Holidays to popular destinations including Spain, Greece and US could still be on the cards this summer as the Government is said to be “not writing anything off”.
Ministers are “looking at all the options” when it comes to lifting international travel restrictions, including dropping the current quarantine requirement for vaccinated travellers returning from amber-listed countries.
Jesse Norman, financial secretary to the Treasury, told Sky News: “We are trying to move cautiously and progressively in the right direction so I wouldn’t write anything off at this point.
“It’s (the Government) looking at all the options. We don’t want to be left behind by other countries that are taking a two-jab approach if it can be done safely.”
Over 55 per cent of the UK’s adult population has received a second vaccination dose – an easing of restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers could see summer holidays abroad resume in earnest.
Those in the industry are welcoming the news. Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, warns the UK risks being “outwitted” by counterparts around the world if it doesn’t change its policies – the EU is primed ready to launch its own vaccine passport scheme, which will allow restriction-free travel across the bloc for vaccinated travellers.
Scroll down for the latest travel updates
Isle of Man set to reopen borders
The Isle of Man will reopen its borders to fully vaccinated visitors from the UK, Ireland and Channel Islands from June 28.
Inoculated adult travellers will not face any tests of quarantine requirements, but will be required to have proof of their jabs and complete a Landing Form prior to travel. Any children between 5 to 17 years old who are not fully vaccinated will be subject to a ‘Test and Release’ pathway, which will see them test before departure and quarantined on arrival until a negative test is produced, costing £30 per child – under fours are exempt from any restrictions. Currently 73 per cent of the islands population has received their first vaccination.
The island first closed its borders on March 28 2020. “We are thrilled to be opening our borders after a difficult year for everyone. We know that people have been missing being able to travel, and we cannot wait to welcome both returning and new visitors this summer,” said Angela Byrne, Head of Visit Isle of Man.
“The UNESCO Biosphere status of the Isle of Man highlights just how special the Island is – with outstanding landscapes, incredible biodiversity, medieval castles and heritage sites, and long stretching coastlines. We are thrilled to be able to share these again.”
American travel soars amid vaccine rollout
America’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) – similar to the UK’s border force – has revealed it screened more than 2 million travellers at airports earlier this week – the highest number since the start of the pandemic.
TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said the agency screened approximately 2,097,433 individuals Sunday at airport security checkpoints, that’s up from the 544,046 passengers screened at the same time period last year. The increase comes as America’s vaccination drive continues in earnest – 54 per cent of the population has now had two doses.
Numbers are likely to continue to soar after the European Union added the US to the list of countries allowed to visit the bloc restrictions free.
London to Glasgow record attempt: Did they break it?
Avanti West Coast train driver Neil Barker today attempted to break the 36-year-old record for the fastest train journey between London and Glasgow – unfortunately, he missed the mark by just 21 seconds.
Barker gave a thumbs up as he was greeted by a Scottish piper on arrival at Glasgow Central Station. The record of three hours, 52 minutes and 40 seconds was set by British Rail in December 1984 – better luck next time, Neil.
Flights set to resume to South Africa
British Airways has announced the resumption of its flights between London and Johannesburg later this month.
The carrier says the flights between London Heathrow and Johannesburg will restart on June 25, operating once a week until July 16. Meanwhile Virgin Atlantic has also announced the restart of their flight route between London Heathrow and Johannesburg, which will recommence on June 24 and remains commitment to relaunching it’s seasonal Cape Town route later this year.
South Africa remains on the red list – meaning returning travellers face 10 days in hotel quarantine and extensive testing. Here’s a reminder of the rules and which other countries are on the list.
Three quarters of Britons prepared to get vaccinated in order to travel
Reports of eased quarantine requirements for inoculated travels is the news the British public has been waiting for – the majority of travel-starved British are prepared to get double jabbed in order to travel internationally this summer, according to a new study.
But, where will they go? Spain, which requires no proof of vaccination or a negative tests to enter, is the front running with hopeful holidaymakers. New research, by travel insurance provider battleface, has found that almost half (48 per cent) of Britons would consider taking a holiday to Spain this summer – younger travels (18-34) are most eager to return to the Costas – 64 per cent of this group said a trip is on the cards for them – while 52 per cent of those aged 35-54 are tempted to.
