TRAFFIC LIGHT SYSTEM FOR FOREIGN TRAVEL COMES INTO FORCE

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-People who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in the UK will no longer have to self-isolate when they arrive into Northern Ireland from an amber country from Monday, 19 July.

-The NI Executive previously set 26 July as the date for easing travel rules.

-The latest relaxation of coronavirus travel restrictions was announced by Stormont’s Department of Health.

-But it also announced that the Balearic Islands and British Virgin Islands are to be added to the amber list.

A BBC news source says that NI eases travel rules from amber list countries.

•The update will take effect from 04:00 BST on 19 July

According to a Department of Health statement, anyone arriving from an amber list county between now and next week’s rule change must still:

-Provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test result taken up to three days before departure

-Book and pay for a day two and eight Covid-19 PCR test

-Complete a UK passenger locator form within 48 hours of departure

-Self-isolate for 10 days

From 19 July, although the self-isolation and day eight PCR test requirements will be removed for people arriving from amber list counties, the other requirements listed above will still apply.

•Changes to its Covid-19 traffic light system

The Department of Health also announced further changes to its Covid-19 traffic light system, which colour-codes countries based on the perceived risk of virus spread.

Cuba, Indonesia, Myanmar and Sierra Leone are being added to Northern Ireland’s red list from 04:00 BST on 19 July, which means passengers from these destinations will need to book and pay for 10 days of hotel quarantine in addition to the other rules.

At the same time, Bulgaria, Hong Kong, Croatia and Taiwan will be added to Northern Ireland’s green list, meaning passengers still need to get tested before and after their journey, but do not have to self-isolate if all their test results are negative.

•The removal of the self-isolation rule

The removal of the self-isolation rule for amber list arrivals will bring Northern Ireland into line with England’s travel rules, which are set to be relaxed on 19 July.

Earlier on Thursday, Northern Ireland’s First Minister Paul Givan had called for local restrictions to be eased more quickly so “citizens here aren’t being disadvantaged”.

Mr Givan said he had spoken to Health Minister Robin Swann who he said “recognised this change would be out of sync”if passengers had to wait until 26 July.

The traffic light system for foreign travel came into force in Northern Ireland on 24 May, largely mirroring the system already in place across the rest of the UK.

On Wednesday, UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said case rates had doubled since the Balearic Islands were added to England’s green watchlist, which meant the government needed to “move quickly”.