Travel news latest: New UK travel rules throw half-term holidays into chaos

Advice

Thousands of families face yet more travel disappointment, as new advice against non-essential travel from regions across northern England, the Midlands, and London puts half term holidays out of bounds. 

Government guidance now says the public should avoid travelling in and out of areas where the so-called Indian variant is growing fastest “unless it is essential” – which holidays, of course, are not.

The new advice covers the areas governed by Bedford Borough Council, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Bolton Metropolitan Council and Burnley Borough Council. Also included are Kirklees Council, Leicester City Council, the London Borough of Hounslow and North Tyneside Council.

People living in these areas should consider “whether it really is essential” for them to travel, the Work and Pensions Secretary told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

Asked whether a family from Bolton should cancel their half-term holiday plans to a green list country, Therese Coffey said: “I’m not going to give individual travel guidance on some hypothetical situations to people in different parts of the country.

“The guidance is very clear that people need to consider whether it really is essential. I’m conscious that the green list is there […] But I think people just need to consider carefully the risks that they are under themselves.”

Scroll down for more on this, and today’s other top travel stories. 

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‘Warrior spirit’ and sheep diplomacy: how Mongolia is sprinting ahead in vaccine race

88 per cent of Mongolia’s adult population has had their first vaccine

88 per cent of Mongolia’s adult population has had their first vaccine

Credit:
Getty

Mongolia is a small player on the international stage, best known for its expansive, rugged landscapes and nomadic culture. 

But amid a frantic global scramble for vaccines, the sparsely populated nation has become the latest – and perhaps most surprising – member of an elusive club: those with plenty of shots. 

According to the latest government data, 88 per cent of Mongolia’s adult population has had their first vaccine, while 40 per cent have been given two. In the capital city, Ulaanbaatar, nearly 99 per cent of adults have had at least one jab – and there are no signs the country will exhaust its supply. 

Could Mongolia be next on the green list?

Confused ‘high risk’ holidaymakers take to social media for answers

Britons who have booked holidays for this half term, only to find out that non-essential travel is advised from their home region, have taken to Twitter to appeal for clarity on the rules:

Send us your questions about holidays

What are your rights if you want to postpone your trip? Do you now have to cancel your holiday if you live in a ‘high risk’ area?

The Government’s new non-essential travel restrictions have cast even more doubt on holidays for this half term and summer – so if you have a question about travel, we want to answer it

Hugh Morris, Telegraph Travel’s news editor, will be responding to your queries in the comments section below –from 12:30 today. Please post your queries in advance, so he can get through as many as possible. Thankyou!

Ireland to scrap 14-day quarantine for UK holidaymakers

Tourist board hopes restriction-free travel will trigger influx of visitors to the Emerald Isle this summer

Tourist board hopes restriction-free travel will trigger influx of visitors to the Emerald Isle this summer

Credit:
Getty

Ireland is set to announce this week that it will lift its 14-day quarantine for UK holidaymakers.

The Irish tourist board is this week also expected to launch a multi-million pound marketing campaign to encourage visitors to the Emerald isle, Britain’s fifth biggest tourism market, this summer.

All Britons currently arriving from the UK mainland are required to quarantine for 14 days on arrival in Ireland even though the two countries are part of the Common Travel area.

Under the Irish Government’s plans to kickstart summer travel, it will remove quarantine and tests allowing restriction-free travel between the UK mainland and Ireland. Travellers returning to the UK will not face quarantine under the terms of the common travel agreement.

Charles Hymas has the full story.

Melbourne braces for more cases after new outbreak

The Australian city of Melbourne reinstated Covid restrictions today as authorities scrambled to find the missing link in a fresh outbreak that has grown to five cases.

All cases belong to one extended family across different households, and could be traced back to the variant found in an overseas traveller who returned to Melbourne this month after completing quarantine in the city of Adelaide.

Authorities, however, said they could not find how the latest cases contracted the virus from the traveller.

Home gatherings will be limited to five guests; only 30 people allowed at public meetings; and face masks will be mandatory indoors until June 4.

