Travel rules for flying in the UK: How to stay safe from coronavirus in the air and at the airport

After almost two years of restrictions and what seems like a never-ending lockdown, things are finally starting to look up.

The thought of packing a suitcase and travelling to the airport to catch some sun is one which I’m sure we all crave. However if you’re jetting off this year, being surrounded by strangers in a confined space for hours might seem like a scary idea.

Coming into contact with shared facilities, such as the toilets, could mean you risk catching and spreading the virus through touching a contaminated surface, but in a bid to reassure worried passengers, airlines have introduced safety protocols to ensure the risk of contracting covid remains a low risk.

Some of these protocols include social distancing, reducing food and drink services and ensuring face coverings are worn on board. In addition to these, some airports have also implemented touch-free check in and body temperature cameras.

To help, we’ve gathered the best tips from ‘Which?’ to ensure you can relax whilst going on holiday.

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Choose an airline whose coronavirus protocols you trust


Health and safety protocols will vary depending on which airline you fly with.

‘Which?’ reports that Ryanair won’t automatically seat you with your household, unless you pay for pre-selected seats. This is despite EU Covid-19 guidance calling on airlines to limit passengers’ contact with strangers and modify the seat allocation process accordingly.

Ryanair denied any suggestion that it has intentionally split up groups travelling together, stating that its seating policy ‘remains unchanged’ during the pandemic.

So if you are able to select a seat, it’s said that you should choose one by the window as it attracts less germs than the aisle seat, which people touch as they walk past or when getting in and out of their seat row.


The government is advising passengers to check as much luggage into the hold as possible in order to limit movement within the cabin. Ryanair, however, is encouraging customers to bring carry-on bags.

A spokesperson for Ryanair said hold luggage would ‘significantly increase the risk of COVID-19 ’ as it has to pass through eight different sets of hands, from check-in to the boarding gate.

Before booking, please check your airlines rules before you book.

Take your own cleaning products

It’s been reported that Ryanair are relying on just one clean per day as the chemicals they use are said to provide 24 hours of protection.

However virologist at University College London, Greg Towers, says: “More cleaning equals less risk. I don’t know what cleaning Ryanair is doing, but I doubt there’s a way of preventing the virus getting on door handles or killing it with some previous cleaning protocol”.

Due to situations such as this, Dr Wilson-Howarth advises carrying alcohol wipes to clean the tray table and high-risk areas including the toilet door handle.

And just in case the hand sanitiser dispensers aren’t contactless, it’s also best to bring your own.

Temperature checks

While some airports are trialling body temperature cameras to screen people as they move through the airport, the EASA has warned there’s little evidence of their effectiveness.

According to the Office for National Statistics, up to 80% of people who test positive for coronavirus don’t display symptoms meaning their temperature may read as normal despite having the virus.

For the 20% that aren’t asymptomatic, it can take between four and seven days to develop a fever after exposure. Therefore, these trials are reportedly no longer continuing.

Still, there’s no harm in checking your own temperature just in case you do have a fever as if you do, you may be denied boarding. ‘Which?’ recommend taking out comprehensive travel insurance to protect against this scenario.

Switch on the overhead fan

Airlines’ hospital-grade high-efficiency particulate air filtration systems (HEPA) on planes is said to remove 99.9% of impurities, including bacteria and viruses, renewing cabin air every two to three minutes.

Professor Sally Bloomfield, at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, suggests switching on the overhead fan as it can enables you to breathe air directly from above rather than that of the people seated around you, thus reducing the risk of catching the airborne virus.

Travel at quieter times – if possible

If you’re flexible, it’s best to fly at the quieter times as there will obviously be less people and therefore a lower risk.

Flights are normally at their quietest on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Other options are to travel very early in the morning or late at night when flights are often not so full.

Wear a mask over your nose and mouth – and bring spares

Those with certain medical conditions are exempt as well as children though the cut-off age varies by airline.

When you bring your own covering, bear in mind that European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control advises that medical masks should be worn when a minimum distance of 1.5 metres from others can’t be guaranteed.

According to WHO, you should not use the mask when it becomes damp, nor should you reuse it.

Throw it away immediately when you remove it to eat or drink and replace with a fresh one afterwards. Additionally, make sure they cover the face from the bridge of the nose to the chin.

A mask which does not fit correctly can result in the person constantly touching their mask and face to fix it – potentially leading to an increase in transmission.


Please check whether the country you’re flying to requires a certain type of mask for entry as its being reported that passengers are being denied boarding for not having the correct face mask.

Travelers entering Italy, for example, are required to wear a surgical or FFP2 mask. This information can be hard to find online so before flying, check with your airline or pack several different types of mask, including a surgical or FFP2 mask, so that you’re covered.

Avoid touching everything

According to The New England Journal of Medicine, coronavirus can live on stainless steel and plastic surfaces for up to 72 hours.

Measures are already in place to make airports as touch-free as possible with passengers being asked to self-scan passports and use ‘bag drop’ and eGate facilities to keep contact to a minimum.