Other top destinations being considered by those keen to travel abroad for a holiday are Portugal, Greece, France and the US.
All these destinations are currently on the amber list, but if rules are relaxed this could see travel resume in earnest. If they’re not though 41 per cent of the 2,000 British adults surveyed earlier this week said that they would be willing to undertake the current quarantine requirements in order to travel internationally.
The ultimate vaccination travel guide – where will the jab get you?
Vaccinated holidaymakers, it’s time to rev your engines. For if you glance up through the windscreen to our holiday traffic lights, you’ll see a distinctly green hue to the ‘amber list’ after this week’s news.
Four months after Ryanair met criticism for its misleading ‘Jab and Go’ advert, that sentiment might soon become the reality. The Telegraph understands that Government officials are drawing up plans that will allow anyone who has received a full course of the vaccine to sidestep quarantine after returning home from amber destinations, with some testing measures still in place.
If this goes ahead, it will be the silver bullet for the travel industry, effectively opening up holidays for tens of millions of Britons to our favourite destinations such as Portugal, Spain and Greece.
A full dose of the vaccine will open up a whole world of possibilities this summer – explore your options here.
Sir Keir Starmer: ‘The more important thing is making sure our borders are secure’
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said that any scheme that plans to open up summer holidays for Britons who have been vaccinated should be a “global agreement”, while stressing the importance of borders being secure to prevent new variants entering the UK.
“Everybody wants to get back to normal and to open up just as quickly as we can,” the Labour leader told reporters during a visit to Bristol.
“People want to go on holiday, business people need to travel across the world for business, so the sooner we can get to that, the better.
“If there is a scheme that can be used, a vaccine scheme that is practical and that has global agreements, all countries have agreed on it, then we can make some progress.
“Frankly at the moment, the more important thing is making sure our borders are secure, so that we can get on with vaccinating everybody before we let any more variants in.”
Green list Faroe Island relaxes entry requirements
The Faroe Islands, which were added to the debut green list back in May, will welcome fully-vaccinated Britons, without the need to quarantine, from June 26. All arrivals, jabbed and non-jabbed, will still be required to take a PCR test on arrival and on the fourth day of their stay, but can move freely around the island from the moment they land.
The only direct flight from the UK to the archipelago, which sits between Iceland and Norway in the North Atlantic Ocean, resumes on July 1 – upping its chances as a lesser-known summer holiday contender. “The Faroes are a magnet for walkers and bird watchers and it’s a destination that comes with isolation built-in, so we expect it to be very popular over the summer months, when the days are long and light and the temperature is perfect for outdoor activities,” said Andrea Godfrey, brand manager at Regent Holidays, which specialises in off-the-beaten track holidays on the island.
‘The double vaccination passport scheme should have been the plan all along’
It has taken 15 months but I think the Government might have just hit on the correct travel policy. Grant Shapps et al were going to get there eventually, weren’t they, like a broken clock or a monkey working infinitely to bash out Shakespeare. But still, well done. I suppose.
The plan is, of course, in its infancy. Embryonic, you might say. But it should work thus: anyone who has had both their jabs will be allowed to visit any amber list country without the need to quarantine on return. This is already the case for the handful of green list nations, regardless of vaccination status.
This should have long been the policy, argues Hugh Morris.
EasyJet cashes in on staycation boom with host of new routes
EasyJet has launched 12 new UK domestic routes amid Government rules limiting foreign travel.
The new routes include Liverpool-Bournemouth, Birmingham-Newquay and Manchester-Edinburgh. Summer 2020 saw huge demand for trips to beach locations as people rushed out of urban areas after the first coronavirus lockdown ended.
Accommodation providers have also seen strong booking numbers this year, partly driven by quarantine and testing requirements for overseas holidays.
Flights between Liverpool and Bournemouth will take one hour whereas rail travel between the same locations involves changing trains once and an overall journey time in excess of five hours.
Travel between Birmingham and Newquay will take one hour and 15 minutes by air, or five hours and 50 minutes by rail with two changes of trains.
The Manchester-Edinburgh route replaces a service lost when Flybe ceased operations in March 2020. Flights will take 65 minutes, compared with direct trains which take around three hours.
