The US has added some 130 countries to its Do Not Travel list, accounting for 80 per cent of the planet, raising concerns the country will not open a transatlantic corridor with the UK in May.
The United States’ State Department said the Covid-19 pandemic “continues to pose unprecedented risks to travellers” and urged Americans to “reconsider all travel abroad”. Travel to the remaining 20 per cent of countries is also discouraged.
The full list of banned destinations has not yet been made public, with guidance for each individual country expected next week, however, it dashes hopes for the introduction of a UK-US travel corridor from May 17, when the UK Government intends to resume overseas travel.
The UK is due to confirm its “green” list of countries on May 10, with the US expected to be one of the few places Britons can visit without the need to quarantine on return, but there has not yet been any official confirmation.
Last week a report by UK airlines highlighted that a ban on transatlantic travel costs the UK £23million a day. Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss said successful vaccine rollouts on both sides of the Atlantic presented “a clear opportunity to safely introduce a transatlantic corridor from 17 May.”
The US is the UK’s fourth most popular destination for overseas travel, with 4.8million Britons visiting in 2019.
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Border officials detect at least 100 fake Covid certificates every day
At least 100 people are attempting to enter the country every day using a “fake Covid certificate”, immigration officials have warned, as documents showing travellers have had a negative test are “very east” to forge.
Speaking at a parliamentary briefing Lucy Moreton, professional officer for the Immigration Services Union (ISU), which represents border immigration and customs staff in the UK, said proof of negative tests are “predominantly taken on trust”.
“We do get 100 or more a day of fake Covid certificates, that we catch,” she said, though many more could go undetected. She said spelling mistakes often catch people out, but this is harder to identify when documentation is written in a foreign language.
‘Feel the anger’ – a psychologist explains how to survive a massive airport queue
Brits love queuing. It’s an international stereotype about us that is about as accurate as believing that we all eat devilled kidneys for breakfast and that Leicester Square is a genuinely brilliant option for a Friday night out on the town.
The truth is that we despise queuing; it makes our already fully formed passive aggressive tendencies turn to thoughts of mutiny and insurrection, which usually fizzle out and manifest in nothing more than sustained muttering, grumbling and the occasional strangulated comment that “this is ridiculous”.
We’re going to have many more opportunities to indulge in our favoured masochistic pastime this summer if we choose to travel overseas. In recent days passengers at Heathrow Airport have been complaining of queues of up to six hours as staff struggle to deal with the plethora of Covid-related paperwork that will be an obligatory requirement for anyone planning to venture into the duty free zone, the departure gate and beyond.
Two tests before a trip to Scotland’s islands
With lateral flow tests being made available to anyone in Scotland from Monday April 26, Nicola Sturgeon has urged people to consider using them before travelling to Scotland’s island communities – where coronavirus numbers tend to be lower.
With many islands having “very, very low rates of Covid”, Ms Sturgeon said anyone travelling to one was being encouraged to take two tests – one three days before travelling and one on the day of departure.
She said: “This is potentially an important way we can minimise the risk of bringing Covid into island communities, while nevertheless allowing our island communities the benefit of opening up again to visitors.”
Reaction: ‘Green’ list testing
Following the latest report from easyJet, the airline’s CEO Johan Lundgren said:
“We believe that most European countries should be in the green tier based on the protection the NHS provided Brits through our vaccination roll-out and the low presence of variants of concern in most European countries.”
He went on to say:
“At the current costs, even low-risk, green destinations look likely to make travelling for a well-deserved holiday or the chance to see family out of reach for many – and the preserve of the rich – this is unfair. We are not pushing for the reopening of travel at any cost – we need to protect the NHS and vaccination programme, but we have worked with expert scientists to understand what would be needed to safely restart travel. Passenger health and safety remains our absolute priority and strongly believe that with vaccination, travel to a low-risk government approved destination should not be placed prohibitively out of place by unnecessary, costly PCR testing.”
Majority of Brits call for quarantine- and test-free travel
New research by easyJet has revealed that 61 per cent of British holidaymakers think travel to low-risk ‘green’ destinations should be restriciton free this summer.
