Airport queues are 'super spreading risk', warns MP

·28-min read
gatwick - PA
gatwick - PA

Queues of travellers at UK airports could pose a "super spreading risk", the chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee has warned.

Just a day after international travel resumed, chaotic scenes reported today at London's Heathrow, with travellers forced to queue for more than three hours to get through border control; some claiming they had to stand next to arrivals from red-listed countries.

Yvette Cooper told BBC Radio 4: "It's irresponsible, frankly, not to sort this out because if you have people waiting for long periods of time in a not brilliantly ventilated arrivals hall, often standing very close to each other – well that's a super spreading risk.

"There's a real risk that we'll end up just going backwards again. And this is against a long history of errors and mistakes in the policies at the border."

It comes as thousands of British holidaymakers flouted Government advice yesterday and boarded flights to red and amber list destinations in the face of conflicting guidance. Boris Johnson today stated that amber nations were “not somewhere where you should be going on holiday”, overruling the Environment Secretary George Eustice's earlier comments.

Scroll down for more of the latest

04:20 PM

That's it for today

We'll be back for more breaking travel coverage tomorrow morning. Until then, here's a re-cap of the day's main stories:

  • Holidays to Europe with Covid vaccine passports get green light

  • Hospitality leaders angered by delay to social distancing review

  • New Icelandic budget airline launches, with £30 fares from London

  • Abu Dhabi to end quarantine for all international visitors from July

  • Covid rules set to be binned in Denmark

04:12 PM

NCL plans more Med voyages as Europe reopens

Norwegian Cruise Line has announced more Mediterranean sailings this autumn from its homeports at Barcelona and Rome-Civitavecchia.

The renovated Norwegian Epic will operate seven-night Western Mediterranean cruises out of Barcelona from September 5 to October 24, while Norwegian Getaway will run 10 and 11-day voyages around the Greek Islands between September 13 and October 25, departing from the Italian port.

NCL's president and chief executive, Harry Sommer, said: “Europe is a top travel destination, so we are very much looking forward to returning to some of our most beloved homeports, resuming those itineraries and welcoming our guests to experience a vacation of a lifetime in the safest possible manner.

“We are actively working with our local partners and government officials, as we plan for resumption of voyages in the region with Norwegian Epic and Getaway joining Norwegian Jade this summer.

“Relaunching Norwegian Epic and Getaway will allow us to provide a greater variety of highly sought-after itineraries for those travellers preparing to take their first cruise vacation in over a year.”

03:58 PM

How long will Turkey be on the red list? The latest travel advice

Turkish holiday hopes have been dealt a severe blow with the announcement that the country has been added to the UK's "red list" of destinations.

Under the new traffic light system that replaced the ban on international travel on May 17, it will be subject to the harshest travel restrictions, with visitors travelling from Turkey to the UK required to enter a quarantine hotel for 11 days at a cost of up to £1,750.

The news comes as a particular disappointment following the Turkish government's decision to allow Britons to travel for summer holidays without a vaccination certificate or negative Covid test.

Emma Cooke details everything we know so far

turkey - Getty
turkey - Getty

03:43 PM

Eurostar rescued after France agrees to fund bailout

Emmanuel Macron has bowed to Boris Johnson by stumping up French taxpayer cash to lead a bailout for Eurostar.

The French government and Eurostar’s other shareholders will stump up £200m to rescue the Channel Tunnel rail operator, with Britain not paying a penny or providing any loan guarantees, The Telegraph can reveal.

Eurostar was on the brink of collapse earlier this year after passenger numbers slumped 95pc following travel restrictions introduced during the pandemic.

French ministers and Eurostar bosses appealed for the UK Government to step in and inject tens of millions of pounds into the business amid concerns it was running out of cash.

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, resisted the demands from Paris, insisting that Eurostar was “not our company to rescue”.

Oliver Gill has the full story

03:29 PM

When will Greece be added to the green list?