To keep the new system as stress-free as possible, it may be worth downloading the airline app before you travel as it means you can check in online and download your boarding pass to your phone.

A great tip is also to download newspapers, books and magazines to read rather than buying them in airport shops and bring your own empty refillable water bottle which you can fill it up once you’ve past security.

GP and travel health writer, Dr Jane Wilson-Howarth, warns that airport ATMs are likely to be a ‘highly contaminated’ surface and recommends that you bring enough cash for your journey and use contactless payment where possible.

What are the high-risk contamination zones at the airport?

  • ATM Machine
  • Passport check-in desk
  • Shop payment terminal
  • Children’s play area
  • Staircase rails
  • Security check tray area

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Tip your favourite themed UK trail for the chance to win a holiday voucher | Travel

A themed trail can turn a walk into an adventure, keep children occupied and be educational, too – and we’re keen to hear your favourites. Whether it’s a child-friendly Gruffalo trail or an arty route following sculptures along the coast, a literary trail tracing the haunts of an author, or a historic walk, we want to know about it. They might be trails you’ve found in a guidebook, downloaded on an app or invented yourself – send us the web link if necessary.

If you have a relevant photo, do send it in – but it’s your words that will be judged for the competition.

Keep your tip to about 100 words

The best tip of the week, chosen by Tom Hall of Lonely Planet, will win a £200 voucher to stay at a Sawday’s property – the company has more than 3,000 in the UK and Europe. The best tips will appear on the Guardian Travel website, and maybe in the paper, too.

We’re sorry, but for legal reasons you must be a UK resident to enter this competition.

The competition closes on 29 June at 9am BST

Have a look at our past winners and other tips

Read the terms and conditions here

If you’re having trouble using the form, click here. Read terms of service here.

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UK travel regulations: Why the ‘traffic light system’ has angered the travel industry

(CNN) — “Are we following the data? It appears not,” read the subject line of the marketing email that landed in inboxes this month.

“How many Border Force officials does it take to process a fully immunized British subject returning from a country with no worse infection rates than the UK? Just the same as an unvaccinated passenger coming in from almost anywhere,” it continued.

It then included a table of Covid-19 caseloads and vaccination rates for five countries — Malta, USA, Canada, Portugal and Spain — all of which showed lower case rates than the UK.

It reads like an angry blog post; but this was a marketing email to customers of Trailfinders, one of the UK’s largest travel agents.

Following the rant, the email went on to trumpet the company’s award-winning service and “unrivaled financial protection and support,” and listed their latest offers.

The email — sent June 9 and written by Trailfinders’ owner, Mike Gooley, was perhaps the most public reaction of the travel industry’s anger against the UK government’s Covid-19 travel restrictions.

Having spent months drawing up a “traffic light system” to grade countries red, amber or green by risk level, and imposing testing and quarantine regulations to match, the government launched the regulations on May 7, but appeared to make a U-turn in its first update to the scheme less than a month later.

On June 3, destinations such as Malta, Greece and Grenada were widely expected to turn green — meaning anyone arriving from those places would avoid quarantine.

But instead, the government didn’t add a single country to the green list. And they went further, downgrading Portugal — the UK’s only real tourist destination on the green list — to the amber list, meaning passengers traveling from there must now quarantine for 10 days at home.

That wasn’t supposed to happen, either; green countries on the turn towards amber were supposed to first be added to a “green watch list,” giving adequate warning that a destination might be able to change color — to “give passengers more certainty,” it was announced at the time.

Instead, the government “started to tear up the rule book at the first opportunity,” says Simon McNamara, country manager for the UK and Ireland at IATA, the International Air Transport Association.

“It was widely expected that some countries would be added [on June 3],” he says. “And they said they’d have an early warning.”

Announcing the update on June 3, the UK’s transport minister, Grant Shapps, called it a “safety-first approach.”

Instead, McNamara insists, the government “did precisely the thing they said they wouldn’t, and created chaos.”

The last straw

A man wearing a face mask walks past people enjoying a day at Parede beach in Cascais in the outskirts of Lisbon on May 26, 2020

Portugal’s removal from the green list drew fury from the travel industry.


Not just chaos; anger, too. The travel industry — crippled worldwide by the Covid-19 pandemic — was already feeling febrile. But Portugal’s removal from the green list tipped many industry workers over the edge.

Hence that email from Trailfinders to its 1.2 million clients.

“The traveling public deserve the facts,” says Trailfinders CEO Toby Kelly when asked why the company sent the email written by Mike Gooley.

“We have been told that the traffic light decisions have been based on data. Both the data and methodology must be made public. We wanted [our clients] to look at the data and draw their own conclusions.”

A spokesperson for the UK’s Department of Transport told CNN the traffic light system is decided by ministers, who go by risk assessments created by the Joint Biosecurity Center. Factors include genomic surveillance capability, transmission risk and variant risks. A summary is posted on the government’s website.

But Kelly says that isn’t enough.

