NASA’s Lucy mission will observe the earliest ‘fossils’ of the solar system

By Ashley Strickland, CNN

The first NASA mission to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroid swarms is getting ready to launch.

The Lucy mission has passed all of its prelaunch tests and is set to leave Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at around 5:30 a.m. ET on October 16.

The Trojan asteroids, which borrow their name from Greek mythology, orbit the sun in two swarms — one that’s ahead of Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, and a second one that lags behind it.

Lucy is the first spacecraft designed to visit and observe these asteroids, which are remnants from the early days of our solar system. The mission will help researchers effectively peer back in time to learn how the solar system formed 4.5 billion years ago.

Lucy’s 12-year mission could also help scientists learn how our planets ended up in their current spots.

There are about 7,000 Trojan asteroids, and the largest is 160 miles (250 kilometers) across. The asteroids represent the leftover material still hanging around after the giant planets in our solar system, including Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, formed. Even though they share an orbit with Jupiter, the asteroids are still very distant from the planet itself — almost as far away as Jupiter is from the sun, according to NASA.

“With Lucy, we’re going to eight never-before-seen asteroids in 12 years with a single spacecraft,” said Tom Statler, Lucy project scientist at NASA Headquarters, in a statement. “This is a fantastic opportunity for discovery as we probe into our solar system’s distant past.”

The spacecraft is set to fly by an asteroid in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and then it will explore seven of the Trojans. Over the course of its mission, Lucy will end up swinging back to Earth’s orbit three separate times for gravity assists that can slingshot it on the right path. That will make Lucy the first spacecraft to travel to Jupiter and return to Earth.

“Launching a spacecraft is almost like sending a child off to college — you’ve done what you can for them to get them ready for that next big step on their own,” said Hal Levison, the principal investigator of the Lucy mission, based at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, in a statement.

The mission borrows its name from the Lucy fossil, the remains of an ancient human ancestor discovered in Ethiopia in 1974. The skeleton has helped researchers piece together aspects of human evolution, and the NASA Lucy team members hope their mission will achieve a similar feat regarding the history of our solar system.

“We view these objects as being the fossils of planet formation,” Levison said.

Both the fossil and the mission are a nod to the Beatles tune, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” which is why the logo for the Lucy mission includes a diamond.

The Lucy spacecraft is more than 46 feet (14 meters) from tip to tip, largely due to its giant solar panels — each about the width of a school bus — designed to keep up a power supply to the spacecraft’s instruments. But Lucy also has fuel to help it execute some skilled maneuvers on the way to the asteroids.

Over 12 years, Lucy will travel nearly 4 billion miles (6,437,376,000 kilometers) moving at about 400,000 miles per hour (17,881.6 meters per second).

Lucy will specifically visit these asteroids, all named for heroes you might recognize from Homer’s “The Illiad”: Eurybates, Queta, Polymele, Leucus, Orus, Patroclus and Menoetius.

Though it’s not one of the Trojans, Eurybates was chosen because it’s the largest remnant of an ancient massive collision, meaning that it could reveal a look at what’s inside an asteroid. Observations made using the Hubble Space Telescope revealed that the small asteroid named Queta is a satellite of Eurybates.

Each of the asteroids Lucy will fly by differ in size and color.

“Amazingly, many of these mysterious worlds have been altered very little in the 4.6 billion years since they first formed,” said Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters.The relatively pristine state makes comets, asteroids and some meteorites wonderful storytellers that have preserved clues they can share with us about conditions in the early solar system.”

Lucy will use three science instruments to study the asteroids, including color and black-and-white cameras, a thermometer, and an infrared imaging spectrometer to determine the composition of the asteroids’ surface materials. The spacecraft will communicate with Earth using its antenna, which also can be used to help determine the masses of the asteroids.

Once the Lucy mission has finished, the spacecraft will remain in a stable orbit that retraces the path of its exploration between Earth and Jupiter, and it won’t have a chance of colliding with either for over 100,000 years. Eventually, if the orbit does grow unstable, it will likely head on a doomed mission to the sun or get kicked out of our solar system.

™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Update: UK Announces New System for International Travel | Morgan Lewis

The UK government has announced a new, simplified system for international travel. The current red, amber, and green traffic light system will be replaced by a single red list and simplified measures for the rest of the world.

The rules for travel from countries and territories not on the red list will depend on an individual’s vaccination status. The government will also recognise full vaccinations from 17 other countries and territories.