As part of the Government’s upcoming traffic light system for future travel arrivals from any country that is categorised as ‘green’ must still take a PCR test. The research has revealed over half of Britons say they won’t be able to go on holiday if this rule, which could see a test costing up to £150 per person, is imposed because of the expense.
easyJet surveyed 2,000 British holidaymakers and close to three quarters (74 per cent) said if tests are necessary then quick-result lateral flow tests should be used, while the study also showed the maximum travellers are willing to pay for a test is £50 per person.
However, 90 per cent of those surveyed did agree that testing is what is needed to ensure safe travel to countries on the amber and red list.
Take a further look at the proposed traffic light plans below.
Barbados eases restrictions for vaccinated travellers
The Government of Barbados has updated its rules on entering the country, with vaccinated travellers given increased freedoms.
From May 8 anybody arriving in Barbados who is fully vaccinated will have their quarantine cut to approximately one or two days (depending on the speed of testing) – unlike non-vaccinated holidaymakers who face up to a week in isolation.
On arrival vaccinated travellers must show proof of their inoculation and take a rapid test at the airport, before being transported to their hotel to await their results – until these arrive guests are free to move around the hotel and its grounds.
Non-vaccinated travellers must stay in their rooms until a second test returns negative, which is taken five days after their arrival. All arrivals will have to provide proof of a negative PCR test three days before entering the Caribbean country.
Reaction: Demand for flights from India soars
It was announced yesterday that India is the latest addition to the red list – leading to a scramble for Brits to get home before Friday’s deadline. Matthew Puton from Air Charter Service, a global aircraft charter company, said:
The notice period of India going on the red list is significantly shorter when compared to the Pakistan red country listing. This means there really is more of a scramble to try and get people back into the UK before the deadline, while at the same time arranging the necessary Covid protocols and government requirements. There are stranded expats in India who have been there on business or people or who have been there throughout lockdown but will be looking to come home now the UK is starting to open up again. There will be a rush for tests for those in India wishing to travel back before they do, as well as difficulties for some to get to the larger ‘hub’ cities to catch flights. Scheduled options from India are currently limited more than normal due to the UK’s travel restrictions. This makes the only real viable option a direct flight on a scheduled service carrier such as Air India or BA which, despite aircraft being upgraded to larger capacity types, are full.Therefore charter is proving to be popular with travel agents, many of whom will get together and take allocations of 50 or 100 passengers on a plane.
‘We must be sensible’ says Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon has once again stressed that international travel for “non-essential purposes” is “not yet permitted” for residents in Scotland (much like the rest of the UK).
“We want to restore normality to international travel as quickly as possible,” the First Minister said, who accepted that it is a “difficult” time for tourism and aviation industries, as well as those with family and friends overseas.
“But we must be sensible as we do that, in light of the risks that we face and in light of the risks we see across many parts of the world.”
She added: “Until at least May 17, and possibly for a period after that, you should not leave the UK for non-essential purposes.”
Travel between Scotland, England and Wales will be permitted from Monday (April 26) and tourist accommodation can welcome back visitors.
I escaped my river cruise for a Black Forest adventure by bike
“Cruises aren’t known for returning you home fit as a fiddle and a few pounds lighter. On a river cruise, where you can stroll from one end of the boat to the other in around a minute, all that sleep, (over)eat, repeat is even more likely to take its toll. I’m no treadmill-pounder but, equally, I get antsy at the thought of lolling about on a lounger all day. The nature of my eight-day Rhine cruise, with a new destination to see each day, meant I’d have plenty to explore, but I fancied something a bit more off the beaten track.
An e-bike ride through the Black Forest sounded just the ticket,” writes Gabrielle Sander.
Read about her eight-hour cycle through southern Germany and why even apprehensive cyclists should give it a go, here.
Why I’ve felt safer in Africa than in Europe during the pandemic
In London, Sarah Marshall felt shadowed by a dark cloud – so she spent the pandemic in Africa instead
Alaska to offer free vaccines at airports in a bid to boost summer tourism
The state of Alaska is to offer free Covid vaccinations to anyone landing at its airports from June, its governor has announced.
The move is a bid to boost tourism, with the generous offer of a free Pfizer or Moderna vaccine “another good reason to come to the state of Alaska in the summer”, governor Mike Dunleavy told a press conference.
