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Travel

‘Far too early’ for Britons to be thinking about booking summer holidays, vaccines minister says

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BBCBreakfast / Twitter

Nadhim Zahawi said that British travellers should not book summer 2021 holidays yet.

Those looking forward to jetting off this summer are warned that it is still ‘far too early’ to be thinking about going away given the rate of the virus in the UK. 

When asked if it was too soon for the public to book holidays, vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi said:

“Absolutely. I think it’s far too early.

“There’s still 37,000 people in hospital with Covid at the moment. It’s far too early for us to even speculate about the summer.”

He later spoke to Times Radio where he said it was still ‘too early’ to know if summer holidays will go ahead. 

There will be a meeting with senior ministers held today to consider further travel restrictions including the possibility of requiring travellers to quarantine at a designated hotel.

It is not clear the exact details of such a measure including how long this would be in place for. 

“There will be an announcement on this issue later on today,” Mr Zahawi said.

BBCBreakfast / Twitter

The BBC reports that ministers are expected to approve the plan to require UK citizens to quarantine in a hotel if they arrive in the country from a high-risk country.

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Zahawi said: “We review our border policy like any other responsible country would – Germany and Canada did a similar thing in January.

“We’ve done that with the pre-departure testing that is now required to enter the UK and of course with passenger locator forms.

“There will be an announcement on this issue later on today, so I can only say to you that it is the right thing to do, because I am the vaccines minister, that as we vaccinate more of the adult population, if there are new variants like the South African or the Brazilian variants, we need to be very careful.

“We acted on those very quickly and of course dealt with travel from those countries, and from Portugal and elsewhere, rapidly so it is important we continue to review our border policy and an announcement will be made when a decision has been taken.

“And of course the industry itself will be engaged with heavily, including (Health Secretary) Matt Hancock engaging with the industry to explain the decision making at health, as well as of course the business department with the Business Secretary.”

Chief executive of Best Western hotel groups told the BBC that the hotel industry was ready to assist the government if they did opt for such a policy. He said the sector was ‘familiar and accustomed to managing Covid-positive customers in our hotels’. 

Mr Paterson added: “From the hotels’ perspective, we would have to treat each of these customers as Covid-positive, so we would have to have strong infection control and protocols around security in the hotel to ensure we can deliver safely.”

An announcement on this from the government is expected to be made on Wednesday. 

Travel

Passport warning issued as travellers told not to book holidays

Thanks to the pandemic, people are experiencing massive delays on their passport renewals

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Caspar Rae & John McArthur / Unsplash

Hopeful holidaymakers have been urged to check their passports as ‘one million holidays’ hang in the balance.

During the Covid pandemic, millions of British passports expired, meaning that many families are now being made to wait much longer than the recommended 5-6 weeks to get their renewed passports back.

Because of this, the government has issued a warning to those planning on getting away this year, stressing that people should not book any holidays until they have their passports back.

The website states: “It is important to stress, you should not book travel until you have a valid passport – your new passport will not have the same passport number as your old one.”

Ethan Wilkinson / Unsplash

The Home Office has also warned Brits to leave more than the recommended ten weeks to get their passports back due to the increased demand.

The website says: “Customers can also help to ensure there are no delays with their application, such as using a high quality photo with a digital code, applying online and applying for a new passport more than ten weeks before they are due to travel.”

Recent reviews on Passport Waiting Time, a site that tracks consumers’ waiting time during applications, has demonstrated the inconsistent and lengthy wait times for a new passport.

One user’s review from last month says she had to wait for more than twelve weeks for two of her family’s passports to be renewed.

She wrote: “Applied for my two children’s renewal 17 Jan and currently still in the processing stage.

Ethan Wilkinson / Unsplash

“I made four applications in Jan and have received two out of four of them. The two I received came within a few weeks, so I don’t understand why it is taking so long.”

And the issue has only been exacerbated further by a rule enforced by a number of different countries requiring travellers to have at least six months left on their passport. 

