THE SCOTTISH Government plans to merge the green and amber travel lists to "streamline" restrictions — but falls short of matching an earlier announcement in England.

From October 4, the current traffic light system of rules will be revised to make it "simpler for travellers", according to the announcement.

Green and amber classifications will merge, but the red list will remain for those countries deemed to have high Covid case rates or variants of concern. 

However, the move falls short of changes in England — who plan in removing the requirement for people who are fully vaccinated to take a pre-departure test before returning from non-red list destinations.

The Scottish Government says "significant concerns at the impact on public health" mean that move has not been adopted.

READ MORE: England scraps Amber travel list and PCR tests no longer required 

The current amber-level restrictions will become the default for travellers from non-red countries, with eligible fully vaccinated travellers able to benefit from quarantine-free travel.

Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport Michael Matheson said: “This is a major step but one with sensible safeguards built in recognising the success of the Scottish Government’s vaccination programme.

“The expansion of the eligible vaccinated traveller policy combined with the changes to the traffic light system will provide a welcome boost to Scotland’s tourism industry.

“However, we have concerns that the UK Government’s proposals to remove the requirement for a pre-departure test for some travellers will weaken our ability to protect the public health of Scotland’s communities. 

"While we want to maintain a four nations approach to these matters, we need to consider urgently their implications.”

Also during the announcement, the Scottish Government confirmed a number of countries are being removed from the red list as of 4am on September 22. 

These are: 

  • Bangladesh
  • Egypt
  • Kenya
  • Maldives
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Sri Lanka
  • Turkey

The number of countries recognised in the eligible vaccinated traveller policy (currently only UK, EU/EFTA and USA), is being expanded to recognise countries where vaccine certification meets appropriate standards.

As a result, October 4, the following countries have been added to the policy:

  • Canada
  • Australia
  • Israel
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore
  • Antigua & Barbuda
  • Barbados
  • Brunei
  • Taiwan
  • Dominica
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Qatar
  • Kuwait
  • Malaysia
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Bahrain

Earlier, the UK Government Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed that, for England, people who are fully vaccinated will no longer need a pre-departure test before returning from non-red list destinations, and from later in the month will be able to replace the day two PCR test with a cheaper lateral flow test.

In a statement, Mr Shapps: “Today’s changes mean a simpler, more straightforward system. One with less testing and lower costs, allowing more people to travel, see loved ones or conduct business around the world while providing a boost for the travel industry.

“Public health has always been at the heart of our international travel policy and with more than eight in 10 adults fully vaccinated in the UK, we are now able to introduce a proportionate updated structure that reflects the new landscape.”

Welsh Government health and social services minister Eluned Morgan said: “We will carefully consider the UK Government’s proposed changes to the border health measures, which include the removal of pre-departure testing and introducing lateral flow tests instead of PCR tests on day two of people’s return to the UK.

“Our considerations will be underpinned by robust evidence and our main focus will continue to be on reducing the risk to public health in Wales.

“These changes are not without risk – they weaken the line of defence on importing infection and increase opportunities for new infections and new variants to enter the UK and Wales.

“Vaccines can help reduce this risk but only if they are effective against new and emerging variants of concern and high-risk variants under investigation.”