“Confidence in travel was dealt a heavy blow when Portugal came off the green list, as it suggested countries will come on and off without obvious rationale.

“If travelers understand that cases in other countries are lower, or as low as the UK’s and immunization levels are similar, or greater, then they may feel more confident about booking travel for the months ahead.

Kelly says he felt “confused, frustrated, disappointed” when Portugal was removed from the green list.

He’s not the only one.

“The only thing I can put it down to is that there’s a lot of fear in society, and a lot of scaremongering, and I do feel the government are playing to that,” says Julia Lo Bue-Said, CEO of the Advantage Travel Partnership, the UK ‘s largest independent consortium of travel agents.

“Otherwise there’s no logic. And in the absence of transparency, it leads you to wonder.”

She points to summer 2020, when the UK’s list of “travel corridors” allowed people to fly in and out of the country with neither tests nor quarantine.

“We’ve vaccinated 50% of the adult population — how can we possibly be in a worse position now than last year?,” she asks.

“I feel travel has been sacrificed because [the government is] prioritizing opening up the UK. Other European countries haven’t done that, and it’s an extreme approach which has been to the detriment of the travel sector,” says Paul Charles, travel PR and CEO of the PC Agency, who’s become known on Twitter for predicting which destinations will end up on which list. Despite his data-crunching of infection and vaccination rates, so far, he’s been largely wrong.

What went wrong?

The penguin-inhabited Falkland Islands are among the unlikely destinations on the UK's green list.

The penguin-inhabited Falkland Islands are among the unlikely destinations on the UK’s green list.

Charlene Rowland/CNN

So how did they get here?

After a disastrous bout with Covid-19 in the first year of the pandemic — Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “deeply sorry” when the UK became the first country in Europe to pass 100,000 deaths on 26 January — the UK seemed to be turning a corner.

Its super-fast vaccine drive won plaudits across the world — more than 42 million of its 53 million population have now received at least one dose — and its policy of delaying the second dose by three months, instead of the two weeks initially planned, has been copied by other European countries, who at first had raised eyebrows.

Its travel policy has been less straightforward.

Unlike many countries around the world who closed their borders, or implemented quarantine or testing systems at the start of the pandemic, the UK was allowing anyone to enter from anywhere in the world, without any testing or quarantine, for the first few months.

In June 2020, it imposed a blanket 14-day quarantine on anyone arriving from a destination not classed as “low risk” — the travel corridors.

Then, following the discovery of the UK variant in December 2020, which led to countries around the world banning arrivals from the UK, the government made testing a requirement in January 2021. Non-essential travel was swiftly declared illegal, with fines of £5,000 ($7,000) introduced in March 2021 for those caught at an airport trying to flee the country without an adequate reason.

But while the restrictions were increasing, the travel industry was looking to the future. In February, the UK government set up a travel “taskforce” to construct a “framework for a safe and sustainable return to international travel” with an aim of restarting on May 17.

The taskforce consulted with travel industry professionals — from airlines to tour operators — and the result was the traffic light system. It was announced on May 7, but the number of countries on the green list was already looking low — it mainly comprised destinations that don’t accept UK tourists (such as Australia and New Zealand) and smaller destinations not suitable for mass tourism, such as the Falkland Islands and the Faroes.

Gibraltar, Israel and Portugal were the only sunshine destinations on the list — but the current conflict in Israel ruled it out for many, and at just 2.625 square miles, the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar is hardly a mass tourism destination.

Airlines swiftly laid on flights to Portugal by the bucketload, and nonessential travel became legal again on May 17.

But the race to the Portuguese sun lasted just 17 days, when the update came through and Portugal was moved onto the amber list. Passengers were given four days notice to get back, or spend 10 days in quarantine on their return.

Rising variants despite vaccinations

A man draws the curtains in his room at the Radisson Blu hotel after arriving at Heathrow airport and going into quarantine on February 15, 2021

Quarantining at the Radisson Blu hotel, Heathrow — a necessity for red list passengers.

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

With infection rates on the rise despite the vaccination progress — case numbers had soared by 78% in the week leading up to June 18, leading Italy to slap a five-day quarantine on arrivals from the UK, and the EU to keep it off its “white list” of approved destinations — things are looking a little less rosy in Great Britain than they were.

Johnson was criticized for not adding India to the red list on April 9, when he added neighboring countries Pakistan and Bangladesh, as the situation spiraled there. Instead, he waited till April 23.

“They should have put India on the red list at the same time as Pakistan and Bangladesh. Since then, we’ve had this three-week period in which thousands of people have returned from India and that probably includes hundreds of the new variant Covid cases,” Yvette Cooper, a lawmaker with the opposition Labour party, told the BBC’s “Andrew Marr Show.”

The Delta variant, first discovered in India, is now dominant in the UK and leading what scientists are calling a third wave that was already brewing when the government pulled Portugal off the green list.

In fact, Labour goes one step further than the Conservative government and is calling for the abolition of the amber list. If a country isn’t green, they say, it should be on the hotel quarantine list.

