The popular holiday destination was hastily moved to the new category on the evening of Friday 15 July, unofficially the “amber plus” list, which mandated 10 days of self-isolation and two PCR tests regardless of vaccination status.
It followed the introduction of new rules for fully vaccinated Britons, who could swerve quarantine when returning from amber destinations.
Both sets of restrictions came into force at 4am on 19 July.
Just two weeks after the amber plus introduction, restrictions from France look set to be dropped as the threat from the Beta variant of coronavirus wanes, reports The Times.
It’s understood that the Delta variant, the prevalent mutation in the UK, is now spreading faster than the Beta variant – first identified in South Africa.
Finland opens to vaccinated travellers
Finland opens to fully vaccinated travellers today with no quarantine or testing.
Travellers must be 14 days clear of their last vaccination, and can present the NHS app Covid Pass as proof of their status.
Finland is currently on the UK’s amber list, which means fully vaccinated travellers can swerve quarantine on return, and instead take just one post-arrival PCR test.
Cathy Adams26 July 2021 12:03
Public transport hit by ‘pingdemic’
Public transport services are being hit by staff self-isolating.
Workers in the sector are among the vast number of people being pinged by the NHS coronavirus app.
Reduced timetables have been introduced on railways across England in an attempt to improve reliability after a recent spate of last-minute cancellations due to staff shortages.
Passengers are being advised to check their train is running before they leave home.
Thameslink and Southern has cut its weekday timetables on five routes “until further notice”, and warned that further changes could be required.
Avanti West Coast has reduced the frequency of its services between London Euston and Manchester, Birmingham and North Wales to “manage staff shortages and ensure a reliable service”.
A revised timetable with fewer services was also launched by London Northwestern Railway on Saturday.
ScotRail said a “very limited number of trains” are being cancelled due to staff shortages, but it has not amended its timetables.
Transport for London closed the Circle and Hammersmith and City lines over the weekend due to more than 300 members of staff self-isolating.
Cuba infection rates continue to rise
On what is usually a day of celebration on the island of Cuba, the nation is instead coping with a relentless rise in coronavirus cases.
At the weekend Cuba’s rate of new infections overtook the UK’s for the first time in six weeks.
“Moncada Day,” 26 July, is the most sacred day in the republic’s calendar. It marks the day in 1953 on which a young Fidel Castro and 125 other young dissidents opposed to the regime of the dictator Batista launched a futile attack on the Moncada army barracks in the city of Santiago de Cuba.
Cuba, normally a destination for hundreds of thousands of British holidaymakers, is current on the UK’s “red list,” requiring hotel quarantine.
Simon Calder26 July 2021 11:24
Tour guide calls UK’s warning on Canada ‘risible’
As the Foreign Office continues to insist that Canada belongs on the no-go list because of its Covid infection rates, a leading tour guide has accused the government of “ruling by fear with these draconian decrees”.
Six weeks ahead of Canada’s planned reopening to fully vaccinated travellers on 7 September, the Foreign Office continues to warn against all but essential travel to the world’s second-largest country.
The reason stated: “The current assessment of Covid-19 risks.”
According to Our World in Data, the UK’s rate of new infections relative to population yesterday was 50 times higher than Canada’s.
Paul Goldstein, who leads tours of Baffin Island in the territory of Nunavut, said: “The government’s risible traffic light system is utterly broken. How can you have a country like Canada which has a rate 50 times less infectious than the UK being a no-go area?
“They have made this ludicrous policy up as they go along. Ruling by fear with these draconian decrees I thought was the domain of the Soviet Union in the 50s.”
Simon Calder26 July 2021 10:54
UK economy ‘falling behind’ due to NHS-only jabs policy, says airport boss
The government’s refusal to allow passengers vaccinated against Covid abroad to avoid self-isolation on arrival is nonsensical, the chief executive of Heathrow has said.
At present travellers fully jabbed by the NHS need not quarantine on arrival in the UK from more than 150 “amber list” countries. But all other passengers from those nations must self-isolate, regardless of their vaccination status.
As a result, prospective visitors are switching away from United Kingdom to countries that recognise overseas jabs.
John Holland-Kaye told The Independent: “We are throwing away the Covid vaccination benefit we have had. Why have this restriction against people who have been doubly vaccinated coming here? It makes no sense.
“There has to come a point where we take the benefit of the huge advances we’ve made with vaccinations.
“This is like coming first, and not finishing in the medals. Government is just allowing the UK economy to fall behind, consciously.”
Read the full story here:
Simon Calder26 July 2021 10:42
The next traffic light update
The next traffic light reshuffle is due next week, likely on Wednesday or Thursday.
Here’s everything you need to know:
Cathy Adams26 July 2021 10:27
Heathrow reports huge traffic slump
Heathrow, formerly the busiest airport in Europe, lost £348m during the first six months of 2021. Passenger numbers are expected to be even lower overall this year than they were in 2020.
Passenger traffic was around one-10th of the comparable spell in 2019. During the course of this year, the airport expects to handle 21.5 million passengers. This represents a 73 per cent decline compared with 2019, and representing a 3 per cent fall on last year – when January and February traffic levels performed well.
Heathrow’s prediction assumes “the expected gradual addition of countries to the UK government’s ‘green list’ over the balance of the year”.
The airport said the UK government’s decision not to recognise foreign-administered vaccines for the purposes of avoiding quarantine was partly responsible for Heathrow slipping further behind European rivals.
Simon Calder26 July 2021 10:26