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Delay to next travel policy review ‘should not rule out refinements’

The changes to the traffic light system announced last week are likely to mark the final policy revision until next year but further refinements should not be ruled out.

A leading aviation source described the update as “an attempt to address industry concerns and get some stability into the system” and said: “We’re not expecting any other review until the new year.

“We would have liked them to have gone further, but we need to look forward and not harp on about what’s not in place. It will get things moving for a big portion of the industry.”

However, the source added: “A lot of the world’s vaccination programmes aren’t recognised. That doesn’t require a change in policy. We expect to see a lot added quite quickly.

“Second, those not vaccinated are still treated severely, with three tests and 10 days’ quarantine. These are tighter restrictions than we’d hoped for. The numbers in that category are diminishing, but there is no real change for them, and for great tranches of South America and Africa there is nothing in the review.”

A second source denounced the fresh divergence between England and the devolved administrations as “hopeless for the industry”, saying: “International markets see the UK as a single country. They don’t see four separate entities.

“With all respect to the devolved administrations, it doesn’t make sense and it doesn’t work in practice.”

Removal of the day-two PCR test requirement for vaccinated travellers has been widely welcomed, although there has been criticism of the delay in doing so until late October.

However, the source explained the delay is “driven by the changes to systems required” primarily to the passenger locator form, saying: “It will have to be substantially amended and we’ve had issues in the past when things have been done at short notice.”

The source said the “point had been made strongly” that testing rules should be introduced by half-term, a case acknowledged by transport secretary Grant Shapps in the House of Commons on Monday and again at Westminster on Wednesday.

Confirming that the next review of the system was not planned until the new year, Shapps said the Department of Health and Social Care would “have half-term in mind” when it announced further details on the testing changes.

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