France is touted to move back to the amber list, allowing fully vaccinated Britons to return home without facing quarantine, reports suggest.
However, ministers are “getting jumpy” about the number of Beta cases in parts of Spain ahead of the Government’s review of the traffic light lists, according to a Whitehall source quoted by The Daily Mail. The latest update on the red, green and amber lists is due next week, with any changes likely to come into effect the following week.
“The situation in Spain is beginning to feel a lot like the build-up to the decision on France,” the source said.
However, Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy, The PC Agency, said: “Spain’s infection rate appears to be flatlining and falling. So I would expect a continued reduction by this time next week.”
As for France, things are looking up after it was moved to its own amber plus category on July 19 meaning that even fully vaccinated Britons returning from the country face up to 10 days of self-isolation.
They added: “France is going to happen. It should never have been left out [of the quarantine exemption for fully vaccinated Britons returning from amber destinations, which came into effect on July 19] in the first place – the Department of Health just panicked. But there could be no justification for keeping restrictions in place now.”
Scroll down for the latest travel updates.
The family holiday that brings The Gruffalo to life in Hampshire
Fans of the children’s classic story book can use technology to track down their heroes at various woodland locations this summer, writes Katherine Lawrey.
“We’ve all needed our escapism over the past 18 months – the fantasy worlds found in books and films to carry us away from the non-stop negative news cycle of the pandemic. Part of my escapism has been in the bedtime routine I’ve established with my daughter. A chance to cuddle up together and lose ourselves in stories about talking animals, dancing giraffes, accident-prone dragons and so much more.
“One of our favourites, naturally, is The Gruffalo, the famous tale of the plucky mouse who outwits his enemies, written by the wordsmith Julia Donaldson whose narrative pops off the page when combined with Axel Scheffler’s delightful illustrations.
“So for one of our first post-lockdown outings with Evie (almost three) and her brother Harry (one), we went to track down the Gruffalo and co in a deep dark wood…”
Loganair to axe Isle of Man–Heathrow service
The regional airline began operating its route between Heathrow and the Isle of Man in November 2020, but is to cancel the service from August 11.
Loganair’s chief commercial officer Kay Ryan said: “We regret having to take this decision to cancel the Heathrow service and also very much regret the inconvenience to our customers.
“The sharp rise in costs of operating services at London’s premier airport coupled to the slower-than-expected rebound in passenger numbers after the pandemic mean that the route is not viable unless it has financial support from the Isle of Man government.
“We were given to understand the connectivity we can provide via codeshare agreements with our international airline partners at Heathrow was of vital importance to the island community, and it has therefore come as an unwelcome surprise that the Isle of Man government foresees no continuing requirement for the route.”
Most Britons support reopening travel for fully vaccinated EU and US tourists
According to a poll conducted by YouGov, 63-66 per cent of people agree with allowing fully vaccinated visitors from key European countries into England.
This includes those from Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Italy and France.
Meanwhile, 58 per cent of respondents support letting in fully vaccinated visitors from the US.
Ukraine plans new rules for unvaccinated travellers
Ukraine’s health minister Viktor Lyashko announced new rules whereby foreign travellers arriving in Ukraine must undergo an additional COVID-19 test within 72 hours unless they have been doubly vaccinated.
Ukrainian citizens must also do a test if they have not had at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Views from Benidorm
There may be some suggestions that Spain could move to the amber plus category, meaning even fully vaccinated Britons would be required to quarantine on their return from the country.
When France was moved to this category the prevalence of the Beta variant was cited as a reason.
In the two weeks to July 12, Spain saw 14 per cent of their cases as Beta, the highest on record in the country. However, most experts do not expect it to move to amber plus in next week’s review. As recent pictures from the tourist hotspot of Benidorm show, many holidaymakers are still enjoying the country’s beaches and sunshine.
Norway further postpones end to lockdown
Norway postponed for a second time on Wednesday a planned final step in the reopening of its economy from pandemic lockdown due to the continued spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19, the government said.
“A new assessment will be made in mid-August,” Bent Hoeie, the country’s health minister, told a news conference.
Germany plans to tighten overseas travel rules
Germany is set to require all travellers to the country to submit a negative Covid test result, with Government discussions on this underway.
Jens Spahn, the Germany health minister, is understood to want all arrivals, regardless of where they’ve come from to have a negative result.
Currently, tests are required for airline passengers and for travellers coming via any means of transport from countries designated as high risk, who are not fully vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19.
Stricter entry requirements in Germany on travellers from Spain and the Netherlands came into effect yesterday after Germany classified them as high-incidence areas last week.
Bath joins an elite group with its second Unesco listing
From spa days to walking weekends, there are plenty of reasons book a break in the city this summer, writes Fred Mawer.