A spokesperson for the UK’s Department for Transport told CNN:

“The decision not to add any countries to the green list and to move Portugal to the amber list has been taken in light of variants of concern and emerging mutations.

“England is taking a cautious approach to opening up international travel, to protect the UK from seeding new infections at a time where infection rates are low and the vaccine roll-out is ongoing.”

“The government always said they reserved the right to act quickly, but it’s very opaque,” argues IATA’s Simon McNamara. “This is politics driving it, not data or science.”

His theory? That allowing vacations while the UK itself wasn’t yet fully out of lockdown was bad optics. “Reopening international travel didn’t look good, so they tore up the rulebook — and now we have the absurd situation where every industry has some kind of certainty [about when restrictions will end] with the exception of international travel,” he says.

“Nightclubs and bars have been promised that July 19 is the endpoint [postponed from June 21] but there’s no such clarity for international travel. That’s incredibly frustrating for a business trying to plan the future. Running an airline is a complicated business.

“It’s created chaos. Understandably all the energy has gone out of the window and we’re now almost back to where we were in March.”

Tourists are going elsewhere

President Joe Biden was in Cornwall this month -- but other Americans are avoiding the UK.

President Joe Biden was in Cornwall this month — but other Americans are avoiding the UK.

Andrew Parsons/No10 Downing Street

It’s not just travel companies and airline insiders ruing the UK’s cautious approach. Patricia Yates, director of strategy and communications at Visit Britain, the national tourism body, worries that the UK’s restrictions means it is lagging behind other countries in the rush to pick up tourists ready to travel again.

International tourism brought £28 billion ($39 billion) to the UK every year pre-pandemic; this year, it’s forecast that figure will drop to just £6 billion ($8.3 billion).

And with European countries making a play for the high-spending American visitors who’d normally spend time in Britain, it’s possible that those willing to travel at the moment might bypass their usual London layover and head straight to more welcoming countries.

“You can see countries all around the world looking at how they rebuild their tourism industry — they’re investing hugely and looking first at markets they want to attract, then at how they flex their border policies to attract the high-spending markets,” she says.

“The worry as a tourism board is that we’re going to go into a market that’s so competitive when there’s still uncertainty at the moment.

“Americans are really worried — a lot of Americans had holidays pushed back, people have vouchers they need and want to spend. There’s a considerable appetite to travel, and it’s our most valuable market. And they can see other countries opening to Americans.”

At the recent G7 summit held in the UK, US President Joe Biden and Boris Johnson agreed to establish a transatlantic taskforce to look at restarting travel between the two countries.

John Bevan, divisional senio vice president of the Dubai-based Dnata Travel Group, which owns multiple global travel brands including Travelbag, Travel Republic and Destination Asia as part of the Emirates Group, says that London this summer will miss the wealthy Middle Eastern visitors who traditionally spend the summer in the British capital.

“The Emirati community who come, spend heavily in the shops and restaurants is just not going to be there. Those entire hotel floors taken up by single families are not going to be there. They’re not going to do a 10-day hotel quarantine — they just won’t come. It’s shocking for London.”

Lo Bue-Said says it’s not just London. “Our city centers are on their knees, our meeting spaces are empty. They depend on inbound travel.”

The travel industry waited… and waited

Usually Brits are surfing travel sites for inspiration -- but not anymore.

Usually Brits are surfing travel sites for inspiration — but not anymore.


Bevan says that the UK travel industry had respected the restrictions to such an extent that they hadn’t been taking bookings.

“We were resolute through the third lockdown. Most businesses told clients, ‘We’re not going to book you before July.’ We actually turned away bookings.

“But as the government banged the drum heavier and heavier — they did the taskforce, they did the traffic light system — we thought, they’re going to listen. But that watch list never appeared.

“I suppose if you looked at the language they use, they always said they’d do their best so it’s not like they promised they would — but still, it was implied. And then they put Portugal on [the green list] and then did exactly the thing that we didn’t want to do — the u-turn.

“We appeared to be hitting the numbers as per the targets given by the government, yet they kept pushing the goalposts back. And the taskforce spent time with qualified people from the industry, yet they didn’t implement what they discussed.

“I think [the traffic light system] can work, and should have. The watch lists were a great idea to buy time.”

Paul Charles disagrees. “The traffic light system which was created as a simple tool has been ruined by the government and may well be dead because consumers have lost confidence in it.”

Bevan agrees that consumer confidence has plummeted in the wake of the Portugal debacle.

“Demand has been lowest in the past three weeks than at any point [during the pandemic]. People aren’t even looking anymore — I’ve never known anything as bad, or such low interest in searching.

We always get a lot of people in inspiration mode looking around, but the government has done a great job in stomping that out. Their negative ‘don’t go on holiday’ messaging has been very successful.”

The Emirates Group’s annual report, published June 15, showed a 96% drop in revenue for its travel services division, plunging the company into its first ever annual loss.

It has gone from a profit of $456 million in the financial year before Covid, to a loss of $6 billion. The figures include Emirates airline, and its cargo and ground-handling services, as well as Dnata’s tour operators and booking sites.

