Spain unlikely to go 'amber plus' imminently

·26-min read
Ibiza - Getty
Ibiza - Getty

Spain is not likely to be demoted to the 'amber plus' list any time soon, according to Government sources.

Fears have been building that the country could join France in the new category which made its debut on Friday, meaning that even double-jabbed travellers must quarantine upon their return.

France turned 'amber plus' in part because of the prevalence of the beta variant, though the latest data suggests that Spain and indeed Greece have an even higher incidence of the strain.

However, The Department of Transport has told the travel industry that France was a 'one-off' and that Spain won't be added imminently, or at least until the next formal review on August 2, The Telegraph understands.

The beta (formally known as the 'South African') variant is thought to be less contagious than the delta variant, which is dominant in the UK, but more resistant to vaccines, especially the AstraZeneca jab.

Scroll down for more of the latest.

04:53 PM

What we learned today

That’s all for today, here’s a recap of Wednesday’s top headlines:

  • Spain unlikely to go 'amber plus' imminently

  • Heathrow queue chaos: E-gates fail to work for fully vaccinated travellers

  • Mandatory Covid tests for fully vaccinated UK travellers heading to green-list Croatia

  • Grant Shapps 'angry' that he was pressured into adding France to the 'amber plus' list

  • Analysis: How was the UK’s flagship airport allowed to grind to a halt?

  • Comment: 'Liverpool has been stripped of its Unesco status. Who cares?'

  • Day-by-day: My pre-holiday diary from hell

Tune back in tomorrow for more of the latest travel news.

04:47 PM

Facemask rules fuel 500 per cent surge in air rage in the US

Unruly behavior and disturbances on flights have surged a massive 500 per cent this year in the US, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Since January 1 the agency has received 3,509 unruly passenger reports – the majority (2,605) were due to a refusal to wear a mask.

What’s more, 85 physical assaults have been reported on the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) staff who screen passengers before/after boarding, since the beginning of the pandemic.

"TSA has unfortunately seen an increase in unruly passengers at TSA checkpoints across the country and onboard aircraft," Darby LaJoye, TSA Executive Assistant Administrator for Security Operations, told the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Security.

04:30 PM

The UK's best secret beaches

Covehithe - Getty
Covehithe - Getty

As much as every Briton, who has planned a staycation this summer, wishes it, this heatwave won’t last forever. Make the most of it, the eased Covid restrictions, at one of the UK’s best secret beaches.

From Cornwall to Norfolk to Northumberland, these hidden beauties are gloriously off-grid.

04:12 PM

Foreign Office issues advice on summer holidays

As schools break up for the summer, the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is urging travellers to follow advice before they head overseas this summer.

Jennifer Anderson, Director of Consular, FCDO, said:

The success of our vaccine roll out means people who have been fully vaccinated in the UK can now travel to amber list countries, without the need for quarantine on their return, with the exception of those returning from France.

But travel this summer is still different from before. It is essential that travellers plan ahead and familiarise themselves with the rules and requirements of the country they plan to visit to minimise disruption and avoid disappointment.

The first step for anybody thinking of going abroad is to check the FCDO’s Travel Advice and subscribe to updates. We keep it under constant review so it reflects the most up to date information.

03:57 PM

Another setback for Glastonbury during the pandemic

Glastonbury has announced it will not be going ahead with its one-off 2021 event in September, after the festival was cancelled for a second year over coronavirus uncertainty.

In May, Mendip Council gave the green light to a scaled-down concert at Worthy Farm, which is operating as a campsite for families this summer, featuring 50,000 attendees, a quarter of the usual number, and no camping.

Co-organiser Emily Eavis said the event would be a larger version of the Pilton Party, an annual fundraising concert for villagers, workers and local residents, and would be called Equinox.

However, she wrote on Instagram: "We've decided not to go ahead with the September gig idea for a number of reasons, so we're putting all of our energy into the campsite for now! See you in a few days..."

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03:46 PM

Insight: 'The biggest crisis in the history of tourism continues'

The pandemic continues to have a devastating impact on holiday destinations around the globe. The latest World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) data shows that over the first five months of the year, destinations recorded 147 million fewer international arrivals, who intended to stay overnight, compared to the same period of 2020, or 460 million less than pre-pandemic year of 2019.

"The biggest crisis in the history of tourism continues into a second year," reads a statement.