Thousands have been ordered to self-isolate and undergo tests with health alerts issued for several sites, including one of the largest shopping centres in the country.

One of the cases had a high viral load while he visited venues, prompting authorities to warn Melbourne’s five million residents to brace for more positive cases in the next few days.

No quick bounce back for domestic tourism, warns VisitBritain

Spending by domestic holidaymakers in the UK this year is set to be just half of pre-pandemic levels, the UK’s tourism authority has warned. 

VisitBritain and VisitEngland estimate that domestic tourism will be worth £51.4bn in 2021 – down from £91.6bn two years ago – while inbound international tourism will contribute just £6.2bn to the UK economy. This is less than a quarter of the pre-pandemic figure, £28.4bn in 2019.

Although overseas travel restrictions have triggered nationwide demand for domestic holidays, it seems that consumers are wary of committing to UK breaks – perhaps opting to save and spend the money on a trip abroad instead. 

Windsor Castle is usually busy with international tourists, but the tourism authority hopes to encourage domestic travellers to visit

Windsor Castle would usually be busy with international holidaymakers, but the tourism authority hopes to encourage domestic travellers to visit instead

Credit:
Alamy

“Britain’s tourism industry is a huge driver of our economy but has faced many challenges over the past year,” said tourism minister Nigel Huddleston.

“We’ve provided more than £25bn in support, and I have been impressed by VisitBritain/VisitEngland and the wider sector for its agile and innovative response, coming up with new ways to provide hospitality and entertainment while maintaining social distancing and protecting people’s safety.”

Last week, the tourism authority launched a new commercial campaign, ‘Escape the Everyday’, encouraging Britons to travel domestically – particularly to cities and attractions popular with international tourists, as they face a summer of reduced trade. 

Americans warned against travel to Japan  

The United States has warned its citizens  not to travel to Olympic host Japan, citing the growing risk of the Covid-19 pandemic in the Asian nation just two months before the Games begin.

But the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee said it was still “confident” that American athletes will be able to participate this summer in Tokyo.

The Tokyo Olympics will go ahead this summer, despite Japan's rising Covid infections 

The Tokyo Olympics will go ahead this summer, despite Japan’s rising Covid infections 

Credit:
Getty

The warning came in a travel advisory issued by the State Department as Japan, which has been criticised for its slow inoculation rate, opened its first mass vaccination centres in a push ahead of the Olympics, which were postponed last year due to the pandemic.

The decision was based primarily on government health advice, as well as “secondary factors such as commercial flight availability, restrictions on US citizen entry, and impediments to obtaining Covid test results within three calendar days,” the advisory said.

TUI cancels holidays to red and amber destinations 

TUI has axed holidays to a number of amber and red destinations, including Turkey and the Dominican Republic, until the end of June – citing the ‘ongoing uncertainty’ around travel restrictions. 

The tour operator had previously been selling holidays to destinations that were not given the green light by the UK Government, but has now pulled nine red and amber countries from its schedule.

The tour operator had hoped that Turkey would soon be given the green light for holidays 

The tour operator had hoped that Turkey would soon be given the green light for holidays 

Credit:
Getty

In a statement, the tour operator explained:

We have unfortunately had to cancel all holidays to the following Red and Amber destinations up to and including 27th June:
Mexico,
Dominican Republic,
Costa Rica,
Turkey,
Egypt,
Cape Verde,
Morocco,
Tunisia and
Bulgaria.

All customers impacted by these cancellations will be contacted directly and will be able to request a full cash refund, or to change to a later date or alternative holiday and receive a booking incentive.

If we need to cancel any future holidays because of updated Government guidance, we will be in touch with you directly and will aim to give you at least 7 days’ notice. We would like to thank our customers for their understanding at this time.

Monday’s headlines

Before we begin, let’s take a quick look at the week’s travel headlines so far:

  • Spain expects to be added to green list on June 7
  • UK aviation body suspends permits of Belarusian carriers
  • Fewest holidays taken by Britons since 1985
  • Spain welcomes tourists from today, with no need to test
  • Secret security agents were on board ‘hijacked’ Belarusian flight, Ryanair boss claims

Now, on with today’s headlines.

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