Effective 4:00 am Monday, 4 October, if travellers are fully vaccinated then they must:

  • book and pay for a Day 2 COVID-19 test, to be taken on or before Day 2 of arrival; and
  • complete a passenger locator form within 48 hours before travel.

Travellers will no longer be required to:

  • take a predeparture test;
  • take a Day 8 COVID-19 test; or
  • quarantine for 10 days following arrival.

The rules for fully vaccinated people will also apply if an individual is under 18 and resident in the United Kingdom or one of the listed countries or territories with approved vaccination programmes.


In order to qualify as a fully vaccinated individual, travellers must:

  • have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to arrival in the United Kingdom;
  • with an approved two-dose or one-dose vaccine authorised by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for the UK and UK vaccine programme overseas, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for Europe, SwissMedic for Switzerland, and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the United States; or
  • with a full course of the Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna, or Janssen vaccines from a relevant public health body in Australia, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Dominica, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, or the UAE; or
  • under a formally approved COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, and Australia and have a proof of participation (digital or paper-based) from a public health body; and
  • be able to prove that they have been fully vaccinated (plus 14 days) with a document (digital or paper-based) from a national or state-level public health body that includes, as a minimum:
    • forename and surname(s);
    • date of birth;
    • vaccine brand and manufacturer;
    • date of vaccination for every dose;
    • country or territory of vaccination and/or certificate issuer;
  • Passengers fully vaccinated in the United States, will also need to prove that they are a resident of the United States.

If an individual is fully vaccinated, but does not qualify under the fully vaccinated rules, they must follow the rules for non-vaccinated individuals.


Effective 4:00 am Monday, 4 October, if travellers are not fully vaccinated then they must:

  • quarantine at home or in the place they are staying for 10 days; and
  • take a COVID-19 test on or before Day 2 and on or after Day 8.

Individuals may be eligible to end quarantine early by paying for a private COVID-19 test through the Test to Release Scheme.


Effective 4:00 am Monday, 4 October, individuals who have been in a country or territory on the red list in the 10 days prior to arrival will only be allowed to enter the United Kingdom if they are a British or Irish national, or they have residence rights in the United Kingdom.

Before travelling, individuals must:

  • take a COVID-19 test in the three days before travelling;
  • book and pay for a quarantine hotel package, including two mandated COVID-19 tests to be taken on or before Day 2 and on or after Day 8 of arrival; and
  • complete a passenger locator form within 48 hours before travel.

After arrival, travellers must:

  • quarantine for 10 full days in a managed quarantine hotel (the day of arrival is Day 0); and
  • take two mandated COVID-19 tests to be taken on or before Day 2 and on or after Day 8 of arrival.

Individuals arriving from red countries are not eligible to take part in the Test to Release Scheme.


In addition to the changes outlined above, the government has also announced that from the end of October, eligible fully vaccinated passengers, and those with an approved vaccine from a select group of non-red countries will be able to replace their Day 2 test with a lateral flow test on arrival. If an individual tests positive, they will need to isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test. The government also intends to make changes to allow passengers who change flights or international trains during their journey to follow the measures associated to their country of departure, rather than any countries they have transited through as part of their journey. The government is hoping to introduce these changes by the end of October, and we will provide further updates as these become available.

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Traffic-light system changes: what now for devolved UK nations?

The announcement that the traffic-light system in England is to be overhauled has been met with varied responses from the governments of the UK’s devolved nations.

The Northern Ireland government has mirrored the rule changes in England, with the merger of the green and amber lists on Monday 4 October, leaving a single red list:  Bangladesh, Egypt, Kenya, the Maldives, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Turkey will be removed from the red list with effect from 4am on Wednesday 22 September.  

From the same day, fully vaccinated travellers will no longer have to self-isolate or undertake a day 8 PCR test on arrival in Northern Ireland from Antigua & Barbuda, Australia, Bahrain, Barbados, Brunei, Canada, Dominica, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. This is in line with the current rules for fully jabbed UK, EU and US travellers. 

The Welsh government said it would consider the proposed changes to the traffic light system but said the new proposals announced on Friday were “not without risk”.

Wales has followed England and Northern Ireland on changes to the red list but it still is looking at the other changes.

Eluned Morgan, the Welsh minister for health and social services, said, “We will carefully consider the UK Government’s proposed changes to the border health measures, which include the removal of pre-departure testing and introducing lateral flow tests instead of PCR tests on day two of people’s return to the UK.