Bath’s second listing forms part of the Great Spa Towns of Europe, a single “transnational” inscription which covers 11 historic spa towns in seven countries. The other featured spa towns are Baden bei Wien in Austria, Spa in Belgium, Vichy in France, Baden-Baden, Bad Ems and Bad Kissingen in Germany, Montecatini Terme in Italy, and Karlovy Vary, Mariánské Lázně and Františkovy Lázně in the Czech Republic.
The proposal and approval process for the Great Spa Towns of Europe has taken over a decade, and involved whittling down the number of selected towns from an initial list of 87. The final 11 were chosen as famous and fashionable spa resorts developed between the early 18th century and the 1930s. Shared features of the towns include being founded around natural mineral water springs, having a history of therapeutic facilities and spa buildings such as bathhouses and pump rooms, as well as offering cultural activities and opportunities for socialising in places such as assembly rooms and theatres, and being set in picturesque landscapes.
This is Bath’s second Unesco World Heritage inscription, and having multiple listings puts the city into a very elite group – one that includes Salerno, Cordoba, Jaipur, and few others.
The summer season is ‘all but lost’ for inbound tourism businesses
Joss Croft, chief executive of UKinbound, the trade association representing the UK’s inbound tourism sector, said of the expected decision that quarantine will be lifted for fully vacccinated EU and US travellers visiting the UK:
US and EU vaccine reciprocity would be hugely welcomed by our industry and would allow the £28 billion inbound tourism sector, which supports over 500,000 jobs across the UK, to finally restart.
But even with reciprocity, the valuable summer season is all but lost for inbound tourism businesses, meaning thousands of businesses and jobs will continue to be at risk over winter, leaving the sector in desperate need of targeted support.
Jet2 apps able to store Covid-19 test results
The low-cost airline Jet2 has launched a “useful documents” folder feature on its mobile apps for Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, which allows customers to upload and store important travel documents, such as entry forms for a destination country and negative Covid-19 test results.
The new function on the airline and tour operator’s mobile apps should allow its customers to more easiliy organise their travel documents in a single place.
“As we start to welcome back more customers and increase our offering to include flights and holidays to over 40 quarantine-free destinations, we want to make the process of travelling with us as smooth as possible,” said Steve Heapy, chief executive of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays.
UK boss of Emirates hopes data will see UAE removed from red list
The head of Emirates Airline’s UK operations has expressed frustration that the UAE is still on the Government’s red list.
Divisional vice president Richard Jewsbury said he hopes the Gulf state’s low rate of coronavirus cases and strong vaccination programme will see it removed from the high-risk category soon. The UAE’s seven-day case rate is 108 per 100,000 people and 68.9 per cent of the adult population have received a second vaccine dose.
People travelling from the UAE to the UK must enter a quarantine hotel for 10 days at a cost of up to £1,750 per person.
UAE flag carrier Emirates operated around 20 flights a day from the UK before the outbreak of the virus, but that has been cut by around 80 per cent. Mr Jewsbury told the PA news agency that “the data coming out of the UAE is very good”.
The bizarre history of vaccine certificates
From smallpox scars to health checks at London’s medieval walls, the documents go way back, writes Hugh Morris.
In 1716, Giacomo Pagliano left the Sicilian port of Messina on a ship laden with goods bound for the Adriatic coast city of Ancona. Sicily had become an important stop on trade routes criss-crossing the Mediterranean, and this departure was no different to the likely dozens on any given day.
With his cargo, Giacomo carried with him a rather ornate document explaining that he and his crew were “free from diseases” and permitting entry to various docks without the need to quarantine. With a devastating outbreak of the bubonic plague still in the memory of Italian society from the previous century, this certificate would help traders go about their business safe from concern they might spark a fresh wave of infections.
These ‘fede di sanita’ carried by shipmen in the early 18th century in and around Italy were some of the earliest examples of what we might now describe as a vaccine passport.
It would be ‘brazen’ for Spain to move to amber plus, says travel boss
Paul Charles, chief executive, of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said:
All of our detailed analysis is showing France will come off the amber plus category next week. But it would be a brazen and out-of-touch government that thought it could add Spain to the amber plus list at a time when over a million British visitors are in the country, and would have to self-isolate on their return to the UK, taking many people out of the workforce. In addition, Spain’s infection rate appears to be flatlining and falling. So I would expect a continued reduction by this time next week, when the next traffic light review is due to be announced.
It’s vital to remember the UK already has tough testing measures in place – both pre-departure and on return with Day 2 tests – designed to weed out any positive cases. The government’s own Test and Trace data shows that no variants are being brought into the UK from amber-listed countries.
It’s time the government moved away from a policy of fear on travel and moved to one of reassurance and encouragement, certainly if Ministers want to protect jobs and save businesses.
