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British holidaymakers scrambling to get back from Mexico before it goes on the red list on Sunday face huge ticket prices for flights to make it back in time.
From 4am on Sunday, people returning to the UK from Mexico will have to stay in isolation in a hotel for 10 days.
However, the government has been slammed for giving only three days’ notice of the change, with the only direct flight from Mexico City to London before Sunday on sale for a staggering £6,878.
Around 6,000 Britons are thought to currently be in Mexico, with travel agency boss Paul Charles tweeting: ‘Pity poor #UK travellers in #Mexico – some 5/6,000 who have to somehow get back before hotel quarantine kicks in on Sunday. Certainly not enough seat capacity.’
And holidaymakers have revealed how they found out about Mexico going red at the very last minute.
Claire, 30, from south London, said: ‘I had access to the Wifi so I found out in mid air.
‘I just wanted to grab the tannoy and tell everyone because I could see all these families looking forward to their holiday and it was obvious they didn’t know.
‘It’s crazy the lack of notice. I had no inkling Mexico was about to go on the red list.’
Another tweeted: ‘Landing in Mexico to find out it’s been added to the red list whilst I was up in the air, has got to be one of the worst things I’ve ever experienced.’
Father-of-two David Hing, 40, arrived in Mexico with his wife and children aged four and seven on July 31. They were supposed to stay until August 21 – five days before the travel list is looked at again.
Mr Hing told MailOnline: ‘We knew the risks and while at the moment it seems like a bad dream and is very stressful and I’ve been up all night looking at alternative options, we are just going to try to enjoy the holiday.
‘It broke my heart when my two little ones said they wanted to stay on holiday and would lend us money if we needed it.
‘The notice period doesn’t really give long enough to make changes especially when it’s hard to get through and talk to anyone at the airlines.
‘The images of the food and hotels do not seem like they are worth the cost so that’s why we are going to try and fly back somewhere else first. I feel sorry for the people who were already on the flight from the UK and hope they can make alternative arrangements.’
A young couple cut short their honeymoon in Mexico from two weeks to two days, after they discovered the new restrictions upon landing in Mexico early on Thursday morning.
Joe Coward, 29, said: ‘Basically we touched down to find that our two-week honeymoon, which had already been rearranged several times, was going to be a two-day visit. We’ve arranged a flight for tomorrow and will be spending today getting ready to turn right around and go home.’
Mexico is in the grip of a third wave of Covid and on Wednesday reported 20,685 new confirmed cases in the country, the highest daily jump since late January.
- Seven European countries: Austria, Germany, Latvia, Norway, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia will turn green from Sunday 4am.
- India, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates will switch from red to amber, meaning arrivals from those countries will no longer have to spend 11 nights at pricey quarantine hotels;
- But Mexico, Georgia and the French overseas territories of La Reunion and Mayotte are joining the red list. Up to 6,000 Brits are on holiday in Mexico and now scrambling to get back this weekend to avoid quarantine hotels – with not enough seats to get them home;
- Hotel quarantine costs are to soar to more than £200 a night from a week today. From next Thursday, the price will jump to £2,285 for a single person. Additional adults and teenagers will be charged £1,430 – more than double the current £650 rate;
Ayo Faley (left), a call handler of NHS Test and Trace in London, arrived in Cancun, Mexico, on Thursday morning for her holiday, and plans to continue her trip as planned and pay for quarantine when she returns to the UK. Aaron (right) is relocating his family to Edinburgh in late August and will now have to pay for them all to quarantine on arrival
Those who have received both doses have unrestricted entry – meaning they do not have to quarantine or provide a negative test result – when travelling to Germany, France, Spain, Latvia, Romania and Georgia. But those who are not double-jabbed are still subject to some regulations upon arrival and, in the cases of Germany and Slovakia, can be denied entry entirely
The price of the only direct flight from Mexico City to London before Mexico moves to the red list has soared to a staggering £6,878
Another 611 deaths were also reported and the country has recorded a total of 2,901,094 infections and 242,547 deaths.
The government has said the real number of cases is likely significantly higher, and separate data published recently suggested the actual death toll is at least 60% above the confirmed figure.
The decision to place Mexico on the red list also reflects worries about a new variant which originated in Colombia and which has concerned British scientists.