“Our considerations will be underpinned by robust evidence and our main focus will continue to be on reducing the risk to public health in Wales. 

“These changes are not without risk – they weaken the line of defence on importing infection and increase opportunities for new infections and new variants to enter the UK and Wales. Vaccines can help reduce this risk but only if they are effective against new and emerging variants of concern and high-risk variants under investigation.”

She said, “A four-nation collaborative approach is critical to evaluate and implement effective border control arrangements. As Wales shares an open border with England, and most travellers arriving in Wales enter through ports outside Wales, it is not effective to have separate border health policy arrangements for Wales.”

The Scottish Government has yet to announce its response to the changes. 

Derek Provan, chief executive of AGS Airports, which owns Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports, said: “The outgoing traffic light system was both costly and confusing. Not only did the data show it to be ineffective in terms of protecting public health or detecting variants of concern, but it has been extremely damaging to our industry which has been on the brink for the last 18 months.

“It was inconceivable to think 2021 would be worse than 2020 for aviation, however, that is the reality. Now that progress is being made to strip away the layers of complexity associated with international travel, we urge the Scottish Government to adopt a four-nations approach without delay.

“Moving forward we need government to work with the industry to help rebuild passenger confidence and, more importantly, restore the connectivity we have lost.”

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Holiday bookings soar after plans to axe traffic light system announced

Travel companies are reporting a huge jump in bookings following the latest travel announcement, which will see the much-maligned traffic light system scrapped.

Skyscanner reported a 103 per cent increase in bookings on Friday, when Transport Secretary Grant Shapps revealed the changes, compared to the previous week, and a spokesman said that they were “continuing to see the numbers go up throughout the weekend.”

Martin Nolan, Skyscanner’s traveller expert said: “It’s clear from our most recent booking figures that travellers are delighted with the latest travel news, not just for holidays and leisure travel, but also for those who will now be able to be reunited with loved ones abroad.”

TravelSupermaket reported similar trends, with demand for late summer trips to European hotspots – Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Portugal – among the most popular. Turkey, which will be removed from the red list on Wednesday, has leapt to become the website’s second-most searched for destination.

The firm cited the change in testing requirements, and subsequent savings, as another factor in demand for holidays.

Elsewhere Thomas Cook reported a 200 per cent rise in half term bookings following the announcement, with chief executive Alan French expecting it to increase further. and Jet2holidays said they have seen “an immediate and massive surge in bookings”.

Scroll down for the latest news as it happens.

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A New Travel System Is Coming to Replace the Antiquated DTS

The Department of Defense has approved a new contract to replace its current Defense Travel System, or DTS, reporting process.

The new system, scheduled to be fully online by fiscal 2025, will be known as “MyTravel.” It will allow military travelers to buy plane tickets, make hotel reservations and file for travel reimbursement from one online location.

The cloud-based system will be created, administered and hosted by Concur Technologies, which, according to contract documents, has experience working with the DoD and has “worked on integration [and] DoD cybersecurity compliance for the past three years.”

The current DTS travel system was created by the DoD and has been around in one form or another since 1998. There have been several modifications and updates throughout the years, but the costs of maintaining it are becoming prohibitive, according to contract documents. reported that the new contract is worth $374 million.

The DoD predicts that migrating from the current system to the new subscription-based civilian designed system will give taxpayers overall cost savings and provide improved usability.

The new travel system will be phased in over the next three years. The DoD anticipates that all leave, medical, training and exercise travel will be processed through it by 2025. When fully operational, the travel system should process more than 3.8 million transactions annually, according to the contract documents.

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Latest UK travel news: The new, simplified system will be live from October

The UK has just made some big announcements regarding international travel, including simplifying its traffic light system from October and scrapping PCR tests for fully vaccinated travellers.

What is happening with UK travel?

The current system is separated into green, amber and red-listed countries – each with their own requirements when it comes to quarantining, PCR testing and vaccination status. But from October 4 2021, there just will be a single red list.

In addition, fully vaccinated travellers won’t need to take a PCR test before travelling to the UK from non-red list countries.

And the day 2 test, currently an obligatory PCR test taken after arriving in the UK, will be replaced with a cheaper lateral flow alternative.

Which countries have moved off the red list?

For the past few weeks, the UK has had 62 countries on its red list. That means travellers from those countries must spend 11 nights in hotel quarantine upon arrival to the UK and take day 2 and day 8 tests – at their own expense.

