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Rush to reach Britain: Families divided by Covid look to reunite after 16 months

Are YOU flying from the US or EU to Britain?

Flights from Europe and the US have rocketed after Britain reopen the doors to international travel without quarantine.

Airlines reported staggering booking surges while hotels in London also saw increased interest following yesterday’s announcement.

Trips from New York to London spiked by 250 per cent while overall reservations from the US leaped 100 per cent week on week.

There was also a ‘swift uptick’ in bookings from Portugal, Italy and Greece after quarantine was axed for double-jabbed visitors.

Travel experts said most passengers were likely to be ‘family members keen to see loved ones as soon as possible’.

They said they expect bookings to increase further on Thursday and in the coming weeks ahead of events such as London Fashion Week.

England will allow US and EU travellers who are fully vaccinated against coronavirus to enter without the need to quarantine from Monday.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced the new rules yesterday following intense pressure from the travel sector.

The Scottish Government and Welsh Government followed the move while will debate its position on Thursday.

But earlier this month the US State Department advised all Americans not to travel to the UK due to the Delta variant and this is not expected to change until August.

Airlines reported booking surges while hotels in London also saw increased interest following yesterday’s announcement. Pictured: Heathrow’s Come Fly Again campaign

Virgin Atlantic said it had seen a 'significant uptick in interest' in flights from the US to Britain

Virgin Atlantic said it had seen a ‘significant uptick in interest’ in flights from the US to Britain

Rush to reach Britain: Families divided by Covid look to reunite after 16 months

Rush to reach Britain: Families divided by Covid look to reunite after 16 months

The UK has a far higher case rate than the US currently – but the countries are on different trajectories 

Ministers push US to allow Britons in after throwing open UK’s doors to Americans and Europeans 

Britain is pushing the US to let Britons in after the UK threw open its doors to Americans and Europeans – in spite of officials warning that it poses a ‘clear public health risk’.

Currently Britons are not allowed to enter the US, but Mr Shapps now expects the lifting of travel restrictions to be reciprocated by the Americans.

It is understood Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has raised the issue with his counterpart in America, the Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The British Ambassador in Washington, Karen Pierce, is also believed to be advocating for the US opening up to Britons in her meetings with US officials.

A diplomatic source told The Telegraph: ‘Everyone is lobbying the Americans left, right and centre.’

Another said there could be a drive to persuade the United States to ‘open up’. 

Virgin Atlantic said it had seen a ‘significant uptick in interest’ in flights from the US to Britain.

A spokesman told MailOnline: ‘Following confirmation that isolation and quarantine for fully vaccinated EU and US citizens arriving into the UK will be removed from 2 August, Virgin Atlantic has seen a significant uptick in interest in travel from the US to the UK.

‘Overall flight bookings are up by more than 100 per cent week on week, with bookings from New York to London increasing by nearly 250 per cent, compared to the previous week.’

Travel expert Paul Charles said there had also been a spike in bookings from EU countries to Britain.

The CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency said: ‘Airlines have already seen a swift uptick in bookings from Europe, including from Portugal, Italy and Greece to the UK.

‘These are probably mostly family members keen to see loved ones as soon as possible without having to quarantine on arrival.

‘I’m certain US bookings to the UK will increase further from today as business travellers book to come to the UK in the coming weeks, especially for major events such as London Fashion Week in September.

‘We’re seeing the UK Government shift decisively towards a more economically-driven approach, after the 18 months of health-led policies.

‘This means travel and other sectors can get going again in a period where we learn to live with Covid, balancing greater opening-up with the health needs of the country as well. So we’ll see further opening up of travel, especially next week when we see more countries being put on the green list.

‘I also expect to see European countries in particular amend their border restrictions on UK visitors in the coming weeks, removing quarantine rules in some cases, such as Italy, and enabling more UK visitors to travel more seamlessly.

‘However, the US will still take some weeks to open to us, as the Biden Administration wants to drive up the fully-jabbed rate among the US population and drive down Delta infection rates.’

Travel experts said most passengers were likely to be 'family members keen to see loved ones as soon as possible'

Travel experts said most passengers were likely to be ‘family members keen to see loved ones as soon as possible’

They said they expect bookings to increase further on Thursday and in the coming weeks ahead of events such as London Fashion Week

They said they expect bookings to increase further on Thursday and in the coming weeks ahead of events such as London Fashion Week

Mum stranded on Majorca slams ‘ridiculous’ Covid rules which force her daughter, 13, to quarantine on the island for 21 days

A British mum has slammed ‘ridiculous’ rules which could force her 13-year-old daughter to quarantine in Majorca for 21 days. April Allinson, from Teesside, said her sunny getaway with her daughter Ellie and daughter’s friend Lilly has turned into a ‘nightmare’.

