Travel news live: Vaccinated travellers head off for Europe amid new quarantine exemption rules

Thousands of travellers arriving in the UK are encountering drastic changes in self-isolation rules.

The main change for British passengers who have been fully vaccinated by the NHS is that they no longer need quarantine for 10 days when arriving from “amber list” countries – such as Spain, Italy, Greece and the US.

The first beneficiaries were aboard British Airways flight 262 from Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, which touched down just 33 minutes after the 4am change in rules. Two more flights from amber list locations, Lagos and New York, had arrived by 6am.

The first ferry to arrive from an amber list location was Stena Line from Hook of Holland to Harwich, which docked at 6.30am.

Passengers must still provide a negative coronavirus test result before departure to the UK, and pre-book a post-arrival PCR test.


Trainline data reveals record bookings for ‘Freedom Day’

Trainline data reveals there are more bookings for travel this Monday than any other Monday in the last 16 months – since the start of the pandemic.

With restrictions lifting in England, more people are planning to travel throughout this week, with bookings up 26 per cent compared to eight weeks ago.

The most popular stations to travel to this week include (in order):

  1. London Euston
  2. London Kings Cross
  3. Edinburgh
  4. Manchester Piccadilly
  5. London Paddington
  6. York
  7. Liverpool Lime Street
  8. Leeds
  9. Newcastle
  10. Birmingham New Street

Helen Coffey19 July 2021 11:32


What travel rules are changing from today?

All legal Covid social distancing and mask-wearing restrictions have been dropped as of 19 July, the so-called Freedom Day, in England, with the government asking instead for Britons to use their own judgement when it comes to evaluating the risk of the disease.

These changes apply to England and relate to activities within its borders.

But what about international travel? Is the traffic light system being dropped alongside obligatory mask-wearing and social distancing? And are any other rules changing from 19 July?

Read our guide for everything you need to know:

Helen Coffey19 July 2021 10:58


American Airlines becomes most mentioned airline operator on Twitter

American Airlines has replaced British Airways as “most mentioned airline operator on Twitter” between April and June 2021, the analytics firm GlobalData reports.

The company was looking at mentions in “influencer conversations” on the social media site.

US airlines headed the table, with American Airlines and Southwest featuring in first and second places.

British Airways was most mentioned in Europe, followed by easyJet.

But India overtook UK airlines, with Air India and Indigo featuring.

Simon Calder19 July 2021 10:43


Jet2 flights resume to amber destinations amid ‘high demand’

Jet2 has restarted flights and holidays to amber destinations across Europe, aimed at enticing fully vaccinated travellers (and children under 18) back onboard.

More than 60 Jet2 flights left UK airports today, to destinations including the Balearics, the Canaries, mainland Spain, Portugal and Greece.

The airline will also start flights later this week to Croatia, after it was added to the green watchlist earlier this week.

It added that it had seen “high demand” from customers who want to escape to green and amber list destinations this summer.

Cathy Adams19 July 2021 09:57


Delays to transport services as drivers are ‘pinged’

There are delays on the London transport network this morning thanks to a shortage of staff as drivers are “pinged”, according to a BBC reporter.

The Central and Metropolitan lines are affected.

Cathy Adams19 July 2021 09:47


Passengers fly off to now amber-listed Balearics

Passengers on the first flight from Glasgow to the Balearics on Monday expressed few concerns about quarantining when they get back despite the islands moving to the UK’s amber travel list.

Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca were moved to amber last week because of a surge in cases; however, many people had already booked to go while they were part of the green list.

As Scotland moved to Level 0 of its coronavirus restrictions, one of those at Glasgow Airport for the 7.15am Jet2 flight was Jacqui Sutherland.

Under the new guidance, people who are fully vaccinated or under 18 and are arriving from an amber list country do not have to self-isolate – but adults and children over 12 must still take tests before travelling and on their second day after arriving.

Ms Sutherland, heading to Ibiza for a week with her partner, told the PA news agency: “We booked when it was on the green (list) and then we did kind of wonder what to do when it moved to amber.

“But because we’re double-vaccinated we don’t have to quarantine.

“My friend is a travel consultant and said that if anything happens they will send flights out to bring you home before it went on to the red.

“That’s why we booked when it was green because if it went to amber we were still OK… a wee bit of a worry but we’re going to go anyway because at the moment it’s all good.

“Both my girls have only got one vaccine so they’re just not going at all because it’s too much of a risk.”


Heathrow hots up

“It’s like someone’s flicked a switch,” a member of staff at Heathrow told The Independent.

“We haven’t seen crowds like this for a year.”

From 4am on Monday, travellers from “amber list countries” who have been fully vaccinated by the NHS are able to return without needing to self-isolate.

As a result, bookings to European countries such as Greece, Italy and Portugal have increased – though high rates of coronavirus mean that many nations are closed to UK travellers.

Bulgaria, the latest addition to the low-risk “green list”, promptly put the UK on its “red list,” rendering holiday visits impossible.

Heathrow, the busiest airport in the UK, is maintaining its requirement for travellers to wear face masks unless exempt – along with the rest of the aviation community.

Simon Calder19 July 2021 09:28


Masks remain mandatory on London transport services

A snapshot of public transport in London on “freedom day,” conducted early on Monday byThe Independent, revealed about 50 per cent of people on a Transport for London (TfL) train, and 80 per cent of passengers on a London bus, were wearing face coverings.

While the government has ended the mandatory wearing of masks in any setting in England, many operators are continuing either to recommend face coverings or to make their use a condition of carriage.

TfL is telling passengers: “You must wear a face covering on the Transport for London network, in stations, and for the whole of your journey. If you do not, and you are not exempt, you could be refused entry, denied travel or told to leave our stations and services.

“This applies on the Tube, bus, tram, DLR, London Overground and TfL Rail networks.

“TfL also expects and recommends the continued use of face covering in taxis and private hire vehicles by both drivers and passengers unless they are exempt.

“Exemptions apply for age, health and disability reasons.”

Simon Calder19 July 2021 09:07


Irish ferry operator welcomes new travel rules

Travellers “don’t quite seem to be able to believe they can travel freely to and from Ireland again,” according to a leading ferry operator.

From today fully vaccinated passengers from Great Britain can travel to Ireland without testing or quarantine in either direction.

Simon Palmer, communications manager for Stena Line’s Irish Sea operations, said: “Finally families divided by the Irish Sea are now able to see each other for the first time in almost a year and a half.

“There is a still a lot of uncertainty with passengers who don’t quite seem to be able to believe they can travel freely to and from Ireland again. So while bookings are up, they are not at the peak summer levels we normally receive.

“However, international travel takes a bit of time to organise, particularly for families, so we fully expect that once more people realise travel to Ireland is operating again, we will soon see an increase in passengers, pets and packed cars.”

Simon Calder19 July 2021 09:07


Quarantine exemption begins today

The quarantine exemption for double-vaccinated Britons returning to England, Wales and Scotland today from amber countries will take effect.

It means anybody arriving from now amber-listed Balearics, or elsewhere in Europe, will follow “green” rules: one pre-departure lateral flow test and a day two PCR test.

Cathy Adams19 July 2021 09:00

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