Case rate: 139.89 (seven day rolling average per 100,000)

Vaccine progress: 30% (first dose); 16.5% (second dose)

Greece is already welcoming British holidaymakers, so long as you provide evidence of a negative PCR test certificate or proof of two Covid-19 vaccinations completed at least 14 days before travel. After a (negative) rapid test on arrival, you are free to explore.

The question is when we will put Greece on our own holiday green list. The islands are looking like our best bet. A handful of Greek islands, including Rhodes, Kos, Zakynthos, Corfu and Crete, have been deemed safe for travel by the FCDO – this comes after Greece has pledged to fully vaccinate the population of its 6,000 islands by the end of June.

The small islands are already fully inoculated, and the medium ones will be by the end of May. With cases dropping across the country and the vaccination drive proceeding at a steady pace, don’t rule out a summer holiday in Greece just yet.

You can find out our travel advice on Greece, here.

03:15 PM

What revisiting the sites of my old school trips taught me

You can never go back, so they say, writes Joe Bindloss. But what if you could? Zip back in time, I mean, to those rose-tinted days of childhood, waiting for the coach to pull up at the school gates and whisk you away to somewhere infinitely more interesting than the classroom.

This was the inspiration for the way I spent my weekends during this unpredictable year of Covid. Without the stimulus of foreign travel, I mapped out instead an autobiographical safari of my Suffolk schooldays, revisiting locations from old school trips, as a test of how much the world had changed, and how time had changed me.

With the return of overnight school trips from May 17, children across the country are resuming their own adventures, including my own tiny terrors.

joe bindloss
joe bindloss

Like family holidays and birthdays, school trips are one of those things that ends up etched into the consciousness. I can’t remember most of the thousands of hours I spent in the classroom at school in Ipswich, but I can remember exactly what I had in my packed lunch on the day class 4B took the coach to Sutton Hoo.

Read the full article here

03:03 PM

Queues at the border? Not on this trip

'After gearing myself up for a six-hour queue at passport control, it took just four minutes from stepping off the plane to getting through the border at Heathrow,' writes Gordon Rayner.

'Flight BA501 from Lisbon disgorged its passengers into an empty arrivals hall after landing 15 minutes early at a stand that was as close to the passport desks as could be.

'Journalists on the flight had been sharpening their pencils ready to describe scenes of passport Armageddon, only to find a queue-free vista awaiting them, with an abundance of manned desks.

'If Carlsberg did passport control, to quote the old adverts, it would look like this. After a cursory glance at passenger locator forms and negative Covid test certificates, it was on to the electronic passport gates, where after a quick removal of face masks for the camera, the glass barriers slid aside and we were home and dry.

'This might, of course, have had something to do with the fact that we were arriving on a Tuesday afternoon the day after the green list went live; the monster queues could still materialise in a week’s time when the first holidaymakers start coming back.

'For now, though, the system seems to be working.'

02:57 PM

Old village re-emerges from Italian lake after 70 years

A village in Italy that has been underwater since 1950 has reappeared thanks to repair works at a local reservoir.

Curon, once home to hundreds of Italians in the country's north, was purposely flooded 71 years ago to create a hydroelectric plant. After that, its old church spire poking out from Lake Resia was all that was visible.

Now with the artificial lake temporarily drained, traces of Curon at ground level are on show once more.

Here it was in July 2020...

Curon - AFP
Curon - AFP

This is what it looks like currently...

curon -  G News/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
curon - G News/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

And here's how it appeared in 1950 just before it was flooded:

curon - AFP
curon - AFP

02:18 PM

'Reopening of indoor hospitality is going to go smoothly', predicts senior Conservative

The chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs has said there should be no reason why the next stage of unlocking from coronavirus restrictions should not go ahead on June 21.

Sir Graham Brady told Sky News that the data surrounding coronavirus is "continuing to move in a positive direction, and actually far more positive than anybody had anticipated at the outset".