The trio have been in quarantine in Alcudia, Majorca, for eight days and were due to head back to the UK on Saturday.

But April, 30, said the Spanish Government has now instructed that the two teenagers must quarantine for a further 10 days after their last contact with the mum-of-one.

She said authorities have decided the two girls could have caught Covid while isolating with April and so must remain on the island for a further quarantine. All three have now produced negative Covid tests.

The beauty business owner said she ‘doesn’t understand how it can be acceptable or legal’ to leave two young girls alone in a foreign country for 10 days, calling the situation ‘absolutely ridiculous’.    

‘We’ve done our 10 days [of quarantine] and that’s absolutely fine, that’s up in the next couple of days. We have no problem with that,’ she said.

‘The problem is now that the Spanish Government are trying to say the girls, who are 13, their quarantine doesn’t start until I leave them. Their last contact with me is when their quarantine starts.’

Head of The Points Guy UK Nicky Kelvin noted Britain was an ‘incredibly popular destination’ for Europeans and Americans and said it will be a ‘boost for tourism’.

He said: ‘The recent news that England will allow fully vaccinated travellers from the United States and the European Union will offer a boost to the tourism industry in the UK.

‘As an incredibly popular destination for Europeans and American alike, a number of businesses are likely to see a relative uptick in bookings – not just for tourism but also from visitors travelling for business and reuniting with friends and relatives.

‘At The Points Guy there has been immediate excitement over relative ease at which our American colleagues can visit from next week and a number of key business related trips are likely to be booked in the coming days.

‘We should see this sort of effect ripple through the business world especially in sectors where there are existing strong trans-Atlantic connections.

‘We’ve also already seen a positive response from the airline industry to the news. Following the announcement on Wednesday, United Airlines announced that it will restore frequencies to operate more than 40 weekly flights between the U.S. and England.

‘I anticipate that more airlines will jump on this trend and add more flights between the US and England – however with the USA still closed to travellers coming from both UK and Europe, the transatlantic travel corridor is still a way off.

‘Even with this new exemption, travellers are still required to present a negative test before departure taken within three days, which can be a lateral flow test, as well as completed passenger locator forms and a ‘Day Two’ PCR test booked and taken.

‘These hurdles along with the ongoing uncertainty around the changing traffic light lists may prevent a significant influx of Americans and Europeans.

‘Many will be concerned for example about what happens should the Day Two test come back positive, and the reality of having to complete a 10 day quarantine away from home.

‘It’s important to note that the exemption applies to those who have had an approved US or EU vaccine – so for example someone who has been vaccinated in the US but is coming from a different Amber list country such as Mexico will also fall under this exemption, whilst on the flip side, someone travelling from the US or EU but vaccinated outside of the US or EU will not fall under this exemption.

‘It’s also worth noting that arrivals from any country that is on the U.K.’s red list will still be required to undergo a 10-day quarantine in a government-approved hotel, costing £1,750.

Dominic Raab insists UK is NOT risking a new Covid outbreak by exempting double-jabbed EU and US travellers from quarantine

Dominic Raab today denied that the UK is risking a new Covid outbreak by exempting double-jabbed EU and US travellers from quarantine.

The Foreign Secretary admitted there are ‘no guarantees’ that people will not try to game the system and avoid isolation by faking documentation, but stressed there will be tough checks.

And he insisted there will still be the ‘right level of security and assurance’ because only the fully-vaccinated are in line for special treatment from next week, and the government is ‘keeping an eye’ on variants.

He also revealed that more countries have been contacting him demanding the same get-out for their citizens.

The bullish stance comes after ministers defied officials’ concerns about the ‘clear public health risk’ to sign off on the quarantine easing for visitors from the Continent and America.

‘At this time, there are 60 countries on the red list — none of which are the U.S. or in the EU but it does pose an additional risk for those newly eligible travellers who wish to come to the UK from other countries.’

But travel journalist Simon Calder sounded a note of caution and advised people not to book flights from the US because they will struggle to return.

He told GMB: ‘[Travel to the US] will probably be some time in September but again there is no rush whatsoever on the American side.

