Despite India-made Covishield being named among its globally eligible vaccine formulations, the UK had outraged India by not accepting fully vaccinated Indian visitors as part of its new criteria last month. The so-called “simplified” international travel system in Britain, which does away with an amber list of medium COVID-19 risk countries, went into force on Monday, however, it provides no benefits to vaccinated Indians visiting the UK. Despite including India-made Covishield among its stated globally approved vaccine formulations, the UK enraged India by refusing to recognize fully vaccinated Indian travelers as part of the new guidelines released last month.
In reaction, India implemented reciprocal measures on all British travelers, regardless of vaccination status, mandating the same level of PCR tests and a 10-day quarantine at the indicated destination, which went into force on Monday. A UK government official said, “We continue to engage with overseas partners, including India, to roll out our phased strategy.” The United Kingdom’s new system covers more than 50 countries, including the United States and European Union (EU) members, as well as 18 others like Canada, Japan, and the United Arab Emirates. Travelers from these countries no longer need to take a pre-departure test, a day 8 test, or a 10-day self-isolation requirement before visiting England.
They only need to take a single PCR test on their second day in the UK. The Department for Transport stated, “This builds on the UK government’s successful trial phase with Europe and the US, and brings the total number of nations under the scope of the strategy to over 50, with more countries and territories being added in the coming weeks.” Because India is not on the list of eligible nations, travelers must undertake all three tests (pre-departure, day 2, and day 8) and self-isolate at a specified location, with the alternative of “test to release” following a negative PCR test on day 5. This effectively maintains India’s current status as an amber list country.
Travelers from the 54 countries on the red list are still obliged to stay in a government-designated hotel for a 10-day quarantine, a provision the UK government is thought to be considering abolishing for the bulk of the nations on the red list later this month. For vaccinated immigrants, the British government wants to replace PCR tests with a less expensive lateral flow test starting in the middle of this month. However, the timing and specifics of this adjustment are unknown.
Meanwhile, UK official sources indicated over the weekend that the expansion of vaccination certification to further nations will be reassessed every three weeks and that the UK government is continuing to work with the Indian government on the matter. Meanwhile, the travel industry in the United Kingdom has applauded the government’s latest decision to relax testing and quarantine requirements. According to the BBC, Airlines UK wishes to see additional nations removed off the red list in the next update, as well as more mutual acceptance of immunization status for passengers who have been vaccinated in other countries.