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Travel

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

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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.

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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

New date set for when UK tourists will need to pay to enter Spain, Greece and Portugal

Here’s everything you need to know…

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The date for when British tourists will have to pay to enter European holiday hotspots has changed, the European Union has confirmed.

It was originally announced that anyone from the UK travelling to one of the twenty-six countries in the Schengen States will have to apply and pay for a visa from September 2023. 

However, the launch of the new European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) has been delayed, with it now being expected to come into force from November 2023.

From then, any British tourist travelling to any of the twenty-six Schengen State countries will have to apply via an official website and/or app for mobile devices with a fee of €7.

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The ETIAS has been designed to enhance security and enforce the borders of the Schengen zone, which includes popular holiday destinations such as Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy.

They will be required for anyone over the age of eighteen and under the age of seventy travelling to one of the countries, whether it be by airplane, boat or car.

Read More: Airline issues warning to Brits travelling to Spain over new alcohol restrictions

Tourists will need a passport or equivalent document to apply, and it’s estimated that for the majority of people, ETIAS will be approved within minutes.

However, those who are flagged as a potential risk could face a wait of up to ninety-six hours.

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An ETIAS will cost €7 (£5), with successful applicants being permitted to travel within the Schengen Zone for up to ninety days per 180-day period.

There are 26 countries in the Schengen Area, all of which will fall under the new visa system:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • The Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

For more information and to see if you’re eligible to apply for the new ETIAS visa, visit the official ETIAS website here.

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Travel

Spain issues update on £85 a day rule for British tourists

According to officials, it isn’t a new rule…

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Spanish officials have addressed the controversy surrounding the country’s new policy regarding British tourists’ spending money.

According to various reports last week, holiday-goers are now required to prove they can spend at least €100 (£85) a day for the duration of their holiday.

It was also suggested that tourists will need to provide evidence of a return flight or onward ticket, as well as proof of accommodation while on holiday.

A number of British travel firms criticised the alleged new policy, arguing that Brits contribute hugely to the large tourism market.

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But now, Spanish officials have dismissed these reports and clarified which rules British tourists need to be aware of.

A statement on behalf of the Spanish Tourist Office said the rule was not new and had in fact been in force since January 1st. It added that the regulations were not confined to Spain and applied to visitors from most nations outside the EU-Schengen border-free travel area.

Read More: Airline issues warning to Brits travelling to Spain over new alcohol restrictions

Manuel Butler, the Spanish Tourist Office director, said: “The requirement for UK travellers to be able to illustrate sufficient means for the duration of their stay and the return is established in the Schengen Borders Code and is not a Spain-specific requirement.

“This is not a new requirement and has been in place for some time for visitors from outside of the European Union or Schengen area. When entering Spain, these checks are not systematically carried out for every traveller.

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“Likewise, travellers coming to the UK are also required to show that they have specific means to support themselves and any dependents for the duration of the trip and the ability to pay for the return or onward journey.”

The UK Foreign Office guidelines states: “Border guards will use passport stamps to check you’re complying with the 90-day visa-free limit for short stays in the Schengen area.

“If relevant entry or exit stamps are not in your passport, border guards will presume that you have overstayed your visa-free limit.”

Read more about the government’s entry advice for Spain here.

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Travel

British tourists visiting Spain will need to prove they can spend £85 a day

A number of Spanish resorts are also restricting alcohol consumption among British tourists

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Tourists heading to Spain this summer will need to prove they have adequate spending money under new travel restrictions.

Holiday-goers will now be required to prove they can spend at least €100 (£85) a day for the duration of their holiday. They may also need to provide evidence of a return flight or onward ticket, as well as proof of accommodation while on holiday.

These requirements follow a U-turn on Spain’s decision to ease airport congestion for holidaymakers by allowing all UK passport-holders to use automatic e-gates to enter the country.

British travel firms have criticised the tough new policies, arguing that Brits contribute hugely to the large tourism market.

Julian Dik/Unsplash

The Spanish Ministry del Interior said on the new entry requirements: “Foreigners from third countries must prove – if required to do so by the officials in charge of controlling the entry of people into Spanish territory – that they have economic resources for entering the country.

“This could be through cash, traveller’s cheques, payment letters, or credit cards, which must also be proven to have sufficient funds available on them.”

Read More: Airline issues warning to Brits travelling to Spain over new alcohol restrictions

The UK Foreign Office added: “At Spanish border control, you may need to show a return or onward ticket, show you have enough money for your stay, show proof of accommodation for your stay, for example, a hotel booking confirmation, proof of address if visiting your own property, or an invitation from your host or proof of their address if staying with a third party, friends or family.

“The Spanish government has clarified that the ‘carta de invitation’ is one of the options available to prove that you have accommodation if staying with friends or family.

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“Tourists may also be asked to provide evidence that they are able to spend a minimum of €100 each day of their holiday, equating to £85.22 plus an additional minimum of €900.”

British tourists are also reminded to check their passport stamps to see if they enter or exit the EU Schengen area through Spain as a visitor.

The UK Foreign Office guidelines states: “Border guards will use passport stamps to check you’re complying with the 90-day visa-free limit for short stays in the Schengen area.

“If relevant entry or exit stamps are not in your passport, border guards will presume that you have overstayed your visa-free limit.”

Read more about the government’s entry advice for Spain here.

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