Seven countries go green and four removed from red list

·32-min read
Dubai: One of the winners of the traffic light update - Jorg Greuel
Dubai: One of the winners of the traffic light update - Jorg Greuel

Holiday hopes have been reignited with a major traffic light shake-up that saw seven countries upgraded to the green list and four removed from the dreaded red list.

Trips to Dubai are back on after hotel quarantine was scrapped for those returning from the UAE. From 4am on August 8, fully vaccinated travellers will no longer have to isolate, subject to testing. India, Qatar and Bahrain also turned amber, the first batch of countries to be promoted from the red list since its creation.

In response to the UAE decision, John Bevan, divisional senior vice president of dnata Travel Group said: “It’s been a long time coming, but we finally have some good news and we’ll now prepare for what we anticipate will be substantial growth in demand for late-notice departures from next week for those who meet the requirements to travel.”

Meanwhile, seven countries (Austria, Germany, Latvia, Norway, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia) were added to the green list. And for those looking for last-minute summer holiday plans, France will no longer be categorised as “amber plus”, ending the requirement for fully jabbed holidaymakers to quarantine on their return.

However, it wasn’t all good news for travellers, with Mexico turning red alongside Georgia, La Reunion and Mayotte. Those arriving from these destinations must spend 10 days in a quarantine hotel, the cost of which will rise from £1,750 to £2,285 from August 12.

Scroll down for more of the latest

04:35 PM

Today's key stories

Here's a recap of the travel headlines:

  • France returns to amber list

  • Seven countries go green and four removed from red list

  • US signals plan to reopen to fully vaccinated travellers

  • Ancient Greek site of Olympia under threat from raging wildfires

  • Holiday certainty for the rest of August, says Grant Shapps

  • Ryanair to add 12 routes from Newcastle next summer

Catch-up with the rest below and join us tomorrow for more travel news.

04:28 PM

PM: More travel will be possible as countries get vaccinated

Boris Johnson told reporters:

We want people to get away if they possibly can, we are just saying that obviously this year is going to be a bit trickier, we just ask for a bit of patience but we've got to balance the two objectives.

We want people to be able to travel, we want the travel industry to get going again, we want to see tourists coming back to our country – a very, very important part of our economy – but you've got to balance that against the need to protect ourselves against the pandemic.

04:17 PM

Which destinations are on the amber list?

The amber list is becoming the most vital to an increasing number of Britons as more of the population is fully vaccinated.

Double jabbed adults and under-18s can return from these countries quarantine-free.

Here's the list in full.

03:58 PM

Jet2 reports 'spike' in bookings for August departures

Jet2 has reported a spike in bookings following last night's traffic light update. Demand is particularly strong for last-minute breaks, with holidaymakers keen to get away in August.

Steve Heapy, chief executive of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, said:

The latest Traffic Light review from the UK Government comes just in time for the peak summer season. We welcome a further extension of the Green and Amber Lists, and it is positive news for both the travel industry and holidaymakers.

It is no surprise to see a sudden spike in bookings to destinations on the Green and Amber Lists, as we know that there is enormous demand out there from holidaymakers who cannot wait to get away. The extension to the Green and Amber Lists has increased customer confidence and given them the reassurance to book that much-awaited holiday.

croatia - Getty
croatia - Getty

03:46 PM

PCR tests are 'a complete waste of money' if they're not sequenced

Huw Merriman, chairman of the Transport Select Committee, has been questioned about foreign travel rules. He said his big concern is "the sheer cost of testing, and the very fact that the reason for the testing, being sequencing, is not actually being carried out in full".

Just five per cent of tests are being sequenced, he said.

Costly PCR tests are "pricing out holidays for those that don't have the means to pay for those tests," he added.

03:31 PM

Embattled Covid vaccine passport gets the nod in France, despite outcry

France's top constitutional authority on Thursday approved a Covid pass that limits access to cafes, restaurants and inter-city trains and planes to people who have been vaccinated or tested negative for the virus.

