Thousands benefit from eased restrictions as pre-departure tests axed – follow live

Thousands of travellers entering the UK today will benefit from the country’s less onerous restrictions, which came into play at 4am this morning.

From that time, fully vaccinated arrivals will have swerved the requirement to present a negative Covid test before departure.

They will still have to take a post-arrival PCR test on the day they enter the UK or the following two days – but they need not isolate while awaiting the result.

From Sunday at 4am, rules will ease even further, as double-jabbed travellers may swap this “day two” PCR test for a cheaper lateral flow.

The travel industry has welcomed the change to the travel testing rules, with a surge in holiday bookings expected in the coming weeks.

As many travel companies reported a surge in enquiries and website traffic, Kuoni’s CEO Derek Jones predicted that travel will be “90 per cent back before the end of spring”.

Follow all the latest updates below.

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Thousands of passengers arriving into UK benefit from eased travel testing rules

Thousands of passengers have arrived in the UK since the travel rules were eased at 4am this morning.

Fully vaccinated travellers no longer need to take a pre-departure test, nor self-isolate on arrival until they get a negative test result.

The first arrival was Côte Des Flandres – a DFDS ferry from Calais that arrived in Dover at 4.04am.

Few travellers were on board, due to the travel ban currently imposed by France on the UK.

Simon Calder7 January 2022 12:19

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Cruise line cancels eight sailings due to Covid restrictions

A major cruise line has cancelled eight sailings in response to tighter travel restrictions introduced in the wake of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Norwegian Cruise Line cited “ongoing travel restrictions” and “Covid related circumstances” when announcing it was axing future itineraries.

“Our first priority is the health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we visit,” the brand said in a statement.

Read the full story:

Helen Coffey7 January 2022 11:28

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Israel lifts UK travel ban

Israel has removed the UK from its red list for travel, lifting a travel ban that has been in place for nearly a month.

“Starting tonight (Thursday to Friday, midnight 07.01.2022), all countries will be removed from the list of red countries, subject to the approval of the Government and the Knesset’s Constitution Committee,” Israel’s Ministry of Health announced yesterday on Twitter.

“Despite the change, it should be noted that in many countries around the world the morbidity situation is higher than in Israel, and therefore it is advisable to avoid reaching these places unnecessarily as much as possible,” the Ministry added.

Read the full story:

Lucy Thackray7 January 2022 10:43

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Propeller smashes through cabin window after bird strikes plane midflight

A bird struck a plane’s propeller on Monday, causing it to disintegrate and smash through one of the cabin windows.

The Airlink Jetstream JS-41 was running a charter flight from Johannesburg to Venetia Mine, South Africa, on 3 January when the incident happened shortly before landing, the airline reported.

According to an Airlink statement, none of the passengers or crew were injured and pilots were able to land safely, but the aircraft sustained substantial damage.

Dramatic passenger photos show an almost entirely shattered cabin window, a frayed segment of the right hand propeller, damage to the inside of the fuselage and debris strewn across the plane aisle.

Lucy Thackray7 January 2022 09:54

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Pre-departure travel tests scrapped from today

Travel to the UK has become easier for those who are fully vaccinated from today, as the government has scrapped the need for pre-departure Covid tests.

From 4am, travellers who can prove they’ve been double jabbed need not show a negative test result before embarking on their journey to the UK.

They also need not quarantine while awaiting the result of their “day two” post-arrival coronavirus test.

However, all previous rules remain in place for arrivals who aren’t fully vaccinated.

Read our travel correspondent Simon Calder’s full explainer on the new rules here:

Helen Coffey7 January 2022 08:48

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Good morning, and welcome to The Independent’s travel liveblog. We’ll be bringing you all the latest updates throughout the day.

Helen Coffey7 January 2022 08:29

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Scotland eases restrictions in line with rest of UK

Scotland has become the last UK nation to relax travel restrictions, in line with England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport Michael Matheson said:

“Given the rapid spread of Omicron last year it was essential that we took immediate steps to protect public health in Scotland, particularly with regards to international travel.

“We still have significant concerns over Omicron, but we recognise that, now it is the most dominant strain in Scotland and across the UK, it is sensible to review the measures currently in place.

“We also fully understand the impact of the restrictions on staff and businesses in the travel and aviation sectors and these changes demonstrate our commitment not to keep measures in place any longer than necessary.

“However, people still need to be extremely careful when travelling and to remember that both our and other countries’ Covid-19 requirements can change at short notice as things can evolve very quickly.

“People should therefore ensure they have travel insurance and carefully check their booking terms and conditions, as well as ensuring compliance with the latest regulations for the country being visited.”

Simon Calder6 January 2022 17:24

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‘People need to be able to travel’ – Grant Shapps

The transport secretary Grant Shapps has emphasised that travel testing is no longer useful now that “widespread and worldwide”, saying the extra test requirement from December has “outlived its usefulness”.

“We have to get away from the idea that within the UK we’re a safe haven but the rest of the world is dangerous – that’s not the case,” the transport secretary told the BBC.

“We’re an international country, people need to be able to travel – we need to travel to be able to see family, do business, and keep the economy going.

“Seeing [that] Omicron is everywhere, Omicron testing has really outlived its usefulness, and we don’t keep things in place when there’s no point to having them there.”

Lucy Thackray6 January 2022 15:41

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France to ease travel restrictions for some Brits

France is set to ease its strict travel ban on the UK, according to the French authorities.

French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal confirmed on 5 January that it would soon become a “bit easier” to travel between the two nations.

A near-total ban was imposed on travellers from the UK last month in response to the growing threat of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Only French citizens and residents were allowed to enter the country from Britain, along with those who met the criteria for a slim handful of “compelling reasons”.

Read the full story:

Helen Coffey6 January 2022 15:14

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Clarity needed on booster jabs for travel, says Travel Network Group CEO

Travel businesses are demanding clarity on if and when a booster jab will be needed for travel, says Gary Lewis, CEO of The Travel Network Group, which represents more than 1,200 travel businesses in the UK.

“The scrapping of pre-departure tests to secure entry into the UK and the option to take a cheaper day two lateral flow test is fantastic news for the travel industry but the government is seemingly giving with one hand and threatening to take away with the other – on Tuesday we heard the Prime Minister suggest that a Covid booster vaccine will be required for international travel,” said Lewis in a statement.

“Consumers will be delighted with the extra savings to be made from today’s announcements, and it will certainly give a confidence boost to those pondering a holiday booking this month, but the uncertainty of a triple-jab ‘travel passport’ is going to cause more confusion.

“We are in favour of vaccinations and we’re asking the government to give us clarity on whether travel will be completely ruled out for those who can’t have a booster jab for whatever reason.”

Lucy Thackray6 January 2022 14:25