Over the summer, these countries included popular tourist destinations like Turkey and the Philippines.

Grant Shapps has now announced that eight countries will be removed from the red list from September 22 – these are:

  • Turkey
  • Pakistan
  • The Maldives
  • Egypt
  • Sri Lanka
  • Oman
  • Bangladesh
  • Kenya

What do experts think about the new testing plans?

Professor Denis Kinane, founding scientist at Cignpost ExpressTest, has outlined the concerns around this more lax approach to testing. He explains, “Any move to drop gold-standard PCR tests in favour of lateral flow will be a calculated risk that could put Britain at risk of new COVID variants entering the country.

“Currently, [our] data shows four in every 1,000 people are testing positive after they arrive in the UK, and every one of them had already supposedly recorded a negative lateral flow test while abroad.

“That is the equivalent of 400 people entering the UK with COVID every single day. Without PCR testing, we are in danger of reducing our ability to sequence positive tests for variants of concern, making us blind to new threats or changes in the virus.”

The government has said these changes should last “into the New Year at the very least.”

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Industry reacts to traffic-light system overhaul

The business travel
industry has welcomed the simplification of the traffic-light system announced today although some have criticised the delay in its implementation while others have called for a wider international travel overhaul, including the opening up of UK-US traffic. 

Clive Wratten, Business Travel Association CEO, said: “We are
delighted that the Government has finally simplified the restrictions around
international travel.

It is imperative
that there is no more yo-yoing nor re-introduction of unnecessary

“Safe travel is
essential for our economy and position as a truly global Britain. We ask the Government
to now lead the way in establishing international protocols that safeguard the
future of the travel industry. It is only once all countries have the
confidence to open their borders that our industry can truly recover.”

Julia Lo Bue-Said, Advantage Travel Partnership CEO, said: “Finally we feel that government has listened to our recommendations. Whilst they’ve not implemented everything we believe necessary to trade our way into recovery, these measures will go some way to making travel for fully vaccinated travellers less stressful and a smoother experience than they’ve had in eighteen months.

“We hope to hear more details on the nuances of the review and to continue collaboration with government and across industry as we move forward into hopefully a new and brighter dawn for all of us working in travel, consumers and businesses reliant on international travel.”

Jason Oshiokpekhai, Global Travel Collection UK managing director, said, “It is a welcome relief to hear the PCR testing circus is coming to an end and pre-departure tests are being scrapped for the fully vaccinated.

“This move reduces the number of hurdles deterring prospective travellers, cuts additional costs to already tight corporate budgets and encourages business travel to move more freely. 

“The news of the two-tiered system is a positive step towards simplifying the over complicated structure we have endured over the year. While we welcome the news, the pitiful pace of progress has irreversibly damaged our course of recovery. 

“For any meaningful resumption of trade, world leaders must unite to create one, global and sustainable travel structure. It is simply not logical to connect the world with disjointed, antiquated travel regulations. Our industry’s capacity to recover remains suppressed until this is overriding issue is resolved.”

Andrew Crawley, American Express GBT’s chief commercial officer, said: “We are pleased the Government is introducing a more streamlined system to minimise confusion and give travellers more confidence. However, waiting weeks to implement reforms means our economy will miss out on billions in revenue that the travel industry could be generating – especially since this is usually one of the busiest periods for business travel. The UK economy is losing more than £4 billion a week due to restrictions hindering recovery. Previous travel system changes have been brought in within days. Why do we have to wait weeks? The Government must do better.”

Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic CEO said: “To ensure that Britain’s global ambitions are met, the vaccination status of those travellers receiving a full dose in countries like India and Hong Kong must be recognised, ensuring they are able to take advantage of the simplified travel rules. Additionally, the red list should focus purely on variants of concern, in order to protect public health, therefore it’s imperative to rapidly and continuously remove countries that don’t pose a threat, in order to open travel back up to countries like South Africa.

“We urge the UK Government to use the Prime Minister’s upcoming visit to the USA to work with the Biden administration to remove transatlantic restrictions for UK citizens, just as the UK has done for US travellers, helping loved ones to reunite safely and businesses to restore ties with our largest trading partner.

“The US already allows entry for travellers from Dubai, Turkey and much of South America for example. With the high rate of vaccination in the UK – 81% of UK adults have received both jabs – there is no reason to deny UK citizens from entering the US safely, and no reason to delay.” 

