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 has confirmed that fully vaccinated US and EU travellers can swerve self-isolation from 4am on 2 August when entering England.
“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.”
It is unclear when the change will also extend to the other devolved nations of the UK.
Follow the latest travel updates below:
Show latest update
United Airlines to operate 40 weekly flights as England re-opens to US travellers
With today’s announcement that England is reopening to fully vaccinated travellers from the US, quarantine-free, from 2 August, United Airlines has announced it will launch additional flights to London.
United will have six daily flights between the States and the UK capital, including a second daily flight from Washington, D.C., and a daily service from Houston.
United is also planning a new nonstop service between Boston and London.
The airline will operate more than 40 weekly flights to England in total.
“Today’s announcement is yet another major milestone in recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic with the opening of one of the most important markets from the U.S,” said Patrick Quayle, vice president of international network and alliances at United.
“United has demonstrated that we can operate flights between the US and England safely and we are eager to help rebuild these economies by facilitating business and leisure travel.”
Helen Coffey28 July 2021 17:11
Emirates boss ‘frustrated’ that UAE is still on UK’s red list
The head of Emirates’ UK operations has expressed frustration that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is still on the government’s red list for travel.
Divisional vice president Richard Jewsbury told the PA news agency that “the data coming out of the UAE is very good”.
The weekly rate of coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in the UAE for the week ending July 22 was 124, compared with 417 in the UK, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Meanwhile, some 69 per cent of the population in the UAE are fully vaccinated, which is among the highest proportion of any country in the world.
The decision to keep the UAE on the red list despite those figures is “frustrating”, Mr Jewsbury said.
He insisted that Emirates will “respect the Government process” and “accept their sovereign right to do what they see fit”.
But he noted Germany’s decision to put the UAE on its low-risk travel list, which he claimed highlights “the more cautious approach” of the UK.
“All we can do is stay engaged and flag up the data and hope that it’s acted upon,” he said.
Helen Coffey28 July 2021 16:56
‘Crucial’ UK-US travel corridor must be restored, says BA
British Airways has welcomed the news that quarantine rules will be relaxed for more vaccinated travellers, but is calling for the government to push for the “crucial” UK-US travel corridor to reopen.
Sean Doyle, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, said:
Our own trials have proved its quick and easy to check travellers are fully vaccinated and can safely enter the UK, and this step will allow us to reunite loved ones and get Global Britain back in business, giving the economy the vital boost it so badly needs.
With the UK’s Covid cases falling while vaccinations continue to rise, now is the time for the government to help secure the re-opening of the crucial UK-US travel corridor, move more low-risk amber countries to the green list to allow customers to book with confidence and to review the current expensive testing requirements that are out of step with our neighbours.
Helen Coffey28 July 2021 16:31
Foreign Office lifts advisory against international cruises
The Foreign Office (FCDO) has officially lifted its blanket advisory against international cruises after more than 16 months.
Since March 2020, the advice has read: “The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advises against cruise ship travel at this time. This is due to the ongoing pandemic and is based on medical advice from Public Health England.
“Cruise ship travel means staying overnight for at least one night on a sea-going cruise ship with people from multiple households.
“Our advice against cruises applies to international travel on a ship that is exclusively for pleasure or recreation, providing overnight accommodation and other leisure facilities such as entertainment venues or swimming pools.”
However, the FCDO cruise webpage no longer carries this warning, and instead advises cruisers to get adequate travel insurance and provides top tips for issues to consider when booking a trip.
Helen Coffey28 July 2021 16:04
Now that US and EU vaccines are recognised for travel, how does it work?
Six months after some European Union countries announced they would accept UK jabs in lieu of testing or quarantine, ministers have decided to extend the courtesy to arriving EU and US citizens who can prove they have been vaccinated.
The plan to allow overseas visitors – and UK expatriates vaccinated abroad – to avoid self-isolation on entry from amber list countries initially applies for England.
But now that the rules are being relaxed, how will the process work?
Read travel correspondent Simon Calder’s full Q&A to find out:
Helen Coffey28 July 2021 15:49
Airlines argue for more low-risk countries’ vaccinated travellers to be exempt from quarantine
Airlines have welcomed the recognition of vaccinated passengers from the EU and the US, after the government announced they would be exempt from quarantine from 2 August when entering England from amber list countries.
However, they are also arguing that the loosening of the rules should be applied to double jabbed travellers from other low-risk nations.
Dale Keller, chief executive of Board of Airline Representatives in the UK, said: “The recognition of fully vaccinated passengers from the EU and US is the biggest step towards rebuilding the international travel sector since the limited lifting of restrictions on 17 May.
“This significant reopening must lead the way so that many other low risk countries with well-developed vaccination programmes can be added at the earliest opportunity without waiting until the October review.
“Meanwhile, the country review due next week should include a revision to the methodology of how countries are allocated as red, amber or green and the data indicates more countries should move into green and with fewer countries classified as red.”
Helen Coffey28 July 2021 15:22
International cruises get green light
The transport secretary has also issued an update on international cruises.
The Foreign Office has advised against these since early on in the pandemic in March 2020.
Grant Shapps said: “We’re also able to confirm the restart of international cruises and flexible testing programmes to help key workers and drive our economic recovery.
“Whether you’re a family or a business, this is progress we can all enjoy.”
A firm date for the lifting of the advisory has yet to be issued.
Helen Coffey28 July 2021 14:46
Quarantine dropped for travellers vaccinated in US or EU from 2 August
The transport secretary has confirmed that arrivals to England from amber countries who have been fully vaccinated in the US or EU can forgo quarantine from 2 August.
Grant Shapps said the relaxed rules will take effect from 4am on Monday.
Those with an FDA or EMA vaccine will be eligible.
“They’ll still need to do the usual pre-departure test before arrival and take a PCR test on day 2 of returning to the England,” he said.
Helen Coffey28 July 2021 14:35
Scientist calls relaxation of rules for US and EU travellers ‘sensible’
A scientist has called the government’s decision to lift quarantine requirements for travellers who have received two vaccination doses in the EU and US “sensible”.
However, they warned that testing is still necessary.
Professor Denis Kinane, founding scientist at Cignpost ExpressTest, said: “It would be sensible at this point in the pandemic to relax quarantine rules for those travelling from amber list countries. Those vaccinated here and abroad are a lower risk to themselves and their families so allowing them to travel here without quarantining is entirely justifiable.
“However, vaccinated individuals can still catch the virus and be a transmission risk. So, as we relax this quarantine restriction, it is also important to continue testing before and after arrival.
“Because lateral flow tests are significantly less reliable than the gold standard PCR tests, we believe the government should require anyone travelling here to have a PCR test before they board a plane and then again on arrival.
“The single biggest threat to the country getting back to normal is if a new, more infectious Covid variant was to be brought into the country. The Delta variant was allowed to enter and spread, upsetting the Government’s unlocking timetable. We must do all we can to avoid a repetition with a new Covid strain.”
Helen Coffey28 July 2021 14:28
Breaking: Fully vaccinated travellers from EU and US will be exempt from UK quarantine
Full vaccinated travellers coming from the United States and the European Union will be exempt from having to quarantine on arrival in England, ministers have decided.
The decision came at a top-level Covid meeting on Wednesday afternoon.
Jon Stone28 July 2021 13:22