‘Please don’t go around booking any tickets. The airlines are already writing off a lot of their flights in August because they don’t think there’s much chance of that happening.

‘This will have given them a bit of a boost and anyone in America with loved ones here who can travel of course is going to make the most of not having to quarantine but it doesn’t work in the opposite direction and I’m afraid the Americans don’t need us as much as we need them and their tourism industry is actually doing pretty well simply because Americans go on holiday in their own country.

‘Although there are places in Florida, California and New York where they are desperate to see Brits.’

On France, Mr Calder told the programme: ‘That’s going to be an interesting decision next week.’

He added: ‘I’m pretty sure France will be rehabilitated then but there’s lots of fears that other favourable countries could unfortunately be heading in the opposite direction which would cause a lot of mayhem, a lot of upset for a lot of families.’

Hotels also said they had seen an increase in demand since the change in the rules yesterday.

The Goring, Kate Middleton’s favourite hotel, in Belgravia, London, said it had ‘numerous calls’ from Americans looking to reinstate their bookings.

A spokesman said: ‘Following many US cancellations in June and July for Q3 2021 due to fight or cruise cancellations, yesterday The Goring received numerous calls from US guests reinstating their reservations for August / September.

‘The Goring’s regular US guests are very keen to get to the hotel, and another step towards this is the need for airlines to increase their flight capacity.’

The Goring, Kate Middleton's favourite hotel, in Belgravia, London, said it had 'numerous calls' from Americans looking to reinstate their bookings

The Goring, Kate Middleton’s favourite hotel, in Belgravia, London, said it had ‘numerous calls’ from Americans looking to reinstate their bookings

A spokesman said: 'Following many US cancellations in June and July for Q3 2021 due to fight or cruise cancellations, yesterday The Goring received numerous calls from US guests reinstating their reservations for August / September.' Pictured: The Front Hall staircase at The Goring Hotel

A spokesman said: ‘Following many US cancellations in June and July for Q3 2021 due to fight or cruise cancellations, yesterday The Goring received numerous calls from US guests reinstating their reservations for August / September.’ Pictured: The Front Hall staircase at The Goring Hotel

Now ‘amber watch’ list may hit travel 

Ministers are considering a new ‘enhanced-risk’ amber category to discourage travel to countries where Covid cases are rising.

The new category – potentially called ‘amber watch’ – would replace ‘amber plus’ which was hastily invented earlier this month for holidaymakers in France.

Unlike ‘amber plus’, under the possible new category people would not need to quarantine upon their return to the UK.

But, crucially, tourists would be warned that the country could be placed on the red list at any time – which would force them to quarantine in hotels when they return at a cost of £1,750 per adult.

It will lead to fears that Spain could be placed on the list, following concerns about the rise of the Beta variant. The idea is being pushed as a mirror to the ‘green watch’ list of countries, where tourists who decide to go abroad know the country could turn amber.

Currently, only travellers who have received two doses of a vaccine in the UK are permitted to enter the UK from an amber country – such as the US and most of the EU – without self-isolating for 10 days, except those returning from France.

But ministers have decided to extend the exemption in England to those vaccinated in the US and the EU.

Mr Shapps said: ‘We’re helping reunite people living in the US and European countries with their family and friends in the UK.’

The Cabinet minister continued: ‘We’ve taken great strides on our journey to reopen international travel, and today is another important step forward.

‘Whether you are a family reuniting for the first time since the start of the pandemic or a business benefiting from increased trade – this is progress we can all enjoy.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid added: ‘Our vaccination programme is building a wall of defence against this virus so we can safely enjoy our freedoms again, with seven in 10 adults in the UK now double jabbed.

‘By reopening quarantine-free travel for travellers who have been fully vaccinated in European countries and the USA, we’re taking another step on the road to normality which will reunite friends and families and give UK businesses a boost.’

Travellers will be required to take a pre-departure test, and a PCR test on or before the second day after their arrival.

In addition to the EU, the new rules also include arrivals from Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Monaco, Andorra and Vatican City.

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said the Government had made ‘the right decision’.

He said: ‘We will now work with colleagues in the industry to boost UK trade, reunite family and friends, and generate billions in new tourist income.’

Rush to reach Britain: Families divided by Covid look to reunite after 16 months

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the overhaul was an 'important step forward' for the travel industry

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the overhaul was an ‘important step forward’ for the travel industry

Rush to reach Britain: Families divided by Covid look to reunite after 16 months

Holiday cover blow

Families who lose their holidays because one or more member is ‘pinged’ face losing their cash as well.