The controversial pass has sparked mass protests, with critics accusing President Emmanuel Macron of running a "health dictatorship".

In a third weekend of demonstrations last week, some 200,000 people turned out to voice outcry amid fierce clashes with police.

But France's constitutional court ruled on Thursday that the new law, coming into force by mid-September, largely complied with the republic's founding charter.

The Constitutional Council however deemed it was unconstitutional to sack a health worker on a short-term contract who refused the mandatory vaccine, and to enforce a mandatory quarantine with checks on anyone testing positive.

03:21 PM

Bournemouth beach shut after a 'shark' sighting

A Bournemouth beach was evacuated following reports of a "large marine animal" seen in the water.

Lifeguards told swimmers to leave the sea at Boscombe Beach while they scanned the water on Wednesday, the BBC reports.

The RNLI said it received reports of "significant movement" in the water. However, lifeguards could not formally identify the animal.

Beach visitor Steve Lutwyche tweeted: "I'm on the beach at Boscombe where the RNLI have had to red flag the beach due to reported sightings of a shark."

Boscombe Beach and Pier - Getty
Boscombe Beach and Pier - Getty

03:03 PM

Ryanair to add 12 routes from Newcastle next summer

Ryanair will add 12 new routes from Newcastle airport next summer, with new flights to the likes of Menorca and Milan.

The budget airline currently offers seven routes from Newcastle which will increase to 19, with 63 flights a week.

Ryanair chief executive Eddie Wilson said: “We have seen massive demand for flights from Newcastle this summer as UK customers flock to the beaches of Spain and Portugal and now customers will have much wider choice next summer with the addition of these 12 new routes.”

The full list of new destinations: Ibiza, Paphos, Chania, Riga, Menorca, Milan, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Krakow and Zadar.

02:44 PM

Where every country sits after the traffic light update

02:30 PM

Eurostar bookings surge following France amber announcement

Eurostar has announced that bookings have spiked after France was removed from the 'amber plus' list. The high-speed rail link said it has plans to increase capacity to deal with the demand. A spokesperson said:

Overnight we have seen a strong increase in bookings on our London-Paris route and traffic to our website has more than doubled.

We are looking forward to welcoming more passengers on board as early as this weekend, and we are ready to further increase capacity over the coming weeks to carry many more passengers between the UK and the continent during the August holiday season.

02:14 PM

Five amazing places to stay for a cool Marseille holiday

Be it an urban bolthole on a dusty backstreet in old-world Le Panier, boutique hideaway with summer-chic rooftop eyeballing the comings and goings of the bustling Vieux Port, or a simple Le Corbusier-inspired cabanon (cabin) on the seashore, Marseille hotels cover all budgets and styles. A recent wave of openings fuse sassy contemporary design and an endearing retro simplicity with huge success. Here's our pick of the finest.

Tuba Hotel, Marseille - FlorianTouzet
Tuba Hotel, Marseille - FlorianTouzet

02:01 PM

Travel chaos as 6,000 Britons race home from red listed Mexico ahead of quarantine rule change

Up to 6,000 Britons face a race to return home from red listed Mexico in a bid to avoid hotel quarantine that kicks in on Sunday, reports Charles Hymas.

Cancun beach during summer - istock
Cancun beach during summer - istock

Some British travellers only found out just after boarding their flights or shortly after arriving in Mexico.

Joe Coward, 29, discovered the new restrictions after landing in Mexico early on Thursday morning and had to quickly book a return flight to London to avoid the cost.

"Basically we touched down to find that our two-week honeymoon (near Cancún), which had already been rearranged several times, was going to be a two-day visit,” he said. "We've arranged a flight for tomorrow and will be spending today getting ready to turn right around and go home."

Claire, 30, from south London, said: “I had access to the Wi-Fi 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.”

Read the full story here.