Despite a small uptick in May – a decline of 82 per cent compared to 86 per cent in April – the emergence of new variants and the continued imposition of restrictions mean that domestic tourism is returning at a far faster rate than international travel.

data graph - World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)
data graph - World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

But there is a solution, suggests the UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili: "Accelerating the pace of vaccination worldwide, working on effective coordination and communication on ever-changing travel restrictions while advancing digital tools to facilitate mobility will be critical to rebuild trust in travel and restart tourism."

03:32 PM

Demand surges for family trips to Greece and Portugal

There may be a cloud of uncertainty overshadowing foreign holidays this summer but luxury operator Scott Dunn has revealed that, since quarantine for double-jabbed travellers arriving from amber-list countries was scrapped on Monday, summer holiday enquiries are booming.

"We are receiving a large volume of calls for our Explorers Kids Club destinations in Greece and Portugal – with families desperate to escape for a much-awaited summer holiday. The majority of enquiries and bookings are for July and August, highlighting the continued current trend for last-minute bookings in a post-lockdown climate," said Simon Lynch, Global Sales and Product Director at Scott Dunn.

"Europe continues to dominate for last minute bookings with a 75 per cent share of enquiries and we are now experiencing a surge in interest for Mauritius following the reopening of the destination."

portugal - Getty
portugal - Getty

03:22 PM

In focus: The green list

Remember the green list? With all the attention on the newly created ‘amber plus’ list and its cousin the amber list, you’d be forgiven for forgetting there is a handful, albeit small, of countries from which Britons face no quarantine at all.

Here’s a reminder of where’s on it and what the rules are, and when the next update will be.

03:07 PM

In pictures: tourists today around the world

china - Barcroft Media
china - Barcroft Media
shanghai - Barcroft Media
shanghai - Barcroft Media
moscow - AFP
moscow - AFP
budapest - AFP
budapest - AFP

02:50 PM

France sets precedent with new Covid passport restrictions

This, from our live politics blog:

A decree in France that comes into force on Wednesday makes Covid passes obligatory for all leisure and cultural venues welcoming more than 50 people, including theatres, sports halls and even Disneyland Paris.

The French parliament will then debate this week whether to extend its use in August for entry to cafes, restaurants and shopping malls - likely to be a formality given President Emmanuel Macron’s party has a parliamentary majority.

The pass, which can be downloaded to France’s tracing app, displays proof of vaccination, a negative test or recent recovery from Covid.

Read more about that here.

02:32 PM

Comment: 'Liverpool has been stripped of its Unesco status. Who cares?'

Liverpool was popular for visitors long before Unesco arrived, argues Hugh Morris, and it will remain so after it has gone:

Fair play to Unesco, I didn’t think they would actually follow through with it. It feels as if they have been threatening Liverpool for years over its World Heritage status, and now they’ve finally pulled the plug.

Liverpool will join an incredibly short and apparently shameful list of two other Unesco sites to be “delisted” – you’ll remember them both, of course – Oman’s Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in 2007 and the Dresden Elbe valley in Germany in 2009. The decision to deprive Merseyside of its accolade was confirmed on Wednesday after a secret ballot in China.

In one sense, this is a major blow to Liverpool. It removes from the city a label of great pride and a global recognition of its historical roots; that not only is the region’s maritime history fascinating but the manifestation of its trading past in the form of the Albert Docks and the Three Graces are worthy of a visit from any corner of the globe.

Read on, here.

02:14 PM

Mandatory Covid tests for fully vaccinated UK travellers heading to Croatia

Croatia has decided to impose obligatory Covid-19 tests for visitors coming from the United Kingdom, Russia and Cyprus, the state health institute said on Wednesday.

A statement reads:

Due to the worsening of the epidemiological situation in the United Kingdom, Cyprus and Russia, as an additional measure for people arriving from those countries, a negative (Covid-19) test will be required regardless whether they are vaccinated or have already had a disease.

The measure takes force on July 26.

Croatia expects a rising number of tourist arrivals from Britain in the coming weeks following this week's lifting of most legal restrictions on social contact in England.

02:09 PM

Keir Starmer: 'Boris let a new variant in'

The leader of the Labour party, Sir Keir Starmer, who has just announced he will be self-isolating after one of his children tested positive for Covid today, has blamed Boris Johnson for 'letting a new variant in' to the UK.

Presumably, he means the delta variant, which is so contagious it is spreading even in Australia, having escaped the nation's strict hotel quarantine system. Is Australian PM Scott Morrison to blame too?

