Travel News

Holidaymakers from Great Britain barred from EU after 1 January under Covid rules - THE GUARDIAN UK

DECEMBER 20, 2020

British holidaymakers will be barred from the European Union from 1 January under current Covid-19 safety restrictions, with the EU commission indicating there will be no exemption for the UK.

Only a handful of countries with low coronavirus rates are exempt from rules that prohibit non-essential visitors from outside the EU and European Economic Area (EEA) – with the UK included only until the end of the Brexit transition period.

There will, however, be an exemption for Northern Ireland residents travelling to the Republic of Ireland.

EU member states agreed in October to adopt a European council proposal to allow non-essential travel from a small group of countries with lower levels of Covid cases including Australia, New Zealand and South Korea.


An EU commission spokesman last week said there were no plans to extend that to the UK. “This is a decision for the council to make,” he said.

Within the EEA, or Schengen-associated states, Norway has also confirmed it will bar UK visitors from 1 January, according to the Financial Times.

The imminent bracketing of British tourists with those of other non-EU countries such as Albania and Turkey underlines the potential impact of a no-deal Brexit. EU member states can override the European council recommendations in theory, should they wish to .

Leisure airlines including easyJet had reported a surge in bookings for 2021 in recent weeks after news of a vaccine, but many of those trips will be in doubt.

A UK government spokesperson said: “We cannot comment on decisions that could be taken by other states on public health matters.

“We take a scientific, risk-based approach to health measures at the border, and it is of course in the interests of all countries to allow safe international travel as we emerge from the pandemic.”

Under European rules, individuals can still enter the bloc in certain cases, mainly for work – including aid workers, care workers, diplomats, healthcare professionals, military personnel, seasonal farm workers and transport workers. Entry for study, transit, and urgent family reasons is also permitted.

European nationals living in the UK can still travel to the bloc.

The Foreign Office currently advises against all non-essential travel to most of Europe, bar some holiday destinations such as certain Greek islands, and quarantine on return is required for those who choose to travel.

With most insurance policies invalidated by the FCO advice – and with the end of the Ehic (European Health Insurance Card) reciprocal health cover scheme on 31 December – UK travel industry sources said that outbound bookings were currently very low for winter sports holidays in 2021.

• The headline and text of this article was amended on 10 December 2020 to clarify that Northern Ireland residents will still be able to travel to the Republic of Ireland from 1 January under the current rules.

Travellers paid more for airfares in November – NBS - PUNCH

DECEMBER 20, 2020

BY Joseph Olaoluwa

The latest data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Friday revealed that air passengers paid more for specified routes on a single journey, month-on-month and year-on-year in November.

The average fare paid by travellers increased by 0.13 per cent month-on-month and by 18.47 per cent year-on-year to N36,301.74 in November 2020 from N36,256.08 in October.

States with the highest airfares were Anambra/Cross River N38,500; Lagos N38,400 and Jigawa N38,260; while states with the lowest airfares were Akwa Ibom N32,500; Sokoto N33,200; and Gombe N34,550.

These are according to the Transport Fare Watch data for November provided by the statistics office.

The report covered bus journey within the city per drop constant route; bus journey intercity, state route, charge per person; airfare charge for specified routes single journey; journey by motorcycle per drop; and waterway passenger transport.

The NBS said the average fare paid by commuters for bus journey within the city increased by 3.61 per cent month-on-month and by 73.84 per cent year-on-year to N333.86 in November from N322.22 in October.

Similarly, the average fare paid by commuters in intercity buses increased by 1.39 per cent month-on-month and by 36.38 per cent year-on-year to N2,240.66 in November from N2,209.84 in October.

The statistics office ranked the states with the highest bus journey fare within the city as Zamfara with N595.22; Bauchi, N510.65; and Nasarawa, N438.45 while states with the lowest bus journey fares within the city were Abia N195.24; Borno N213.21; and Kebbi N220.30.

Also, states with the highest bus journey fare intercity were the FCT N4,380.40; Lagos and Sokoto N3,100; while states with lowest bus journey fare within city were Bayelsa N1,500.10; Enugu N1,597.10; and Bauchi N1,642.12.