The senior Conservative said there had been no issues with schoolchildren returning to classrooms or the reopening of hospitality outdoors, adding:

With the continuing advance of the hugely successful vaccination programme, I think there's every reason to believe that yesterday's reopening of indoor hospitality is going to go smoothly too.

02:05 PM

Paris prepares to lift restrictions and reopen outdoor hospitality

Businesses in France's capital are today gearing up to reopen tomorrow for the first time since the last lockdown was enacted...

Paris - YOAN VALAT/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Paris - YOAN VALAT/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Paris - YOAN VALAT/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Paris - YOAN VALAT/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Paris - YOAN VALAT/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Paris - YOAN VALAT/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

01:47 PM

Covid rules set to be binned in Denmark

Denmark is set for an almost complete reopening on Friday, as it aims to be among the first to return to pre-Covid rules.

However, while Danish political parties on Tuesday agreed everything from zoos to saunas will reopen, nightclubs are expected to remain closed.

The country also aims to scrap its use of a domestic Covid passport and face masks later in the summer. The passport scheme was crucial in early stages of the country easing restrictions and will be phased out from June for everything except foreign travel.

Face masks are expected to be gone by August. Magnus Heunicke, the country's health minister, said Denmark was “in a very favourable place” in the pandemic.

Denmark - Reuters
Denmark - Reuters

01:31 PM

How to get a Covid PCR test for travel and what else you need to go abroad

While huge question marks linger over summer holidays abroad, one thing is clear: there will be Covid tests, writes Emma Beaumont.

Although some countries, such as Greece, have already suggested that fully vaccinated travellers will not have to provide proof of a negative test, many others may still demand evidence that holidaymakers are Covid-free. And with those under 18 unlikely to be jabbed for some time to come, families could be facing huge added costs to their holidays.

On return to the UK, travellers will certainly have to take a test – following the restart of international travel on May 17 a ‘traffic light system’ has come into force. Countries are categorised as "red", "amber" or "green" depending on the proportion of its population that has been vaccinated, its infection rates and the prevalence of variants of concern. Even travellers from “green” countries have to pay for and take at least two tests: one shortly before departure to the UK and one on arrival.

Here's what to look out for when booking one this summer

01:23 PM

When will France be added to the green list?

Case rate: 73.72 (seven day rolling average per 100,000)

Vaccine progress: 36.5% (first dose); 16.3% (second dose)

France has begun to ease lockdown restrictions, with the French now allowed to travel anywhere within the country’s borders. Prime minister Jean Gastex said the country was over its “third wave”, as cafe terraces plan to reopen on May 19.

What’s more, France has confirmed (ahead of the rest of the EU) that British and foreign tourists with a "health pass" – either offering proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test – will be able to visit France again starting from June 9 under an ambitious lockdown exit roadmap.

So while it is no certainty, we are certainly taking big steps closer to weeks in the Dordogne, city breaks in the likes of Paris, Marseille or Biarritz, or fly-and-flops on the Cote d’Azur.

You can find our full France travel advice here

12:54 PM

Boris Johnson overrules Cabinet minister, saying people should not holiday in 'amber' list countries

Boris Johnson has overruled one of his Cabinet ministers by declaring that people should not be going on holiday to “amber” countries unless there was a “pressing family or urgent business reason”, reports Charles Hymas.

Speaking on BBC news on Tuesday, the Prime Minister said people needed to grasp that “amber” list countries were “not somewhere where you should be going on holiday”.

The confusion followed suggestions by George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, earlier on Tuesday that people could travel to “amber” countries to visit friends and family – comments that appeared to be a significant softening of the Government’s position.

It appeared to contradict Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s statements on Sunday and Monday that people should not go on holiday to “amber” list countries – and only visit them if they had an “exceptional reason” such as a dying relative.

The Prime Minister’s intervention came after some 150 flights left the UK on Monday for “amber” list countries including British holidaymakers following the lifting of the ban on non-essential travel.

