The government of the United Kingdom has today confirmed that Thailand is one of the countries that it has added to the “red list” of nations. Meanwhile, Canada joins a host of other countries now on the “green list.”
Following the UK government’s announcement, authorities of the devolved nations across the kingdom have also updated their lists. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying
Montenegro is the other nation to join Thailand on the red list at 04:00 on August 30th. The UK government highlights that in these two countries, an outbreak of a new variant or existing variant of concern or investigation can’t be easily identified before it is brought to the UK.
Thailand has had a sharp rise in cases from the end of June, with a peak of 23,418 new cases on August 14th. However, daily cases seem to have been dropping gradually since then.
Meanwhile, Montenegro’s cases have also been increasing sharply since the end of June, and the numbers keep. 698 new cases were reported yesterday, but important to note that Montenegro has a far smaller population than Thailand.
Along with complex testing measures, red list passengers have to pay at least £2,285 (~$3,129) to stay in a quarantine hotel for at least 10 full days. Photo: Getty Images
Naturally, yet another batch of additions to the red list would frustrate carriers, especially with countries such as Thailand so famous for tourism. One carrier, British Airways, has already voiced its concerns.
“Despite our world-leading vaccination programme the UK’s economic recovery remains far behind our more pragmatic European neighbours, which are already reaping the rewards of a rapid recovery,” Sean Doyle, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, shared in a statement.
‘It cannot be right that although 77% of us have been fully vaccinated we have a much more costly, prohibitive and restrictive testing regime than everyone else, when data suggests just four out of every 1,000 travellers tests positive for Coronavirus on their return to the UK, less than the overall rate at home. These stats strongly suggest PCR tests should only be needed following a positive lateral flow test.’
British Airways has been mulling over its short-haul options following the change of conditions across the global industry. Photo: Getty Images
On the other end
Nonetheless, despite the frustrations surrounding the additions to the red list, more than a handful of destinations have been added to the green list. All of the locations are either in Europe or a close ally of the UK. Those flying in from green countries have to take a test in the three days before flying, take another “day 2” test after arriving, and complete a passenger locator form.
Even though these requirements are much more lenient than the measures in place for red and even amber list destinations, the tests can cost over $100 each to book. Furthermore, there may also be additional tests to book during the wider passenger journey, depending on the other destination’s requirements.
The destinations added to the green list are:
The likes of Air Canada will be delighted with the update. Photo: Getty Images
Finding a better balance
Overall, Sean Doyle calls for the UK to stop all the uncertainty amid all the traffic light status changes. He concludes that the UK’s green list is far smaller than its counterparts in Europe and across the Atlantic Ocean in the US.
While the UK continues to add countries to its red list, it is going through a significant wave of virus cases itself, with cases continuing to rise. Moreover, passenger numbers are still at a fraction of what they were at pre-COVID amid all the tricky restrictions in place to leave and enter.
We have reported that passenger numbers at London Heathrow have remained down approximately 90% in recent months when against 2019’s figures. Two years ago, Heathrow was the busiest airport in Europe and 7th busiest in the world, with over 80 million people traveling through each year. However, only 22 million passengers passed through last year, causing the airport’s position to drop to just 22. Notably, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport overtook its UK counterpart in the league.
Altogether, airlines and airports will be hoping that there is a better balance heading into the end of the year. Passengers will also be hoping that they can travel safely yet efficiently in the new era.
What are your thoughts about the latest update to the UK’s travel list? What do you make of the ongoing changes? Let us know what you think of the overall situation in the comment section.
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