The fightback begins

Planes due to take tourists from the UK to Mallorca (pictured) have been rerouted to service Berlin.

Planes due to take tourists from the UK to Mallorca (pictured) have been rerouted to service Berlin.

AFP via Getty Images

After months of waiting, the UK’s travel industry has had enough. On June 23 — five days before the next traffic light list update, scheduled for June 28 — they’re holding a lobbying day, where industry workers around the country will lobby their MPs (parliamentarians) and hold events in London, Edinburgh and Belfast.

In the English capital, MPs have agreed to meet concerned constituents.

For Julia Lo Bue-Said, it’s an opportunity to finally speak with Grant Shapps, the beleaguered transport secretary, who former British Airways boss and current IATA Director General Willie Walsh labeled “minister for no transport” in a recent interview, adding that the traffic light system was “stuck on red,” calling the government’s behavior “disgraceful,” and predicting that “the rest of the world is going to… overtake the UK.”

Shapps is Lo Bue-Said’s MP — so under the rules of the UK Parliament she is entitled to seek his help as a local constituent as well as as an industry executive reaching out in his ministerial capacity. But she says that despite contacting him “numerous” times despite the pandemic, he’s never agreed to a meeting, sending back “template letters” instead.

“I remain hopeful that he will respond and agree to meet me on June 23,” she says.

“The reality is that we’re in a pandemic, so clearly we respect that, and we agree that public health is of paramount importance. But the travel sector has been shut down for 15 months, now. And because of the way travel businesses operate, earn and plan [operators generally earn their money after the client has traveled] it’s put extraordinary pressure on business owners.

“A lot of my members are small businesses — families who’ve effectively worked through their life savings now and can’t see the wood for the trees.

“They haven’t been given the opportunity to trade through to recovery, and they’re not getting appropriate support from the government.”

She says that when restrictions do eventually lift, the UK travel landscape could look very different.

Already, budget airline easyJet has pulled some of its planes from the UK to Germany. Planes destined to take Brits to Mallorca have been moved to Berlin, instead.

EasyJet said in a statement: “We are seeing European governments are progressively opening up using frameworks in place which enable travel and much of it restriction-free.

“And this relaxation and removal of restrictions has sparked a positive booking momentum across Europe, with the majority of our bookings showing a strong swing towards Europe when in normal times it would be a 50/50 split with the UK.

“Europe is demonstrating that a safe reopening of travel is possible and so we continue to urge the UK Government to do so urgently.”

An easing of the rules?

Relaxing the restrictions would likely put an end to Heathrow's current ghostly appearance.

Relaxing the restrictions would likely put an end to Heathrow’s current ghostly appearance.

Hollie Adams/Getty Images

There might be light at the end of the tunnel, however. On Thursday, rumors surfaced that the UK might be considering a scheme similar to that of many European countries, which allows double-vaccinated travelers to skip quarantine, even from an amber list destination, from the end of July.

Jesse Norman, financial secretary to the Treasury, who’s married to venture capitalist Kate Bingham who headed up the UK’s vaccine strategy, seemed to confirm it, saying in an interview on Sky News that it is “being considered… we don’t want to get left behind by countries which may be adopting a two-jabs approach if it can be done safely, carefully and securely.”

But a government spokesperson refused to comment to CNN.

There’s one other string to the UK’s bow, too, says Visit Britain’s Patricia Yates: the G7 Summit.

Held on the beach in England’s southernmost county, Cornwall, delegates including President Biden, Japan’s Prime Minister Suga and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen were photographed daily on the beach. Press conferences and photoshoots took place in front of turquoise waters. The delegates’ spouses were taken to a performance at the open-air Minack Theater, etched into a clifftop, and the whole party enjoyed dinner in a biosphere at the Eden Project, which champions sustainability.

“The photos just looked stunning — people were saying to me, ‘That looks like Thailand,'” says Yates, adding that their social media accounts saw “a lot of pick up,” especially from Japan, the US and Australia. The summit displayed a Britain that’s “more informal, not stiff, and showcasing the countryside,” she says.

The blow to consumers

Maldives Hurawalhi

When Brits finally manage to get away, they might find destinations such as the Maldives have become more expensive.

courtesy Hurawalhi

Even if restrictions ease, though, it might be too late.

Lo Bue-Said fears that prices will end up rising for UK travelers.

“We speak to our counterparts in different parts of the world, they now have Germans, Italians, other Europeans traveling. UK consumers will be left behind — hotels are contracting for the summer season, but there are no guarantees that Brits will arrive so they’re going to the Europeans. Which inevitably will not only mean a scramble for the right products, but also prices will increase.”

IATA’s McNamara agrees: “The UK has already lost its lead but will lose even further. On June 28 we want to see that policy changed.”

Of course, easing the restrictions is likely to result in a rise in case numbers, as has already been seen in the rocketing numbers since the domestic lockdown was lifted.

