The UK government’s travel advisory warning against “all but essential travel” on public health grounds was updated on Wednesday to lift COVID-19 related restrictions for 32 countries, including Bangladesh and Malaysia.
India was not among the countries covered by this complete travel ban, which impacts travellers’ ability to access travel insurance. The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said the change means people will be able to travel to a larger number of destinations with greater ease.
“These rule tweaks will make travelling more straightforward, supporting businesses and families right across Britain – and allow more of us to see friends and loved ones with greater peace of mind,” said UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.
“We’re striking the right balance between keeping people safe which remains our priority and giving them the freedom to exercise personal responsibility while supporting the travel sector as it continues to recover,” she said.
The update comes as part of what the British government has described as a “simplified system” for international travel, which has seen the replacement of the traffic light system with a single red list and reduced testing requirements for eligible fully vaccinated travellers.
However, vaccinated Indians are yet to benefit from this new system as talks to include India on a list of vaccine-eligible countries remain ongoing.
UK government sources have said that the extension of vaccine certification to additional countries will be reviewed approximately every three weeks, with the first three-week review mark expected this week.
Meanwhile, Indians entering the UK – irrespective of vaccination status – are required to undertake three PCR tests and self-isolate at a declared address.
British nationals entering India are subjected to the same rules, as part of retaliatory measures that came into force from Monday.
The FCDO said it will continue to advise against all but essential travel for all “red list” countries and territories where the risk to British travellers is “unacceptably high”. It said that it plans to remove advisories for more countries and territories in the coming days.
Wednesday’s FCDO travel advisory update covers Algeria, Armenia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Comoros, Tokelau & Niue, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Gambia, Guinea, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Kosovo, Liberia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, São Tom233, and Príncipe, Senegal, Solomon Islands, Togo, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Congo, America Samoa, French Polynesia, and Ghana.
Many travel insurance companies use FCDO travel advice as a reference point in their policies – typically excluding cover for places where government advises against essential travel, however, people will now be able to purchase travel insurance for a wider range of destinations across the globe.
The FCDO said the advice for the 32 countries has been lifted in light of the improved public health in these countries and territories, a better understanding of the virus and the decreased risk to British nationals as a result of the vaccine rollout.