Under this guidance, passports must be valid for another six months before they depart for international travel to countries such as the UAE, Saint Lucia, Singapore and Thailand. 

For more passport rules and information, visit the Gov.uk website.

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Travel

Airline issues warning to Brits travelling to Spain over new alcohol restrictions

Alcoholic drinks will be restricted for tourists in a number of hotels across the Balearic Islands

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@boothyadventures / Instagram & RawPixel

Those planning a boozy all-inclusive trip to Spain this summer might want to rethink their plans thanks to the country’s new alcohol regulations.

A warning has been issued to holiday-makers who have booked all-inclusive trips to certain parts of Spain enforcing a new ‘alcohol cap‘ in a crackdown on drunken behaviour.

Thomas Cook sent out an email to its customers this week to remind them that hotels in Magaluf, Majorca and some parts of Ibiza are enforcing the new rule, which will see Brits be limited to a certain number of alcoholic drinks throughout the day.

The email read: “Please be advised that a decree has been issued by the Balearic Government on a new restriction for All Inclusive meal option.

Piqsels

“There is a maximum of six alcoholic drinks per person per day that can be served and these drinks will be provided only during lunch and dinner ( 3 each).”

The Balearic government has banned pub crawls, the sale of alcohol in shops between 9.30pm and 8am, and advertisements for party boats in some areas.

Balearic Islands Tourism minister Iago Negueruela has previously said on the matter: “We want British tourists – we don’t want this type of tourism.

“British tourism is essential for our islands. We share with the British government the view that some images of British tourists are embarrassing.

RawPixel

“We want to put a stop to bad behaviour. We will increase the police presence in these areas and the number of inspectors – we will have zero tolerance for tourism excesses.”

Plans to stamp down on public drunkenness and antisocial behaviour in the Balearic Islands have been in the works for quite some time now, with Mallorca’s former politician Jose Ramon Bauza slamming Magaluf’s party strip Punta Ballena as ‘500 metres of shame’.

Most of the new restrictions did come into place in 2020, but due to the Covid pandemic, most holiday-goers are only now discovering them.

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Travel

Greece to scrap all Covid travel restrictions this week ahead of summer holidays

Good news for those wanting a summer holiday this year…

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Thomas Oldenburger & James Ting / Unsplash

Greece will be scrapping all remaining Covid travel restrictions this week in a last-minute attempt to boost tourism.

From May 1st, all arrivals in Greece will no longer be required to provide evidence of vaccination, recovery from Covid, or a test to enter the country, regardless of their vaccination status. 

Brits will no longer need to present a Covid vaccination certificate to enter bars, restaurants and other attractions either.

Face mask rules are also expected to be relaxed by June. 

Johnny Africa / Unsplash

Last month, Greece also scrapped the requirement for Passenger Locator Forms, making it easier for Brits to travel to the country.

However, the lifting of these measures will be re-evaluated in September – after the peak tourist season – and could be reintroduced if cases spike.

Minister of Health Thanos Plevris said in a statement: “According to the epidemiological data and the suggestions of the experts, we are announcing the roadmap for the de-escalation of the measures against the Covid-19 pandemic.

“All measures will be reviewed on September 1st, depending on the picture of the pandemic.”

Greece is one of the first countries to drop all Covid travel requirements for tourists this summer, with other popular destinations still requiring proof of vaccination status or Covid recovery.

James Ting / Unsplash

In Spain, holidaymakers will need to show proof of either being fully vaccinated or having recently recovered from Covid.

To be considered as fully vaccinated, travellers will need to have completed a full vaccination course at least fourteen days before travel – if they completed this nine months before travelling to Spain, they will need a booster jab to qualify as fully vaccinated.

Though Spain did recently ease its restrictions on unvaccinated teenagers aged between twelve and seventeen, who now only require a negative Covid test rather than a vaccination certificate.

They have also dropped a number of other restrictions such as mask wearing outdoors.

 

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