01:47 PM

Traffic light update reaction: The ‘omnishambles continues’, says LATA boss

The CEO of the Latin American Travel Association (LATA) has attacked the traffic light decision-making, arguing that newly red-listed Mexico has lower Covid rates than the UK.

Danny Callaghan claimed the red list was impossible to get off, unless the Government is “trying to tie up a trade deal,” adding that India should not have been downgraded when much of Latin America remains amber.

Latin America’s red list destinations: Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Mexico (from August 8), Panama Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela.

Read Mr Callaghan’s full quote below:

“I'm extremely disappointed, but not surprised, to see no easing of restrictions for Latin American countries - in fact we've seen Mexico added to the red list despite average case rates being significantly lower than the UK over the last couple of weeks. We are clearly seeing that the red list is something that is almost impossible to get off, unless the government is trying to tie up a trade deal.

"Having India downgraded to amber while many destinations are still red is ludicrous. I know that our government is dubious about the data coming from overseas, indeed Latin Americans have been told this in no uncertain terms, but I'd be fascinated to know what miracle cure the Indians have found to have driven such a steep decrease in cases despite low vaccination rates. Mind you, we're talking about the same government that seem to have thought that Réunion Island was part of mainland France. The omnishambles continues.”

01:32 PM

A step-by-step guide to booking a last-minute summer holiday

Don’t be fooled into thinking ‘green’ necessarily means ‘go’. Austria, for example, currently bans all arrivals from Britain, while Croatia (pictured) welcomes them - Jorg Greuel/Getty
Don’t be fooled into thinking ‘green’ necessarily means ‘go’. Austria, for example, currently bans all arrivals from Britain, while Croatia (pictured) welcomes them - Jorg Greuel/Getty

Congratulations. You’ve waited patiently, and after this week’s positive traffic light announcement you have decided to book a last-minute holiday.

You’ve picked a good moment. France has just lost its ‘amber plus’ status, meaning double jabbed can return from the country without quarantine. Spain and Greece have seemingly avoided falling onto an ‘amber watchlist’, which threatened imminent relegation onto the red list. And our green list has grown, with Slovenia and Latvia letting in Britons regardless of vaccination status.

But in this brave new world of swabs, certificates and passenger locator forms, just how spontaneous can you actually be when it comes to booking holidays?

Here's everything you need to know.

01:20 PM

France goes amber: Eurotunnel reports 400 per cent increase in sales

Holidays to France are back on following the scrapping of the 'amber plus' list and UK travellers are already booking holidays across the Channel, according to Eurotunnel Le Shuttle which has reported a 400 per cent increase in sales following the announcement.

A spokesperson for Eurotunnel Le Shuttle said:

We’re delighted with the news that France returns to the amber list, and can’t wait to welcome holidaymakers back onboard our shuttles. We’re prepared for what we anticipate will be substantial demand for last minute summer holiday trips for those who meet the requirements to travel. We saw a 400 per cent increase in sales immediately following the announcement (10pm-11pm) with most of those being made for the summer holidays.

01:05 PM

Music ban and curfew imposed on two Greek islands

Greece has brought in a night-time curfew and banned music on the popular tourist islands of Zakynthos and Chania to contain the spread of Covid-19, its civil protection deputy minister said.

The country is also battling a wave of wildfires during an extended heatwave.

Restrictions will come into force on Friday and run until August 13.

12:45 PM

Govt. must be challenged on 'expensive' and 'unnecessary' testing

Rules for international travel need to be simplified, according to Willie Walsh, director general of the International Air Travel Association (IATA).

Mr Walsh told BBC Radio 4's World At One programme:

I think a simpler system is definitely what is required to avoid confusion in the case of consumers, and to provide some form of certainty for people who are wanting to travel, and in some cases absolutely need to travel.

This expensive and unnecessary testing I think needs to be challenged and I think the Government should demonstrate why they require it.

