In what will certainly be a boost for Croatian tourism the UK government has drastically simplified Covid-19 travel restrictions. On Friday the rules for international travel were changed by the British government and the new proposals end the traffic light system for ranking countries. Croatia was ranked by the UK government in the “green waiting list” but now as the traffic light system will come to an end it will be ranked as a low risk country. Instead of red, amber and green the UK government will introduce a low and high risk ranking.
And the relaxations don’t end there. All passengers who are fully vaccinated will no longer need to take the expensive PCR test, at least when returning to the UK from low risk countries. From the 4th of October fully vaccinated passengers arriving from low-risk countries will be permitted to take a cheaper lateral flow test, rather than the privately administered PCR lab tests now required. The insistence on PCR tests has meant that travel from the UK has been expensive, with PCR tests costing up to 80 Euros. This has meant that the UK travel industry has been one of the slowest to recover from the pandemic.
Sajid Javid Health and Social Care Secretary said, “Today we have simplified the travel rules to make them easier to understand and follow, opening up tourism and reducing the costs to go abroad. As global vaccination efforts continue to accelerate and more people gain protection from this dreadful disease, it is right that our rules and regulations keep pace.”
UK travel industry lagging behind Europe
Data shows that Britain's travel recovery is lagging. UK flights were down 39 percent compared with pre-pandemic levels for the two weeks to early Sept. 6, while France, Spain and Italy were down between 24 percent and 28 percent, according to Eurocontrol, reports Reuters.
"Today's changes mean a simpler, more straightforward system. One with less testing and lower costs, allowing more people to travel, see loved ones or conduct business around the world while providing a boost for the travel industry," Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said in a statement.
Boost for tourism in Dubrovnik
And as Brits are the most numerous tourists in Dubrovnik this news could be a shot in the arm for the tourism industry. July and August, and indeed the first weeks of September, have been positive with tourism levels back up around 2019 figures. And with Brits now in the position to travel both cheaper and with less complications the post-season in the city should be better than expected. UK airlines have announced a number of flights to Dubrovnik in October and this easing of the restrictions could well help to fill seats.
No ease of travel for unvaccinated travellers
However, unvaccinated travellers won’t be in the same position for the ease of travel. All unvaccinated tourists returning from low-risk countries will be required to take a pre-departure test, plus PCR tests on day two and day eight, and to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival, the government said.
EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said “Removing the pre-departure test coupled with the disbanding of the traffic light system will inject some much needed confidence into travel once again.” Although he has a word of caution “However, vaccinated travellers and those from low risk countries will still have to do an unnecessary test after arriving in the UK, making travel less affordable for all.”
How are the UK travel rules changing?
End of the traffic light system – amber and green lists will be merged to make “low risk” ranking. Red ranking will become “high risk.”
From Monday 4 October, the amber and green lists will be merged into one list.
Anyone who's fully vaccinated (with a vaccine recognised by the UK government) will no longer have to take a PCR test before travelling back to England from one of these countries.
However, on day two of arrival in the UK a Covid-19 test must be made, a PCR test will be replaced with a cheaper and easier lateral flow test.
Travellers coming to the UK from the so called “high risk” countries will have to spend 11 night in quarantine in an airport hotel at a cost of £2,285 per person.
All passengers will still need to fill in a passenger locator form ahead of travel.