Travel news latest: Legal action launched over ‘false imprisonment’ at quarantine hotels

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New York’s decision to extend its vaccine passport scheme to cover those aged 5-11 will see families snub the city and travel elsewhere, an industry insider has predicted. 

From December 14, all those above the age of four will need to present evidence of a Covid vaccination to visit restaurants and indoor attractions such as Broadway shows. 

“We know that restrictions simply put people off travelling so New York is not doing itself any favours with this planned measure,” said Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency. “Britain, along with most other countries, has not approved vaccines for children under 12 so families will simply choose to go to those destinations which are more sensible in dealing with Covid. 

“In the short-term, New York’s loss is Europe’s gain as families will choose to visit countries which are friendlier to younger children. It’s no wonder airlines, tour operators and agents are so busy having to deal with rebookings to other destinations at the moment. The more barriers to entry places introduce, the fewer visitors they will see.”

A Visit USA spokesperson said: “We are unfortunately seeing a number of additional restrictions come in around the world and it is impossible to respond until we all understand how the latest strain of Covid is going to help accelerate global regulations that are easy for everyone to understand and adhere to so travel can become as straightforward as possible.”

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‘Impossible’ to introduce Covid-19 restrictions after Downing Street lockdown party, says Tory MP

A Tory MP has said the Government is likely to find it “almost impossible” to introduce “very proscriptive” Covid-19 restrictions, after a video emerged showing aides joking about festive celebrations last year.

Sir Charles Walker, MP for Broxbourne in Hertfordshire, was speaking after footage was obtained by ITV News, showing Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s then-press secretary Allegra Stratton and adviser Ed Oldfield, along with other aides, laughing about a “fictional” Downing Street party in December 2020.

He told Times Radio: “I think now that, going forward, any measures will be advisory. I think it would be very difficult to enshrine them in law and then once again ask our poor police forces to enforce them.”

He added: “To be very proscriptive about this now, particularly as we’ve had such a successful vaccine rollout… is much more difficult, and was always going to be much more difficult. And the events of the last 24 hours make it probably almost impossible now.”

Follow the main Covid live blog for more

Greece, Portugal and PCR tests dominate the year in search

Google has released its annual list of the year’s most popular search terms, and it will come as no surprise to see Covid restrictions dominating when it comes to travel. 

The rather depressing “Travel update UK” takes the top spot, followed by the equally unenticing “PCR test for travel” and, er, “Caravan holidays”. Portugal and Greece, two countries that have tried their hardest to keep their borders open and lure Britons, also made the list. 

2021’s most searched-for travel terms

  1. Travel update UK
  2. PCR test for travel
  3. Caravan holidays
  4. Portugal holidays
  5. Travel green list
  6. International travel
  7. Travel corridors
  8. Greece travel restrictions
  9. Travel to France from UK
  10. Malta holidays

Anger after Israel exempts beauty pageant contestants from travel ban

Few countries reacted with as much caution to the emergence of the omicron variant as Israel, which closed its borders to all foreign arrivals. There is one notable exception to the rule, however. Contestants in the Miss Universe beauty pageant, which takes place in Eilat on December 12, have been granted permission to visit. 

The decision has angered those in Israel with family overseas, include a group of pregnant women who have launched a campaign video urging Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked to allow their non-Israeli parents to visit.

Austria poised to lift lockdown, but only for the vaccinated

Austria  will end its two-week lockdown on Sunday, but strict restrictions will remain for unvaccinated citizens, Chancellor Karl Nehammer has said. Full details have yet to be decided. 

Ski resorts in the country will reopen, and Britons still hoping to ski in the county this winter will need to present evidence of a Covid vaccination to enter the country. Unvaccinated skiers would be wise to look elsewhere. 

Russia resumes space tourism after decade-long hiatus

A Russian rocket took off on Wednesday carrying a Japanese billionaire to the International Space Station, marking the country’s return to space tourism after a decade-long pause that saw the rise of competition from privately held US companies.

Online fashion tycoon Yusaku Maezawa and his production assistant Yozo Hirano blasted off from the Russia-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 0738 GMT, an AFP correspondent at the scene said.

Their journey aboard the three-person Soyuz spacecraft piloted by cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin will take just over six hours, capping a banner year that many have seen as a turning point for private space travel.

Fellow billionaires Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson all made breakthrough commercial tourism flights this year, bursting into a market Russia is keen to defend.

Inbound tourism businesses count the cost of fresh restrictions

The destructive impact of fresh travel restrictions in the wake of the omicron variant has been laid bare in a new survey by travel trade association UKinbound.

More than 100 businesses, including inbound tour operators, accommodation providers and attractions, provided feedback, with 86% confirming they have received cancellations or are expecting to receive cancellations in the run up to Christmas.

Joss Croft, CEO of UKinbound, said “Although thoroughly depressing, these results are not surprising. International consumer confidence to travel to the UK has taken another huge hit, and the UK’s kneejerk decisions and lack of support for businesses that bear the consequences, means the recovery of this industry has already been derailed.”

How London became the world’s most congested city

Drivers can waste 148 hours a year in our capital, which now has more traffic than Paris – but why?

Harry de Quetteville investigates.

Are cycle lanes to blame?

Are cycle lanes to blame?

Credit:
Getty

New York’s vaccine passport rules

  • Currently, in New York City, people 12 and older participating in public indoor activities are required to show proof of at least one dose of vaccination.
  • As of December 27, in New York City, people 12 and older participating in public indoor activities will be required to show proof they have received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or the one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
  • As of December 14, in New York City, children ages 5 to 11 will be required to have proof of one dose of a vaccine vaccination for public indoor activities.

Tui hopes for 2022 rebound

Holiday giant Tui said it hopes summer 2022 bookings will rebound near to levels seen before the pandemic as it revealed an annual loss of more than £2 billion.

The group said it is close to breaking even in the final three months of its financial year, to September 30, with a quarterly underlying loss of 97 million euros (£82.7 million).

But the firm added it is reviewing whether to cut the remainder of its winter programme in light of the spread of the omicron variant of coronavirus and a fourth wave of the pandemic.

It reported am annual group loss of 2.47 billion euros (£2.1 billion), against losses of 3.15 billion euros (£2.7 billion) in 2019-20, as it continued to be hit hard by Covid-19 travel restrictions for much of the year.

Tui said the first quarter of the new financial year is 93% booked, though it is still running 31% below pre-pandemic levels.

It hopes summer 2022 will see a bounce-back close to 2019 bookings, but stressed customers are continuing to book later and at short notice.

What happened yesterday?

Before we kick off today’s updates, here’s a reminder of Tuesday’s key stories:

  • The closure of nightclubs across France for at least a month dealt ski holidays another blow
  • The World Heath Organisation, the United Nations, and even the Archbishop of Canterbury joined calls for governments to scrap travel restrictions
  • However, EU ministers called for even more curbs on travel, including extra testing and even mandatory quarantines
  • Abta warned that new restrictions could ‘tip travel companies over the edge’

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