By Orville Williams
Antigua and Barbuda has been retained on the United Kingdom’s ‘green list’ for travel into the country from abroad, a move which will be music to the ears of tourism officials, as well as the thousands of Britons who have been flocking to the island over the past couple of months.
In its latest update, announced yesterday, the UK government noted that only Bangladesh, Egypt, Kenya, Maldives, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Turkey will move to the ‘amber list’ at 4 am on Wednesday, September 22.
What that means is British visitors to Antigua and Barbuda – for which the UK is the second-largest tourism source market – along with neighbouring territories Anguilla, Barbados, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands, do not have to quarantine on their return to the UK. This applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
Travellers from those countries will only need to provide a negative Covid test to be allowed in and then take another test on or before the second day of their arrival, the least strict of the UK’s travel restrictions. The green list rules also dictate that quarantine would only apply if that second test result is positive.
Though benefitting from the green list status, Antigua and Barbuda is also simultaneously on the “green watchlist,” which includes countries that are “at risk of moving from green to amber.” The UK government notes that “if conditions change in a country or territory, it can be moved from the green list to the amber or red list.”
Antigua and Barbuda’s place on the green list was credited with a significant increase in visitor arrivals just a few months ago, which has resulted in constant fears that removal from the list could mean a reduction in said arrivals.
As explained previously, a country’s place on either the green, amber or ‘red list’ is determined by its Covid-19 situation at any given time, and during the time the ‘Land of 365 Beaches’ saw record visitor arrivals, the Covid situation was incredibly low, with a trickling of active cases.
Things have escalated dramatically since then, as the health sector is now battling a whopping 857 active cases – at the time of writing – and the country’s Covid-related deaths have also increased, though at a much lower rate.
Based on the pronouncement from the UK government, it is a wonder the twin-island has retained its place on the list. It also retained its place earlier this month, during the time the latest spike in infections first began.
As cases continue to rise, however, the fears will similarly continue to increase that it is only a matter of time before the country is degraded to either of the two other lists, which could hinder the much-anticipated tourism rebound.
For countries on the amber list, unvaccinated travellers entering the UK from there must have a negative pre-arrival Covid test and quarantine at their home or other accommodation for ten days. Those travellers must also take a Covid test on or before their second and eighth day in the country.
Fully vaccinated travellers from amber list countries only have to provide the pre-arrival Covid tests, and then take another on or before day two, without the need for quarantine.
Travellers from countries on the red list, meanwhile, will only be allowed into the UK if they are British or Irish nationals, or if they have residence rights in the UK.
Those allowed in will need a negative pre-arrival test, they will need to complete a passenger locator form – which will be used to contact them if someone they travelled with develops Covid symptoms or to ensure that they are following the applicable quarantine rules – and they will need to book a quarantine hotel package, which include two Covid tests.
Ten days must be spent in the quarantine hotels, with Covid tests taken on or before day two and eight of their arrival.
The rules, which apply under the UK’s current ‘traffic light system,’ will be changed come October 4, when the entire system is simplified in England “with a single red list.”
Under the new system, fully vaccinated people will not need a pre-departure test before leaving any country not on the red list, and PCR tests will no longer be required for those travellers upon returning to England.
In announcing the revamp of the system, UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, said the new travel rules would remain in place “at least until the new year.”