Passengers arriving from Mexico City at Heathrow Terminal 5 today slammed the new rules.
Leidy Corrales, 35, a dental assistant, who was travelling back to Switzerland from Playa de Carmen in Mexico, said: ‘I’m travelling back to Geneva with my two children Joshua and Carla and my husband.
‘Putting Mexico on the red list is not logical because when you go there, everything is normal, they are taking all the same protections – masks, hand sanitisation and social distancing.
‘The quarantine costs are just unreasonable – I think when people go on holiday, they should just have to do two tests and only quarantine if it’s positive.
‘Mexico is a tourist hotspot and people here like going to hot places, but the government doesn’t want people to go on holiday, they want to control them.
‘It’s like a dictatorship of security in a democracy, because they keep changing the rules and no-one can afford that.’
Her husband Denys added: ‘We’re so happy to have been able to enjoy our holiday without having to pay for a hotel on the way back, thank God.’
Amy Perez, 39, a marketing director from Putney, south west London, who has been travelling around Mexico with her family, said: ‘It’s inconvenient and expensive and there seems to be an entire industry surrounding Covid testing.
‘We were on holiday for two weeks and are really chuffed that we don’t have to quarantine for 10 days.
‘We would have been locked up in a hotel with these two little monsters – Maxi, 18 months, and Emilia, who just turned four yesterday.’
Passengers arriving from Mexico City at London’s Heathrow Terminal 5 today slammed the new rules, which come into effect on Sunday
Amy Perez, 39, a marketing director from Putney, south west London, has been travelling around Mexico with her family
Sofia and Gabriella Martinez were among the many passengers to arrive at Terminal 5 at Heathrow today from Mexico
Leidy Corrales, Denys Corrales, Carla Corrales and Joshua Corrales were also among the arrivals earlier today
Her husband Jorge said: ‘The government wants people to get vaccinated, but then people don’t see the benefits.
‘It would have made more sense for us to take the fine rather than shell out thousands of pounds, not be able to work and be locked up with our children.’
Alejandro Seama, 42, a filmmaker from London, said: ‘I think it’s terrible and stupid, because it seems they just want rich people to be able travel.
‘Look at my dad, he’s 72, he’s been double vaccinated, he’s absolutely fine, but for some reason they don’t accept his vaccines here.
‘I had to spend £600 on mandatory Covid tests just to get my parents here.
‘If the rules had already changed, they would not have been able to visit and I would have never left.
‘I had no clue that Mexico was going on the red list, but thank God we came back today.’
Returning from Mexico after the deadline will see Britons face a steep hotel quarantine bill after the government raised the price to ‘reflect increased costs involved’.
A single person will have to stump up £2,285 from next Thursday during their isolation – while additional adults and teenagers will be charged £1,430 – more than double the current £650 rate.
‘I’m definitely getting the jab – not like my naïve mum and dad’: 16 and 17-year-olds say they WILL get the Covid vaccination when they become eligible
Sixteen and 17-year-olds have insisted that they will get the Covid-19 vaccination when they become eligible, regardless of their parents’ opinions.
It has been revealed that 16 and 17-year-olds won’t need parental consent to get Covid vaccines, while No 10’s top scientists have hinted children as young as 12 could be offered jabs later this year.
And 16 and 17-year-olds in Manchester have said that they plan to get the Covid vaccine as soon as they are eligible – even if their parents do not agree with them.
One 16-year-old said he is planning to get the Covid jab so he won’t have to ‘worry’ about getting the virus, and criticised his ‘naïve’ parents for choosing not to get vaccinated.
Meanwhile, another teenager said he would get the Covid vaccine so he can go to gigs next year, while one 17-year-old said she was hoping to bag a ‘free kebab’ for getting vaccinated.
But some teens have remained sceptical about the vaccine after the announcement, with one woman saying she has heard of women suffering from bad periods after the jab, while another teen said he would only get the vaccine if he is ‘forced’ to.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended the 1.4million youngsters should be offered Pfizer jabs, marking a U-turn on guidance the same panel issued two weeks ago.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the NHS would dish out invites for vaccines ‘as soon as possible’, with the goal of getting the oldest teenagers protected before they return to classrooms in September.
The price for children aged five to 12 will remain at £325, while under-fives will continue to stay for free.