I think there is a valid reason and a concern, and I would accept that maybe for some of these high-risk countries that have been identified you can make the argument that some form of testing should be done, but I don't think you can justify requiring 2.2 million people to undertake PCR tests when only 8,000 of those are subsequently sequenced.

12:40 PM

MPs ask for Pakistan to be removed from the red list

Two MPs have demanded an explanation for why Pakistan has been "punished" and remains on the travel red list.

Labour MPs Yasmin Qureshi (Bolton South East) and Naz Shah (Bradford West) have both written to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps questioning why the South Asian country was still on the red list, when neighbouring India, which has higher Covid rates, has been moved to the amber list.

They accused the Government of "playing politics" with the travel alert system, and said it was only opening up the UK to nations "it stands to benefit from economically".

12:28 PM

Watch: France 'normalised' for holidays after move from amber-plus

Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, has said that France will be “normalised” after moving from the amber-plus list to amber on Sunday for UK travellers.

Fully vaccinated tourists and those aged under 18 will be able to enjoy a quarantine-free return from the country, but will need to do the required Covid-19 tests.

12:18 PM

Latest traffic light update is 'great news' for the Canary Islands

There was concern earlier this week that Spain could move to potential, new 'amber watchlist', which was reportedly going to indicate countries that were at risk of moving to the red category. Britons returning to the UK from red destinations are subject to a costly stay in quarantine hotel.

The amber watchlist idea was dropped and Spain and its islands remain on the amber list following the traffic light update on Wednesday. Fully vaccinated Britons and their children can return from Spain without facing self-isolation.

Yaiza Castilla Herrera, minister of tourism, industry and commerce for the Canary Islands, tweeted that this was:

Great news for our destination, which received 5 million British tourists in 2019

12:01 PM

Australia: Melbourne enters sixth lockdown while Sydney cases surge

Melbourne has entered a sixth lockdown while Sydney reported a record number of new Covid infections as Australia continues to struggle with a delta variant surge.

Victoria premier Dan Andrews said he had "no choice" but to make the "very difficult announcement" to lock down Melbourne and the rest of the state little more than a week after the last stay-at-home order ended.

"None of us are happy to be here, none of us," he said, citing the danger posed by eight "mystery" cases that have yet to be traced.

"There is no alternative to lockdown" he added. "The alternative is we let this run that gets away from us, and our hospitals will be absolutely overwhelmed. Not hundreds of patients but thousands."

More than half of Australia's 25 million population are now living under lockdown restrictions.

11:46 AM

Ancient Greek site of Olympia under threat from raging wildfires

The fire is edging closer to Olympia - AFP
The fire is edging closer to Olympia - AFP

Greek firefighters battled Thursday to bring under control two major fires raging near Olympia and on the island of Evia as the country swelters in a record-breaking heatwave.

More than 170 firefighters, around 50 trucks, six helicopters and water-bombing aircraft were deployed near the ancient archeological site, the birthplace of the Olympic games, on the Peloponnese peninsula.

After destroying around 20 houses, "the fire's front is now heading towards Lalas," a wooded mountainous area to the north west of Olympia, local official Nektarios Farmakis told the ANA news agency.

Read the full story.

11:35 AM

18 reasons why we should head back double-quick to France

At last a window of opportunity has opened – now you don't have to quarantine on return – and you might like to take advantage. Anthony Peregrine reveals all the reasons why we should flock to France this August.

The coastline at Etretat in Normandy is worth seeing - istock
The coastline at Etretat in Normandy is worth seeing - istock

For starters... It has brilliant beaches

It is de rigueur these days to maintain that beach holidays are out, and that more active, worthwhile breaks (museums, rock-climbing, yoga courses) are in. Yeah. Right. So who are all these hundreds of happy people before me on the sands at Palavas? Mirages? Take no notice. Beach hols remain bang on trend, and France has Europe’s best variety, from the rocky northern coast of Brittany, via the surfer-central stretches of the Atlantic coast down to Basque country and across to the Med coasts of Languedoc, Provence and the Riviera. There’s bound to be one that suits. Two hints: private beaches are a rip-off. Why pay up to 50 quid a day for a lounger on Pampelonne beach, St Tropez when you can lie on nearby public sands for free? And if your complexion is, like mine, typically British, please apply suntan lotion to the thickness of an anorak.

