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Ministers 'could remove last seven countries from the travel red list'

Ministers could remove the final seven countries from the travel 'red list' later today in a move which would effectively end the system of hotel quarantine. 

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is expected to deliver an update to the 'red list' this evening.  

A shake-up of the category at the start of October saw the majority of banned nations removed, leaving only Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.

But there is widespread speculation that they will now also be taken off the list.

That would leave the 'red list' empty and likely force the Government to mothball its quarantine hotels. 

It is unclear whether the category will be totally abolished or if it will be retained so that countries could be added to it in the future should the coronavirus situation worsen.

Any changes will only apply to England, but the devolved administrations have recently implemented Westminster's proposals to the international travel rules.

Getting rid of the remaining 'red list' countries would bring the UK into line with most of the rest of Europe.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is expected to announce changes to the travel 'red list' this evening

There are currently only seven nations on the 'red list'. They include the Dominican Republic, pictured on October 10

Travellers arriving from a 'red list' destination are currently required to spend 11 nights in a quarantine hotel at a cost of £2,285.

The policy was introduced as part of border measures to reduce the risk from arriving travellers who may be infected with coronavirus.

But it has been blamed for contributing to UK travel firms struggling to recover from the pandemic.

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: 'There's no justification now for any country to be on a red list or for hotel quarantine to be in existence.

'There have been no new variants of concern since May and countries are now learning that blanket border measures, such as blocking whole countries, don't work.

'The best approach is to check for an individual's vaccine status and ensure they are up to date if they want to travel without restrictions.

'It's encouraging that the UK Government have finally cottoned on to this.

'The current seven countries on the red list, such as Panama and Colombia, will be delighted if they are taken off it later today.'

Mr Shapps announced on October 7 that he was removing 47 countries from the 'red list', moving them all onto the 'go list' from October 11. 

Those changes meant that double-vaccinated people can return to the UK from most countries in the world without having to take a pre-departure test or quarantine on arrival. 

However, they do still have to take a coronavirus test on the second day they are back.