“If you come to Alaska, you get a free vaccination if you want one,” he added.
Israel mulls ‘green travel corridor’ with the UK
Israel and the UK are exploring the possibility of opening a “green travel corridor” between them, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said today, citing the success of the two countries’ vaccination drives.
The issue was discussed at a meeting between Israel’s Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and Michael Gove in Jerusalem, an Israeli statement said.
“We will promote, together with the UK, mutual recognition of vaccines in order to allow tourists and business people from both countries to safely return to their routines,” the statement quoted Ashkenazi as saying.
Israel and Britain had made “great progress” in their vaccination campaigns, opening the “possibility of creating a green travel corridor”, the Israeli ministry said.
It gave no timeline for implementing such a measure, which apparently would apply only to vaccinated travellers. But last week Israel announced it will start allowing the limited entry of vaccinated tourist groups as of May 23.
Demand for holidays to India likely to sink this year after red list announcement
India’s addition to the Government’s ‘red’ list this week is likely to impact demand for travel to the country this year but not beyond.
This is the view of Rachel O’Reilly from tour operator Kuoni. She told Telegraph Travel:
We’ve already been working with our customers due to depart in 2021 [to India] to cancel or amend the dates of their trips.
Generally our customers travel in our winter months, so right now and over the summer, bookings are minimal anyway.
We’d of course expect this latest news will impact on new demand for 2021 and possibly initially dent consumer demand. However, we’re seeing consumer confidence strong for all destinations moving into 2022 and starting to get enquiries about 2023 as well.
She added: “India is still a bucket list destination for many.”
Hong Kong finds 53 Covid cases on one flight from India
At least 53 passengers on a single flight from New Delhi to Hong Kong have tested positive for coronavirus, authorities have said.
Hong Kong is regularly recording fewer daily cases than the total detected on the flight since it brought a fourth wave under control in January, while India is grappling with a surge that has taken daily cases above 200,000 for several days in a row.
Hong Kong has imposed a two-week ban on all flights from India, Pakistan and the Philippines, categorising the countries as “extremely high risk” after detecting the N501Y mutant Covid-19 strain for the first time in the local community.
However the UK’s travel ban, which was announced yesterday just hours after Boris Johnson cancelled his visit to New Delhi, does not come into effect until 4am on Friday morning.
‘There is no reason to delay UK-USA travel corridor beyond May 17’
Of the news that the USA plans to add 80% of countries to its Do Not Travel list, a Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said:
With world leading vaccination programmes in both the UK and US, there is a clear opportunity to safely open up travel between these two countries and no reason to delay beyond May 17.
In 2019, transatlantic connectivity underpinned trade worth $273bn. While links with our largest trading partner are restricted, £23 million in economic value is lost each day, which is why a transatlantic travel corridor is vital to deliver a much needed boost to economic recovery. We urge UK Government to expedite talks with the Biden administration to lead the way in opening the skies ahead of the G7 in June.
Peak District celebrates 70th anniversary
‘No 10’s extreme terror of mutants risks keeping Britain locked down forever’
Telegraph columnist Sherelle Jacobs writes:
Equally conflicted is the Government’s stance on travel. The blueprints from May suggest a commitment to easing restrictions. Still, the Tories seem intent on making foreign trips if not impossible then as difficult as they can be.
What is going on? Why isn’t the Government following the logic of the vaccines and reopening society without prevarication? The answer is simple: Covid is mutating. Thus far we have been lucky, with new strains that do not appear to override the protection offered by the vaccines. But the situation could change, and ministers cannot make up their minds as to the answer to one particular conundrum. Is the risk of a vaccine-resistant escape variant manageable or a paralysing threat to humanity that could take us back to square one?
The allures of Ischia, one of Italy’s ‘Covid-free’ islands
A consort of Italian islands is pushing for their entire population to be vaccinated so they might welcome back visitors this summer. Hugh Morris remembers a visit to the Ischia, one such spot in the Bay of Naples, before the pandemic.
The Break Debate: What actually is a ‘staycation’?
A holiday at home? Or a holiday on home soil? The concept of a ‘staycation’ has divided the nation.