Read the full story here.

11:26 AM

Holidaymakers will 'have their head in their hands' over travel chaos, says Sir Keir Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer has criticised the Government for having to go through a "wall of chaos" before resolving issues over travel.

Would-be holidaymakers will "have their head in their hands because almost on a daily basis we have a changing system," the Labour leader said.

Speaking to reporters from Scotland, he said: "We have been saying since the start of summer we should be having a simplified system. We may be edging towards it but why on earth have we had to go through chaos to get here?"

He noted that "last summer we had the chaos of exams, at Christmas we had the chaos of Christmas mixing".

Wherever there are "predictable problems, you have to get through a wall of chaos before they sort it out," he added.

11:16 AM

Spotlight on Spain, as red list avoided but travellers urged to take PCR tests

Covid cases in Spain are starting to dip, with new infections falling 14.95 per cent in a week. However, UK travellers are being urged to take PCR tests before returning from the country, as opposed to cheaper lateral flow tests.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps explained on Times Radio why the Government is recommending travellers from Spain take a PCR test before they leave, saying scientists are "particularly interested in one of the new variants which is B.1.162", currently prevalent there.

11:04 AM

Holiday certainty for the rest of August, says Grant Shapps

The Transport Secretary has suggested there will be no changes to the traffic light ratings for the remainder of August.

Mr Shapps told LBC: "We've looked at the data… and found that we can provide people with certainty for the rest of August."

"We intend for these rules, barring something completely unforeseen, to remain in place throughout August so people can just go away and enjoy their breaks, or see family or friends or go on business," he added.

The next traffic light update is due on August 26, with any changes likely to come into force on August 29. It is unclear if this will be delayed until Tuesday August 31, to allow for stress-free bank holiday breaks, or whether Mr Shapps is rounding up.

10:48 AM

PCR tests for travel an 'unnecessary rip-off', says MP

Conservative MP Huw Merriman has sounded the alarm over 'unnecessary' PCR tests for travel. In a series of tweets, he flagged that of the 6,977 positive tests recorded for returning passengers in the first three weeks of July, only 354 were genome sequenced. The use of PCR tests for travel has previously been justified due to the need to sequence for potential variants.

He also noted that UK travellers spent a staggering £35 million on PCR tests in this three-week period, which equates to around £100,000 per sequenced test.

10:29 AM

The good, the bad and the ugly of the latest travel announcement

Greg Dickinson has all you need to know about the latest traffic light travel update – and what it means for your holiday.

There’s a lot to digest. So let’s weigh it up. What are the positives, and what are the negatives, when it comes to the latest traffic light travel announcement? Let’s start with the good.

The Good

  • France is back on the table

  • Red countries can turn amber

  • Green list options have grown

  • The amber watchlist has been scrapped

  • UAE promotion is a positive sign for long-haul plans

Read on for full analysis – and the less positive news.

10:17 AM

Mexico holidaymakers in rush to beat hotel quarantine

Mexico's relegation to the red list in last night's traffic light update has left thousands of UK holidaymakers scrambling to get home by 4am on Sunday (August 8) to avoid 10 days of costly hotel quarantine.

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, has suggested that there are up to 6,000 UK holidaymakers currently in Mexico, and not enough seat capacity to get them all back to the UK in time to avoid the mandatory £1,750 stay.

10:00 AM

France amber promotion 'too little, too late', says travel trade association

Travel trade association UKinbound has said that the scrapping of the 'amber plus' list has come too late to have a meaningful impact on summer business.