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01:51 PM

Thailand's island of Phuket is still a ghost town

In a precursor to the broader opening, vaccinated tourists were this month allowed to travel to the Thai resort island of Phuket. It was reported to be a success, but Phuket was looking very empty yesterday...

phuket - Bloomberg
phuket - Bloomberg
phuket - Bloomberg
phuket - Bloomberg
Thailand - Bloomberg
Thailand - Bloomberg
phuket - Bloomberg
phuket - Bloomberg

01:39 PM

At a glance: the situation in Spain

Cases are on the up in Spain, with 372.26 infections counted per 100,000 citizens in the past seven days – up nearly 30% on the previous week.

Britain's favourite holiday destination has recorded 115 deaths, up 40% on the last week. This is still comparatively very low compared to fatalities at the peak of the pandemic.

01:21 PM

Families brace for 'Frantic Friday' traffic

With the school year coming to an end this week and more Britons plotting staycations than ever before, we can expect a lot of traffic over the weekend.

New research from crowdsourced sat-nav app Waze found that two-thirds of those polled are planning a domestic holiday; a 52% increase compared with a typical pre-pandemic year.

The Lake District, Cornwall and Devon, which respondents indicate are the most popular destinations this year (21%, 21%, 19% respectively) will likely result in heavy traffic on the M6, A30, A38, M5 and A303 throughout the summer season.

Meanwhile, thoroughfares to major UK airports including Heathrow, Bristol and Manchester are expected to be congested following a 400% surge in bookings to amber destinations since it was announced that double-jabbed travellers would be exempt from quarantine.

01:00 PM

In focus: The beta variant

The beta (formally known as the 'South African') variant is thought to be less contagious than the delta variant, which is dominant in the UK, but more resistant to vaccines, especially the AstraZeneca jab.

It’s partly the reason France has been added to the ‘amber plus’ list and why Spain’s fate hangs in the balance. Cases are rising, but how fast?

Here’s a look at the latest statistics:

12:50 PM

The hottest new hotels in the UK for your summer staycation

2021 has become a bumper year for new hotels. Proprietors have used the lockdown delays as a chance to iron out any potential kinks and even to fulfil more ambitious plans.

With overseas travel still fraught with stress, here is a round-up of the most exciting openings to earmark for a well-deserved break on homesoil this year.

the star
the star

12:41 PM

Watch: ‘Worst rain in 1,000 years’ wreaks havoc in China

Vast swathes of Zhengzhou city are under several feet of water as cars float down the street and 200,000 people flee China’s Henan province. Read more here and watch below.

12:28 PM

Trains cancelled due to ‘pingdemic’

Just as families across the nation prepare to travel for their summer staycation, London Northwestern Railway has been forced to cancel trains after the number of staff being ‘pinged’ by the NHS track and trace service has “quadrupled.”

The operator said the disruption is due to “Covid-19 and the ongoing impact of ‘Test and Trace’ notifications causing trains to be cancelled at short notice.”

Affected services this weekend including those between Northampton and London, and the Abbey and Marston Vale lines in Bedfordshire.

“We are experiencing more of this, across all our services, as increasing numbers of staff are getting ‘pinged’ by the Test and Trace app,” said Lawrence Bowman, London Northwestern Railway’s customer experience director.

“We are sorry that we have had to make the decision to alter some services. However, the changes will help us run a more reliable and consistent timetable for passengers across our network.”

12:16 PM

'Exhausting, stressful, yes – but going on holiday is still so worth it'

arlidge holiday
arlidge holiday

"From my experience of the last few days, holidays can be fun now but only if you are the kind of person who is patient, well organised, has strong nerves - and is happy to keep your mobile phone on," writes John Arlidge.

If you’re brave enough, here’s how it feels to go on holiday right now, plus what to expect along the way.

11:59 AM

Delta variant dominant in France, gripped by a fourth wave

The delta variant of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 is now the majority variant of the virus circulating in France, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Wednesday.

Castex told TF1 television that a series of major steps taken to tackle fourth wave of infections in the country have been settled upon by a cabinet meeting of the government, stating:

We are in the fourth wave. The Delta variant is the majority one, it is more contagious", he added of the variant first detected in India.

The French government has begun to present lawmakers this week with a new plan to fight Covid-19, which will include requiring a health pass in a wide array of venues from the start of August and making vaccination mandatory for health workers.

This has sparked protests across the country.

paris - PASCAL ROSSIGNOL/REUTERS
paris - PASCAL ROSSIGNOL/REUTERS

11:48 AM

Boris Johnson 'super-spreader of confusion' over vaccine passports

It's PMQ time. Sir Keir Starmer has accused the Prime Minister of being a "super-spreader of confusion" around vaccine passports, and points out that Mr Johnson previously vowed to eat an ID card if forced to present one.