The average fare paid by commuters for journey by motorcycle per drop increased by 4.13 per cent month-on-month and by 120.15 per cent year-on-year to N276.38 in November from N265.41 in October.

The average fare paid by passengers for waterway passenger transport also increased by 0.86 per cent month-on-month and by 35.39 per cent year-on-year to N756.84 in November from N750.42 in October.

European neighbours restrict travel to Britain as new coronavirus strain spreads - REUTERS

DECEMBER 20, 2020

LONDON (Reuters) - Several European countries placed new restrictions on travel to and from the United Kingdom on Sunday due to concern over a new strain of the coronavirus that is spreading rapidly there.

Belgium said it would close its borders to trains and planes coming from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands also suspended flights. Italy said it was planning a similar ban.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and scientists announced on Saturday that the new virus strain had led to spiralling infection numbers. The UK government tightened its COVID-19 restrictions for London and nearby areas and disrupted the Christmas holiday plans of millions of people.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo said the ban on incoming travel from Britain covers Eurostar services via the Channel Tunnel and will take effect for at least 24 hours from midnight on Sunday, broadcaster VRT said.

Belgium was also in touch with France over road transit passengers from Britain, VRT said.

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio, announcing plans to halt flights to and from Britain, said: “Our priority is to protect Italy and our compatriots.”

The Netherlands banned flights carrying passengers from the United Kingdom from Sunday and the restrictions will remain in place until Jan. 1, the Dutch government said. It is monitoring developments and considering additional measures regarding other modes of transport.

The government issued an advisory saying “do not travel” unless it is absolutely essential.

Germany could impose restrictions on flights from the United Kingdom and South Africa - which has also detected a new coronavirus strain - a German Health Ministry said.

Austria is also planning to ban flights from Britain, the APA news agency said, citing the health ministry.

Spain said that in response to the moves by some of its European Union partners, it had asked the European Commission and the European Council for a coordinated community response to the new situation.

Otherwise it would act unilaterally to defend its interests and citizens, the Madrid government said.

Like other countries in Europe, Britain is battling to contain new waves of the virus. It reported 27,052 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, taking the total over 2 million, and 534 more deaths, taking the overall official toll to more than 67,000.

In addition to the measures announced for England, the United Kingdom’s other nations, whose response to the pandemic differs from that of England at times, tightened restrictions. Scotland has imposed a ban on travel to the rest of the United Kingdom.

Reporting by Reuters bureaus; Writing by Angus MacSwan; Editing by Frances Kerry

Nigeria road safety official to carry arms - AFRICA NEWS

DECEMBER 20, 2020

BY  IBIE IKE Michael


Some security experts in Nigeria have aired their voices in support of allowing road safety officials in Nigeria to carry arms while on duty. According to a security expert Salah Bala based in the capital, Abuja the officers under the name Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) are exposed to criminality on a daily basis and hence, should be authorized to carry arms (Pistols).

He added that “there is nothing wrong arming them especially against current security challenges. They can be issued sidearms and should be well trained in arms handling on regular basis,”

The Public Relation Officer of the Corps Bisi Kareem refused to comment on the issue stating that it is a policy matter. However, speaking with the Sector commander of the Abuja command, Ayuba Gora during the flagging off of the mobile speed limit within the capital, he said the officials encounter big challenges in dealing with motorists on the highways.

“When you stop some drivers on the road, they fight you. Most of them assault our staff verbally and physically over little problems instead of them to obey. Infect some go to the extent of knocking our staff down. I can’t count how many have been killed,” he said.

A special corps marshal, Nengak Jatua reiterated that the officers have been very effective with activities this festive period adding that giving them arms will make them more efficient.

“Two heads are better than one, I think the more the better to help them control what is going on now”

The Country's House Committee on Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), recently issued a clarification on media reports that the House supports arming FRSC officials, but it said the decision is not in the best interest of the Committee and they do not support it.

It should be recalled that Africa's most populous nation witnessed a wild protest hashtag ENDSARS against police brutality in October. What began as a protest against the hated police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (Sars) has become a conduit for the youth to vent their anger with the people who have been in charge of Nigeria for decades.

