England has reduced to just seven the number of “red list” countries that it considers the highest coronavirus risk and from which it requires travelers to quarantine in government-designated hotels upon arrival.
The change, announced on Thursday, removes 47 countries and territories from the list, including Afghanistan, Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa. Taking effect on Monday at 4 a.m. local time, it lifts a set of restrictions that have separated family members and thwarted business travel and vacations.
Residents and officials in restricted countries have in recent months called for the measures to be lifted as their infection numbers have fallen and vaccinations have risen. One online petition asking that Turkey be removed from the list gained nearly 49,000 signatures.
“We’re making it easier for families and loved ones to reunite, by significantly cutting the number of destinations on the red list, thanks in part to the increased vaccination efforts around the globe,” Grant Shapps, Britain’s transportation secretary, said in a statement.
The countries remaining on the list are all in Latin America or the Caribbean: Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.
Fully vaccinated people arriving from countries not on the red list will no longer be required to take a coronavirus test before traveling to England, although they must still pay for a test on the second day after their arrival.
Unvaccinated people traveling from these destinations will still have to take a pre-departure test, plus tests on their second and eighth days after arriving, and will still be required to isolate for 10 days.
The changes followed an announcement this week that England’s three-tiered traffic light-inspired system was being reduced to a single “red list.” Testing and quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated arrivals were also eased.
Sajid Javid, Britain’s health secretary, cited what he called the country’s “phenomenal progress” in vaccination. Seventy-three percent of people in Britain have received a single dose, and 67 percent are fully vaccinated, according to figures collated by Our World in Data.