Joss Croft, CEO of UKinbound, said:

“We are pleased to see France moved back to amber status and the amber plus list scrapped, however in a recurring Government theme, this is too little, too late and is unlikely to have a meaningful impact on the fast-disappearing summer business so critical to many.

"The French inbound tourism market is incredibly valuable to the UK’s economy, worth £1.39bn in exports for our country annually, and we are none the less looking forward to welcoming back vaccinated French visitors in the coming months. This change does at least mean that vaccinated visitors from Netherlands, Germany and mainland Europe will now be able to travel through France by car and by coach and no longer have to quarantine in the UK on arrival."

09:54 AM

Travel to France: latest Covid rules and practical guidance once you are there

Holidays to France are back on  - Getty 
Holidays to France are back on - Getty

France has finally been downgraded from "amber plus" and is now on the amber list. From 4am on Sunday, August 8, fully vaccinated Britons do not need to quarantine on return from France.

To travel from France to the UK, fully vaccinated travellers need to take a test in the three days before their journey and book a Day 2 test for their arrival back home. Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated travellers must still quarantine for ten days, booking tests for day two and day eight. They can opt in to the day five test-to-release scheme if they choose.

France is open to fully vaccinated UK travellers in return.

Here's everything else you need to know if hopping across the Channel this summer.

09:44 AM

Thailand reports record Covid cases

Thailand has reported a record 20,920 new coronavirus cases, bringing total cases in the Southeast Asian nation to 693,305 since the pandemic began last year.

It also reported 160 additional fatalities, bringing total deaths to 5,663, the health ministry's website showed.

The country had been rumoured to turn red in the latest traffic light update, but has remained amber for now.

09:31 AM

Emirates eyes green list move, following amber upgrade

Emirates has "welcomed the decision" to remove the UAE from the red list, citing the country's successful vaccination programme, low virus rates and "extensive" airport testing system. The airline also said it hopes the UAE will move up to the green list soon.

Dubai  - Getty
Dubai - Getty

An Emirates spokesperson said:

“ The UAE currently has one of the world’s most successful vaccination programmes – with over 79 per cent of the population having received one dose and over 71 per cent already fully vaccinated. Given the low numbers of coronavirus cases in the UAE, the extensive testing at Dubai International Airport, and the careful health and safety measures in place across the passenger journey, we hope to see the UAE moving to the green list soon.

“We have been working closely with partners around the world, including IATA, to help passengers easily and securely manage their travel in line with any government requirements for Covid-19 testing or vaccine information and will continue to work with the UK government to safely resume travel.”

09:17 AM

Grant Shapps: Full vaccination a 'feature forever more' for international travel

The Transport Secretary has claimed that all countries will likely require visitors to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus.

"Double vaccination, or full vaccination, is going to be a feature forever more, and most countries – probably all countries – will require full vaccination in order for you to enter," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

09:11 AM

Grant Shapps: "I hope people will go away under this simplified system'

The Transport Secretary has suggested that overseas travel is easier this summer than last, due to a "simplified system" of three-week updates.

Mr Shapps told BBC Radio 4's Today programme:

"We have certainly lived with coronavirus long enough to know that it can be unpredictable; however, we have also lived with it long enough to get the majority of the population vaccinated, other countries are doing the same thing.

"That does mean that this summer we are able to set out a three-week programme rather than a one-week programme which was the situation last year.

"I hope people will be able to go away under this simplified system, enjoy their breaks and not be looking over their shoulders the whole time, and as long as they follow the processes then they can have a great time and I hope they are able to enjoy their holidays."

09:00 AM

Which countries are open to UK travellers? Latest destinations with no quarantine or restrictions

Find your holiday destination by our "easy peasy" to "impossible" categories
Find your holiday destination by our "easy peasy" to "impossible" categories

To make sense of the latest traffic light update, we’ve broken down all the green and amber-listed holiday destinations into categories; from the easiest options (no quarantine either side, even if you’re not yet fully vaccinated) to the impossible (firmly closed to all British travellers).

