travel to United Kindgom

The United Kingdom will scrap testing requirements for fully vaccinated visitors as from 11 February. Image
: Pixabay

The end in sight? UK traffic light system slated to end in October

There are indications that the UK may soon be scrapping its controversial traffic light system which restricts travel freedom for South Africans and UK nationals.

travel to United Kindgom

The United Kingdom will scrap testing requirements for fully vaccinated visitors as from 11 February. Image
: Pixabay

The UK’s traffic light system for international travel might be scrapped from next month according to an insider who is privy to information released by authorities in the UK. It is predicted that the UK’s entry restrictions will come in line with those of many other countries which have already begun to reopen their borders.

Like countries such as Canada, Ireland, Austria, Germany, France, and Switzerland; the United Kingdom is expected to be ease entry restrictions for vaccinated travellers from next month. A source told EuroNews that the UK’s travel rules are expected to be based on a traveller’s vaccination status as opposed to the risk level of the country that they are arriving from.


The UK imposed fight and travel bans against South Africa in December last year when the Beta strain of the Coronavirus was discovered in the country.

The ban has prohibited airlines from operating scheduled passenger flights between the two countries for most of this year, as well as prevented South Africans from travelling to the UK for tourism purposes.


For the past few months, the United Kingdom has classified countries as either green, amber or red. Each list comes with different testing and quarantine requirements for returning residents. The list totally prevents nationals from red-listed countries from making discretionary trips to the UK.

The traffic light system has severely disadvantaged many countries which are dependent on the UK as a source market for tourism.

South Africa and most of Southern Africa is currently listed on the UK’s red list, which deters UK travellers from visiting this region since costly hotel-managed quarantines costing £2 285 (R45 000) are required when travellers return from red-listed countries to the UK.


CEO of the UK-based luxury travel PR firm PC Agency, Paul Charles, recently tweeted that changes to the United Kingdom’s current policy are expected regarding the UK’s entry restrictions.

“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,” Charles said.

While the UK government has not confirmed whether any such adjustments to its traffic light system are accurate, according to EuroNews, claims made by Charles may be accurate as he has correctly predicted travel changes in the past.

Industry leaders in the United Kingdom expect the UK government to adopt a simplified approach, which has been called for since the introduction of traffic light system. Charles expects the UK will scrap the green and amber lists entirely and will release only a list of countries whose travellers are banned from entering the UK.


The local tourism sector has been dealt a massive blow by the ongoing bans and restrictions raised against South Africa by various countries including the UK, Germany and the Netherlands – which were considered to be important tourism source markets for SA.

South Africa’s tourism sector is heavily reliant on tourists from the UK as the United Kingdom was South Africa’s top tourism source country prior to the pandemic. Reports from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) have estimated that the UK’s travel ban has cost South Africa R26 million per day in loss of revenue.


Though there is no indication of which countries might be included on a possible “forbidden list”, there is hope that there could be some relief for South Africa. South Africa may be in a good position for consideration of being removed from the UK’s list of “undesirable” destinations.

South Africa’s reclassification by numerous European countries, from a virus variant area to a high-risk area has facilitated several more border openings in the last few weeks.

Improved vaccination rollouts in South Africa, combined with subsiding infection rates due to having overcome the third wave of infections; as well as lobbying efforts for South Africa’s removal from the UK’s red list may also stand in South Africa’s favour.