Sean Doyle, British Airways’ CEO and chairman said: “We welcome the simplification of the traffic light system, and the changes to the testing requirements allowing UK travellers to benefit from our world-leading vaccination programme and finally giving customers and business the confidence to book the journeys they’ve been waiting for.  

“Based on the scientific evidence, with fewer than 1% of people returning from low-risk countries testing positive for Covid (lower than the UK’s rate), we urge ministers to keep this policy under review, eliminating all testing for fully vaccinated travellers as soon as possible in the future, in line with most other European countries.” 

Sir Tim Clark, Emirates’ president, said, “It’s critical that the travel sector and governments across the world continue to work together to rebuild traveller confidence and today’s announcements are a hugely important step towards that. Making international travel simpler and more affordable will not only benefit those desperate to reconnect with loved ones, but will be instrumental in the recovery of the economy.

“We will continue to work with the UK to meet all of its criteria, and hope that those vaccinated in the UAE will soon be considered in the same manner as those vaccinated elsewhere.”

Dale Keller, BAR UK chief executive said, “Moving from the established three traffic light system to a Red list, and a two-tier entry regime for vaccinated or non-vaccinated passengers, brings greater clarity to entry requirements and recognises the vaccination status of an additional 17 countries. This is to be applauded, however the revised system can only work effectively – and without discrimination, when fully vaccinated status is recognised for all travellers to the UK. Testing requirements for many remains costly and excessive, and a significant number of inbound markets for the UK will still remain unfairly treated.

“The UK’s complex and costly travel restrictions decimated passenger volumes over the summer while much of Europe capitalised on vaccination roll-out by rebuilding their connectivity. Today’s announcement is a step towards properly rebalancing international travel risk with the Government’s domestic Covid response, and will enable the UK to begin to claw back lost ground as airlines attempt to rebuild their operations.”

John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow Airport CEO, said: “This simplification of the travel rules is very welcome for businesses and families across the country but the decision to require fully vaccinated passengers to take more costly private lateral flow tests is an unnecessary barrier to travel, which keeps the UK out of step with the rest of the EU. Ministers must continue to work towards friction-free travel for vaccinated passengers.”

Stewart Wingate, Gatwick Airport CEO, said: “This is a significant and welcome step towards recovery…We also welcome the news that Day 2 PCR tests will be replaced with the quicker and more affordable lateral flow tests, which will allow us to start catching up with our competitors in Europe and the US – where passenger numbers are already approaching pre-pandemic levels.

“However, we also hope that the remaining constraints including the passenger locator form can be removed soon and we continue to call for the slot rules to be reinstated to incentivise airlines, increase competition and provide passengers with greater choice and flexibility.”

Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive, said: “Today’s announcement is a good step in the right direction, but it will not in itself be enough to undo two years of damage to the overseas travel industry, caused as a direct result of government policies. Targeted financial support for travel agents and tour operators is the only way to make good this damage and stem further job losses following on from the nearly 100,000 jobs which have already been lost in the outbound travel sector.

“As these new measures apply to England, we urge the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to update their international travel policies as soon as possible.”


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White House plans new system for international travel, contact tracing rules

White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients delivers remarks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 13, 2021. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

WASHINGTON, Sept 15 (Reuters) – (This Sept. 15 story has been refiled to correct spelling error in headline)

The United States is developing a “new system for international travel” that will include contact tracing for when it eventually lifts travel restrictions that bar much of the world’s population from entering the country, a senior White House official said on Wednesday.

White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients told the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board the administration does not plan to immediately relax any travel restrictions citing COVID-19 Delta variant cases in the United States and around the world.

Reuters first reported early in August that the White House was developing vaccine entry requirements that could cover nearly all foreign visitors. The White House previously confirmed it was considering mandating vaccines for foreign international visitors.

“The American people need to trust that the new system for international travel is safer even as we – I mean at that point – we’ll be letting in more travelers,” Zients said on Wednesday, adding it will eventually replace existing restrictions.

“We are exploring considering vaccination requirements for foreign nationals traveling to the United States,” Zients said.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said at the same meeting that the spike in COVID-19 cases is preventing lifting international travel restrictions. “We want to move to a metrics-based system,” Raimondo said. “Before we can do that, we have to get a better handle on the domestic situation, which requires us to get everyone vaccinated.”

Zients said the new plan would replace the current restrictions and would be “safer, stronger and sustainable.” He did not lay out specific metrics for when the administration might relax restrictions.