Find the full list here.

08:54 AM

Amber list still causing confusion, claims Labour frontbencher

People are still confused about the Government's travel traffic lights system, despite the removal of the 'amber plus' category and no amber watchlist introduction, Labour has said.

Steve Reed, shadow communities secretary, told Sky News:

"The problem with all this is we want to see travel opening up safely for everyone but that won't happen if the Government makes situation more complicated than it needs to be.

"They really need to sort their act out here and clarify what they mean by red, amber and green lists.

"People are already confused about what the amber list means – it's much simpler to have red and green – go or don't go."

Read more on our politics live blog.

08:49 AM

Skyscanner searches up 45 per cent after traffic light update

Skyscanner has reported a 45 per cent increase in site visitors between 9pm and 10pm last night as the Government scrapped quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travellers returning from a number of countries.

Stephanie Boyle, head of industry relations for Skyscanner, said:

“This news is an important step in the right direction for re-opening international travel and the reaction has been immediate from our travellers, with visits to the site jumping by 45% following the announcement. It’s great to see more countries added to both the green and amber lists, making favourites like UAE and France easier for travellers to visit, and a relief that the Government have not added any new tiers or classifications to the traffic light system, quelling fears about additional complexity stifling traveller confidence.

Previous traveller demand insights

  • Croatia saw a daily rise of 50% immediately following its addition to the green list, and a 199% increase in searches week-on-week following the announcement

  • Following the announcement that the UK would reopen to fully vaccinated travellers from the US and EU Skyscanner reported:

+55% increase in searches for the UK made by US travellers, compared to the previous day

+63% increase in searches for travel to the UK by German travellers, comparing to the volume of searches the previous day

+33% in searches for the UK made by French travellers, compared to the previous day

08:37 AM

Spain holidaymakers urged to take PCR test before returning home

Spain has avoided being placed on the red list, but British holidaymakers are being urged to take a PCR test before returning home.

Currently, fully vaccinated arrivals from amber list countries are required to show proof of either a rapid antigen or PCR test before returning to the UK. However, Spain has been singled out with a recommendation for travellers to take the more sensitive (and costly) PCR test.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps explained on Times Radio why the Government is recommending travellers from Spain take a PCR test before they leave, saying scientists are "particularly interested in one of the new variants which is B.1.162", currently prevalent there.

08:27 AM

US signals plan to reopen to fully vaccinated travellers

The United States, which closed its borders to much of the world when the pandemic took hold, has plans to begin allowing fully vaccinated visitors back in, a White House official has revealed.

President Biden's administration, recognising the importance of international travel, wants to reopen to visitors from abroad in a "safe and sustainable manner", the official said.

It is developing "a phased approach that over time will mean, with limited exceptions, that foreign nationals travelling to the United States – from all countries – need to be fully vaccinated," the official added, without specifying a timeframe.

Could New York trips be back on the horizon? - AFP
Could New York trips be back on the horizon? - AFP

The plan marks a small but significant shift in the US pandemic approach, with officials stating as recently as July 26 that it would maintain restrictions on international arrivals, despite European pressure.

The UK scrapped quarantine requirements and reopened to fully vaccinated US travellers on August 2. Since then, demand for transatlantic travel has led British Airways to increase US flights.

08:17 AM

Travel industry traffic light reaction: Holidaymakers remain 'deterred' from overseas trips

Some travel companies are still frustrated at the ongoing travel restrictions, despite seven countries being added to the green list and quarantine restrictions being removed for fully vaccinated travellers to France, the UAE, India, Bahrain and Qatar.

Timothy Davis, co-founder and CEO of Butter, said:

“The government claims it wants to keep rules on foreign travel as simple as possible, but the fact of the matter is it would be easier to negotiate a 15 strong family game of Cluedo at Christmas compared to booking a hassle-free holiday at present.

