Travel news latest: Hotel quarantine could be scrapped this week

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The red list could be scrapped as soon as this week after reports that Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has convinced colleagues to ease restrictions on travellers. 

Travel news latest: Hotel quarantine could be scrapped this week
Travellers arrive at hotel quarantine in Heathrow
Travellers arrive at hotel quarantine in Heathrow CREDIT: AFP

13 DECEMBER 2021 • 10:55AMFollow 

The red list could be scrapped as soon as this week after reports that Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has convinced colleagues to ease restrictions on travellers. 

The move is expected to be approved as early as this week and hotel quarantine could be replaced with testing for fully vaccinated travellers, according to the Mail on Sunday. It’s so far unclear whether restrictions would remain for the unvaccinated. 

The news follows signals from the Government that red list rules would be reconsidered due to the widespread transmission of the omicron variant in the UK. 

In the Commons last week, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said that, as omicron became the dominant Covid variant, there would be “less need to have any kind of travel restrictions at all.”

Meanwhile, during a press conference, when asked whether travellers could instead isolate at home for the required 10 days if fully vaccinated, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We will be looking at the red list and the way to do it.”

Eleven countries, including South Africa, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Namibia have been added to the previously empty hotel quarantine list, with stays costing £2,285 per person. 

Scroll down for the latest updates. 

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Watch: Couple in UK hotel quarantine describe experience

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Thailand ramps up booster jab rollout due to omicron fears

Thailand will halve the time between a second dose and booster shot to three months, reports Reuters, in a bid to enhance protection against the omicron variant.

The country has so far detected eight imported cases of the omicron variant, all related to travel 

“Because Omicron is now widespread, the booster third shot would help lessen the severity of symptoms and reduce the death rate,” said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, spokesperson for the Thai government’s Covid taskforce.

Thailand is open to tourists from Britain, but they must take a test on arrival and remain at their hotel until they receive a negative result. 

Advice: ‘I am nervous about my Christmas holiday, what can I do?’

If you have booked a Christmas, or winter, holiday, you may be feeling nervous about what the reintroduction of the red list, tightened testing rules and the omicron variant could mean for your getaway. 

If you do decide to change holiday plans, you should contact your holiday company, accommodation or airline provider direct to see if you can rebook. There will be no obligation for any company to issue a refund due to holiday nerves, but you can contact them to ask if this is an option. Do not cancel unilaterally, or you will not receive a refund.

Read more up to date travel advice, here. 

Israel bans citizens from visiting Britain and Denmark

Israel has announced it will add Britain and Denmark to its red list of countries that Israelis are banned from visiting, due to concerns over the spread of the omicron variant.

The new rules will come into effect on Wednesday. 

Domestic border rules ease in Australia ahead of Christmas holidays

Reuters reports the state of Queensland has opened its domestic borders to all vaccinated people today – for the first time in nearly five months.

The easing of restrictions comes ahead of the busy festive travel period. 

Queensland closed its border to New South Wales in July and then later to people coming from Victoria in a bid to stop the spread of the delta variant. 

“We will live with Covid – but on our terms,” state Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said in a tweet. 

Austria offers testing to allow unvaccinated teenagers to visit

The travel industry has been reacting to the news that Austria will allow unvaccinated teenagers to holiday in the country this winter, subject to testing .

Rupert Longsdon, Oxford Ski Company founder and CEO, said:

The recent news out of Austria in regards to restrictions and testing for those between 12 and 18 will surely be a great reassurance to those previously left in the dark and concerned that they simply would not be able to travel.

This testing routine during the week is similar to that we have seen in Switzerland where everyone must test during the week, but less inconvenient than those of France which require minors to test every 24 hours. It is great to see almost all regions now confirm their position and requirements, allowing many families to feel more prepared and confident about their trips.

We have to always remember that these measures are put in place to protect ourselves, staff, resorts and the ski season as a whole, so that we can all enjoy a safe return to the mountains this winter… See you on the slopes.

The quickest, easiest and cheapest tests for travel

The testing burden for travellers has increased, with pre-departure and Day 2 PCR tests now required for an international holiday.Advertisement : 14 sec

Read our guide to the best pre-departure tests, here.

Find our list of the best options for Day 2 tests, here. 

Canada drops third-country test rule for residents returning from southern Africa

Canada has dropped its confusing rules for residents returning from certain southern African countries, which required them to show evidence of a negative test taken in a third country. 

The country will start recognising PCR tests conducted at an accredited lab in South Africa for residents returning home.

The heavily criticised policy meant travellers were forced  to re-route flights to secure a test. Toronto’s Globe and Mail newspaper reported that several citizens have been forced to make lengthy stops in Ethiopia – a regional travel hub – on their way back to Canada.

Sajid Javid: ‘As omicron spreads less need to have any country on red list’

Sajid Javid has again hinted that the red list could be scrapped, meaning people will no longer have to endure a stay at a hotel quarantine when coming back from certain countries. 

The Health Secretary told Sky News this morning: “We will keep that under review. As it spreads around the country, there is less reason to have any country on red list.”

What the Covid rules mean for Christmas travel

The Prime Minister did not announce any extra international travel restrictions during his national address last night

As such, the situation stands from the added travel restrictions that were already in place following the discovery of the omicron variant.

Eleven African countries were added to the travel red list and a number of nations – including France, Portugal and Spain – are imposing stricter restrictions on arrivals from the UK.  

Travel testing rules had also already been tightened: anyone travelling to the UK must now take a PCR test by the end of the second day after their arrival, and self-isolate until they have received a negative result – regardless of the country they are travelling from, or their vaccination status. 

Additionally, all people aged 12 years and over must take a PCR or lateral flow test before they travel to England from abroad.

Covid alert levels explained: What Level 4 means for you 

The UK Covid alert level has been raised following a rapid increase in omicron cases being recorded.

The country’s four chief medical officers and NHS England’s national medical director have recommended to ministers that the UK go up to Level 4 from Level 3.

Boris Johnson addressed the nation at 8pm on Sunday to warn of a “tidal wave” of omicron, which is more resistant to vaccines, and said from “bitter experience” the situation could deteriorate rapidly.

However, there have been no changes to the rules regarding international travel. 

Read more about Level 4, here. 

Covid travel restrictions are haphazard and disproportionate, airlines tell Boris Johnson

Britain’s biggest airlines and tour operators have accused Boris Johnson of a “haphazard and disproportionate” approach to travel that has “unnecessarily disrupted” the Christmas holiday plans of millions of Britons.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, they said that he has broken his promises to fix the “rip-off” PCR testing for travellers that exposes them to charges of up to £399 and presided over a quarantine hotel shambles where customers have been double booked and forced to pay twice.

“We and our customers feel sincerely let down, having believed a more pragmatic, evidence-led approach to travel, in line with the rest of the world, had been achieved and agreed by all concerned just a few months ago,” said the chief executives of the airlines, among them British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Ryanair and Tui.

Read the full story from Charles Hymas.

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