The seven destinations likely to feature on the holiday ‘green list’ this summer
The ‘traffic light system’ has been confirmed for our summer holidays – but which countries will get the go-ahead?
‘How the jab gave my holiday hopes an unexpected shot in the arm’
Now she’s been vaccinated, Hazel Plush can’t stop booking holidays for July and beyond. The feeling of freedom is ‘intoxicating’, she says.
Do you think getting the jab will increase your likelihood of booking a holiday this year? Or has it already?
Indian variant discovered in Israel
Israel has registered eight cases of a coronavirus variant first identified in India and believes that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is at least partially effective against it, an Israeli health official said on Tuesday.
An initial seven cases of the Indian variant were detected in Israel last week among people arriving from abroad and who have since undergone preliminary testing, the Health Ministry said.
Isreal is pegged to be on the UK Government’s upcoming ‘green’ list – thanks to its impressive vaccine drive – and the nation is set to welcome vaccination tourists from May 23.
USA: Official statement
It’s not good news for anybody wanting to travel to the USA, here’s the official statement from the State Department as the nation looks to extend its Do Not Travel list to cover roughly 80 per cent of the globe.
Top trending European destinations (2 of 2)
TripAdvisor’s summer travel index report also revealed which European countries are proving popular with prospective holidaymakers this year. Greece, which reopened to vaccinated Britons yesterday, is by far the favourite, with six places in the top 10 – Ireland and St Lucia also make the podium.
Tsilivi (Planos), Zakynthos, Greece
Cong, County Mayo, Ireland
Soufriere, St Lucia
Oia, Santorini, Greece
Laganas, Zakynthos, Greece
Mykonos Town, Mykonos, Greece
Imerovigli, Santorini, Greece
Analipsi, Crete, Greece
Ayia Napa, Cyprus
Top trending UK destination (1 of 2)
Research carried out by TripAdvisor has found that the coastal town of Torquay in Devon is this year’s most trendy UK destination. Searches for the town have grown the most year-on-year – as interest in British holidays rose by 384 per cent in April, compared to the first week of January.
Other destinations topping the chart include Windermere in the Lake District and York in Yorkshire. Here’s the top 10:
Windermere, Lake District
Bright, East Sussex
Portree, Isle of Skye
Mapped: Which countries are on the red list?
India is the latest addition to the UK’s ‘red list’, meaning that arriving travellers must book hotel quarantine, at a cost of up to £1,750, including Covid tests on day two and eight of their quarantine.
There are now a total of 40 countries on the red list:
India red list delay ‘right thing to do’, insists minister
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson defended the delay in putting India on the travel “red list” to protect against coronavirus.
He told Sky News: “It’s standard practise to give people a sort of short window in order to be able to manage their affairs. It’s the right approach to do, it’s the approach we’ve taken with other countries around the world when they’ve gone onto the red list.
“The Government continuously reviews the data, continues to review the information we’re getting from the scientific community in terms of what countries should be put onto the red list, and sadly India has been one of those countries that has had to be added.”
In numbers: Coronavirus in the USA
The USA is clamping down on foreign arrivals to the country with the extention of its Do Not Travel list, but how’s the pandemic looking across the Pond?
Here are the latest figures.
India’s scramble to beat travel deadline
India was placed on the UK’s travel “red list” on Monday, sparking a desperate scramble by families to beat the Friday 4am deadline to return and avoid hotel quarantine.
The standard £400 price for an economy flight from India to the UK skyrocketed to £2,000 due to shortages of tickets on nearly fully booked planes, according to travel agents handling the surge in demand.
More than 1,500 people a day are expected to arrive back in the UK before Friday after Matt Hancock announced the red list ban amid concerns over a spike in coronavirus cases in India and emergence of a new double mutant variant.
What happened yesterday?
India added to UK’s red list
France ‘working hard’ to reopen to vaccinated travellers
Sturgeon warns travel traffic light system ‘poses risk’ from variants
Holiday enquiries up 127pc since Gov report on travel, says Saga
Australia and New Zealand open travel bubble
Portugal, Switzerland and Slovenia ease Covid restrictions
Covid tests for holidaymakers could fall below £50
Now, on with today’s news.