The amber watchlist was meant to show which countries were at risk of moving to the red list in the travel traffic light system. There is currently a green watchlist, with countries at risk of moving to the amber list due to rising coronavirus case numbers or concerns over a new variant.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he wants a “simple” and “balanced approach” to pandemic travel.
Tory MPs and travel industry figures said the amber watchlist risked creating an overly complicated system and deterring people from travelling.
After criticism to the plan grew, Mr Johnson said he recognised “that people want, badly, to go on their summer holidays, we need to get the travel industry moving again, we need to get our city centres open again and so we want an approach that is as simple as we can possibly make it”.
The travel industry reacted with relief at the decision to scrap the amber watchlist, but Labour said it showed the Tories were “in total chaos” over their pandemic borders policy.
What are the travel rules now?
When returning from a country on the green list you must take a Covid test before departure and have proof of a negative result. You also need to book another test for day two after your return
A Covid test is needed three days before returning, and a PCR test two days after arriving. People who are not fully vaccinated need to self-isolate for 10 days, although this can be shortened for people in England by using the Test to Release scheme – paying for a test on day five. Fully vaccinated people will need to do the tests but not quarantine.
Regardless of your vaccination status, you must take a test before departure and, on arrival, self-isolate for 10 days in a government-approved quarantine hotel. Only residents and citizens of the EU may enter from red list countries.
So which countries are quarantine-free?
The full list of countries on the green, amber and red lists can be found HERE.
Note that, despite the Government scrapping the amber watchlist, the official advice still states: “If conditions change in a country or territory, it can be moved from the amber list to the red list.
“If there is a sudden change in conditions, a country or territory may be moved between lists without warning.”
This advice could be changed in the coming update to the travel rules, expected on Thursday.
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of the air travel industry body Airlines UK, said: “This is a victory for common sense.
“The PM has hit the nail on the head – people want a clear and consistent travel system that they can understand and that is workable.”
He urged the government to go further and include more countries on the green list, exempting them from quarantine requirements.
Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon called on the Government to publish the data behind its decisions and provide “maximum clarity” to passengers and the travel industry.
He said clear information about what was happening with infections in each country was needed to build confidence about travel.
Mr McMahon said: “Not only have ministers failed to protect our borders, allowing the Delta variant to reach the UK in such force, but time and time again they’ve refused to be straight with the public and industry.”
Others said increasingly complex travel rules would put the UK at a competitive disadvantage compared to other nations which were more open for international travel.
Huw Merriman, chairman of the Commons Transport Committee, said: “To deliver confidence and stability, the traffic light system needs to be red, amber and green, and nothing in between.”