Read the full story here

12:41 PM

Despite confusion at the border, I've finally made my glorious escape to 'green-list' Gibraltar

I spent my first few minutes on Gibraltarian land admiring the 1,396ft hunk of Jurassic limestone, writes Emma Featherstone. It was my first encounter with that heady mix of the unfamiliar (Barbary macaques; the fusion of English and Spanish; road tunnels that snake within the Rock itself) and the familiar (red telephone and post boxes, a branch of Marks and Spencer, Sterling banknotes) that characterise this craggy peninsula.

Wonder was soon replaced with confusion when I peeled myself away from snapping pictures of the Rock and tacked onto the queue forming for passport control. While waiting, I was handed an A4 notice which explained that travellers who had been in green list countries in the 14 days preceding their arrival would now need to take a Covid-19 lateral flow test within 24 hours of arriving in Gibraltar. Those staying for more than seven days would need to take an additional test on day five.

emma featherstone gibraltar
emma featherstone gibraltar

A small clutch of passengers were perturbed. Ms Schofield, who was queueing just ahead of me, was among them. She’d travelled from Dorchester to Gibraltar for the week. “We’ve paid for PCR tests, now we’re being told we can get a test for free,” she told me. Her husband was quizzing the staff in the makeshift testing hut about if, and how, he could claim a refund for their costly tests. The answer appeared to be no.

Read the full article here

12:27 PM

Portugal is empty and waiting

It's still looking quiet on the beaches of the Algarve...

portugal - AP
portugal - AP
portugal - AP
portugal - AP
portugal - AP
portugal - AP

12:15 PM

Can I visit the US? Latest travel advice

You can't enter the US yet as a British tourist. And those entering the UK from the States, which is on our 'amber list', are subject to 10 days of self-isolation at home.

But many within the travel industry have been calling for the establishment of a UK-US travel corridor, with both countries vaccinating their populations at pace. And Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, has been talking to his US counterpart Pete Buttigieg about a bilateral agreement to restart transatlantic travel.

Lucy Aspden has details on the latest developments.

11:59 AM

Top things to look out for when buying travel insurance this summer

As the demand for holidays reboots, British holidaymakers are sensibly covering themselves with travel insurance. One of the country's biggest providers, LV, has reported a sales spike of 256% in recent weeks.

However, Which? has warned that travellers are being given a "false impression" as to what insurers will, and will not, cover this summer. This is due to a raft of exclusions, brought in due to the pandemic, and ambiguities over what 'covid cover' actually means.

Good thing our consumer expert Nick Trend has a comprehensive analysis of your options.

11:45 AM

When will the green list be reassessed?

According to the Government's plan, the traffic lights will be reviewed on June 7, when Malta, Greece and Spain will be hoping for a green light.

Here's a look at the latest stats on which countries will be judged.

Cases per 100,000 over last 7 days

  • France 154.31

  • Greece 144.74

  • Spain 79.97 (-13% w.o.w)

  • Italy 79.24

  • Portugal 25.5 (green list)

  • Iceland 9.09 (green list)

  • Malta 7.47

  • Israel 2.6 (green list)

Vaccine 1st doses given

  • Greece 30.04%

  • Portugal 35.87% (green list)

  • Italy 36.35%

  • France 36.5%

  • Spain 37.08%

  • Iceland 50.84% (green list)

  • Malta 65.77%

  • Israel 83.21% (green list)

11:30 AM

Abu Dhabi to end quarantine for all international visitors from July

The capital of the United Arab Emirates has announced it will end quarantine for all international arrivals, starting from July 1.

Abu Dhabi is also enhancing its border with Dubai to make travel between the two 'more convenient' for tourists.

Ali Al Shaiba, executive director of Tourism and Marketing, DCT Abu Dhabi, said:

It will be similar to the Dubai system - the PCR protocol will be different from high-risk to low-risk destinations. Quarantine will not be an option. We are announcing an extended green list - this green list will cover a majority of the markets that we are tapping into.