This complex and painstaking process is bringing further turmoil to a travel and tourism sector that can do little else but stand and watch as another summer of restrictions prevents a return to health.”

hoo co-founder, Adrian Murdock, commented:

“The unfortunate reality of the shambolic traffic light system is that any good news that comes via the latest review could well be the latest government u-turn come the next.

As a result, holidaymakers remain deterred from travelling and we’re simply not seeing any notable degree of stability return to the sector.

Many are now resigned to the fact that we face another year of holidays at home and while Britain isn’t a bad backup plan, it remains bitterly disappointing for those who had hoped of getting away.”

08:03 AM

Grant Shapps: Dubai promoted to amber list due to 'expert advice'

Grant Shapps has denied claims Dubai was taken off the travel red list so it could more easily act as an international "transport hub".

The Transport Secretary was asked by Sky News if the emirate had been moved to the amber list to act as a go-between for further destinations.

Mr Shapps said:

"With all these changes I often see a whole load of theories behind why a particular country has been opened and another one hasn't, but with all these changes what we do is ask the experts, that's the Joint Biosecurity Centre, the JBC in this case, to give us their overview of every country and their recommendation about where a country should sit.

"This time they have come back and said Dubai, and Qatar, the UAE and in fact India – which will surprise some people – are all fit to come from the red list and come onto the amber list."

07:32 AM

Grant Shapps: People can enjoy holidays 'without looking over their shoulders'

The Transport Secretary struck a positive tone on Sky News this morning, discussing last night's traffic light update. Mr Shapps urged people to "enjoy their holidays" though didn't rule out the return of restrictions for popular holiday destinations further down the line.

When asked whether those returning from Spain could face quarantine in the future, he replied:

"With coronavirus you can never say there is zero chance.

"But having said that, the levels of vaccination and what we now know about the virus and what our scientists have been able to work out in the last year means that people should be able to go away, enjoy their holidays without looking over their shoulders the whole time and as I say, the next set of changes are not for another three weeks."

Holidaymakers returning from Spain are being urged to take a PCR test (as opposed to a less sensitive rapid test) before flying home "as a precaution against the increased prevalence of the virus and variants in the country."

07:19 AM

The key traffic light changes

There was plenty of movement in the traffic light announcement last night. Here's are reminder of the key changes:

07:07 AM

Traffic light update reaction: The Government should 'go further', says BA

British Airways has called on the Government to "go further" and end the "uncertainty" around travel.

Sean Doyle, British Airways' Chairman and CEO said:

"This week we've witnessed emotional airport scenes as restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers from the US and EU were finally lifted, allowing loved ones to safely reunite.

"We welcome more low-risk countries being added to the Green list but urge the Government to go further, end uncertainty and allow people to benefit from our world-leading vaccination programme. The UK's economic recovery is reliant on a thriving travel sector and right now we're lagging behind Europe, with our more stringent testing requirements and a Red list significantly broader than our European peers."

07:03 AM

Holidays to France are back on as Boris Johnson removes it from ‘amber plus’ list

The opening of France is expected to spark a surge in bookings for the rest of August, a month when, pre-pandemic, more than four million Britons normally holidayed in the country.

The changes come into effect at 4am on Sunday, and government sources indicated that anyone who arrived back in the UK from France before that date would still have to complete a full 10 days of quarantine.

Find the in-depth story here.

06:52 AM

What happened yesterday?

A recap of the top stories:

  • British holidaymakers will have to pay €7 to enter Europe under EU plans

  • 'One third' of holidaymakers isolating before travel

  • Virgin Atlantic launches new Bahamas route

  • WTTC calls for amber list to be axed

  • Ibiza seeks detectives to crash parties as Covid surges

  • Portugal 'to scrap' quarantine rules for 5m Britons with Indian-made vaccine

Now on with today's travel news.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting