t deserve to be red-listed.”

While the government hasn’t made any announcement on traffic light system changes, Charles does have a history of pre-empting announcements. For instance, he tweeted the countries moving to the green list before they were published on August 26, reports the Independent.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has said travel to and from the UK is “still being hampered by this traffic light system that doesn’t work because they keep changing it and it undermines passenger confidence”.

Clive Dix, a former head of the UK’s vaccine task force, slammed the system at the beginning of August, saying: “The current system probably means people who are slightly poorer in society struggle to be able to do any travel abroad and I think that’s unfair.”

Last week, the Telegraph published “11 reasons why the traffic lights are broken and should be scrapped.”

Among the reasons were the confusing agendas that have countries red-listed. The Seychelles, for instance, which the Telegraph reports as having vaccinated 93% of its residents, has been red-listed for some time.

Similarly, our travel system is pushing developing countries further into poverty.

“There are more than 1.5 million South Africans whose livelihoods depend on income from tourism. The UK owes these people a better explanation for why it continues to maintain travel restrictions which every day look more and more discriminatory,” said David Frost, CEO of SATSA, the representative body for inbound tourism to South Africa.

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