We Need to Plan: UK Travel Urges Clarity From Government | World News


By PAN PYLAS, Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — Leaders from Britain’s aviation industry joined forces Wednesday to urge the British government to ensure that popular European destinations face the least onerous coronavirus travel restrictions when holidays are allowed again.

Under the government’s new traffic light system for England, travel to countries in the lowest green category could be opened up to quarantine-free travel from May 17. Arrivals would be required to take a pre-departure test as well as the gold standard PCR test on or before day two of their return to England. They would only need to quarantine if they receive a positive result.

The government has said it will categorize destinations — green, amber or red — after analyzing vaccination rates, coronavirus cases and the prevalence of variants of concern. Given the metrics being applied, countries like the United States and Israel are expected to be on the green list immediately, while much of Europe could be placed on the amber list, which would require travelers to self-isolate at home for potentially ten days on their return.

Aviation minister Robert Courts said Wednesday that the government should be able to give more details about how countries are characterized in early May so the industry — and potential holidaymakers — can start putting plans in place.

“We are giving as much notice as we can,” he said.

Lockdown restrictions are being eased across the U.K. after a stringent winter lockdown and the rapid rollout of coronavirus vaccines has seen coronavirus cases — and deaths — fall sharply. However, given that previous waves of the pandemic have largely been blamed on too-lax border policies, the government has indicated it will take a cautious approach.

With much of Europe in the midst of a surge of the pandemic and lockdown restrictions being re-imposed, there are concerns that popular European destinations, such as the beach resorts of the Costa del Sol in Spain or the Greek islands may not make the green list.

“We would like to see the green category as expansive as possible,” Chris Garton, chief solutions officer at Heathrow Airport, told lawmakers in the House of Commons.

“We understand from a health perspective it’s a proceed with caution time …. but if we err to much on the side of caution then you will have some very devastating effects on the travel sector and the aviation sector,” he added.

The aviation industry around the world has been hammered over the past year with passenger numbers down around 95% from pre-pandemic levels.

Travel to Europe will play a crucial role in the industry’s recovery so any delay in putting popular holiday destinations in the green category would spell further financial difficulties.

EasyJet Chief Executive Johan Lundgren said he “would expect almost all major European countries” to be put in the low-risk category immediately and that the airline will be able to fly 20% of its normal schedule between April and June.

Lundgren said he’s optimistic that many of easyJet’s core markets in Europe will make the cut as the rollout of vaccines picks up pace.

“I wouldn’t see a reason why you wouldn’t have the majority of the countries of Europe in there,” he said.

Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at:

https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine

https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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Prince Philip dies: Why Prince Harry will travel for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral – and who else might be there | UK News


Prince Harry is planning to attend his grandad Prince Philip’s funeral – and government guidance suggests it is within lockdown rules for him to fly in from the US.

Some had questioned whether an exception would be made for the Duke of Sussex to attend the proceedings, but there is a loophole allowing international guests to keep within England’s current restrictions.

His wife Meghan will not be attending following medical advice due to her pregnancy, although it is understood she made every effort to join her husband.

According to guidance on the government website, those arriving from another country will have to self-isolate for 10 days.

This means they will have to stay at home for the duration.

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The Duke maintained close links with the military all his life. Pic: AP
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Prince Philip died in his sleep on Friday. Pic: AP

However, there are limited circumstances allowing people to leave home – including attending the funeral of a household member or close family member.

Travellers are expected to self-isolate for the rest of the time and cannot attend any other commemorative events such as wakes.

Under England’s current restrictions, only 30 people can attend funerals and the Royal Family is expected to stick to these rules.

Originally around 800 people were set to be invited to the Duke of Edinburgh‘s funeral, but this list will have to be cut significantly and decided on by the Queen.

Meghan
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Meghan will unlikely be able to travel as she is pregnant

The rest of the Queen and Prince Philip’s eight grandchildren – Peter Phillips, Zara Tindall, the Duke of Cambridge, the Duke of Sussex, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, Lady Louise Windsor and Viscount Severn – are expected to attend too.

The Duchess of Cambridge will likely attend as a future queen, although it is unclear whether the other grandchildren’s spouses – Mike Tindall, Jack Brooksbank and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi – will attend.

Of course, we will also expect to see the Queen’s four children and their spouses too: the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, the Duke of York, and the Earl and Countess of Wessex.

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‘The Queen has been amazing’ – Countess of Wessex

It is also likely the Queen will invite her cousins and their spouses. They are Princess Alexandra, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Kent and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.

The monarch is close to the children of her late sister Princess Margaret – her nephew the Earl of Snowdon and niece Lady Sarah Chatto – so they may also be on the list.

