With the next review of the traffic light lists for international travel due next week, speculation abounds as to which countries could move from amber to green.
In a potential blow to British holidaymakers, ministers are understood to be discussing whether mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands should join France on the “amber plus” list, reports the Guardian.
The move would mean that British travellers entering the UK from there would still be forced to quarantine for 10 days, even if fully vaccinated, over fears about the beta variant of the virus.
As of 19 July, double jabbed Brits who’ve had their second vaccine dose at least 14 days prior, along with accompanying under 18s, have been able to skip quarantine when arriving in Britain from amber-rated countries.
But if a country is downgraded to “amber plus”, travellers must follow the same rules as unvaccinated arrivals: 10 days’ quarantine and a set of two PCR tests.
Meanwhile, the government is reportedly poised to allow fully vaccinated US and EU travellers to swerve self-isolation from as soon as next week.
It is unclear whether the change would also extend to the devolved nations of the UK.
The relaxation of rules follows a 10-day pilot scheme involving 250 passengers on flights from Jamaica, New York and Los Angeles. All bar two of these travellers showed authentic vaccination credentials.
The trial gives “the evidence the government needs” to drop quarantine requirements for passengers from low risk countries, BA chief executive Sean Doyle said.
Follow the latest travel updates below:
Spain under discussion for ‘amber plus’ list
The government is reportedly considering adding Spain to the “amber plus” list for travel, which mandates self-isolation and extra testing, as cases surge.
The new category was created hastily on 16 July as a bespoke solution for France, as ministers panicked about the rise in beta cases – otherwise known as the South African variant. It has not been given the name “amber plus” officially, although this is essentially what it is.
The new grade mandates that travellers returning from “amber plus” territories must self-isolate for 10 days and take two tests, regardless of whether they’ve been fully vaccinated or not.
Cathy Adams28 July 2021 11:50
Successful trials show amber rules can be expanded to US and EU arrivals
The results of a joint UK trial by Heathrow, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have helped demonstrate that the UK government can rapidly expand its amber policy and remove self-isolation for fully vaccinated US and EU citizens arriving into the UK.
The group’s pilot results come ahead of the UK government’s next checkpoint to review traffic light measures, due by this Saturday, 31 July.
Using a selection of US, Caribbean and European routes, the trial proved that airlines and airports can check a wider range of recognised vaccination statuses for different nationalities – in both paper and digital format – at the point of departure and away from the UK Border, ensuring no further pressure in immigration halls.
Verification checks ensured 99 per cent of credentials were authentic with the remaining 1 per cent successfully denied where documentation requirements were not met.
As part of the 10-day trial, fully vaccinated customers on selected flights from Los Angeles, New York, Montego Bay and Athens agreed to share their vaccination status at their departure airport.
Internationally recognised vaccination credentials including CDC cards, New York’s Excelsior Pass and the EU Digital Covid Credential were among the most popular vaccination credentials used by the 250 customers who participated in the trial, alongside NHS certificates.
Helen Coffey28 July 2021 11:16
Two fifths of Brits believe vaccinations should be mandatory for overseas travel
Two fifths (42 per cent) of Brits believe coronavirus vaccinations should be mandatory for overseas travel, according too a new study.
The survey of 2,000 respondents also found that most Brits (66 per cent) won’t consider a foreign holiday at all this year, and out of those who are hoping to go abroad, Spain is the top destination.
Conducted by personal finance platform Forbes Advisor, the survey also found that 33 per cent of respondents say that their next holiday is going to be closer to home than usual , for example in the UK, and that 28 per cent think that travel insurance should only be valid for travellers who have been double-jabbed.
Helen Coffey28 July 2021 10:54
End to ‘British vaccine exceptionalism’ welcomed by travel industry
The imminent end of the anomaly that offers preference to travellers with British vaccinations has been welcomed by the travel industry.
Ministers are due to meet to extend quarantine-free status to European and US citizens who can prove they have been vaccinated.
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: “If the UK government agrees to allow in fully-jabbed EU and US citizens without quarantine, it would finally be the dawn of a consistent global policy.”
Read The Independent’s full story:
Simon Calder28 July 2021 10:09
Which countries could be on the green list?
Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live blog, bringing you all the latest travel updates.
The next government reshuffle of the travel traffic light lists is expected next week – but what could go green?
Travel industry experts have tentatively forecast that around 10 destinations could go green.
Former British Airways strategist Robert Boyle has predicted the following upgrades: Austria, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland, Azerbaijan, Bhutan and Vietnam.
Consultant and founder of the PC Agency, Paul Charles, has named Austria, Bosnia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia and Slovenia as contenders.
Helen Coffey28 July 2021 10:04
Is your child’s passport valid for travel?
Travel correspondent Simon Calder has put together the key questions and answers about child passport validity this summer.
After the Home Office’s defective “online passport checker” ruined family holidays by generating absurd “false negatives”, these are the actual rules to help you understand if your child’s passport is valid for travel – and the steps you can take if it is not.
Cathy Adams27 July 2021 17:06
Which amber countries are letting in British holidaymakers?
If you’re fully vaccinated and planning a holiday to an amber list country, here’s a handy rundown of where will allow Britons entry at the moment:
Cathy Adams27 July 2021 16:56
West Midlands Railway hit by ‘pingdemic’
West Midlands Railway is cutting back services still further from next Monday (2 August) because of staff shortage.
Trains on the line connecting Kidderminster with Stratford-upon-Avon via central Birmingham will be affected.
The train operator says the changes are necessary as Covid-19 has had “a major impact on the ability to get new drivers trained to operate services,” and that timetable revisions will improve the reliability of the service.
West Midlands Railway says the Test & Trace “pingdemic” has put further pressures on services that were already struggling to deal with the impact of Covid-19.
Simon Calder27 July 2021 15:32
Six Scottish airports to close on Thursday due to strikes
Six airports will be closed to all but emergency flights on Thursday as air traffic controllers strike over plans to introduce remote airport control towers.
Highlands and Islands Airports (HIAL) is planning to centralise operations in Inverness and introduce remote integrated air traffic control services for five airports: Inverness, Dundee, Stornoway, Kirkwall and Sumburgh.
The Prospect union said the walkout on July 29 will mark an escalation in the industrial action which has been going on since January.
HIAL said that Benbecula, Dundee, Inverness, Kirkwall, Stornoway and Sumburgh airports will be closed to all but emergency flights from 12.01am on Thursday for 24 hours due to strike action.
Ryanair warns of ‘bogus discount scam’
Europe’s biggest budget airline is warning of a scam that, it says, is being run by a bogus online travel agency (OTA).
Ryanair says passengers have told it about offers of discounted tickets on the airline. The customer hands over their card details, which are used to secure the flight, but Ryanair says the payment details are then stored “for fraudulent use at a later date”.
It is the latest salvo in a long-running row between the carrier and OTAs.
The airline’s marketing director, Dara Brady, said: “This latest OTA scam is yet another reason why passengers should always book direct. Online travel agents are selling our flights but have no commercial agreements with us to do so.”
The OTA has not been named.
Simon Calder27 July 2021 15:02