Travel news latest: Ryanair boss slams ‘monstrously stupid’ travel restrictions

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Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has attacked the Government’s traffic light rules and called for a simplified system for foreign travel. 

Speaking to the Independent, Mr O’Leary said: “You need to have a very simple system: if you’re double vaccinated, no restrictions. If you’re not double vaccinated, get a PCR test.

“This monstrously stupid system, that requires passengers from Europe to be double vaccinated and get a PCR test, doesn’t help deal with the Covid problem,” he added.

The comments add to renewed calls from the travel industry to re-examine testing protocols. Aito Director, Neal Josephides, has said of the current rules: “Rather than planned and logical, it’s as if primary school children were using playdough to decide how testing should operate, without the senior-level intellectual and practical input one would expect for such an important matter.”

The calls come as NHS figures have revealed that people who holiday in England have a higher chance of testing positive than those going to overseas destinations. Data showed that the test positivity rate for England stood at 1.36 per cent for the three weeks to August 11, compared with 1.3 per cent for the 500,000 holidaymakers who jetted to amber countries and were tested on their return.

Scroll down for the latest updates.   

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Virgin Australia expects some international routes to return by Christmas

Virgin Australia’s chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka has said that the airline expects to be flying to some destinations by Christmas as the country’s vaccine rollout speeds up. 

She said: “We get the domestic borders open and we test and learn with international borders.

“I don’t know what we are waiting for – if we’re 75 per cent vaccinated, we should be getting Australia open and allowing loved ones to reconnect, allowing Australians to get back to a way of life that we have cherished for a long time and worked hard to earn the right for.”

Ms Hrdlicka said vaccination was Australia’s route out of severe restrictions. 

“Vaccination is our way back to the things we love and the people we miss, and most importantly, it’s the only way we can protect the lives and livelihoods of all Australians.” 

Which countries are on the green list?

The latest traffic light changes came into effect on Monday. If you’re planning a trip abroad, the first leg of your pre-trip research will be to check which category your chosen destination falls under.

See the full green listamber list and red list.

Leading tour operator announces vaccine mandate for travellers

The Travel Corporation has announced that all adult guests on its escorted tours must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. 

The company, whose brands include Trafalgar, Contiki, Costsaver, Insight Vacations, Luxury Gold and AAT Kings, will require travellers to have completed their vaccination programme at least 14 days before travel.

Trafalgar chief executive Gavin Tollman wrote in Travel Weekly:

“We have always put guest safety first, but we’re also cognisant that guests get the seamless and enjoyable experience they have become accustomed to.

“This need has led us to, from today (September 1), institute a Covid-19 vaccination requirement for all adult guests travelling with our TTC guided brands.

“Under the new policy, adult travellers will need to show documented proof of having received an approved full Covid-19 vaccination at least 14 days prior to the start of their trip.

“The policy will run until at least December 31 2022, and I urge other operators to follow suit and introduce similar protocols.

Comment: ‘Stop inviting me to your weddings, I’d rather go on holiday’

It is nonsensical that superspreader events have been allowed this summer, while restrictions on relatively low-risk travel have endured, writes Emma Beaumont. 

A holiday to Spain trumps a wedding invite for Emma

A holiday to Spain trumps a wedding invite for Emma

Credit:
Westend61

We’re now reaching the end of a bizarre summer on head-in-the-sand island, where anything goes unless you want to travel abroad, of course. If you dare to dream of a blast of sun, well, that means multiple prodding and pricey tests, confusing passenger locator forms and frequently shifting traffic light rules. Travelling, with tested or vaccinated people, to another country where case rates are significantly lower than the UK is somehow considered more dangerous than a multigenerational singalong of Come On Eileen in a poorly ventilated venue.

It is farcical to keep these severe restrictions on holidays when research showed that only four in 1,000 fully vaccinated travellers returning to the UK tested positive for the virus in July. Meanwhile, just this week, multiple friends of mine have tested positive after attending music festivals and a Leeds United football match. My study may be a little rough but it seems like there’s a home advantage when it comes to catching Covid.

Read the full story.

Australia: Melbourne lockdown extended

Australian authorities have extended the lockdown in Melbourne for another three weeks, as they shift their focus to rapid vaccination drives and move away from a suppression strategy to bring cases down to zero.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews flagged a staggered easing of the tough restrictions once 70 per cent of the state’s adult residents receive at least one dose, a milestone he hopes to reach at least by September 23.

“We have thrown everything at this, but it is now clear to us that we are not going to drive these numbers down, they are instead going to increase,” Mr Andrews said today, after a lockdown for nearly a month failed to quell the outbreak. The lockdown has been due to end on Thursday.

Phuket Sandbox in jeopardy as red-list Thailand cases surge 

Authorities in Thailand’s island of Phuket have warned that a pioneering experiment to reopen to foreign tourists is in jeopardy after an outbreak of Covid-19 cases, reports Nicola Smith. 

The so-called Phuket Sandbox was launched on July 1 to allow fully vaccinated tourists from low- to medium-risk countries to visit without mandatory quarantine. The initial concept was to allow them to visit other Thai destinations after staying on the island for at least 14 days.

Tourist Reliant Phuket Faces Economic Pressure Despite 'Sandbox' Experiment

Tourist reliant Phuket is struggling to keep its ‘Sandbox’ experiment alive

Credit:
Bloomberg

But Phuket has now blocked itself off from the rest of the country where the virus is surging, and has instituted its own soft lockdown measures to contain an outbreak that hit at least 100 cases a day towards the end of August.

The virus is spreading among vulnerable communities even though at least 70 per cent of the local population has been vaccinated.

Tourism officials have warned that foreign tourists already feel “cheated” that they can no longer enjoy bars and entertainment venues and that tougher measures would spell doom for the scheme, reported the Bangkok Post.  

Narong Woonciew, Phuket’s governor, said local authorities are stepping up efforts to contain the surge.

“We have to join forces and move forward. This is a life-and-death situation for the future of Phuket Sandbox,” he said.

Thailand has recently been added to the UK’s red list, meaning arrivals must spend 10 days in a quarantine hotel at a cost of £2,285. 

Benidorm safer than Blackpool, with amber list holidaymakers less likely to catch Covid

Benidorm is safer than Blackpool, according to official data, with figures showing holidaymakers are more likely to contract Covid on staycations in England than breaks in amber list countries.

Analysis of NHS data shows people who stayed in England were more likely to test positive for the virus than those returning from amber or green destinations.

The test positivity rate for England stood at 1.36 per cent for the three weeks to Aug 11, compared with 1.3 per cent for the 500,000 holidaymakers who jetted to amber countries and were tested on their return.

The difference was even starker when broken down on a regional basis, with the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber topping the table with 2.1 per cent and 1.84 per cent test positivity rates respectively.

Read the full story here. 

What happened yesterday?

Here’s a recap of Tuesday’s headlines:

  • Transatlantic corridor in doubt as EU recommends US travel curbs
  • Italy lifts quarantine rules for double-jabbed Britons
  • Tui cancels holidays to Jamaica due to Foreign Office advice 
  • Costly PCR travel tests ‘here to stay’
  • US raises travel alert for European countries
  • Heathrow arrivals face another day of delays

Now, on with today’s travel news

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