The Queen and Prince Philip’s 10 great-grandchildren, including Prince George and Princess Charlotte, are unlikely to be there as they will probably be considered too young.

Another spot could also be filled by a trusted member of the Queen or Prince Philip’s household, or perhaps even the prime minister or a member of the armed forces.



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Experts share their tips for exploring the UK by campervan this summer


Campervan rentals in the UK have been given a big boost by travellers seeking private accommodation that allows open-road freedom between lockdowns.

Joining the established car hire players in the market, a number of boutique operators now offer revamped retro rides, and several van-sharing websites have a wide choice of privately owned vehicles. Rentals run the gamut from all-mod-cons family-size motorhomes to rustic 1960s VWs. Companies include Barell of MonkeysBunk Campers, Quirky CampersYEscapa and van sharing communities such as Camplify and Camptoo.

Bear in mind that while you’ll have the freedom of the road, you can’t just park up and camp anywhere. Given the current popularity of camper trips, and domestic travel dominating this summer, you’d be advised to book pitches well in advance via such resources as The Camping and Caravanning Club, or Pitchup.

Founded in 2019, Indie Campers is now one of Europe’s largest campervan rental companies, and its top tip for planning any trip is to be flexible. “Estimate the route you want to take, and book campsites in advance to be safe,” a spokesperson says. “Nevertheless, don’t forget to leave room for impromptu activities, and enjoy each moment as it comes.”

The company recommends a tour of the beaches and villages of Devon’s 22-mile ‘English Riviera’: “You can explore the historic island of Bigbury-on-Sea, the three-mile-long beach at Torcross and sandy coves at Salcomb. Or a bit further north, the Jurassic Coast is perfect for a few days of relaxation with coastal walks, endless clifftop views and charming villages. Don’t miss the old town of Corfe castle, cliff walks at Old Harry Rock, as well as Durdle Door and Lulworth cove.”

Further north, the Fife coast just beyond Edinburgh is both Scotland’s sunniest spot and home to its longest continuous coastal path, a superlative 117-mile option to do more than stretch your legs between drives. “Stop at the quintessential Scottish village of Culross, the castles at Aberdour, and the beaches at St Andrew’s West Sands and Kinghorn — all highly recommended, particularly for family adventures.” 



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Virgin Atlantic CEO Criticises UK Plans for Travel Restart | World News


LONDON (Reuters) – The chief executive of Virgin Atlantic criticised the British government’s proposals for restarting travel outlined on Friday, saying that trips to low-risk countries should not involve expensive PCR tests for COVID-19.

“For travel between green countries it should be absent quarantine and absent testing,” chief executive Shai Weiss told BBC Radio. “There are better ways of doing what the government has set out to do.”

He said the more expensive PCR tests required for travel would put off some customers.

(Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Michael Holden)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.



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Green, Amber or Red: UK to Classify Travel Destinations in May | World News


LONDON (Reuters) – Britain will confirm in early May whether it will allow international travel to resume from May 17 and which countries will fall into the red, amber or green categories in a new traffic light system based on COVID-19 risks.

Giving new details of how it hopes to allow people to travel this summer, the government’s Global Travel Taskforce also said work was ongoing to develop a certification system, sometimes called “vaccine passports”, for inbound and outbound travel.

Britain is gradually emerging from a strict winter lockdown prompted by a huge surge in COVID-19 infections and deaths. As things stand, international travel is banned except under specific circumstances defined by the government.

Case numbers have dropped dramatically since the January peak, and one of the government’s top priorities is to avoid undermining the success of the national COVID-19 vaccination programme by importing vaccine-resistant variants from overseas.

So far, more than 31.8 million people in the United Kingdom have received at least one dose of vaccine, while 6.1 million have received two, in one of the fastest mass vaccination campaigns in the world.

“The framework announced today will help allow us to reopen travel safely and sustainably, ensure we protect our hard-won achievements on the vaccine rollout and offer peace of mind to both passengers and industry as we begin to take trips abroad once again,” said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

Airlines, travel companies and members of the public eager to plan their summer holidays have been putting pressure on the government to explain what the rules would be.

Under the new traffic light system, restrictions such as hotel quarantine, home quarantine and compulsory COVID tests will apply differently depending on which category of country a passenger has come from.

Factors in assessing which category a country should fall into will include the percentage of the population that has been vaccinated, the rate of infection, the prevalence of variants of concern and the country’s access to reliable genomic sequencing.

There will be a “green watchlist” identifying countries most at risk of moving from green to amber, although the government said it would not hesitate to change a country’s category at short notice should the data show the risk had increased.

The taskforce recommended removing a “permission to travel form” currently required, meaning passengers would no longer need to prove they had a valid reason for leaving Britain.

It also said it was working with the travel industry and with private COVID-19 test providers to reduce the cost of travel for the British public.