Many travel insurance policies will not cover people who have to cancel after a notification to self-isolate from the NHS Test & Trace app.

Nine in 10 policies do pay out if the policyholder tests positive for Covid. But this falls to six in 10 when a trip is cancelled due to a ping, said analysts Defaqto.

Amid fears of a hit to bookings, package holiday firm TUI is allowing people pinged to change their dates for free.

Anna-Marie Duthie, from Defaqto, said some insurers would be sympathetic, but added: ‘Policyholders should read their policies carefully to be sure they fully understand what cover they have, and if in doubt contact their insurers before changing any travel plans.’

Sean Doyle, British Airways chief executive, said the move ‘will allow us to reunite loved ones and get global Britain back in business’.

Mr Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: ‘The significance of this decision can’t be overestimated.

‘It will pump vital cash into the travel economy, and help salvage the rest of the summer.’

On the rule change in Scotland, Scottish Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said: ‘Fully vaccinated travellers will be able to travel to Scotland under this significant relaxation of international travel measures, providing a boost for the tourism sector and wider economy while ensuring public health is protected.

‘This new arrangement will be carefully monitored by clinicians and kept under close review as we seek to put Scotland firmly on the path to recovery – but people should continue to think very carefully about travelling, especially given the prevalence and unpredictable nature of variants of concern.’

Eluned Morgan, minister for health and social services in the Welsh Government, said: ‘We regret the UK Government’s proposals to further remove quarantine requirements.

‘However, as we share an open border with England it would be ineffective to introduce separate arrangements for Wales. Therefore, we will be aligning with the other UK administrations and implementing this decision for Wales.

‘We look to the UK Government to provide assurances that processes will be in place to ensure those travelling in to the UK have been fully vaccinated.

‘Also, in doing so, we will continue to press the UK Government for reassurances that it will be maintaining consistent and robust PCR surveillance – including pre-departure tests, PCR testing on day two and the genomic sequencing of results as one mitigation against importing vaccine escape variants.’

No reciprocal deal has been reached with the US, meaning UK visitors are still banned from entering due to coronavirus fears.

Rush to reach Britain: Families divided by Covid look to reunite after 16 months

Current amber and red list destinations. A review of the UK travel list is expected on Wednesday or Thursday next week

Current amber and red list destinations. A review of the UK travel list is expected on Wednesday or Thursday next week  

The move means that Britain is now at the highest warning level possible - 'do not travel'

The move means that Britain is now at the highest warning level possible – ‘do not travel’ 

Rush to reach Britain: Families divided by Covid look to reunite after 16 months

 

Rush to reach Britain: Families divided by Covid look to reunite after 16 months

 

Earlier this month the State Department advised all Americans not to travel to the UK due to the Delta variant.

It came on the same day Britons marked ‘freedom day’ – with the majority of all Covid restrictions eased and the country fully reopening in spite of the rise in cases.

The move by the State Department means Britain is at the highest warning level possible – ‘do not travel’ – on a four-part ranking.

First is ‘exercise normal precautions’; second is ‘exercise increased caution’; then comes ‘reconsider travel’.

The warning for Britain has fluctuated between Level 3 ‘reconsider travel’, and Level 4 ‘do not travel’, several times this year already.

In May, the US government had lowered the UK to a Level 3 advisory rating.

The State Department’s decision comes hours after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its own advice, recommending US citizens do not go there.

The US has barred nearly all non-US citizens who have recently been in the UK from travelling home since March 2020.

In June, the Biden administration said it was forming expert working groups with Britain, Canada, Mexico and the EU to determine how best to restart travel safely.

US and airline officials do not expect the restrictions on UK travelers to be lifted until August at the earliest – and warn it could be pushed back further.

The latest State Department’s advisory reads: ‘Do not travel to the United Kingdom due to Covid-19. Exercise increased caution due to terrorism.

‘The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for the United Kingdom due to Covid-19, indicating a very high level of COVID-19 in the country.

‘There are restrictions in place affecting U.S. citizen entry into the United Kingdom. 

‘Your risk of contracting Covid-19 and developing severe symptoms may be lower if you are fully vaccinated with an FDA authorized vaccine.

‘Before planning any international travel, please review the CDC’s specific recommendations for fully vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers.’

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