Summer Holidays

Holidays Ruined for Millions of Brits if Spain and Greece are Forced on to “Amber Plus” List

Reports suggest that the Government is considering demoting both Spain and Greece to the “Amber Plus” List alongside France due to fears over Covid variants, a decision that could ruin the holiday plans of millions of Brits – and not for the first time. MailOnline has the story.

The list effectively strips back ‘Freedom Day’ rules, which allow [fully vaccinated] holidaymakers to return from “Amber List” countries without having to face a mandatory period of self-isolation.

But, just days before the new rules were to be announced, the Government threw tens of thousands of holidays into doubt by revealing that double-jabbed Britons returning from France would still have to quarantine.

Now Greece and Spain, both of which are currently on the Amber List, could follow France onto the so-called Amber Plus List.

But, according to figures released by Labour, that could leave an estimated 5,857,558 people facing the prospect of last-minute quarantine requirements – plunging the holidays into “chaos once more”. 

The Government introduced an exemption for the requirement to isolate at home for 10 days for fully-vaccinated holidaymakers returning from countries on the amber list.

But ministers removed the exemption for France amid concerns over the Beta variant, creating what critics call an Amber Plus designation on the traffic light system for foreign travel.

There has been speculation that Greece and Spain could face the same measures as France, though the Government has not confirmed this. …

The opposition estimated the number of people to have booked holidays to those three nations by looking at official data for past travel and adjusting for lower willingness to travel during the pandemic by comparing with surveys.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “The travel list allocations have not changed for Spain or Greece.

“We are closely monitoring the data and will take swift action on travel list allocations and international travel requirements should the data show that countries’ risk to England has changed.”

It comes as holidaymakers faced up to three-hour queues through passport control at Heathrow Airport yesterday after e-gates broke down and the ‘pingdemic’ left just one official at the desks, according to frustrated passengers.

Worth reading in full.

Domestic Holiday Industry Hit by Staff Shortages at Start of Crucial Season

After missing out on so many months of business, the domestic holiday industry had pinned its hopes on this crucial summer season to make up for lost time. But while “Freedom Day” has been reached and lockdown has officially ended, hotels, theatres, cafes and other related businesses are still being forced to close because of staff shortages caused by the “pingdemic“.

Holiday officials in Devon say “we’ve got a crisis” – one that has come at a crucial time and, as such, is having a “devastating impact”. Despite this, the Government has ruled out exempting staff in the hospitality and retail sectors from self-isolation rules. Sky News has more.

As the school holidays begin, [Devon] is predicting a record number of visitors – up 20% on a normal year.

But there are concerns about whether the industry can deliver what tourists need – with many bookings and reservations being cancelled.

“We’ve got a crisis. It’s a crisis that’s come at a critical summer for us. It is resulting in an extreme shortage of staff at very short notice. It’s having a devastating impact which is presenting an urgent situation that is forcing many businesses to actually close in high season,” says Carolyn Custerson, the Chief Executive of English Riviera Bid Ltd which represents the tourism industry in Torbay. …

“This was going to be the summer of a golden opportunity, not just for the English Riviera but the whole of the U.K. because people are taking staycations because they can’t holiday abroad.

“If we don’t sort out what is happening by introducing a test and release process which is what I have been lobbying for, then we will see more and more closures that will impact visitor expectation and their desire to return and that is what I’m most concerned about.” …

More than a dozen businesses have had to close in the last week due to staff shortages.

The WeSup bar and café on Torquay harbour has been forced to shut its kitchen.

“Our customers are so confused,” says owner Sean White.

“The Government and media say we’re coming out of lockdown, hurrah! But actually, they come to a premise like ours and it feels worse than ever – we’ve got no opportunity to supply the product we are supposed to sell.” …

At Babbacombe Theatre, the summer show is ready with a cast of dancers, singers and comedians on the payroll.

But they’ve had to cancel all performances this week as the whole cast is having to isolate. …

Other tourist attractions are at risk of closing.

Kents Cavern – a network of prehistoric caves underneath Torquay – has had three staff ‘pinged’ in the last week.

