A traffic light system for restarting foreign holidays is set to be announced today that could see fully vaccinated travellers side-step quarantine on return from “amber list” destinations.
Those who are not fully immunised when travel restarts will be required to take extra tests and face up to 10 days of self-isolation when returning from countries on the “amber list,” which is likely to include key European holiday destinations, such as Spain and Greece.
Many younger holidaymakers will not have received both doses ahead of the proposed earliest restart date for international travel of May 17, but their quarantine-free holiday options could be widened by the single dose Janssen jab that’s set to be deployed among younger adults as a ‘jab and go’ offering.
“Where it will be useful is it could work really well for the younger cohort – the 18 to 29 year olds. One hit and you are done – and you are off to Ibiza,” a source told The Telegraph of the vaccine.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to reveal details of a traffic light system for holidays at 5pm today and the travel industry has welcomed restart plans, while urging for a clearer system than that of last summer
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: “Regularly updated traffic lights will provide more clarity and certainty than last year but ideally there will be a two-week notice period before countries are switched from one colour category to another. The last thing you’d want on a two-week break is to have to come home half-way through the trip because your destination has moved from green to amber.”
Scroll down for the latest travel updates.
Travel could remain ‘on ice’ for another month
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, is one of many figures in the industry set to gladly welcome today’s update on the future of international travel – but the waiting game might still not be over for businesses, he warns.
In numbers: How are things looking in Europe? (2/2)
Compared to our cousins on the continent, the UK’s own seven-day rate of infection is impressively low, at 38.8 and 36,904,755 people vaccinated. Here’s a snapshot of the current situation in some of our other favourite holiday destinations – many will be hoping Europe is able to control the third wave of cases before international travel resumes.
Current seven-day case rate: 225.2
Number of people vaccinated: 10,990,307
Current seven-day case rate: 311.9
Number of people vaccinated: 475,037
Current seven-day case rate: 424.3
Number of people vaccinated: 12,139,523
In numbers: How are things looking in Europe? (1/2)
Hopes are high for the future of holiday today – but how are things currently looking in the UK’s top European holiday destinations?
With the number of coronavirus cases and distribution of the vaccine likely to influence whether a country is classed as red, amber or green, let’s take a look at the statistics.
Current seven-day case rate: 97.6
Number of people vaccinated: 8,548,598
Current seven-day case rate: 204.1
Number of people vaccinated: 1,830,362
Current seven-day case rate: 28.7
Number of people vaccinated: 1,691,535
The future of fine dining in Britain
Hospitality has been one of the industries hit hardest by coronavirus restrictions, but restaurants are finally gearing up for reopening. After a year of home deliveries and meal kits, ‘makeaways’ and pre-made cocktails – plus a brief four months of adjusting to the new normal – how will luxury dining look post lockdown? Michelin-starred chefs and restaurateurs have shared an advanced taste of what we’ve been missing with Ben Mccormack.
From immersive experiences to a less-is-more mantra, explore the future of fine dining here.
How far you can travel in the UK
The Prime Minister is expected to confirm that the next stage of the roadmap can be rolled out from April 12, enabling self-catering stays within England. But ahead of next Monday, what are the rules for travel?
Cruise ships banned from Venice lagoon, but concerns remain
Activists opposed to cruise ships in Venice are seeking a meeting with the Italian government to argue that its latest proposal to re-route big ships away from St. Mark’s Square doesn’t address pressing environmental concerns about the fragile Venetian lagoon, AP reported over the weekend.
The Italian Cabinet passed a decree this week calling for a public tender of ideas to create a new docking port “outside the protected waters of the lagoon.”
Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said the decree addresses longstanding Unesco concerns and establishes that cargo and cruise ships bigger than 40,000 tons must dock outside the lagoon.
The temporary ban will see bigger ships use the Marghera Port on the Italian mainland. However, a coalition of activists called the No Big Ships Committee said the Marghera Port is still part of the Venetian lagoon and therefore must be rejected even as a temporary solution.
Thailand may offer free domestic flights to vaccinated visitors
Thailand is considering offering foreign tourists free domestic flights in a bid to spread traveller spending around the country.
Vaccinated tourists will be able to visit the Thai island of Phuket from July, then allowed to travel elsewhere in Thailand after seven days. They could be “tempted to extend their stay after spending 10 days in Phuket if we can provide them free or discounted air tickets to other provinces,” said Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.
Phuket is the first destination in the ‘sandbox’ initiative to open up specific destinations for quarantine-free stays for immunised travellers. Mr Phiphat said the government hopes to attraction about 100,000 tourists in the first three months before other destinations reopen.
