The government is “increasingly confident” that more countries will turn amber and green ahead of next week’s review of the traffic light lists for international travel.
The foreign secretary said that, although British travellers would have to wait to find out the updated lists, “the momentum forward is positive”.
Dominic Raab told Sky News that travel is expected to open up more as other countries progress with their vaccine roll-outs.
“We’ve done the job we had to do domestically and as we see other countries catch up if you like, I think we are increasingly confident that more countries will go either on amber or on to green,” he said.
The next review from the Department for Transport is expected on or around 4 August.
It follows the news that fully vaccinated US and EU travellers can swerve self-isolation when entering England from amber-list countries.
The update to the rules was announced yesterday, and will take effect from 4am on 2 August.
Travellers will follow the same protocol as double-jabbed Britons entering the UK from amber destinations: they can forgo quarantine but must take one pre-departure and one post-arrival Covid test.
“We’re helping reunite people living in the US and European countries with their family and friends in the UK,” said transport secretary Grant Shapps. “The changes will apply to fully vaccinated people with an FDA or EMA vaccine.”
Follow the latest travel updates below:
Fury grows at mandatory quarantine from France to UK
French politicians, the travel industry and prospective holidaymakers are expressing increasing anger at the country’s “amber plus” rating – which obliges all arrivals from France to go into quarantine.
On 16 July the special “traffic light” category was revealed by the UK government. Mandatory quarantine remains in place while fully vaccinated travellers from “regular” amber list countries can avoid self-isolation.
France’s Europe minister, Clément Beaune, tweeted: “The UK’s quarantine measures for France are excessive and incomprehensible in health terms.”
Simon Calder29 July 2021 13:59
Holidaymakers should choose companies that offer protection, says Which?
I response to Dominic Raab commenting that the government is “increasingly confident” that more countries will soon be added to the amber and green travel lists, Which? has warned holidaymakers to remain cautious when booking.
Rory Boland, Which? Travel Editor, said: “It’s positive to see the possibility of more countries being added to the government’s green and amber lists in the coming days. However, as we saw with France and now potentially Spain, countries with rising case rates can have further travel restrictions imposed on them with little or no notice.
“With the introduction of quarantine and expensive tests remaining a risk for some travellers, as well as thousands of people every day being told to self-isolate or testing positive, it’s vital that anyone considering a holiday chooses a provider that will let them rebook or claim a refund if coronavirus-related disruption prevents them from travelling.
“Holidaymakers should also get comprehensive travel insurance cover to protect them against these risks.”
Helen Coffey29 July 2021 13:50
Pakistan to ban air travel for travellers without a Covid certificate
Pakistan will ban air travel for anyone without a Covid-19 vaccine certificate from 1 August and will require all public sector workers to get vaccinated by 31 August, the government announced on Thursday.
From 1 August, unvaccinated people will no longer be allowed to enter government offices, schools, restaurants and shopping malls, said Asad Umar, who heads National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC), a military-run body that oversees the pandemic response.
Teachers and students above 18, public transport and retail staff will also be required to get vaccinated by the end of August.
Helen Coffey29 July 2021 13:20
Covid testing facility opens at St Pancras station
As anger grows over France’s unique “amber plus” category for travellers arriving to the UK, a new testing facility has opened at Eurostar’s St Pancras International rail station – London terminus for trains from Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels.
The Collinson facility offers rapid antigen tests starting at £32 and slower, more expensive PCRs for upwards of £66.
It is located on “The Grand Terrace” on the same floor as the champagne bar.
Simon Calder29 July 2021 12:05
Aer Lingus restarts flights from Bristol to Dublin
Aer Lingus will resume flights to and from Bristol to Dublin airport from Sunday 1 August.
Previously operated by Aer Lingus Regional, the route from the West Country will operate five days a week, on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday, with fares starting from £39.99 each way, including all taxes and charges.
Ireland reopened its doors for travel earlier this month and is the first country in Europe where fully vaccinated British citizens can visit without the need for any Covid-19 tests into or out of the country. There will also be no requirement to self-isolate if fully vaccinated.
Peter O’Neill, Aer Lingus Chief Operations Officer, said: “We are delighted to recommence flights from Bristol and welcome back our British customers on board now that travel restrictions have been relaxed, reconnecting friends and families that have been kept apart for too long.
