There had been some speculation over Covishield, the Serum Institute of India made Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, being considered within the wider UK-approved vaccines ambit
The UK on Sunday eased travel restrictions for India by moving the country from its “red” to “amber” list, which means fully vaccinated Indian passengers will no longer be subjected to a compulsory 10-day hotel quarantine on their arrival in Britain.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has confirmed that all arrivals from India who have been vaccinated in India, which is on the amber list as at 4 am local time on Sunday, are required to isolate at home or their designated location mentioned on the compulsory locator form.
Does my India-made vaccine make me eligible for these exemptions?
Partly. You no longer need to undergo exorbitant and compulsory £ 2,000 hotel quarantines but you will most likely still be required to stay indoors and isolated in your own accommodation for at least 10 days.
Only travellers vaccinated in the UK or Europe would qualify for an exemption from the home quarantine requirement.
There had been some speculation over Covishield, the Serum Institute of India made Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, being considered within the wider UK-approved vaccines ambit.
However, the government has clarified that the India-made version of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine so far approved by the UK’s Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is branded as Vaxzevria and that is the only one currently recognised under the exemption rules.
Covishield, as of yet, remains beyond that exclusion but reports suggest it is likely to be included soon.
What rules do I still need to comply with?
Under the legal rules for countries on the amber list of the UK’s traffic light system, passengers must take a COVID test three days before departure and book in advance for two COVID tests to be taken upon arrival in England as well as complete a passenger locator form on arrival.
On arrival in England, the passengers must quarantine at home or in the place they have confirmed as their location for 10 days and take a COVID-19 test on or before day two and on or after day eight.
Who is exempt from mandatory quarantine
- Under-18s and those fully vaccinated in the UK are exempt from the home quarantine, as well as those who have received both jabs in the EU and US.
- Also exempt are those fully vaccinated in the UK or under the UK vaccine programme overseas; under 18 on the day you arrive in England and resident in the UK or in a country with a vaccination programme approved by the UK; and part of a UK-approved vaccine trial.
What exactly is amber list?
Amber is the second grade of travel restrictions in the UK’s traffic light system of colour-coded COVID response rules. Before today, Indian travellers were deemed in the red list meaning that only the citizens of United Kingdom were allowed to travel under strict quarantine rules. Green is the most lenient category and currently seven European nations, territories within UK and the US are the only countries listed under this.
Before travel, you must:
On arrival in England
- quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 10 days
- take a COVID-19 test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8 of arrival
You do not need to quarantine or take a day 8 test after you arrive in England if you are:
- fully vaccinated in the UK or under the UK vaccine programme overseas
- under 18 on the day you arrive in England and a resident in the UK or in a country with a vaccination programme approved by the UK
- part of a UK-approved vaccine trial
However, you will still need to book and take a day 2 test. You must have had your final dose of the vaccine at least 14 whole days before the date you arrive in England.
Transit stops in red list countries
When you arrive in England you need to follow the rules for the highest risk country or territory that you have been in or passed through in the previous 10 days. That can include transit stops.
A transit stop is a stop where passengers can get on or off the same part of the transport in which you are travelling. It can apply to ships, trains or flights. Your ticket should show if a stop is a transit stop.
The rules of a country or territory that you make a transit stop in could apply if:
- new passengers get on and are able to mix with you
- you or other passengers get off the transport you are on and mix with other people, then get on again
Making a transit stop would not affect what you have to do on arrival in England if, during the stop:
- no new passengers, who are able to mix with you, get on
- no-one on-board gets off and mixes with people outside
- passengers get off but do not get back on
If you have been in a country or territory on the red list in the last 10 days you will only be allowed to enter the UK if you are a British or Irish National, or you have residence rights in the UK. You must follow these rules even if you have been fully vaccinated.
All regularly scheduled international flights remain suspended. However, under a bilateral agreement between the UK and Indian governments, a limited number of flights between India and the UK continue to operate.
Airlines have reported a massive surge in bookings soon after the announcement of India moving off the Red List was made on Wednesday, a move overwhelmingly welcomed by the Indian diaspora in the UK hoping for India visits during the ongoing summer break in the country.
India has been on the Red List since end-April when the Delta variant was at its peak, which meant an effective ban on travel except for returning British residents who had to self-isolate in a government-sanctioned hotel at a considerable additional expense.
The update of the travel list this week came alongside an announcement that the cost for solo travellers from destinations still on the Red List staying at a quarantine hotel will go up from August 12, from 1,750 pounds to 2,285 pounds. The charge for an additional adult sharing a room will increase from 650 pounds to 1,430 pounds. According to the government, this is to “better reflect the increased costs involved”.
With inputs from PTI