“We may offer free or discounted tickets, but we have to ensure tourists are confident to travel,” he added.
Ministers accused of dining at secret restaurants
French authorities are investigating accusations that government ministers and others dined in secret restaurants in violation of pandemic restrictions, reports AFP.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said an investigation was opened Sunday into possible charges of endangerment and undeclared labor, and to identify the organizers and participants of the alleged gatherings. A documentary that aired on French network M6 over the weekend included an unidentified man saying that he had eaten in two or three clandestine restaurants “with a certain number of ministers.”
Government members quickly denied knowledge of such wrongdoing. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin asked police to look into the claims. The prosecutor’s office said Monday that the investigation is continuing despite reports that the man featured in the documentary had retracted his claim.
French restaurants have been closed since October to slow the spread of the coronavirus virus. France just entered a new partial lockdown in response to intensive care units again filling with COVID-19 patients.
Spanish MEP: Masks won’t be required while sunbathing on Balearic Islands
Spanish MEP José Ramón Bauzà has insisted that British tourists who plan to holiday in the Balearic Islands in Spain this summer will not have to sunbathe in masks.
His announcement follows the Spanish government’s introduction of a strict new law last week that requires people to wear face coverings at all times outdoors, even while sunbathing or walking on beaches.
The new law replaced the rule that had been in place since May of last summer, which only required face coverings to be worn when social distancing was restricted.
The Spanish tourism industry reacted with dismay to the government’s decree, which states that those aged six and over must wear masks “on public roads, in open-air spaces and in any closed space for public use or that is open to the public.”
‘For millennials, ‘vaccine passports’ would be another kick in the teeth’
The sacrifices my generation has made are now worsened by a potentially expensive set of restrictions to all but “green” destinations, writes Lottie Gross.
Let me start by saying this: I am actually in support of vaccine passports. I’ve had my yellow fever jab and I proudly tuck my dog-eared, mustard-coloured certificate into my passport wherever I go.
If the Thai government made Japanese Encephalitis jab essential for travel to the country, I’d gladly get the injection and pack my certificate before jetting off to Bangkok. I’m all for vaccinating against dangerous diseases, and I don’t mind having to present the proof.
But a coronavirus
vaccine passport system for international travel (or some way of reducing restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers) our Government could be announcing today would do ones one thing: create large-scale inequality and, frankly, I’m angry.
Under the new rules, it’s expected that those who have had two vaccinations will need fewer tests and may not even have to self-isolate on return from their destination. This means granny could well have her holiday in Grenada and mum might be able to swan off to the Maldives, all without a care in the world (just as holidays should be), while those of us still waiting to be vaccinated – most young adults in the UK – are left with an expensive set of restrictions to all but “green” destinations.
Singapore to accept Covid-19 digital travel pass from next month
Singapore will accept visitors who use a mobile travel pass containing digital certificates for COVID-19 tests and vaccines from next month, its aviation regulator said on Monday, becoming one of the first countries to adopt the initiative.
Singapore will accept the International Air Transport Association (IATA) mobile travel pass for pre-departure checks, where travelers can get clearance to fly to and enter Singapore by showing a smartphone application containing their data from accredited laboratories.
The pass was successfully tested by Singapore Airlines . More than 20 carriers, including Emirates, Qatar Airways and Malaysia Airlines, are also testing the pass.
“The success of our joint efforts will make IATA’s partnership with the government of Singapore a model for others to follow,” IATA director general Willie Walsh said in a statement.
Currently, travellers from most countries are required to take pre-departure COVID-19 swab tests within 72 hours of their flights in order to travel to Singapore, with results presented at airport check-in and on arrival.
Boris Johnson to lead Downing Street press conference at 5pm
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will lead a Downing Street press conference on Monday at 5pm.
He will be joined by England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.
You can follow live text updates on our coronavirus live blog and watch our live video feed, which will be added to the top of that blog before 5pm.
Covid restrictions ease in Scotland
The latest easing of restrictions in Scotland sees garden centres, homeware shops and hairdressers reopen, with more information regarding other beauty services including spas due to follow. Currently hairdressers and other beauty and wellbeing services including spas are closed in England and Wales, with (hopeful) plans to operate from next Monday (April 12) and no earlier than May 10, respectively.
A firm date for restarting cross-border travel is yet to be announced, but Ms Sturgeon said she hoped it would be April 26, or “as soon as possible thereafter”. So no hopping across the border for a chop.
Combination of testing and vaccination is a ‘sensible approach’ to travel restart
A spokesperson for online online tour operator Thomas Cook said:
It’s great that the government looks ready to set out a clear plan for allowing international travel again. A combination of testing and vaccination feels like a sensible approach to letting people enjoy those much-needed weeks on the beach while ensuring we keep the virus under control.