“We are looking forward to serving our customers once again and providing them with a warm Aer Lingus welcome from airports across the UK.”
Helen Coffey29 July 2021 12:00
Airlines report surge in US-UK bookings
Airlines have reported a surge in bookings on flights from the US to the UK after the announcement that fully vaccinated travellers can forgo quarantine on entry into Britain.
Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic, said: “We know there’s pent up demand to travel and our surge in bookings for US-UK travel reflect this. The news that self-isolation for fully vaccinated US citizens arriving into the UK will be removed from 2 August has increased consumer confidence, allowing our customers to finally plan a much-needed reunion with family, friends and business colleagues.”
Flight bookings are up by more than 100 per cent week on week, with bookings from New York to London increasing by nearly 250 per cent, compared to the previous week.
He added: “We now urge UK Government to go further and move the US to the UK’s ‘green list’ and for the Biden administration to repeal the 212F proclamation for UK travellers. The UK is already falling behind US and EU and a continued overly cautious approach towards international travel will further impact economic recovery and the 500,000 UK jobs that are at stake.”
Helen Coffey29 July 2021 11:46
Six airports in Scotland closed due to strike
Six airports in Scotland have been closed to all but emergency flights due to a strike by air traffic controllers.
Benbecula, Dundee, Inverness, Kirkwall, Stornoway and Sumburgh airports are all closed due to an ongoing dispute about plans to introduce remote airport control towers.
The Prospect union said Thursday’s walkout marks an escalation in the industrial action which has been going on since January.
Highlands and Islands Airports (HIAL) managing director Inglis Lyon said: “We apologise for the inconvenience this day of strike action will cause.
“The disruption will impact our passengers, airline partners and the communities we serve at a crucial time in the recovery from the effects of the Covid pandemic.
“It is extremely disappointing that strike action is going ahead despite months of work with Prospect to agree a number of policies to support our colleagues’ transition to our Air Traffic Management programme.
“We are still in talks with the union on a commuting policy and appeal to Prospect to conclude those discussions before considering any further escalation of industrial action.”
Additional reporting by agencies
Helen Coffey29 July 2021 11:28
Scotland and Wales to relax quarantine rules for jabbed US and EU travellers
Fully vaccinated travellers from the US and EU will no longer have to quarantine when entering Scotland or Wales from an amber country.
The Scottish government announced the move hours after the UK government confirmed the rule change for England, and Wales also confirmed it would also follow suit.
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said it would be “very hard” not to introduce the same relaxed measures.
The new rules will come into effect from 4am on 2 August.
Helen Coffey29 July 2021 11:13
Heathrow to give away free flights and experiences
Heathrow is celebrating the safe reopening of international travel and its 75th anniversary by giving away thousands of pounds worth of free flights and experiences to passengers travelling from the airport.
The airport has teamed up with more than 10 industry partners, including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Gordon Ramsay Plane Food, to launch its “Come Fly Again” promotion.
Other partners involved in the initiative include Blue Air, Fortnum & Mason, Leon, WH Smith, Macallan Whiskey and Cignpost Diagnostics, which will enhance the flight experience with free meals, gifts and travel essentials.
Helen Coffey29 July 2021 10:41
Minister rejects suggestion that rapid testing could release travellers from quarantine
The foreign secretary has rejected suggestions that rapid testing alone could be used to release travellers from quarantine once they’ve entered the UK.
Government adviser and immunologist Professor Sir John Bell said yesterday that data from January demonstrated that testing could be used to allow arrivals to forgo self-isolation.
But Dominic Raab told Sky News: “We are doing daily testing, but I think the answer to your question ‘why do it now not in say, two-and-a-half weeks’ time?’ is we know and we can project how many people broadly we’ll have double vaccinated and that is the level of reassurance we want to get to.
“I know it has been frustrating, I know it has been an inconvenience, there’s been lots of things in this pandemic that have been inconvenient.
“But the truth is the whole tide – whether it is domestic restrictions, international – is going in the right direction of opening but we do need to just be careful, make sure we are doing it at the right time.”
Additional reporting by agencies
Helen Coffey29 July 2021 10:32