While the UK is already on Abu Dhabi's green list, meaning Britons are free to enter, the whole of the UAE is currently on the UK's 'red list', with direct flights banned and all arrivals required to spend 10 days in hotel quarantine.

11:06 AM

Comment: 'All I want is a boozy weekend in France with my best friend'

She has put up with a comically long list of travel fails to France, writes Charlotte Johnstone – but remains determined that Covid-19 will not claim a trip to Marseilles with her best friend.

I’ve been trying to go on a boozy weekend to France with my best friend for years. The plans we constantly make read like a political manifesto, full of cans, wills, shalls and musts. But life always has a funny way of throwing a curveball.

Our trip to Montpellier’s Worldwide Festival, where we were to eat oysters and drink champagne as we listened to Gilles Peterson in the Sète summer sunshine, fell through because I forgot, and booked flights to Canada instead.

My favourite fail was probably when we spent the best part of a few months researching flights, hotels and an itinerary for a foodie getaway to Lyon. But a health-kick plan inspired by the rugby player James Haskell got in the way.

Read on, here.

11:02 AM

Have your say: to lock, or unlock?

According to a member of Independent Sage, the May 17 easing of restrictions should have been delayed due to the Indian variant.

As millions of Britons enjoy their restored freedoms again today, what do you think?

10:47 AM

Matt Hancock: Only travel to amber list countries with an 'exceptional' reason

Confusion over the amber list continues.

During his statement to the House of Commons on Monday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that people should not travel to amber list countries unless they have an "exceptional" reason to do so.

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt asked Matt Hancock for "absolute clarity" on the amber list, asking in the Commons: "Should all of our constituents go on holiday to countries on that amber list even when it is no longer illegal?"

Mr Hancock replied:

The answer is no. The official Government advice is very clear that people should not travel to amber or red list countries or territories. People should not travel to amber list countries for a holiday.

The conflicting guidance and easing of travel restrictions has prompted the question of why travel to amber list destinations is not still illegal under Government Covid-19 guidance, but there has been no substantial explanation yet.

10:36 AM

Taiwan bans foreign visitors as it battles spike in virus

Taiwan will from tomorrow ban foreign visitors from entering the country, its Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has announced.

It comes as the nation reported 335 new Covid cases yesterday; its highest number of daily infections so far.

The ban will be effective from May 19 to June 18 "and will be adjusted on a rolling basis based on the status of the pandemic and effectiveness of those measures," the CECC said.

Taipei -  Billy H.C. Kwok/ Bloomberg
Taipei - Billy H.C. Kwok/ Bloomberg

10:26 AM

Happy International Museums day

Today, we celebrate the world's best museums – and there are plenty to found in the UK.

Read our complete guide to their reopening, here.

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10:10 AM

10 things we learnt on the day international travel resumed

As part of the Government's traffic light system, holidays are now approved to 12 green-listed destinations. Only three, however, are allowing British holidaymakers in without major restrictions and quarantine on arrival.

So we sent our correspondents on the earliest flights available, to find out what was going on in the (relatively) hassle-free locations of Madeira, Lisbon, Gibraltar and Iceland.

What did they learn? There is a new, unfriendly tone to flight passenger announcements; a little thing called Brexit is causing longer queues than Covid-19 regulations; and rules can change at very short notice indeed (ie, while you’re in the air).

Read on here.

09:59 AM

Minister defends India travel ban timing

George Eustice has defended the timing of the Government's decision to effectively ban travel from India by adding it to the red list from April 23.

In response to suggestions the decision was taken too late, Environment Secretary Mr Eustice told ITV's Good Morning Britain:

What we did is put India on the red list a full six days before that variant was even under investigation and a full two weeks before it was declared a variant of concern. We did put India on the list as soon as we saw an uptick in prevalence and well before the Indian variant was declared a variant of concern.