What the ‘traffic light’ system could look like
Here’s an overview of the potential plan for the restart of foreign holidays.
The 10 best places in the world to get your chocolate fix
For a little Easter bank holiday distraction, we’ve delved into the history of chocolate and the best places to satisfy your craving, from Bournville and Bariloche to Bruges.
Phuket in mass vaccination drive ahead of the rest of Thailand
In Thailand, it’s the all-important tourism sector that has jumped to the head of the COVID-19 vaccination line, with the country’s most popular resort island embarking on a mass inoculation programme two months ahead of the rest of the country.
The island of Phuket aims to deliver shots to at least 460,000 people – most of its population – as it gears up for July 1, when vaccinated overseas visitors will no longer be required to quarantine. Phuket also has its own international airport and tourists would be able to roam the island freely without posing any coronavirus risk to the rest of Thailand’s population.
“If we can build immunity for 70-80% of the population on the island, we can receive foreign tourists who have been vaccinated without the need for quarantine,” Phuket’s Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong told Reuters.
While medical workers, members of the cabinet and the elderly were the first to be vaccinated, Thailand’s decision to prioritise Phuket over other parts of the country underscores the central role of tourism to the economy. Spending by foreign tourists accounted for 11-12% of GDP pre-pandemic and the sector has been devastated by the virus with 1.45 million jobs lost since last year.
Portugal reopens museums, cafe terraces and schools
Portugal reopened museums, cafe terraces and secondary schools on Monday nearly two months after tightening Covid-19 curbs following a wave of cases early this year.
There was an explosion of cases following Christmas and New Year festivities which led to overstretched hospitals and the government imposed a general lockdown in the middle of January and closed schools a week later. Primary schools reopened on March 15.
Monday’s easing comes with some guidelines. Only four people will be able to sit together at a table in cafe terraces while museums can change their opening hours.
“We are expecting very few visitors” due to the paucity of foreign tourists, Antonio Nunes Pereira, director of the Palace of Pena in Sintra, outside Lisbon, told AFP.
“We expect a return to normal next summer… when the vaccination process advances in Europe,” he said.
The five things we want to hear from Boris Johnson on travel
There are still a number of issues that need clarifying for prospective holidaymakers in order for international travel to restart on May 17, writes Chris Leadbeater.
Five things we want to hear, include:
Some sort of honouring of the May 17 red-letter date
Yes, absolutely, it has been caveated from the start. The much-discussed government “road map” back towards normality – first unveiled on February 22 – has always been clear that the prospect of a resumption of travel is dependant on circumstance. The “no sooner than” asterisk is there above every milestone, including the date that the travel industry has become fixated on – May 17, the earliest possible moment for international journeys to resume, subject to review. It is entirely likely that Monday’s big statement will look at what will be the third Monday of May, and give us some idea as to whether it will involve busy airports and the roar of aircraft engines –or just further disappointment.
Testing will be key part of PM’s announcement on holidays
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to out more details about testing requirements when he speaks later about new rules for foreign travel, Health Minister for England Edward Argar said today.
Mr Argar told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that any changes to rules in England will be made in the context of the risk posed by new variants of the virus.
“I don’t want to preempt what the prime minister will say later on this, save to say that the testing regime and how that works will be a key part of the clarity I suspect he will want to be giving both to the industry but also to people… who want to go on holiday,” he said.
Asked about the high cost of a “gold-standard” PCR test for travel, Argar says that, currently, these are paid for by the traveller “and that model is likely to continue”.
He was also questioned about a report in the Times newspaper which said around 40 per cent of those arriving into the UK each day at present are tourists, Argar said “that isn’t a figure that I recognise or have seen”.
Holiday traffic lights should be based on ‘published and transparent data’
Julia Lo Bue Said, chief executive at independent travel agency The Advantage Travel Partnership, said:
We are eager to understand the full details behind the Prime Minister’s proposed travel reopening plans as reported over the weekend, although we are not expecting to learn much more until the 12th April when the Global Travel Taskforce publish their full report.
Whilst we understand that caution is required when it comes to the resumption of international travel, we would urge the government to ensure stability and consistency in its approach, and to base any decisions with regards to the different tiered countries on published and transparent data.
Should the government need to impose restrictions on consumers that have not been fully vaccinated and returning from ‘Amber’ listed countries, we would encourage them not to penalise such travellers and consider affordable, quick and accessible testing such as lateral flow tests used in schools and care homes.