“Vaccination rates matter here at home and other countries,” Zients said, urging travel companies like airlines to quickly mandate employee vaccines.

Some industry officials fear the Biden administration may not lift travel restrictions for months or potentially until 2022.

The extraordinary U.S. travel restrictions were first imposed on China in January 2020 to address the spread of COVID-19. Numerous other countries have been added, most recently India, in May.

The administration wanted to lift travel restrictions “as soon as we can,” Zients said.


Zients said the new system will include collecting contact tracing data from passengers traveling into the United States to enable the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to contact travelers if exposed to COVID-19.

The Trump administration in 2020 blocked an effort to require airlines to collect contact tracing information from U.S.-bound international passengers after some senior administration officials cited privacy concerns.

Zients said they want the new system to be “ready to press go on” when it is safe to lift restrictions. “We get the importance of this,” Zients said.

The United States currently bars most non-U.S. citizens who within the last 14 days have been in the United Kingdom, the 26 Schengen countries in Europe without border controls, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil.

The United States separately bars non-essential travel by most non-U.S. citizens at U.S. land borders with Mexico and Canada.

Critics say restrictions no longer make sense because some countries with high rates of COVID-19 infections are not on the restricted list while some countries on the list have the pandemic under control.

(This story refiles to correct spelling error in headline)

Reporting by David Shepardson
Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Bernadette Baum and Aurora Ellis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Coronavirus latest news: Travel traffic light system set for shake-up in time for October half term –

Coronavirus latest news: Travel traffic light system set for shake-up in time for October half term

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MAG demands two-tier travel system from government | News

Manchester Airport is calling for the government to introduce a simplified two-tier system for international travel, as fresh data revealed the UK aviation sector is slipping even further behind in its recovery.

It comes as MAG reported that its passenger numbers for August were 68 per cent down on the same month in 2019.

The company is the largest airport group in the UK and owns and operates Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands airports.

Figures also showed that Manchester Airport served roughly 1.5 million passengers between June and August this year, which was only 16 per cent of the almost ten million passengers over the same period in 2019.

This sluggish recovery is despite more than 80 per cent of the adult population being double-vaccinated, compared to a year earlier when the immunisation programme was not even underway.

ONS data from June showed that aviation remains the worst hit UK sector, with activity still more than 90 per cent down on pre-pandemic levels, compared to food and entertainment sectors which have seen a steady increase in business over recent months.

MAG says the traffic light system must be reformed urgently – and ahead of the scheduled October 1st review date – to protect the travel sector through the winter season and restore consumer confidence now for bookings next summer.

It has called on the government to bring in a simplified two-tier system and remove mandatory testing requirements for fully vaccinated arrivals from countries without new, concerning Covid-19 variants.

The introduction of a two-tier system would see the majority of international markets open for travel as the default, with only those countries which pose a significant public health risk from new variants subject to travel restrictions such as testing and a period of quarantine.

This proposal would remove the chaos and confusion caused by the traffic light system and restore consumer confidence by reducing concerns about last-minute changes which have been commonplace this summer.

Along with a simplified system, ending mandatory PCR testing for fully vaccinated passengers would remove a costly and unnecessary barrier to travel and bring the travel policy back in line with Europe.

The government has previously justified the need for these tests because they allow for monitoring of variants among inbound passengers, but the latest government-published data shows that fewer than 30 per cent of positive test results are actually sequenced to identify variants.

Together, these changes would allow for the fuller and more sustainable recovery UK aviation requires as it closes the door on two lost summer periods.

MAG chief executive, Charlie Cornish, said: “Fully-vaccinated British residents can only look on in envy as people across Europe enjoy the freedom to travel easily to low-risk holiday destinations.

“With restrictions almost entirely removed across the UK, now is the time to give people back those freedoms to explore, relax and visit loved ones.

“The over-cautious and unnecessarily complex traffic light system is confusing to customers and places needless barriers in the way of them booking travel.

“The impact that is having on our sector is clear, with traffic levels recovering at a much greater rate across Europe than here in the UK.

“Meanwhile, the rest of the economy has been opened-up to those who are double-jabbed, leaving travel as the only sector whose recovery is being held back for no logical reason.

“A simpler, more sensible approach to international travel must be adopted as soon as possible, and government has the opportunity to deliver that in response to proposals put forward by MAG and others in our sector in the weeks ahead.”

MAG joins both Heathrow and ABTA in calling for an end to the traffic light travel system.

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