“The government seems to be going for a zero-risk strategy, but nothing is zero risk — everything has a little risk in it,” says McNamara. “Aviation is not a zero-risk business, but it’s managed amazingly well and as a result it’s the safest mode of transport.

“Yes, there will be some cross-border transmission, but there’s no reason why we can’t take a similar approach to this risk.”

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Let the Vaccinated Travel, UK Air Industry Demands | World News

LONDON (Reuters) – The aviation industry on Monday demanded that Britain removes COVID testing and isolation requirements for fully vaccinated travellers from most countries, a step already being taken in the European Union to help tourism recover.

Airlines UK said in a letter to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps that fully vaccinated travellers from “amber” destinations should be exempt from the 10-day isolation requirement, while those coming from both “amber” and “green” countries should not need to have expensive PCR tests.

“Given the incredible efficacy of vaccines and their critical role in easing domestic restrictions, we believe that the framework can safely be adjusted to provide a pathway for vaccinated people to travel without restriction, alongside steps to reduce restrictions for green and amber categories, making them more proportionate for travellers,” the group said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that travellers would face hassle and delays this year if they sought to go abroad because the priority would be keeping the country safe from the coronavirus.

Data confirming that vaccines are more than 90% effective against hospitalisation from the fast-growing Delta variation should be considered when measures that apply to each tier of Britain’s traffic light system for travel are reviewed on June 28, it said.

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“This effectiveness has been recognised by Europe, which is now opening its travel and leisure markets by introducing waivers from testing and isolation requirements for fully vaccinated persons, including arrivals from major markets such as the United States,” it said.

“Today 32 countries exempt travellers from quarantine and 27 from testing if fully vaccinated. The failure to adopt a similar approach risks the UK falling further behind the EU’s reopening of international travel, including the critical trans-Atlantic market.”

Popular European holiday destinations for Britons, including Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and Greece, are currently rated “amber”, which require returning passengers to take three COVID-19 tests and isolate for 10 days on return.

The 11 countries and territories rated “green” require two tests for passengers, including those who are fully vaccinated.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.

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10 of the best piers and promenades in the UK: readers’ travel tips | Beach holidays

Winning tip: Bangor, Gwynedd

Bangor pier holds many memories for us. It’s the place where my husband lost his car keys 50 years ago. Luckily those were the days when you could hotwire a car (or in this case minivan) to start it. We return there often. The pier has breathtaking views of the Menai straits on one side and to the Great Orme behind Llandudno on the other. In front is beautiful Anglesey; turn round for wonderful views of Snowdonia. It is a pier that is unrivalled anywhere. It has refreshments and ice-cream too!

Southport, Merseyside

Southport Pier
Photograph: George W Johnson/Getty Images

School holidays were punctuated by sealing the plastic over Merseyrail travelcards to begin an adventure with Dad. Liverpool, Birkenhead, Formby – each offered something. Southport always won, though. After walking through manicured (accessible) gardens and the buzz of Silcocks arcade, the 161-year-old Grade II-listed pier feels like the start of further adventures. Smugly spy Blackpool’s tower from a tranquil viewpoint on clear days. Appreciate the bleakness on gloomy days, as you almost disappear into the sea. Time-travel in the Victorian penny arcade. More recently, I took Dad to Southend from my London home. “It’s no Southport,” he lamented. I agreed.
Louise Robinson

Worthing, West Sussex

Worthing Pier from Marine Parade
Photograph: @imagesBV/Alamy

Worthing pier is unfussy, uncommercialised, and beautifully preserved. It has a wonderful Southern Pavilion, a modest central amusement arcade and the lovely Pavilion theatre at the landward end. The pier is one of a few that I know of that still allow anglers to add to the overall scene. Worthing promenade is wonderfully unspoiled in comparison with the raucous and rowdy seafront nightmare that is Brighton, and the pier is the jewel in the crown. Free access.
Mark Sumner


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Guardian Travel readers’ tips

Every week we ask our readers for recommendations from their travels. A selection of tips will be featured online and may appear in print. To enter the latest competition visit the readers’ tips homepage

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Ullapool, Scottish Highlands

Ullapool seen from Calmac ferry
Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

The “wee pier” at Ullapool extends into the clear waters of Loch Broom. Surrounded by an amphitheatre of hills, this makes the perfect backdrop to sit and fish for mackerel that glitter and glisten in the sunlight like a disco ball. Following recent redevelopment, three rockpools have been installed at different tidal zones to provide an opportunity for the whole community to learn more about the marine life that calls this place in the Highlands home.
Vanessa Wright

Lyme Regis, Dorset

Lyme Regis Cobb
Photograph: travellinglight/Alamy

It has to be the wonderfully windswept Cobb at Lyme Regis. Each time I go I’m reminded of Tennyson’s words: “Don’t talk to me of the Duke of Monmouth; show me the exact spot where Louisa Musgrove fell.” It’s an absolute must for fans of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. There’s also something about a French Lieutenant’s Woman! The pretty town is full of interesting fossil shops and delicious homemade fudge.