The Labour leader asks why vaccine entry requirements for nightclubs are being delayed until this autumn.

But Boris Johnson insists it is "blindingly obvious, common sense" that more young people will be vaccinated by then so it is "only fair" to wait, and accuses Labour of trying to score "vacuous political points".

Spicy.

11:28 AM

Feature: My pre-holiday diary from hell

Our very own Lucy Aspden has penned a blow-by-blow account of her nervous attempt to reach a Spanish sun lounger, writing:

It began in mid-May, when we first accepted defeat and waved goodbye to the deposit we’d paid for a group sailing holiday in Croatia (already postponed once from last summer) – the operator planned to go ahead with the trip, but we couldn’t afford to part with the remainder of the balance without knowing if we’d be able to travel to the Dalmatian coast restriction free.

Shortly afterwards, easyJet cancelled our Croatian flights – requesting a refund, rather than vouchers, meant we had a pot of money on standby to book an end-of-July break at the last minute, when we hoped the green list would be bountiful and rules for vaccinated travellers might be eased.

My pre-holiday diary from hell has been a rollercoaster of emotions and I have no doubt thousands of other Britons are experiencing the same turbulent ride. We are due to depart in just over a week’s time for a week-long break in Spain.

Read the rest here.

Lucy
Lucy

11:13 AM

Plane rage incidents double during pandemic

The former boss of British Airways warned that the number of unruly passenger incidents has doubled during the pandemic as passengers are desperate to return to mask-free flying, Oliver Gill reports.

Willie Walsh said that a sharp rise in assaults on staff and other passengers was “unacceptable”, adding: “The increase in physically abusive behavior is a particular cause for great concern.”

An easing of Covid restrictions in England this week removed the legal requirement for passengers to wear face coverings on public transport such as trains and buses. Sadiq Khan, the London mayor, is demanding that facemasks must be worn in London, however.

Airlines have also told passengers they must wear face coverings.

Read on here.

10:57 AM

Downing Street 'extremely disappointed' by Unesco's Liverpool decision

The UK Government is "extremely disappointed" by the decision to delete Liverpool from the World Heritage List.

The city was named a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) in 2004, joining places including the Taj Mahal, Egypt's Pyramids and Canterbury Cathedral.

But on Wednesday, following a secret ballot, the World Heritage Committee voted to remove the site from the list, after a UN committee found developments including the new Everton FC stadium threatened the value of the city's waterfront.

A Downing Street spokesman said:

We are extremely disappointed in this decision and believe Liverpool still deserves its World Heritage Status given the significant role the historic docks and the wider city have played throughout history.

liverpool - iStock
liverpool - iStock

10:42 AM

Demand for dog-friendly staycations quadruples

Lots of Britons acquired dogs over lockdown, and they're taking them on holiday this year.

Dog Friendly Cottages saw a 415% increase in bookings during spring this year compared to the same period in 2019, pre-pandemic. The travel company has thus calculated the UK's most hound-suitable holiday destinations, based on the number of walks, pubs, accommodation and beaches.

They are as follows:

  1. Padstow, Cornwall

  2. Hunstanton, Norfolk

  3. Aberystwyth, North Wales

  4. Filey, Yorkshire

  5. Newquay, Cornwall

10:00 AM

‘Greece is a safe country’

Greece’s tourism minister has assured holidaymakers that his nation is safe to visit.

France is currently the lone ranger on the ‘amber plus’ list, in part because of the prevalence of the beta variant. However Greece, as well as Spain, both have higher incidence of the strain.

Speaking to Sky News, tourism minister Harry Theoharis said: “We should remain on the amber list. We certainly hope that the data supports our view.

Greece is a safe country… Our vaccination drive and programme continues unabated,” he added, noting that “close to 60 per cent of the adult population has been vaccinated”.

santorini
santorini

09:53 AM

In numbers: The pandemic in Spain

All eyes are on the Costas, and whether they’ll be demoted to the ‘amber plus’ list. The Government insists its decisions are driven by the data, so here’s a snapshot of the current pandemic figures in Spain.

Cases have risen in recent weeks:

But the vaccine drive is going well:

09:42 AM

Priti Patel: Covid border controls 'have not failed'

Our politics live blog is reporting from the home affairs committee, where Yvette Cooper opened her session with Priti Patel by asking why the Covid border arrangements "failed".

