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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.
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.
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.