It means that, for a family of four with two teenage children, the cost will jump from £3,700 to a staggering £6,575 – a rise of 78 per cent.
Mr Coward said if the couple do not receive a refund from British Airways for their holiday, based near Cancun, they will be ‘several thousand pounds out of pocket’.
He said staying is not an option due to the cost of quarantine hotels – which from August 12 will rise to £2,285 for a solo traveller, plus an extra £1,430 for additional adults sharing a room.
Ayo Faley, a call handler for NHS Test and Trace in London, also landed in Cancun on Thursday morning but she plans to stay for her holiday as planned and pay for quarantine.
She is returning on August 11 so will pay the lower rate of £1,750, but said she is ‘absolutely distraught’.
The 24-year-old said: ‘I only found out (travel restrictions had changed) the minute I was able to connect to wifi at the airport… I went into a state of panic.
‘(I tried) to locate other Brits and see whether they knew and what their next plan of action was… you could see the look of confusion, fear and regret all in their faces.
‘I am absolutely distraught… I’ve decided to just stay and enjoy the time here… I’ll just have to face the consequences when I arrive.’
Ms Faley works from home and had planned to do so on her return from Cancun, but said she will not be able to access her equipment in quarantine.
She added: ‘How are (the Government) planning to help individuals who have found themselves in a situation like this?
‘Leaving the UK thinking their country of destination was safe to then land and find out they better return ASAP or risk being stuck in a hotel for 11 days.’
Aaron, who did not wish to share his second name, is relocating his family to Edinburgh in late August and will now have to pay for them all to quarantine on arrival.
The 43-year-old arrived in Mexico in early July to witness the birth of his son, Aviv, and his wife, who is from Sinaloa, had her UK visa approved on July 28.
‘(Aviv) was due to be born July by C-section, but they brought the date forward, so I arrived in the airport at 3am and just made it to the hospital before my wife went to surgery,’ Aaron told PA.
Aaron is a self-employed data and audiovisual engineer and said he ‘can’t quantify’ how much quarantining will cost his business.
‘I have previously taken out a bounce-back loan to keep my business afloat,’ he added.
‘I have no idea why I should have to pay to isolate in a hotel when I’ve had both (Astrazeneca) vaccinations in Edinburgh, proof of vaccination, took a test on my way here and will take one on arrival in Scotland.’
James Dean, 38, from Bournemouth had already spent £8,000 on a fortnight in Cancun with wife Rebecca and their four children Lilly, 16, Jack, 13, Isabella, nine, and Fred, six.
The office manager told the Mirror: ‘That has just shocked me. I’m gutted to be honest.
‘I’m going have to pay for us all to go in to quarantine as well. I’m still digesting it. I’m just gobsmacked.’
John Soones, 62, from south west London, was travelling to Mexico with his wife and their 18 year old daughter.
He said: ‘It’s just incredible. It’s terrible to get no notice that this is likely to happen and no time to change plans.’
In more positive news, it was announced that double-jabbed tourists returning from France will be spared quarantine from Sunday and seven European countries including Germany and Norway were added to the green list of destinations.
Spain has also been spared being given red status – potentially forcing thousands into £2,285-a-stay quarantine hotels – but the Government is urging travellers to take a PCR test before they fly home from the Iberian country.
Queues at St Pancras International this morning as France was opened up both ways for British tourists and people jumped on the Eurostar
Experts are predicting that there will be a flurry of bookings for France (St Pancras today) but there is already a battle for accommodation with French staycationers in particular
Grant Shapps said today that people can travel without ‘looking over their shoulders’ for the next three weeks as countries will not move lists ‘unless something exceptional and unexpected happens’. But the Transport Secretary added that full vaccination for travel will be a feature for Britons ‘forever more’ and admitted that countries could turn red again by the end of the month.
Tens of thousands more Britons are now expected to head to France for August – although tourism chiefs have warned millions more Frenchmen are staying in the country this summer so there is serious a lack of accommodation if the traveller is without a second home.
There is a particular shortage of gites, camp sites and hotel rooms in the south of the country, especially near beach resorts such as Biarritz, Narbonne, Île de Ré and Saint-Tropez, while experts have said there are much larger numbers of tourists from Holland, Belgium and Germany in the country this year.
Not wearing a face mask on the Tube should be a CRIMINAL offence says Sadiq Khan
Sadiq Khan has said that failing to wear a face mask on the Tube should become a criminal offence.