“This could include cheaper tests being used when holidaymakers return home, as well as whether the Government would be able to provide pre-departure tests,” the statement from the travel taskforce said.

Under current rules, free testing provided by the National Health Service is not available for the purpose of travel, meaning passengers have to turn to private providers who charge high fees for tests.

The taskforce indicated that a digital travel certification system would be part of the plan, but gave few details beyond saying that Britain wanted to play a leading role in developing international standards in this area.

(Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; editing by Diane Craft)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.



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Travel news latest: Virgin Voyages to launch in the UK – but only for fully vaccinated Britons


Virgin Voyages, the new adult-only cruise line from Sir Richard Branson, will finally make its debut with a series of cruises in British waters this summer, The Telegraph can reveal.

Six sailings will be on offer in August aboard Scarlet Lady – the cruise coming more than a year since the £500 million, 2,770-passenger ship was due to take her maiden voyage, which was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The three- and four-night itineraries, which will all depart from Portsmouth, are only available to UK residents who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

There won’t be any ports of call but instead each cruise along England’s southern coast will be a “staycation-at-sea”, according to the operator. Cabins can be booked from Tuesday, April 13. Sir Richard, the founder of Virgin Group, said he was “so excited” to be able to offer UK sailings, and that the “team has curated such a fantastic experience” for passengers.

As well only permitting vaccinated passengers to board, capacity will be limited on the ship, with additional testing and health protocols confirmed closer to departure dates, the line said.

Virgin Voyages joins a dozen other cruise operators, including Cunard, Viking, Princess and P&O Cruises, who have scrapped plans to sail overseas and will instead spend the summer months in British waters.

Scroll down for the latest travel updates.





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UK airlines push for travel corridor with US as vaccine rollout raises hopes for summer travel


UK airlines push for travel corridor with US as vaccine rollout raises hopes for summer travel

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Culinary demand to lead UK travel renaissance | News


With just days to go until al-fresco dining and the first phase of staycations are allowed across the country, new VisitEngland research shows that it is foodie experiences that are top of the agenda for sensory-starved Brits.

In a research poll of 2,476 nationally representative adults commissioned by the body, more than half of respondents cited eating out at a restaurant as the travel experience that they had missed most of all during lockdown.

This was followed by more than a third who had missed visits to pubs and bars and coffee shops and cafes.

The research showed that our taste buds are also driving our travel plans with foodie experiences taking the top three spots for activities Brits are hoping to enjoy this summer.

Almost half of respondents were most looking forward to eating out at a restaurant, market or street food truck, jointly placed with the chance to have a drink in a pub garden, with 44 per cent looking forward to visiting coffee shops and cafes.

VisitEngland director, Andrew Stokes, said: “From fine-dining restaurants and gastropubs to beach-side shacks and city street-food, England’s food and drink offering is as varied as it is exciting and an integral part of exploring a destination.

“From our coast and countryside to our city streets, England offers a huge diversity of sensory experiences and we encourage Brits to responsibly explore both their old favourites and discover our hidden gems this summer.”

Tantalising our tastebuds also scored highly when thinking about the sensory experiences Brits are looking forward to as freedom to travel begins to open up.
Fish and chips (51 per cent); ice-cream (51 per cent) and a cold drink in a pub (47 per cent) were the top three tastes Brits were excited about experiencing this summer.

The lockdown appreciation of nature looks set to continue as we venture further afield, with both the smell and sight of flowers in bloom and bumblebees buzzing, alongside the simple act of sitting on the grass, among the top three responses when asked about the experiences related to smell, sight and touch Brits were most looking forward to.

Image: Stuart Kelly / Alamy Stock Photo





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UK Could Resume Foreign Travel Starting May 17, Prime Minister Says


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday confirmed that the United Kingdom (U.K.) will proceed on April 12 with its next step out of a three-month-long lockdown. Nonessential shops and businesses will be allowed to reopen, from barbers and beauty salons to gyms, and patio service at bars and restaurants.

A current ban on overnight stays away from home will also be lifted on April 12, and such outdoor venues as zoos and drive-in movie theatres will be allowed to resume operations, as well, the Associated Press reported.

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It’s a meaningful step for the U.K., which has been under strict lockdown since December, after a winter surge that’s been attributed to a homegrown, fast-spreading COVID-19 variant called B.1.1.7. With the highest coronavirus count in Europe, the U.K. has had nearly 4.4 million cases thus far, with more than 127,000 related deaths.

During a press conference Monday, Johnson said that the nation’s COVID-19 vaccine program was moving forward well and that infection rates have recently been falling. New cases and deaths have declined sharply as a result of the current lockdown and since the start of the country’s vaccination campaign.