The Home Secretary said:

The system has not failed... this is a system that has been put in place working with the Department for Transport and the JCVI. We do have an end-to-end comprehensive approach when it come to border security.

09:24 AM

Holiday style: The 8 biggest swimwear dilemmas solved

Ready to update your swimwear wardrobe? Our fashion team has you covered.

The 8 biggest swimwear dilemmas solved – and the best bikinis and one-pieces to try now

fashion
fashion

09:10 AM

Club Med to stop promoting elephant rides, SeaWorld visits and bull fights

French travel provider Club Med has released a new animal welfare guide following pressure from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), detailing plans to stop promoting elephant rides, captive whale and dolphin exhibits, bull fights, and photo ops with animals.

Taking effect this August, the policies also include a fur ban in the company’s boutiques and recommendations for spay/neuter surgeries in countries with large homeless animal populations.

PETA Vice President of International Programmes Mimi Bekhechi states:

Unlike Club Med’s happy travellers, animals used for entertainment never get a chance to relax or share special moments with their loved ones. PETA urges other travel companies to follow Club Med’s lead and begin their own journeys into the world of animal protection by cutting support for SeaWorld and other cruel exhibitors.

Club Med joins a long list of companies – including British Airways Holidays, Virgin Holidays, Premier Holidays, Booking.com, and Tripadvisor – that have stopped promoting SeaWorld and the more than 50 travel companies that have pulled elephant rides.

08:59 AM

In pictures: World Architecture Festival Awards 202

Here are a few of the shortlisted buildings and landscapes...

HUFTON AND CROW - HUFTON AND CROW
HUFTON AND CROW - HUFTON AND CROW
Alex Filz - Alex Filz
Alex Filz - Alex Filz
Iwan Baan - Iwan Baan
Iwan Baan - Iwan Baan

08:43 AM

Analysis: How was the UK’s flagship airport allowed to grind to a halt?

Long queues and disruption at London Heathrow, the UK’s flagship airport, have become a common theme this year, writes Hugh Morris, as the world edges towards the resumption of overseas travel:

The latest shambles was this week when the Government’s relaxation of quarantine rules for fully vaccinated travellers from amber destinations came into force. Only, it seems no one notified the e-gates at Heathrow. The Home Office, which is responsible for Border Force, and the smooth operation of such checks said it has now updated the Passenger Locator Form (48 hours late).

Our correspondent John Arlidge said that the Government’s failure to make sure the digital border was updated to take account of the new rules was compounded by under-staffing. Only half the immigration desks were manned during the peak late afternoon / early evening period when many flights land.

Read on, here.

John Arlidge - John Arlidge
John Arlidge - John Arlidge

08:29 AM

Comment: 'I've lost my taste for flying – driving to Europe is so much more civilised'

Airports are a nightmare at the moment, writes Annabel Fenwick Elliott, who has recently visited four countries in Europe by car instead.

I’ve spent the past two months weaving across Europe in my tiny but trusty Fiat 500, with my large but docile German Shepherd, Bear, in the back.

Culminating last week, we drove a 2,500-mile loop from Essex to France, through Germany, Switzerland and Italy, and were at no point required to submit tests or quarantine upon crossing borders (all of which were un-manned) – except, of course, getting in and out of the UK. It would have been impossible to visit all those countries in that timeframe without a considerable amount of expense and hassle had we flown.

Further, driving is so much more rewarding. No one gets off a plane and pats themselves on the back for a journey well executed. There’s no honour in being pushed around like cattle from terminal to aircraft, aircraft to terminal. There’s pride, however, about navigating your own way from A to B on four wheels, and a profound sense of achievement at the end.

Read the full piece here.

Annabel
Annabel

08:15 AM

Seychelles welcomes relaxation of travel restrictions by France

Double-jabbed French travellers can now visit the Seychelles and other red-listed destinations without facing tests and quarantine upon their return – a decision that has been praised by the islands' tourism chief.

The Seychelles Minister of Foreign Affairs and Tourism, Mr Sylvestre Radegonde, stated:

This is excellent news for us, and despite remaining on the country's red-list, we commend the decision by the French authorities to relax restrictions on those of their citizens who, having taken personal and collective responsibility to protect themselves and their fellowmen against Covid-19, can now travel to Seychelles. As a destination, we look forward to wish our French visitors la bienvenue once again to our shores.