Portstewart, County Derry

Fishing Boat sculpture by Niall O’Neill, Portstewart.
Fishing Boat sculpture by Niall O’Neill, Portstewart. Photograph: Travelib Culture/Alamy

Portstewart promenade in Northern Ireland is a classically simple seaside affair. Traditional Italian ice-cream made for a century on offer – tick. Fish and chip shops – tick. Bucket and spade shop – tick. Delicious craft coffee to be enjoyed while the kids undertake hours of “daring” rock walks or dipping toes in the sea – tick. Sightings of porpoises and fishing boats heading out of the harbour – tick. Beautiful sunsets, ever-changing waves and happy people from all walks of life watching them – tick. No entry requirements or pre-booking needed. Enjoyed since Victorian times but still not out of fashion. Our happy place.

Arnside, Cumbria

The village of Arnside with its pier on the River Kent estuary in Cumbria
Photograph: John Davidson Photos/Alamy

Perhaps this is not one of our most impressive costal structures: it is a simple stone jetty. But it has wonderful views of Morecambe Bay and the Lakeland fells. There is a real sense of escape from the mainland, which is the essence of the appeal of piers, and chips and ice-cream are close at hand! I took my elderly parents there last September. Covid cases were on the rise in the north-west and I had a feeling I may not see them for a long time. That was the case, but the memories of lunch on Arnside pier have been sustaining.

Pier Bae Colwyn/Colwyn Bay Pier, Conwy

A sculpture on Colwyn Bay’s promenade.
A sculpture on Colwyn Bay’s promenade. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

As a teenager, I spent many hours on this pier – amusement arcade, Slush Puppies, record fairs, sixth-form socials. It was long past its best then but familiar and loved. After I left home, our beloved pier fell into disrepair, was sold and years of ownership dispute and deterioration ensued. Colwyn Victoria Pier Trust preserved it. The pier was dismantled, leaving the original stanchions. Victorian ironwork was salvaged and restored, and a short pier has risen, including the ironwork and replica lighting. Opening soon, it is a fantastic achievement, breathing new life into the regeneration of the Bay of Colwyn.
Vitti Allender

Aberystwyth, Ceredigion

A murmuration of starlings over Aberystwyth pier.
A murmuration of starlings over Aberystwyth pier. Photograph: Paul_Cooper/Getty Images

The town’s glorious promenade sweeps past its North and South beaches with their attractive seafront terraces. In between, it snakes alongside castle ruins, a striking statue-topped war memorial and the Grade I-listed Old College building that accommodated Wales’s first university college. Also look out for nine mosaics below the castle’s walls. Completed in 2006, they depict the castle’s history. And then there’s a vibrant mural by Lloyd the Graffiti, incorporating the winning designs from a competition for local young people. It includes a starling – thousands of the birds use the pier as their roost over winter.
Sharon Pinner

Weston-super-Mare, Somerset

Weston-super-Mare's Grand Pier
Photograph: Bernd Brueggemann/Alamy

Like a phoenix from the ashes of a devastating fire back in July 2008, this pier has risen. The pavilion was destroyed, so a competition was held to design a new pier. The winning design updated the old pavilion, while keeping the famous turrets. It is, for me, a happy place full of childhood memories of fairground rides and candy floss. It has now survived a second disaster, the pandemic, and undergone a refit with more cafes, fish and chips, a doughnut factory, the Museum of Memories and the all-important rides.

Article was altered on 19 June as Colwyn Bay is better described as being in Conwy rather than the historic county of Denbighshire which does not share the same borders of the modern county of the same name

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Travel news latest: ‘Encouraging’ signs that UK will ease travel restrictions

Holidays to Amber-listed destinations will be back on from the end of July, under plans to be considered by ministers as early as this week.

It comes as official data revealed government scientists found no evidence of Covid variants in more than 23,000 people tested after arriving from amber list countries – including some in Europe.

Fully vaccinated adults will be allowed to travel to amber countries with their children without having to quarantine under the plans being drawn up by Department for Transport (DfT) officials. Travellers will still face tests to screen for Covid and its variants.

The move would open up popular European holiday destinations to families that are currently amber including Spain, Greece, France and Portugal although ministers are not expected to introduce any changes until August.

Charles Hymas has the full story.

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COVID-19: Travel restrictions are a ‘trade-off’ and holidays as normal this summer ‘was never going to be the case’, says justice secretary | UK News

Foreign holidays as normal this summer “was never going to be the case”, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has said as he defended the government’s COVID travel policy.

Mr Buckland said “significant trade-offs” have had to be made to ensure COVID cases are kept down, with international travel restricted to “prevent inadvertent spread of new variants of concern”.

It follows criticism by pilots of the “ludicrously cautious” travel restrictions which they say has caused the UK’s aviation industry to be “the hardest hit in Europe”.

Heathrow Airport has been much quieter than usual due to the pandemic
Heathrow Airport has been much quieter than usual due to the pandemic

Speaking to Sky’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday, Mr Buckland said ministers will continue to be “guided by the evidence” when it comes to travelling abroad.