The London Mayor has been pushing the the government to allow Transport for London (TfL) to impose a by-law requiring face coverings on the capital’s transport network.
Since the easing of restrictions on July 19 ‘Freedom Day’, passengers have only been required to wear a covering as a ‘condition of carriage’ rather than a legal requirement.
This means TfL staff can tell non-compliant customers to leave a bus or train but are powerless to impose fines.
But Mr Khan now wants a bye-law put in place to effectively bring back the rule that was dropped on July 19.
The rule change would also mean British Transport Police officers could be used to enforce it.
Speaking to the BBC’s Newscast podcast Mr Khan said: ‘We are trying to lobby the Government to allow us to bring in a bye-law, so it will be the law again, so we can issue fixed penalty notices and we can use the police service and BTP to enforce this.’
Austria, Germany, Latvia, Norway, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia will all move to the quarantine-free tier at the end of the weekend, in a huge boost for those looking to book a late summer getaway on the continent.
But while there is no quarantine people will still have to take a negative test before returning and a PCR test on day two back in the UK.
Meanwhile, the status of India, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates will switch from red to amber, meaning arrivals from those countries will no longer have to spend 11 nights at pricey quarantine hotels.
While Spain avoided joining them, those flying back will soon face higher testing costs after ministers urged holidaymakers to take a PCR for the mandatory pre-departure test, rather than the cheaper lateral flow alternatives, ‘as a precaution against the increased prevalence of the virus and variants in the country’.
With the guidance being advice, rather than law, many travellers may feel entitled to refuse to take the gold-standard test, which can cost as much as £175 per person.
French tourism chiefs have welcomed the news that Britons can more freely come and go from Sunday – especially because Britons are by far the biggest spenders in the country but only around ten per cent of the usual number of UK tourists are in the country this summer.
But in the past month Mr Macron has enforced a ‘high alert’ covid-19 level hit in 37 departments in France because of rising cases of the Delta variant and increasingly busy hospitals.
In Occitanie, in south-west France, a ‘white’ alert has been imposed meaning medics on holiday can be forced to return to work because of increasingly packed covid wards.
Changes to the traffic light system are a ‘positive step forward’ but the Government needs to make faster progress in opening up international travel, industry experts have warned.
Four countries are being removed from England’s red list as part of the latest update to the international travel system, while seven more, including Germany are being added to the green list.
It has also been confirmed that arrivals from France will no longer need to self-isolate, aligning the nation with other countries on the amber list, from which arrivals only need to quarantine at home if they are not fully vaccinated.
Scotland and Northern Ireland have followed England in introducing the same travel relaxations.
However, the changes have attracted criticism from the Welsh Government which has continued to advise against ‘all but essential’ travel.
Confirmation that France is joining the amber list is ‘positive’ especially during the ‘critical’ school holiday period, said Mark Tanzer, head of Abta, the travel association.
But he warned the Government is ‘failing to capitalise fully on the success of the vaccine rollout’ with a ‘very cautious’ approach to the green list and ‘failure to relax restrictions on travel, including requirements for multiple tests even when visiting low risk destinations.’
Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, said the extension of the green list is ‘a positive step forward’ but warned that the UK remains ‘a long way off a full and meaningful restart of international travel’.
Covid cases in the UK and France look set to pass each other in the coming days as a wave of delta cases in Britain drops while it is on the rise across the Channel
Tim Alderslade, boss of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered carriers, described the announcement as ‘another missed opportunity’.
He added that the travel industry has not had ‘anything like the reopening it was hoping for’.
Meanwhile, Rory Boland, travel editor at Which?, welcomed the addition of more green list countries, but warned that the constant chopping and changing would cause further disruption for many.
‘The cost for travellers can be significant,’ he said. ‘Some holidaymakers whose countries have now been placed in the red category will find that their airline or tour operator is unwilling to give them a refund. Other providers won’t refund or even facilitate rebooking if a country is moved from green to amber.’
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: ‘While there’s some welcome progress, the Government is still being too cautious at a time when they should be opening up travel faster to help the sector’s recovery.’
Johan Lundgren, chief executive of easyJet, said: ‘Now summer is fully under way, this provides some reassurance to consumers by keeping the status quo for key holiday destinations, as well as adding some Green list destinations for last-minute bookers where there are still great flight and holiday deals available.