Spain’s seven day infection rate is 383 per 100,000 people; the UK’s is 342 per 100,000.
Drop in cases could be holidaymakers refusing to get tested, says Spi-M member
Mike Tildesley, professor of infectious disease modelling at the University of Warwick, said the recent falls in Covid-19 case numbers could have occurred because people are less willing to get a test ahead of summer holidays.
Asked about the decline, the member of the scientific modelling group Spi-M told Times Radio: “Because schools in England closed last week, we haven’t got secondary school pupils doing regular lateral flow testing and so we’re not necessarily detecting as many cases in younger people.
“It’s also been suggested by some that, possibly, because of a high number of cases, because of the summer holidays approaching, people might be less willing to ‘step up’ to testing when they have symptoms.
“What we really need to do is monitor hospital admissions, because at the moment of course they’re still going up – now, of course there is a lag when cases go down, it always takes a couple of weeks before hospital admissions turn around – but if we start to see as we get into August, if we start to see hospital admissions going down as well then I think we would have much stronger evidence to suggest that this third wave is starting to turn around.”
Quarantine-free trips for EU and US travellers could be a ‘lifeline’ for industry
Fully vaccinated travellers from the EU and the US could be exempt from quarantine.
This would provide a boost to the inbound tourism industry, according to a spokesperson for Airlines UK. They said:
It’s been a lost summer for inbound tourism so far, which has been incredibly damaging for so many businesses that rely on international visitors given they typically spend more than their domestic counterparts, in particular from the US.
This could be a real lifeline for the sector but we need it operationalised as soon as possible given we’re now almost into August. There is no time to lose.
Wizz Air plans pre-Covid capacity recovery in August
Budget carrier Wizz Air is increasing operations for the summer peak period and expects to return to full pre-pandemic capacity in August.
It incurred a €114.4 million loss in the three months to June as it operated just a third of capacity due to travel restrictions. Joszef Varadi, the airline’s chief executive, revealed it was hiring 600 crew as part of the return to normal operations.
“With that we expect aircraft utilisation to increase to 10 hours per day, getting closer to our pre-pandemic flying times of 12-plus hours per day,” he said.
“In July and August 2021 we expect to operate around 90% and 100% of our 2019 capacity, respectively, making Wizz Air the first major European airline to fully recover capacity to pre-Covid-19 levels.
Sydney locked down for another month as cases rise
Australia’s New South Wales state authorities on Wednesday extended a lockdown in state capital Sydney for another month after weeks-long curbs failed to contain an outbreak of the delta virus variant.
Lockdown rules were due to end on Friday but restrictions will now run until Aug 28, state Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.
A total of 177 new locally acquired cases were detected in New South Wales, up from 172 a day earlier.
Which countries are on the amber list?
Travellers and the industry are expecting an update to the traffic light categories next week in line with the Government’s schedule of issuing changes to the green, amber and red lists every three weeks.
Fully vaccinated travellers from EU countries on the amber list, and from the amber-listed US, are expected to also be able to visit the UK quarantine-free.
PM keen for US travellers as hopes rise for easing restrictions
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he wants US citizens to come to England “freely” and he was talking to the United States about a travel corridor, LBC radio reported on Wednesday.
LBC quoted Johnson as saying that he wanted US citizens who are fully vaccinated to come to Britain as they did before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We want people to be able to come from the US freely in a way that they normally do. We’re talking to them the whole time,” LBC reported Johnson as saying in an interview.
“At the moment we’re dealing with a Delta wave, the US is dealing with a Delta wave, but be assured that we are on it the whole time. As soon as we have something to say about travel corridors you’ll be hearing from us.”
Freedom for double jabbed as UK opens to world
Britain is to drop restrictions for fully vaccinated people and reopen its borders to European and American travellers from next month.
Boris Johnson has decided that, from August 16, those who have been fully vaccinated will not be required to take a test if they come into contact with someone with Covid unless they have symptoms.
It had previously been reported that workers would only be released from self-isolation after a negative test, and health officials had been planning for a major new system of compulsory testing to free people from isolating.
With Covid cases falling for a seventh successive day, Mr Johnson has also decided to reopen the country to foreign tourists from the EU and North America who have been fully vaccinated. Travel to the UK was previously only possible without quarantine from a handful of green list countries.
What happened yesterday?
The main stories from Tuesday:
- Scientists considering 77 countries for move to travel green list
- Germany and Italy touted for green-list promotion
- Australia could remain closed until 2022 over vaccines ‘failure’, says former prime minister
- Gridlocked roads could cause chaos for Britons this summer, research says
- French beauty spots limit visitor numbers to protect environment
- EasyJet: Most of Europe should be on green list
Now onto today’s travel news.