The current traffic light system under coronavirus rules could soon disappear in favour of a new two-tier arrangement, sources have indicated.
Officials are considering changing the way Brits travel in future by focusing on their vaccination status, rather than just the Covid-19 risk of each country.
Instead there would only be ‘high-risk’ and ‘low-risk’ categories, making travel more simple.
A source told The Telegraph: ‘It’s about whether you are vaccinated or not, rather than the country you are travelling to.
‘What it means is that green and amber disappear and only vaccination status will count for where you travel. For a vaccinated person, just as now all countries apart from red are ‘green’.
‘For an unvaccinated person, it means that your travel to a green country might be slightly more difficult.
‘There’s a potential psychological boost in that a lot of people think travel to amber is risky whereas if it disappeared, people may be more willing to travel to X, Y or Z.
‘It could also incentivise people to get vaccinated. There’s been a slowdown in the rate of vaccination, particularly among younger people and that’s a way to encourage take-up.’
Currently, double-jabbed travellers can already travel to countries on the amber list without having to isolate on their return.
This means that for them, visiting green- or amber-list countries is exactly the same and means they need to do pre-departure tests and a PCR test within two days of returning to the UK.
A new system is likely to see green and amber disappear as separate categories, although red will continue to ask people returning from red-list countries to stay in a quarantine hotel as they are at higher risk of contracting the virus.
Therefore the new system is likely to only affect those who are not fully vaccinated – but it is unclear whether the rules would change for them, for example, if they would have to self-isolate or do extra testing.
The change would coincide with the completion of the vaccination rollout programme, with all adults aged 18 and over set to have been offered both of their jabs by the end of September.
The Government also promised to review the traffic light system by October 1 when it was initially announced earlier in the year.
The arrangement has been criticised as too complex, particularly after an ‘amber-plus’ part of the list was introduced. This meant people still had to self-isolate after visiting certain countries regardless of their vaccination status.
Sean Doyle, chief executive of British Airways, said yesterday the traffic light system was ‘not fit for purpose’.
He added: ‘It needs to be simplified. It needs to be adapted in the same way that we see in Europe and in the US.
A Government spokesperson said: ‘Our international travel policy is guided by one overwhelming priority – protecting public health.
‘Decisions on our traffic light system are kept under regular review and are informed by the latest risk assessment from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and wider public health factors.
‘The next formal checkpoint review will take place by October 1, 2021.’