Today, the United Kingdom will reduce the number of countries on its “red list,” which prevents travelers from entering the UK because of concerns over the spread of COVID-19, to seven.
This is the latest easing of restrictions since the UK ended virtually all restrictions on social contact in July. Since July, the UK has seen a significant uptick in cases –though deaths from COVIDE-19 remain low– despite the population’s nearly 70% vaccination rate. Around 40,000 cases per day were reported in July, and 30,000 per day, on average, have been reported in the months since.
It’s unlikely that new travelers will significantly affect the UK’s COVID-19 numbers, since proof of vaccination and tests negative will still be required. Yet, vaccination rates have slowed significantly, so expect cases to remain high for the next few months, and for minor restrictions to return in winter. Internationally, removal from the “red list” is unlikely to affect the UK’s relations with any country, but domestically, the recent wave is sure to impact the next election; Boris Johnson has drawn significant criticism for his handling of this latest wave, with his and the Tories approval rating dropping by over 10 points since July.
Robert is a research analyst with the Current Developments Team and a regular contributor to the Daily Brief. His primary focus is on politics, technology, and development, with particular regional expertise in sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and Europe.