09:52 AM

New Icelandic budget airline launches, with £30 fares from London

It's arguably a brave time to launch a new airline, but enter 'PLAY', a bright red, low-cost, Icelandic carrier which had made its debut today.

PLAY, with a fleet of Airbus A321neo aircraft, is offering flights from London Stansted to Reykjavik, starting at £30 one way.

The inaugural flight is scheduled for June 24.

Play - PLAY
Play - PLAY

09:36 AM

When will Spain be added to the green list?

Spain is currently on the amber list. The UK Government has offered no indication of when, or indeed if, the country will be added to the green list – though Spain's tourism authorities are hopeful that it will be included on the next update to the traffic light system, which is expected in early June. This would enable the summer tourism season to proceed with minimal restrictions.

“We know what we have to do to enable British travellers to return to Spain,” says Spain’s minister of industry, trade and tourism, Maria Reyes Maroto. “Continue to lower the accumulated incidence rate of Covid-19 and continue with our vaccination roll-out.”

But until any green list announcement is formally made, there is no guarantee that Spain will actually achieve green list status – either before the summer, or later in the year.

Hazel Plush has the latest advice, here.

09:23 AM

Thailand struggles with rising death toll but still plans to reopen to tourists

Thailand reported 35 fatalities from Covid-19 on Tuesday: its highest daily death toll so far.

Despite managing to keep cases low earlier in the pandemic, the country is now struggling with a surge – 2,473 new were reported cases today – largely exacerbated by overcrowded prisons.

The tourism-reliant country, however, still plans to welcome vaccinated tourists with no quarantine requirements from July 1.

Thailand is also accelerating its vaccine dive in the popular island of Phuket, where it aims to inoculate 70 per cent of its residents by that date.

The Government also plans to implement this scheme in other tourist destinations including Phang Nga, Samui island, Chiang Mai and Pattaya by October.

Phuket - Getty
Phuket - Getty

09:02 AM

Returning holidaymakers: 'We know self-isolation doesn't work,' warns Sage scientist

Speaking this morning, Professor Gabriel Scally, a member of Independent Sage, told Sky News:

I have great concerns about this particular [India] variant because of its much more transmissible characteristics.

It hasn't really taken off in Europe yet, and if it takes off in Europe I think we're in for a very rocky time because of course vaccination levels are not at the same high level as they are in the UK, in much of Europe.

And at the same time, we're reducing travel restrictions, and many more people are disappearing off on holidays and will come back and not necessarily have any really managed quarantine, and we know self-isolation doesn't work, and I'm really worried about a big wave in Europe.

A good quarantine system on our borders is absolutely essential.

08:55 AM

Britain by bike: The quest continues in Cornwall

Our adventure correspondent Simon Parker is spending the next few weeks cycling the length of the country, starting from the Isles of Scilly.

Follow his journey on Twitter...

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08:46 AM

Mixed messages: Now minister says you can visit friends and family in 'amber' countries

People can indeed travel to ‘amber’ list countries to visit friends and family, a Cabinet minister has said, in an apparent softening of the Government’s ‘do not travel’ advice.

George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, said the Government’s intention was not to stop travel altogether amid concerns that thousands of people flew out of Britain Monday on up to 150 flights to amber list countries such as Greece, France, Spain and Italy.

Mr Eustice told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme:

The reason...we have the amber list is that there will be reasons people feel they need to travel either to visit family or friends. They can travel to those countries but they then have to observe quarantine when they return and have two tests after returning. People can travel to those areas but they then have to subject themselves to the quarantine requirements.

Charles Hymas reports.

08:33 AM

Hospitality leaders angered by delay to social distancing review

Downing Street is facing a backlash from the hospitality industry after signalling that the review of whether social distancing can be lifted by June 21 will not be announced as planned by the end of the month.