“Inevitably, in a situation as unprecedented and demanding as this, there are going to have to be significant trade-offs and it’s clear that holidays as normal – or travel as normal – was never going to be the case, bearing in mind the rise of particular variants, most notably the Delta variant,” the justice secretary said.

“Throughout this crisis we’ve tried to strike the right balance between the natural need in some cases for international travel but also the imperative of making sure that we do everything we can at home to contain and prevent inadvertent spread of new variants of concern.

“This is a hugely difficult situation – I think of omelettes and eggs, I’m afraid – but we are doing our very best to maintain that balance with regular reviews of the regulations to allow the maximum flexibility.”

He added: “We’re not standing still on these matters and that will continue guided by the evidence we have.”

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Robert Buckland said international holidays were ‘never going to be the case’

It comes as the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) accused ministers of appearing to “deliberately attack” the sector with the measures they have imposed during the pandemic.

The union is calling on the government to “get its act together” and open “the US routes and European holiday travel destinations” it has blocked with “no published evidence”.

BALPA members will join colleagues from across the aviation and travel industry as part of a nationwide Travel Day of Action on Wednesday, which is designed to put pressure on the UK government to support a “safe return to international travel in time for the peak summer period”.

The union’s analysis of official European air traffic data for June showed that the number of flights into and out of the UK has fallen by three-quarters compared with 2019.

The union said its study showed that Gatwick and Manchester airports were the worst affected in Europe, with Heathrow and Stansted close behind.

BALPA claims figures from the International Air Transport Association world trade body show 860,000 jobs have been lost, or are on furlough and are at risk of being lost, in UK aviation travel and tourism.

Pilots are calling for urgent action from the government
Pilots are calling for urgent action from the government

Brian Strutton, the union’s general secretary, said: “It’s official. The UK aviation industry is the hardest hit in Europe, caused by the UK government’s ludicrously cautious restrictions on international travel.

“Hapless ministers give all the appearance of deliberately attacking aviation and tormenting the public with their mixed messages over summer holidays.

“BALPA is demanding that the UK government gets its act together and opens the US routes and European holiday travel destinations that it has blocked with no published evidence at all.

“If the country is going to build back better from the pandemic and build new international links with partners for trade and travel, we are going to need a thriving aviation industry. There is no time to hide behind taskforces and reviews.”

Wednesday’s “day of action” is designed to put pressure on the UK government to support a “safe return to international travel in time for the peak summer period”.

Gatwick is said t be one of the worst affected airports in Europe
Gatwick is said to be one of the worst affected airports in Europe

The aviation and travel industries want the government to increase the number of countries on the green list while keeping a “strong red list to guard against variants”.

They also want the government to bring forward a package of tailored financial support, including an extension of furlough support, for those working in the sector who may need it.

Those taking part in the day of action are urged to take the message to their MP.

Pilots will also join action at Heathrow, Bristol, Edinburgh and Manchester airports.

A government spokesman said: “We recognise the challenging times facing all sectors of transport as a result of COVID-19, which is why we have put in place an economy-wide support package, including around £7bn of support expected to benefit the air transport sector by September 2021.

“We continue to work with the aviation sector to help them navigate this period, and encourage them to draw on the unprecedented package of support measures available.”

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US UK travel – What’s the latest news?

THERE may be encouraging news for avid travelers before 2021 comes to an end.

People have been unable to fly between the US and UK, but could change within the next few months.

Travelers walk through the Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City


Travelers walk through the Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake CityCredit: AP

US UK travel – What’s the latest news?

People could travel between the US and the UK by September, according to Doctor Anthony Fauci.

Fauci, the chief medical adviser for President Biden, says that it is up to people in the UK to make more progress against the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“I think once they get more and more people vaccinated and get the people who’ve gotten a single dose to make sure they get their second dose, I think the UK is going to be in a very favorable position by the time we get to the end of the summer,” he told ITV News.

The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta


The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in AtlantaCredit: Getty

However, Fauci cautioned that “you really can’t tell because things happen, variants occur, things happen with regards to infection.”

There have been more than $33 million coronavirus cases in the US, with 600,000 deaths. There have been about 4.6 million cases in the UK with more than 125,000 deaths.

When it comes to the US, some states have done better than others in the fight against Covid-19.

Fauci says he has hope the world as a whole will be in better shape soon.

“If we come together as a global community and put resources in to get those countries that don’t have the resources that the UK and the United States have to get those countries vaccinated, I think we can do that by 2022,” he told ITV News.

“If we don’t do it as successfully, it might take a little bit longer because whenever there’s the dynamics of virus, anywhere in the world, there’s always the threat of the emergence of a variant that will come back and complicate things in the UK, as well as in the United States.”

The US is unlikely to meet Biden’s target to have 70 percent of Americans at least partially vaccinated by July 4.

Fauci told reporters that he still hopes the goal will be met “and if we don’t, we’re going to continue to keep pushing.”

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