Disneyland Paris reopens after eight months shut
Disneyland Paris has reopened two weeks after the France opened its borders to vaccinated visitors from across the world.
Europe’s most frequented theme park in Marne-la-Vallee, east of the French capital, opened its doors on Thursday after nearly eight months of closure.
A crowd of smiling visitors was welcomed by Disney characters dancing to the sound of joyful music.
“Amazing,” said Debbie Tater, from Delaware, US. “Happiest place on earth,” she said, with tears in her eyes.
“We couldn’t miss the reopening,” said Elodie Piedfort, from Haute-Loire region in central France. “Because I’m a nurse it’s been a very difficult year and being here, together with my son, is great. And the reopening, moving on is great as well.”
Visitors must wear masks inside the park and other measures are in place, including a cap on visitor numbers to ensure distancing.
Pauline Baudouin, a Disney fan from Angouleme in western France, said: “We were missing the magic, because it was already a complicated period and we needed to recharge our batteries in this magical world.”
Prime Minister Jean Castex said Wednesday that France is returning to “a form of normal life again,” as he announced that people won’t have to wear masks outdoors any more, except in crowded places.
Lufthansa to start using digital vaccine passports as bookings soar
Lufthansa will allow passengers to use new digital Covid-19 vaccination certificates at check-in for their flights, the German airline has said.
Lufthansa said passengers would be able to show the digital proof of vaccination either on their phones or on a printout when checking in at the airport, and the boarding pass would then be issued.
“This eliminates the need to juggle different papers and proofs. It also significantly reduces the risk of misuse of fake vaccination certificates,” Lufthansa said.
Germany started issuing QR codes for those who are fully vaccinated last week.
Germans are booking holidays again at rates higher than in 2019 before the coronavirus hit, TUI Group , the world’s biggest holiday group, said on Wednesday.
Lufthansa said on selected routes it would also soon be possible to use the digital vaccination certificate to check in via smartphone using the airline’s app. The German flag carrier said it still recommends that passengers carry their original printed vaccination certificates with them on their journey until further notice.
Is travel shaming now a thing of the past?
Remember those days? When it seemed inappropriate to sneak off for a holiday in a place where cases were soaring? Now, thanks to the UK having one of the highest rates in Europe and a shambolic travel policiy, the sympathy has shifted, writes Hugh Morris.
Now, it is clear that overseas travel has been sacrificed at the altar of domestic reopening. The Government knows the optics of adding to the green list while extending lockdown at home would not fly, regardless of the data.
The scrimping of Shapps et al in restricting legitimate travel has created a spin-off shambles in the form of an amber list that not only do UK holidaymakers feel comfortable visiting, but so do the UK’s tour operators. You see Tui, along with the likes of British Airways Holidays, have decided to ignore Shapps and instead follow the guidance of the Foreign Office, which allows them to travel to popular hotspots in the Greek Islands and Spain’s Canary Islands.
There is no shame in toeing the line of the Government department usually trusted with issuing travel advisories.
Downing Street: ‘Absolutely no decisions have been made’ regarding eased rules for vaccinated travellers
Downing Street has said that the Government wants people to travel abroad “as soon as it is safe to do so” but stresses that no decisions had been made about opening up holidays for those who had received both vaccine doses.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told a Westminster briefing: “As we have always set out, we want people to be able to travel abroad as soon as it is safe to do so.
“Currently we have set out a traffic light system for international travel. We are always learning more about the virus and its variants.
“At this stage in the pandemic, our current approach is the right one, but we keep our measures under review, and that was set out clearly in both the road map and the Global Travel Taskforce report.
“On the point about double vaccinations, absolutely no decisions have been made on that.”
The spokesman also confirmed the next review of the UK’s travel list of countries is due at the end of this month.
“There is a three-week review point, so the next check point is coming up at the end of this month,” he said, adding that he believed this would be no later than June 28.
‘Fun is back’ in Austria as restrictions are eased
European nations continue their drive to ease Covid restrictions.
Nightclubs in Austria will reopen next month for the first time in over a year and crowd numbers will no longer be restricted at large events, where there’ll be no mandatory social distancing or masks. The midnight curfew will be lifted on July 1, heralding the return of nightlife in the country.