While uncertainty over the Indian variant has thrown the timetable into doubt, senior Government sources say they are still hopeful the review will be ready before June 14, the date at which Boris Johnson is expected to confirm whether step four can proceed as planned.

However, Sacha Lord, the night time economy tsar for Greater Manchester, hit out at the prospect of restaurants and pubs having just seven days to prepare for the return of normal service.

Speaking to BBC Radio Radio 4's Today programme, he said:

We can't live by these rumours, we need absolute assurances. And what I would say...what we've been told about the review data, the 14th of June, well, one week isn't enough to get hospitality up and running again.

Even yesterday, places were operating at 50 per cent. Hospitality will naturally only start to turn a profit when those restrictions are dropped, and we are hoping for June 21.

And when we do return to normal as well, I must also point out it is going to take at least three years for businesses to return to pre-pandemic levels in terms of getting rid of the loans, the debts, the rent arrears, the VAT holidays.

Head over to our politics live blog for more.

08:23 AM

'If a night out feels like too much of a leap, a tier-three hotel suite party could be the answer'

Lockdown has been long, and plenty of us aren’t ready to brave a busy restaurant yet, let alone a nightclub, cinema or cocktail bar, writes Sasha Slater:

Luckily, the Bulgari hotel has come up with the ideal half-way house between staying In In and going Out Out. Its new programme, B.Entertained (which starts from £9,238), offers the equivalent of all the entertainment in the whole of the West End, but in the comfort of your own suite. It really is the best of all possible worlds – no scary crowds; all the fun.

Find out how she got on, here.

The screening room at Bulgari Hotel, Knightsbridge - Richard Bryant
The screening room at Bulgari Hotel, Knightsbridge - Richard Bryant

08:10 AM

Vaccinated New Yorker bemused by UK testing requirements

American Journalist Steve Myall landed amid crowded scenes at Heathrow this morning, where he was directed to wait with a family of red list arrivals.

Tweeting about the experience, he also remarked that despite being fully inoculated he was baffled by 'the logic' of the UK's testing system...

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08:03 AM

Report: How you'll need to prove you're safe to return to UK

The Telegraph’s Gordon Rayner is heading back to London from Lisbon after flying out yesterday with the first Britons to travel to a green list country.

He writes: “Before any of the tourists in Portugal can return home, they must take a Covid test to show they are negative.

“In my case I had booked a video test, meaning I took a test kit out with me and tested myself under observation by a medical professional, dialling in on a video call.

“The very patient Alex, from testing firm Qured, talked me through the process over a dodgy WiFi connection and, crucially, watched me do the test to confirm all was present and correct.

“Once the requisite 15 minutes had elapsed, I sent a photo of the lateral flow device to Qured, who emailed me the certificate I will need to be allowed home.

“The cost of a Qured supervised test is £33. You can also arrange to have someone local turn up in person to do your test, but the virtual medic system worked brilliantly well.”

Gordon Rayner - Geoff Pugh
Gordon Rayner - Geoff Pugh

07:56 AM

Holidays to Europe with Covid vaccine passports get green light

British holidaymakers are on Wednesday set to be given the green light by the EU to use "vaccine passports" to enter Europe.

EU ambassadors are expected to sign off a plan allowing fully-vaccinated Britons to fly to Europe without having to have a Covid test or quarantine.

It came as the bosses of BA and Heathrow issued a joint plea to the Government to publish an advance list of its "green" countries for the summer to enable families to plan holidays.

Charles Hymas has the story.

07:40 AM

What happened?

A quick recap of the top stories:

  • The #GreatUnlock sees foreign holidays resume in green-list destinations

  • Hotels in England reopen for business

  • Brits board the first flight to Portugal as travel restrictions ease

  • Museums and art galleries reopen in England

  • Travel firms plead for bigger green list as holidaymakers head for the sun

  • Matt Hancock: 'People should not travel to amber list countries for a holiday'

  • The Balearic Islands launches a significant push to get onto the UK's green list

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