Owner Nick Powe told Sky News any plans for relaxation in the isolation rules in August will be too late. …

While tens of thousands of tourists are arriving and enjoying the riviera, businesses are concerned that a much-needed summer recovery could be hampered yet again by rising cases and the very technology [that is said to be] protecting us.

Worth reading in full.

Which Countries Could Feature On the Holiday “Green List” This Summer?

The Government has yet to announce which countries will be categorised as “green”, “amber” or “red” on its “traffic light system” when holidays resume this year.

The rules around travel for different countries on the “traffic light system”.

A country’s classification will depend on the proportion of its population that has been vaccinated, as well as on its infection rate and the prevalence of Covid variants. Based on these metrics, the Telegraph has identified seven countries that are likely to feature on the holiday “green list”.

Israel

The country is currently leading the charge when it comes to vaccinations. 58.6% of the adult population has received a first dose, and 54.2% are fully vaccinated. This is likely to be the main metric used by the Government, when building its “green list”. …

Gibraltar

… Bars and restaurants are open again in Gibraltar and face masks are only required on public transport. What’s more, British Airways has just launched flights from London City to Gibraltar, starting from June 25th – indicating the airline is optimistic The Rock will feature on the “green list”. It was also the last “quarantine free” option in 2020. …

Madeira

The island of Madeira is already welcoming travellers who can provide evidence of vaccination. What’s more, case numbers are low in Portugal – 32.55 over a seven day average. The UK, by comparison, is at a similar rate of 29.5 per 100,000. However, the vaccination drive in Portugal lags behind (only 13.6% have received a first dose), making it unlikely that mainland Portugal appear on the “green list” when it is unveiled in May. …

The Caribbean

Since the pandemic began, the Caribbean has been the most reliable corner of the world when it comes to holiday options for Britons. Prior to the UK Government scrapping all travel corridors in January 2021, there were eight Caribbean islands welcoming British travellers, including the likes of Barbados, Cuba, St Lucia and Antigua. All require testing prior to departure or on arrival, or both, as a means to dodge quarantine. Given their willingness to introduce new protocols and their collective heavy reliance on tourism, it is quite possible the islands will start accepting some kind of vaccination certificate as an alternative to a negative test. …

Iceland

As of March 18th, all Britons who have been fully vaccinated against Covid are allowed to travel to Iceland without being subject to PCR testing and quarantine. The exemption also applies to UK travellers who can provide valid proof of prior infection. …

Malta

Malta has said it will reopen to vaccinated British arrivals from June 1st. This, accompanied by the country’s strong vaccination drive (a third of the population has received a first dose) puts Malta high on our green watch list. …

USA

… With London – New York City flight route one of the busiest in the world for business travel, we can expect to see the UK Government prioritising a USA travel corridor in the coming weeks.

Tory MPs Urge Boris Not to Extend Lockdown Restrictions

Mounting pressure is being put on the Prime Minister by his backbenchers not to deviate from his roadmap timetable or impose a blanket ban on foreign travel in response to the resurgence of the virus on the Continent. The Observer has more.

With scientific advisers warning of the risks of overseas holidays in the late spring and summer, figures from across the Conservative party demanded that the prime minister reject an “excess of caution” in reacting to an apparent third Covid wave across the continent.

It comes with cases rising in countries including France, Italy, Spain, Germany and Turkey. Italy has recorded a near-doubling in the past month, while Paris has entered a new month-long lockdown to curb the spread. The government’s roadmap says that overseas travel from England could resume from May 17th at the earliest, should a series of conditions be satisfied. …

With tensions building in the party, a series of Tories said on Saturday that Britain’s successful vaccine programme should allow the government to deploy testing and stricter rules for high-risk countries, rather than prolonging a blanket travel ban. Graham Brady, chairman of the powerful 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs, said: “The success of the British vaccination programme should allow international travel to resume safely. It is very likely that Covid is now an endemic virus – there may be variants for years to come. We need to focus on rational mitigation and not keep resorting to disastrous lockdowns.”

Worth reading in full.