“The situation is much better than expected,” Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told reporters. “Everything that is fun is back again,” he said.
Medical-grade FFP2 masks will also no longer be compulsory in all settings, except for hospitals, with regular mouth-and-nose coverings once again allowed on public transport, in shops and other indoor places.
However, Austrians wanting to attend an event, nightclub or restaurant must show proof either of vaccination, recovery from the virus or a negative test.
Meet the ‘get set’, the normal people using private jets to travel during the pandemic
While commercial airlines struggle to operate amid global uncertainty and reduced demand, the private charter aircraft business is booming. Existing customers are using private aviation more than ever. Those who previously flew business or first class are turning to private charter as a viable alternative. And family and friends are now joining the “get set” and clubbing together to charter flights and spread costs.
Once exclusively reserved for the super rich, ordinary travellers are now seeing private jets as the safer, flexible and smarter way to fly – meet the ‘get set’ here.
Britons look beyond this summer for their next holiday
The latest booking figures from independent travel agency, Travel Counsellors, indicate that Brits are looking well ahead when planning their holiday. 31 per cent of all new holiday bookings made last week were for winter 2021/22, and almost a quarter (23 per cent) were for summer 2022.
The USA, Maldives, UAE and Barbados are leading the bookings for winter; while Greece, USA and Spain are most popular destinations for summer next year. All are either on the amber or red list currently.
The UK remains as this year’s most popular summer destination – last week, Travel Counsellors received over 500 customer enquiries for staycations in the coming months.
“Because of the current travel insecurity and the government’s ambiguity on amber destinations, customers are planning well ahead and making bookings – or re-booking – for up to summer next year,” said Jim Eastwood, Global Sales Director at Travel Counsellors.
Predictions: When could travel rules be relaxed?
The Government has to make some ‘complicated’ decision if it plans to drop quarantine for vaccinated travellers. But when could a new policy be introduced?
Paul Charles is one of many experts having their say:
Airbnb hosts are cashing in on staycation boom – but is it really worth the risk?
In the beginning it was a vague idea, prompted partly by the fallout from the pandemic, partly by the prospect of financing my youngest daughter’s wedding. Soon I realised I either needed to sell up and downsize, or find some other way of boosting my income. Then, quite by chance, in March, I spotted a series of Airbnb advertisements showing beautiful properties around the world whose owners (‘hosts’) let them out to holidaymakers, writes Jane Gordon.
With millions ditching their trips abroad this summer, more people are letting out their homes as holiday lets. But is it worth the risk? She shares her story here.
Reaction: ‘A meaningful restart to international travel in the very near future’
Following news that vaccinated Britons could see amber list quarantine requirements dropped Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays said:
This is very welcome news and should represent a meaningful restart to international travel in the very near future. The vaccination programme was designed to protect people from coronavirus so that they can enjoy their freedoms once again. If people have received two doses of the vaccine and are still not allowed to travel overseas to enjoy their holidays, what is the purpose of the vaccination programme? The rollout has been a huge success, so it is time for us all to enjoy the benefits of that.
As well as vaccination rates, the UK Government has said that they are making decisions about international travel based on infection rates too. If this data is driving these decisions, then we believe that destinations such as Malta, the Balearic Islands and many islands in Greece should be open to holidaymakers from the UK.
At present, the UK remains largely grounded and our customers are left to look on with envy whilst the rest of Europe opens up. We look forward to flying again soon and will continue to work with the UK Government to achieve that.
#BritainByBike reaches Scotland
Our roaming report Simon Parker is travelling 3,000 miles across the UK to document how the nation is recovering from the pandemic.
He’s made it to Scotland (he began on the Isles of Scilly) and his camping spot last night was quite simply jaw-dropping…
London City Airport opens new testing facility for travellers
London City Airport has announced that it has expanded its testing capabilities with the opening of a new, larger, onsite testing facility.
Located less than a minute’s walk from the terminal, the new facility will increase the airport’s testing capacity in order to meet the expected increase in demand from passengers this summer – the site will be able to administer over 200 tests per hour.
Ahead of the next Government review due next week, the CEOs of London City Airport and its partner Collinson have jointly called on the Government to trust the testing system to safely restart international travel.