Vaccination rates are excellent in the Seychelles; with more than 91% of the population now double-jabbed and 96% administered one dose. Cases, however, are sky-high – there have been 546 cases reported per 100,000 citizens in the last seven days. As such, it remains on the UK's red list.

08:01 AM

Australian cases surge despite lockdown

Australia's two largest states reported sharp increases in new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, a blow to hopes that lockdown restrictions would be lifted with more than half the country's population under stay-at-home orders.

New South Wales tate, home to the country's most populous city Sydney, logged 110 new cases, up from 78 the day before, nearly four weeks into a lockdown of the city and surrounding areas to contain an outbreak of the virulent Delta variant.

Victoria state clocked 22 new cases, from nine the day before, its biggest increase since the outbreak began this month, as it nears its second week of statewide lockdown.

State premier Gladys Berejiklian said:

Had we not gone into the lockdown a few weeks ago, the 110 number today would undoubtedly have been thousands and thousands.

Head on over to our coronavirus live blog for more.

Sydney - MICK TSIKAS/EPA-EFE
Sydney - MICK TSIKAS/EPA-EFE

07:51 AM

Grant Shapps 'angry' that he was pressured into adding France to the 'amber plus' list

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps was reluctant to add France to the amber plus list last week, and doesn't want Spain to join it, according to more reports.

Shapps is 'understood to have been angered at being bounced into adding France to the list', reports the Times, and 'won a commitment within government to ensure that there would be no further additions until August 2.'

The Daily Mail, meanwhile, says that ministers 'ruled out' adding Spain to the amber plus list last night 'but left open the possibility that measures could still be imposed at short notice if rates of the variant continue to rise.'

07:40 AM

Business Minister: France going amber plus 'not just about the pure numbers'

The Business Minister Paul Scully refused to give much away when quizzed as to why France was added to the 'amber plus' list last week.

He told Sky News:

We try and give people as much data as we can but it's not just about the pure numbers.

It's also about the variants, and the style of variants; the beta variant, for example, that's quite prevalent in France at the moment, we're looking at how that interacts with the AstraZeneca vaccine. There's a lot of factors that are involved in the decisions that are taken around travel.

Somewhat bafflingly, however, the beta variant accounts for 21 per cent of cases in Spain, and only four per cent in France.

07:30 AM

Double vaccinated may miss out on holidays

People who have been double jabbed face missing out on holidays abroad because NHS errors mean their second vaccination has not been recorded.

A Telegraph investigation has found that a number of people who have had two doses say they have no official proof, despite repeated efforts to resolve problems with NHS records.

Health officials said errors could happen if vaccine centre staff failed to press a final “save” after inputting data, or if fields were not filled in correctly.

They urged anyone affected to contact their GP, regardless of where their vaccine had been administered.

Read the full story here.

07:21 AM

Covid checks for green and amber arrivals 'dropped'

Passengers from green and amber list countries may no longer face Covid checks when arriving into England, it has been reported.

Leaked instructions to Border Force staff, reported by The Guardian, said border and customs officials will no longer routinely verify if returning travellers tested negative before departure or completed a passenger locator form.

The change, which reportedly came into effect on Monday, is aimed at reducing queue times at airports.

Under the current rules, all passengers into the UK must provide a negative Covid test taken before departure, regardless of where they are travelling from.

It comes as fully-vaccinated travellers are facing queue chaos at Heathrow airport after E-gates failed to recognise their status.

07:20 AM

Heathrow queue chaos: E-gates fail to work for fully vaccinated travellers

Fully-vaccinated travellers from amber-listed countries faced queue chaos at Heathrow airport this week after E-gates failed to recognise their status, reports Charles Hymas.

One double jabbed passenger returning from Faro in Portugal on Monday told how he had to queue for 90 minutes after being rejected by the E-gates, which should have allowed him through in 90 seconds.

He said the problems were compounded because only two of a possible five Border Force officers were on duty, leaving three desks unstaffed:

It seems as though anyone arriving from a green country, and anyone who has declared they will self isolate and do their day 2 and day 8 PCR test, can get through the E-gates.

But passengers arriving from amber countries who from today are exempt from self isolation cannot use the E-gates. It could be that the technology has not been updated to take account of the new rules governing arrivals from amber countries.

Read the full report here.

07:05 AM

What happened yesterday?

A quick recap of the five top stories:

  • Scotland considers use of vaccine passports

  • Home Office says it has updated forms that caused Heathrow chaos

  • Singapore tightens lockdown as cases rise

  • Tokyo ‘could cancel Games at last minute’

  • More than half of Australia under lockdown

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