Thus far, more than 31 million U.K. residents, or six in ten adults, have received at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine series, and more than five million have gotten their second.

The government’s goal is to have administered at least one jab to all U.K. adults by July, and it’s hoping that mass testing in combination with widespread vaccination of the population will enable indoor gatherings and large-scale events to resume. To aid the effort, everyone in England will be entitled to receive two free rapid COVID-19 tests every week, officials announced separately.

“We set out our road map and we’re sticking to it,” Johnson said. Although, he also cautioned, “We can’t be complacent. We can see the waves of sickness afflicting other countries, and we’ve seen how this story goes.”

Of course, as the weather warms, the question on every Briton’s mind is whether international travel will be allowed to resume in time for the summer holidays. According to CNBC, Johnson told reporters that a task force has been assigned this week to lay out a “reasonable” plan for restarting nonessential travel abroad. He emphasized that it was too soon to make a decision yet, but he’s “hopeful” that foreign travel might be feasible as early as May 17.

Once international travel is again allowed, Britain’s quarantine rules for U.K. residents returning from abroad will rely on a “traffic light system” used to designate the risk level of various destinations. But, Johnson said it was far too early to say which countries would fall into which categories. “I do not wish to give hostages to fortune, or to underestimate the difficulties we are seeing in some of the destination countries that people might want to go to. We don’t want to see the virus reimported to this country,” he asserted.

Johnson also spoke to the possibility of incorporating so-called “COVID-19 passports” or “COVID Status Certifications”, but said the government was working through “complicated, ethical and practical issues” inherent in the idea. These would consist of such documentation as vaccination certificates, recent test results and proof of prior recovery (and resulting immunity) from COVID-19, which could potentially streamline the process of traveling abroad.





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COVID-19: Kenya warns of coronavirus ‘vaccine apartheid’ after UK travel ban | World News


Kenya has hit out at the UK government for adding the country to England’s coronavirus travel “red list”.

In a strongly-worded statement posted to Twitter, Kenya‘s ministry of foreign affairs used the move to warn of a “vaccine apartheid” between nations who produce and are “hoarding” jabs, and the rest of the world.

It comes after the UK announced the new travel measures taking effect from 4am on Friday 9 April, along with restrictions for Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

Composite of the press statement from the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs
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The statement warned of countries like the UK ‘hoarding’ coronavirus vaccines

The Kenyan ministry’s statement said that such strategies by “vaccine producing countries” with “vaccine hoarding attitudes” would make it “near impossible for the world to win the war against the pandemic”.

When it announced the additions to the red list this week, the Department for Transport said it was in response to concerns about new variants of COVID-19.

But Kenya said the policy was “discriminatory”, and accused the UK of hoarding vaccines “in bigger quantities than it currently has use for”.

The UK has ordered more than 400 million coronavirus vaccine doses, for a population of around 67 million people, however has warned of potential supply problems to come in April.

The UK is a contributor to the worldwide COVAX scheme, aimed at delivering jabs to lower-income countries, but Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said earlier this week that the UK had “no surpluses” at the moment.

Kenya, which has a population of 53 million, has received more than a million Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines through COVAX already.

The Kenyan statement said there had been no communication from UK counterparts ahead of the change of rules for travellers made on Friday.

Being on the “red list” means international visitors who have departed from or transited through those nations in the previous 10 days will be barred from entering.

British and Irish citizens and those with residence rights in the UK will be allowed to enter, but will have to arrive at a designated port and then pay to stay in a government-approved quarantine hotel for 10 days.

Once in quarantine, they will have to take a COVID test on the second and eighth days of their self-isolation.

In response, Kenya has instituted its own restrictions on travel from the UK.

These include anyone arriving from the UK having to quarantine in a “government designated facility” for 14 days, at their own expense.

Two PCR tests will have to be taken during this period, also at the traveller’s expense.

The exception to these rules include Kenyan citizens who live in the UK, and also cargo flights.

In response to the measures announced by Kenya, the UK’s high commission in the country announced they would be updating their travel advice for the country.

In another part of the statement from the Kenyan government, it said: “The decision is particularly disturbing in light of the fact that the United Kingdom and Kenya enjoy a strong and long-lasting relationship….”

Hundreds of British troops train in the country every year, and last month, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace opened a £70m military training facility for the British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK).

Mr Wallace said at the time: “Kenya is one of our leading defence partners in East Africa and this new facility will cement our partnership for decades to come, supporting stability and security in the region.”

Kenya recently introduced new lockdown restrictions in five counties due to a third wave of coronavirus.

The statement said: “The third wave that Kenya is currently managing with stringent COVID-19 protocols and restrictions is an example of the sacrifice that Kenyans are willing to make to ensure that this disease does not spread in Kenya or anywhere else in the world for that matter.”





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