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Petition Remove Egypt from travel red list immediately

Egypt should be immediately removed from the red list for travel. The Government has failed to explain why Egypt was added to the red list to begin with, when, compared to some countries on the amber list, Egypt had and continues to have more favorable COVID indicators.

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It is unacceptable that the Government imposed such extreme travel restrictions on apparently arbitrary, inconsistent and/or unsubstantiated grounds.

According to World Health Organisation data, Egypt had recorded 7,282 new cases in the seven days prior to its red-listing. This is a drop of around 9 per cent from the previous week. The incident numbers have continued to decrease since, whilst vaccination uptake increased. There is also no evidence of a Delta-variant surge.

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Government responded

This response was given on 23 August 2021

Ministerial decisions on allocations to the red list are informed by the latest scientific data and public health advice, to protect public health and the vaccine rollout from variants of concern.

Egypt was added to the red list of high-risk countries on 08 June 2021 with enhanced travel restrictions, because COVID-19 prevalence in Egypt was assessed to be high and there was evidence to suggest community transmission of variants of concern. The government took this decisive action to impose additional measures on Egypt to limit the importation of variants of concern to England and to protect the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccination programme at a critical time.

These measures permit entry to only British and Irish Nationals (and third country nationals with residence rights in the UK) arriving from high-risk (known as red list) countries and are also required to quarantine in government managed hotels. These are all temporary measures that are kept under regular review and the government maintains that they will only be kept in place whilst the level of risk justifies the measures.

On 17 May 2021, the Government introduced the traffic light system to provide a framework for a safe and sustainable return to international travel. The traffic light system categorises countries and territories based on risk to protect public health and the vaccine rollout from variants of COVID-19. The traffic light system categorises countries based on risk to protect public health and the vaccine rollout from variants of COVID-19. The Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) produces risk assessments of countries and territories. Decisions on red, amber or green list assignment and associated border measures are taken by Ministers, who take into account the JBC risk assessments, alongside wider public health factors.
Key factors in the JBC risk assessment of each country include:

o genomic surveillance capability

o COVID-19 transmission risk

o Variant of Concern transmission risk

A summary of the JBC methodology is published on gov.uk, alongside key data that supports Ministers' decisions. The summary of the JBC methodology is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-risk-assessment-methodology-to-inform-international-travel-traffic-light-system and the data is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/data-informing-international-travel-risk-assessments.

Country allocations to the traffic light system are reviewed every three weeks, unless concerning evidence means we need to act faster to protect public health. At the last review on 4 August, it was decided that Egypt should remain on the red list because Egypt has very low testing and very low sequencing such that there is a potential for high public health risk to the UK, and has high-risk variants under investigation.

We will not compromise on the progress we have made on our vaccine programme by allowing people to freely mix abroad and return or travel to the UK without proper checks and procedures. This is just the start for opening international travel, with the UK leading the way with a robust system.

As with all our coronavirus measures, we keep the red list under regular review and our priority remains to protect the health of the UK public.

Department for Transport

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Other parliamentary business

MPs question the Government on international travel rules

On Monday 20 September, MPs questioned the Government on international travel, following a statement by the Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps MP on the Government's rules for international travel, including the 'traffic light' system.

Read the Secretary of State's statement, and question from MPs: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2021-09-20/debates/42EC0566-BBD2-4620-8E7E-3F2C95E7CB5A/InternationalTravel

In his statement the Minister confirmed that Kenya, Oman, Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Egypt will be removed from the red list at 4am on Wednesday 22 September.

Find out more about the changes to international travel rules: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-system-for-international-travel

What are ministerial statements?

Ministerial statements are a way for Ministers to bring an important matter to the attention of the House, often at short notice. After making a statement the Minister responds to questions on its topic from MPs.

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