Robert Sinclair, CEO of London City Airport said:
There is no doubt that the next Government reviews are of vital importance. We need to put in place a framework that enables the reopening of international travel this summer.
I would urge the Government to consider what airports and airlines are doing across the world to keep passengers safe and to look to the many countries across Europe where real progress is being made.
We believe there is a strong case to expand the Green list in line with the latest scientific data, and recognise the status of vaccinated travellers with reduced testing and quarantine requirements, particularly for arrivals from amber list countries. This would boost the industry’s recovery and allow passengers to book their summer getaways with confidence.
Children’s clubs allowed to have overnight stays in groups of up to 30
The UK’s Freedom Day may have been postponed by a month but some rules are set to be relaxed on Monday.
This includes restrictions on groups of children planning overnight trips. Out-of-school settings, such as Brownies, Scouts and the Duke of Edinburgh scheme, will be able to resume overnight trips, such as camping, with groups of up to 30 youngsters.
Unfortunately though, groups of friends and extended families are still limited to the rule of six, or two households, for overnight stays – leaving many staycations plans in jeopardy.
Is it legal to go on holiday to the amber list?
With all eyes on the amber list and whether quarantine could be dropped for vaccinated travellers, hopes for a summer holiday have been boosted.
Despite current restrictions, Britons can still technically visit amber-listed destinations, but is it legal? Are tour operators running holidays? And can you get insurance? Find out here.
Vaccine passports could see New Zealand lift border restrictions
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has indicated New Zealand will only be open to vaccinated tourists when the border eventually opens.
“I think New Zealanders would have an expectation that if they’ve made the effort to keep themselves safe by being vaccinated, that those who are wishing to visit New Zealand show a similar sense of responsibility. It’s becoming a global trend, and I think it would be very unusual if New Zealand didn’t have some of those requirements,” Ardern told a press conference.
In neighbouring Australia the Government has also indicated that vaccine passports will be used in the future, even for interstate travel. The country’s flag-carrying airline, Qantas, has said proof of inoculation will be mandatory on its flights.
Record attempt: London to Glasgow in less than four hours
An attempt to break the 36-year-old record for the fastest train journey between London and Glasgow will be made today, reports the PA.
Avanti West Coast will run a non-stop service from London Euston to Glasgow Central to highlight “the ease of travelling between the home nations” as Britons look set to spend the summer exploring on home soil.
The existing record for the quickest train journey between the two cities is three hours, 52 minutes and 40 seconds. That was set by British Rail in December 1984. Currently, the quickest regular services on the route take around four-and-a-half hours.
For the record attempt, a nine-carriage Pendolino train named Royal Scot will run at 125mph – the maximum permitted speed on Britain’s mainline railway – for as much of the 401-mile route as possible.
Wishing those involved luck, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Our rail network binds our Union together, and today’s attempt underlines why our clean, green railways is a great way to see the UK.”
France eases Covid restrictions early
The UK’s freedom day may have been delayed but restrictions continue to ease on the continent.
From today wearing a face mask is no longer compulsory when outdoors in France, except in queues, markets, when on public transport and other crowded areas such as stadiums.
Prime Minister Jean Castex said France was in a happy moment that meant returning to a kind of return to normal life. France’s overnight curfew, which was brought in on October 30 and currently starts at 11pm, will also end on Sunday, ten days earlier than planned.
On Thursday, Health Minister Olivier Véran also said nightclubs would be able to reopen in July, but that people would have to wait till 21 June to find out exactly under what conditions
The current seven-day case rate in France is 35 per 100,000 and 55 per cent of the population have received a first dose of the vaccine. By comparison, the UK’s case rate is 81 and 76 per cent have had one jab.
Freedom Day delay strengthens chance of UK/US travel corridor
America’s chief medical advisor has sparked fresh hopes for transatlantic travel.
Dr Antony Fauci said it was a “reasonably good prediction” to think that travel between America and the UK will become easier by “the end of the summer“.
He claimed that Britain could find itself in a “very favourable position” thanks to the Government’s “prudent” decision to delay the June 21 Freedom Day.
Dr Fauci told ITV News: “You really can’t tell because things happen, variants occur, things happen with regards to infection.