‘But we remain disappointed at the double standards applied to travel versus the domestic economy. With infection rates remaining lower in much of Europe and the high vaccination levels in the UK, if not now, it is hard to know when the time is for much of Europe to genuinely turn Green.
‘And Government urgently needs to tackle this expensive testing regime which is adding unnecessary cost, especially for the fully vaccinated. No one wants to see flying become a preserve of the rich again – particularly when so many need to get away or reunite after such a long time.’
Is pingdemic mayhem finally easing? Number of alerts sent by NHS Covid app plunged by 43% last week… and that was BEFORE software was tweaked
The number of alerts given out by the NHS Covid app fell by 43 per cent in a week before it was made less sensitive, official data has shown.
NHS figures show 395,971 alerts in England and Wales were sent in the seven days up to July 28, down from 690,129 the week before, in a sign that pingdemic mayhem may finally be easing.
Thousands of people have deleted the app in recent week to avoid the alerts, which tell people they have been in close contact with someone who had tested positive for coronavirus.
The alerts have forced millions into self-isolation across the country — despite not testing positive themselves — leading to chaos as supermarket shelves were left barren with workers having to stay home.
Earlier this week it was announced that the app is being updated so fewer contacts will be instructed to isolate.
Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Modelling group (Spi-M) advising ministers, insisted the app is still ‘incredibly useful’, despite the swathes of people being asked to isolate.
But the changes were made after the latest data — suggesting another reason is behind the drastic fall in alerts.
Britain’s Covid cases began falling on July 21 but did not reach the rate of the drop off in alerts until July 28, the last date included in the most recent data.
It comes after academics claimed Britain’s Covid self-isolation sentence could be halved to just five days and be as effective.
Data suggests 98 per cent of transmission occurs either before people become ill, or within five days of symptoms starting.
NHS figures show 395,971 alerts in England and Wales were sent in the seven days up to July 28, down from 690,129 the week before
The number of alerts given out by the NHS Covid app fell by 43 per cent in a week before it was made less sensitive, official data has shown
The NHS data today showed the number of venue check ins made with the Covid app dropped from 6.6million to 2.3million in the most recent week — a drop-off of 65 per cent.
People are no longer required to use the app to check into venues since restrictions were lifted on July 19, but the trend gives an indication in the fall in usage.
Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Modelling group (Spi-M) advising ministers, described the app as ‘incredibly useful’, despite large numbers of people being asked to isolate
Earlier this week, Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said the ‘logic’ behind the app was tweaked, although the sensitivity and risk threshold will remain unchanged.
Instead of checking contacts for five days before a positive test, the app will only go back two days.
Dr Tildesley told Sky News: ‘I know there have been some challenges in terms of particularly at the moment the so-called ‘pingdemic’, but in terms of being able to detect contact, it has been extremely valuable.
‘Obviously the challenge with that is that a lot of people are going into isolation and over the last few days the app has been made less sensitive.’
Dr Tildesley said there is a worry that if too many people are pinged, fewer may be willing to comply, but he added that the tweak will ‘hopefully guarantee higher levels of compliance’.
Fresh data from Oxford University’s Pathogen Dynamics Group shows up to 40 per cent of transmission occurs before symptoms emerge.
But most of this happens during the two days before people fall ill, which prompted the alteration of how the NHS Covid app works.
Around 35 per cent of transmission occurs within the first two days of people having symptoms.
However, the data came from September — before the highly-infectious Delta variant took off.
Oxford University data suggests 98 per cent of transmission occurs either before people become ill, or within five days of symptoms starting
Ministers are keen to replace quarantine rules with daily testing, with scientists now investigating if it is safe to make the drastic move.
Dr Muge Cevik, an infectious disease expert at the University of St Andrews, told the Telegraph: ‘Given most transmission happens very early on, the isolation period could be much shorter for the cases.
‘Viral load peaks pretty quickly, so people are highly infectious within the first few days.
‘Also importantly, many people have non-specific mild symptoms before developing more noticeable ones, like fatigue or myalgia, so that’s probably when people are highly infectious too but continue daily activity.
‘So, the current self-isolation guidelines, especially given the lack of support provided for sick leave, does not serve for the purpose.’