The outbound travel sector employs over one million people in the UK, with an economic contribution of over £80bn GDP, so after almost 12 months of international travel being shut down, this is an industry that needs to be given the green light in order to rebuild slowly and sustainably and to help play its part in the economic recovery of the UK.
When can I go on holiday? The latest advice
Travel is not allowed, for the time being. But on Monday the Prime Minister will unveil the roadmap for unlocking international travel.
TUI boss: We believe a May 17 restart date will be possible
Andrew Flintham, managing director for Tui UK and Ireland, welcomed the introduction of a “traffic light” system for foreign travel.
He told BBC Breakfast on Monday: “We are all trying to reopen the UK, the economy, and travel is an intrinsic part of that.
“So we are looking for some really clear guidelines so we welcome the traffic light system. We think it will give us some clear rules to work with and also it will make it obvious what data is driving what decisions.”
Mr Flintham said the company was gearing up to restart and added: “All our teams are getting ready for restart, we believe and we hope the 17th [of May] will be possible.
“We think with the amazing vaccine programme and the greater provision of testing, we think we should be able to get going.”
‘Quarantine would be a big inhibitor to booking holidays’
The traffic light system for restarting foreign holidays must be “one-directional” without countries constantly moving between levels, according to one travel industry expert.
Marcelle Hoff, joint managing director of Expressions Holidays, said:
For the sake of international trade including tourism any opening up of travel is welcome. I see it as an initial step and restrictions can be eased and destinations moved from red to amber to green as the summer progresses. What is vital is not to move backwards so step by step forwards is key.
I don’t think having to have a test either in addition to or instead of vaccination will hinder. Quarantine would be a big inhibitor to booking holidays so we want traffic lights to be one directional. Also quick and cheap testing would be best obviously but lots of our key hotels eg those in the Caribbean and Greece are ready and able to do this.
Greece extends restrictions on international flights to April 19
Greece said on Sunday it was extending restrictions on domestic flights until April 12 and on international flights until April 19 as the number of new Covid-19 infections continues to rise.
Under the restrictions, passengers flying to Greece must receive a negative PCR test 72 hours before arrival and undergo random testing for Covid-19.
All foreign travellers are quarantined for seven days. Israeli travellers who have been fully vaccinated at least two weeks before travel will not need to be quarantined following a bilateral agreement on tourism between the two countries.
The 39 countries on the travel ‘red list’
The UK Government has updated its ‘red list’ of countries, bringing the total number of banned nations to 39.
On April 1 it was confirmed that four countries – the Philippines, Pakistan, Kenya and Bangladesh – will be added to the ‘red list’ from April 9. Under current restrictions, direct flights from the red-listed nations are banned; Britons currently in these countries must fly home via a third nation.
Hotel quarantine rules apply to all British citizens who have been in or transited through red list countries in the previous 10 days. Any non-Britons who have been in a red list country within the past 10 days will simply be denied entry to the country.
- South Africa
- DR Congo
- United Arab Emirates (including Dubai)
- Cape Verde
- French Guiana
- The Philippines
Tougher border controls needed to counter ‘real risk’ of Covid variant from Europe
Tougher border controls are required on travel from Europe to protect the UK from the “real risk” of Covid variants that could undermine the UK’s vaccination programme, says leading epidemiologist Professor Neil Ferguson.
The academic from Imperial College who was the Government adviser behind the UK’s first lockdown said ministers should reconsider the number of exemptions to the current travel restrictions from Europe and extend testing to everyone entering the country.
Professor Ferguson said cases of the new South African variant were being detected every week in the UK amid concerns that the Astra Zeneca vaccine on which the UK relied was “particularly vulnerable” to it.
“The key thing is the risk of importing variants which might undermine our vaccination programme,” he said. “The concern here is the proportion of cases in many European countries which are this variant, up to four or five per cent in France, up to 17 to 20 per cent in Luxembourg.
“Rather than red list countries that are far away, where the real policy challenge in mitigating risk is in travel to Europe.”
‘Government must set out risks and costs of booking foreign travel’
The consumer association Which? has urged the Government to give travellers a clear view of what foreign travel will be like this summer.
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said:
Travellers and holidaymakers have been waiting patiently for Monday’s announcement, so it’s vital that when it comes it is comprehensive in scope and provides people with all they need to know to be able to book a getaway with confidence. This means that the government must clearly set out the risks and additional costs that may be involved in booking foreign travel so that people can make an informed decision.
Let’s not forget that countless holidaymakers lost money last year after being caught out while trying to follow the government’s travel corridor system. We mustn’t have a repeat of this fiasco, so we need a clear understanding of what the system will be and what the potential is for further disruption.