“I think once they get more and more people vaccinated and get the people who’ve gotten a single dose to make sure they get their second dose, I think the UK is going to be in a very favourable position by the time we get to the end of the summer.”
‘It’s embarrassing to admit I’ve been on holiday’
Boudicca Fox-Leonard’s is one of a number of Britons to take an ‘amber gamble’ and decide to go on holiday against Government advice to an amber list country.
She found travelling is not stress-free or cheap, but her recent trip to Greece highlighted how tourist-starved destinations are desperate for Britons to return.
Was it worth the hassle though? Read her report here.
In focus: The amber list
Quarantine could be lifted for vaccinated Britons returning from amber-listed countries under new proposals being considered by the Government.
Here’s a reminder of the countries that are currently on the amber list, to which holidays could soon resume in earnest.
Royal Caribbean delays first US sailing after crew test positive
One of the world’s leading cruise lines, Royal Caribbean International, has announced it is postponing its highly-anticipated first sailings from the US, since the start of the pandemic, for nearly a month after eight crew members tested positive for Covid-19.
The brand new Odyssey of the Seas was to set sail from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on July 3 but is now postponed to July 31. Royal Caribbean International’s CEO Michael Bayley said late Tuesday that the decision had been made “out of an abundance of caution,” adding that the company is also rescheduling a simulation cruise scheduled for late June. “While disappointing, this is the right decision for the health and well-being of our crew and guests,” he said.
All crew had been vaccinated on June 4, however six tested positive without any symptoms, while two others are said to have been diagnosed with mild symptoms. The entirety of the ship’s 1,400-strong crew are now in quarantine and undergoing routine testing.
Japan to issue vaccine passport for travel abroad
Japan said on Thursday it will make a vaccine passport available from next month for Japanese travellers, as governments around the world experiment with ways to relaunch tourism and business trips.
“We are preparing to issue a certificate of vaccination for those who need one… when they visit foreign countries,” top government spokesman Katsunobu Kato told reporters.
The certificate will be paper-based rather than digital and will be issued by local governments from sometime next month, he said.
The European Union is working on a digital vaccine passport for this summer so it can welcome back badly needed tourists, and some EU countries plan to introduce certificates at the national level.
Reaction: Lifting restrictions comes with complications
Asked what the lifting of quarantine rules for vaccinated travellers would mean for those who are unable to or chose not to be inoculated, Former Conservative Leader Iain Duncan Smith has warned Sky News “there are complications to be thought through” before any significant changes can be made to international travel rules.
Ryanair sues Government for refusing to reopen borders
Ryanair is taking the Government to court over its refusal to reopen Britain’s borders, Michael O’Leary has told The Telegraph.
The Irish airline will file a legal challenge as early as Thursday alongside a number of other operators over Boris Johnson’s handling of its “traffic light” travel system.
Mr O’Leary said: “I’ve never come across a more incompetent f****** front bench of ministers. I have no faith in Johnson’s government on any of these issues, having completely mismanaged the original lockdowns last year and the reopening now.
Traffic light system: the rules
Ministers are said to be “looking at all the options” for the future of foreign travel. Here’s a reminder of the current rules for those visiting green, amber and red list countries.
Return of holidays abroad for people who are fully vaccinated
Double-jabbed tourists could be allowed to travel to amber list countries without quarantining under new government plans.
Officials are drawing up proposals that could allow people who have had both Covid jabs to avoid having to quarantine on their return from amber list countries, although they will still have to be tested.
The change would effectively turn amber countries green for the vaccinated, opening up the possibility of quarantine-free travel to most major holiday destinations in Europe and the US.
The proposals to ease the restrictions for vaccinated people are said to be at an early stage. Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, who has fought for tough border restrictions, is said to be “open” to the change.
What happened yesterday?
Before we begin, here’s a recap of yesterday’s top stories:
Holiday curbs to last beyond Freedom Day, leak suggests
Europe eases Covid restrictions early while UK extends lockdown
EasyJet switches planes to Germany
Portugal ready to roll out EU Covid Certificate
Europe to lift US travel ban this week
Thailand leads the way for Asia tourism return
Now, on with Thursday’s news.