Travel news latest: Foreign holiday ban comes into force ahead of ‘red list’ review

Overseas holidays are banned under UK law from today as new legislation comes into force – the tightened rules come as the Government is expected to review the list of “red list” countries, from which direct flights are banned.

It is now illegal to leave the UK without a “reasonable excuse” and anyone who travels to a port or airport with the aim of leaving the country could face fines of up to £5,000. The ban will remain in place until June 30, although could be changed in order to permit foreign travel after May 17. 

It comes into effect following the news that a four-tier traffic light system could save summer holidays, with the Government considering a plan submitted by Heathrow Airport. Airlines, including BA, Virgin, EasyJet and Ryanair, said that under this plan “green tier” countries should have no restrictions

Red list countries would remain under the proposed system and ministers are to discuss on Tuesday if France should be added after Oliver Dowden hinted that the “very worrying” third Covid wave in Europe could prevent holidays abroad this summer.

Mr Dowden said there were “challenges” with resuming international travel. “You only have to look across the continent and see the rising case rates in many of our nearest neighbours,” he told Time Radio on Sunday.

Scroll down for the latest travel updates.

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‘Airlines back simple red, amber and green’ system for travel restart

Heathrow’s proposed plan for resuming international travel includes four categories: green (no restrictions), yellow (Covid testing), amber (testing and short quarantine), red (direct travel ban and hotel quarantine)

However, Airlines UK, the trade body for UK registered airlines, said airlines are back a simpler system. A spokesperson said:

Airlines are backing a simple red, amber and green system for restarting international air travel from 17 May. If a country has low rates of Covid or high vaccination levels like the UK, restriction free travel would begin. Amber countries would require rapid tests to guard against any risk of imported infection for those not vaccinated, and only red countries would be subject to the strictest measures, where there are genuine risks around variants of concern.

As the vaccination rollout continues around the world, more countries would move to green status. We know universal pre-Covid travel won’t happen from day one, but with May still two months away, we have a workable framework that will enable aviation to help kickstart our post-covid recovery, whilst keeping the public safe.


Freedom day: ‘stay-at-home’ rule lifts today in England

As of today the “stay at home” rule has lifted, meaning people are no longer legally required to remain in their houses or flats unless taking part in a valid exception.

Similarly the Government has dropped its “stay local” messaging, meaning households are no longer explicitly told to remain in their geographical area.

Instead there is new guidance that encourages people to “minimise” travel, reflecting the fact that the Government does not want people continually moving across the country.

Here’s a guide to what has changed today.


Minister to discuss France as possible addition to ‘red list’

The tightening of  travel restrictions for European arrivals is expected to be on the agenda at a Tuesday meeting of the Cabinet sub-committee.

France will be among the countries discussed as possible additions to the “red list”. These are the 35 countries currently on the list of places from which direct flights are banned. Britons arriving in England who have been in one of these countries in the previous 10 days are subject to 11 days in a quarantine hotel at a cost of up to £1,750 per person.

  1. South Africa
  2. DR Congo
  3. Tanzania
  4. Zimbabwe
  5. Botswana
  6. Eswatini
  7. Zambia
  8. Malawi
  9. Namibia
  10. Lesotho
  11. Mozambique
  12. Angola
  13. Rwanda
  14. Burundi
  15. Somalia
  16. Ethiopia
  17. United Arab Emirates (including Dubai)
  18. Oman
  19. Seychelles
  20. Qatar
  21. Panama
  22. Cape Verde
  23. Argentina
  24. Brazil
  25. Bolivia
  26. Chile
  27. Colombia
  28. Ecuador
  29. French Guiana
  30. Guyana
  31. Paraguay
  32. Peru
  33. Suriname
  34. Uruguay
  35. Venezuela  

The four-tier traffic light system that could save summer holidays

Government considering proposal put forward by Heathrow Airport that includes an ‘amber’ three-day quarantine option, the Telegraph reported this weekend. 

Heathrow Airport has submitted plans to Boris Johnson’s global travel taskforce proposing a four-tier traffic light scheme with an “amber” option of a customised three-day quarantine and testing regime specifically designed to combat the threat from new Covid variants.

The risk of importing variants – such as the South African and Brazilian versions now spreading in mainland Europe – is regarded by government scientists and Mr Johnson as the biggest hurdle to restarting international travel on May 17 and saving summer holidays.

The airport, whose boss John Holland-Kaye is influential in government circles, proposes that the amber alert would be triggered where a “variant of concern” was identified in a country and there was uncertainty among scientists about the risk it posed to the efficacy of the UK’s vaccine programme.

Read how the proposals would work.

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