British Airways axes 13 long-haul flight routes for summer 2021 - THE INDEPENDENT

DECEMBER 20, 2020

BY  Helen Coffey

British Airways is permanently cutting 13 long-haul flight routes from its summer 2021 schedule.

After a difficult year in which the pandemic and accompanying travel restrictions has grounded planes worldwide, BA is also suspending flights to SydneyBangkok and San Jose until October 2021.

“We are sorry that, like other airlines, due to the current coronavirus pandemic and global travel restrictions we are operating a reduced and dynamic schedule,” the UK flag carrier said in a statement.

“We will be in touch with any customers whose flights are affected and advise customers to check ba.com for the latest flight information.”

From the end of March, the start of the summer season, BA will no longer serve Charleston or Pittsburgh in the US, Calgary in Canada, Durban in South Africa, Dammam in Saudi Arabia or Abu Dhabi.

Also culled from the summer schedule are: Lima, Peru; Muscat, Oman; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Osaka, Japan; and Seoul, South Korea.

Beginning 24 April, flights to the Seychelles will be axed, along with services to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. However, a “short ad hoc” service to the latter will continue during Hajj, the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, which takes place 17-22 July.

Flights to Bangkok and Sydney are to be suspended between late March and 30 October, while the San Jose route is off from 17 April until autumn next year.

It follows the news that EU rules dictating that airlines must operate a certain percentage of flights or risk losing their airport slots are likely to come back into force next year.

The regulations, which stipulate that if less than 80 per cent of slots are used a carrier must forfeit some to rival airlines, were temporarily suspended during the pandemic.

It followed many airlines being forced to operate “ghost” flights – services with few or no passengers – simply to keep hold of their slots.

Aviation sources told the news organisation that major airlines are “not happy” with the EU’s proposed rule that they must use 40 per cent of slots, which could be introduced in spring 2021.

Although this is lower than the threshold of 50 per cent advised by airline trade association Iata, it doesn’t factor in another key demand that airlines have been pushing for: that they can temporarily return slots, and need only to operate half of the slots they’ve held onto.

The passports restoring the freedom to travel that Brexit is taking away - THE INDEPENDENT

DECEMBER 20, 2020

BY  Simon Calder

When I began writing a weekly column on travel on Saturday 21 May 1994, I was unsure how sustainable it might prove. Almost 1,400 weeks later, there remains a near-infinite number of travel events to report upon and interpret.

For today and the following two weeks, though, I want to focus on a subject close to our thoughts as well as our hearts: the freedom to travel.

Nathalie Haxby has a problem. Or, as I see it, an opportunity. Nathalie is originally from France but now lives in southwest London. She is a dual national with a British passport. But, she says: “My last French passport expired 15 years ago. I never needed it. With Brexit I think it’s time to get a new one and avoid restrictions on travel to the EU. Since then I have married.

"Because I didn’t need a second passport I haven’t registered my married surname with the French authorities. I am apparently still allowed to apply for a passport in my maiden name, though.

“With two passports in hand but with different surnames, can I book a flight to France using my UK passport – but then use my other passport, with a different surname, at passport control to enter the EU as a French national?”

Nathalie is one of several million people legally entitled to a European Union passport as well as their UK travel document. Whether, like Nathalie, they are from an EU country and have built a life in Britain, or they have sufficient Irish DNA to qualify for a passport from the republic, their freedom to travel after the UK finally leaves the EU should be little affected.

When the Brexit transition phase ends at 11pm on New Year’s Eve, Nathalie’s French passport will confer the benefits the UK has decided to surrender: from fast-track border crossings to the right to stay as long as she likes in another European country to work, study or just have fun.

Within Europe, there is no problem travelling with two passports in different names. The airline will want to verify that the name on the passport matches the name on the ticket; so long as you have both passports, it doesn’t matter which you name you book the ticket in. There are no UK border outbound checks.

When entering the Schengen area (almost all of the European Union plus a few hangers-on) you certainly don’t want to use your British passport if you can avoid it. You risk intrusive questions on your plans, your assets and your health; and being turned away.

Under rules devised while the UK was at the top table in Europe, British travellers to Europe will have strict limits on length of stay. In contrast, if an EU citizen turns up at an EU frontier, all the frontier official can do is check the passport is valid, and that it belongs to the traveller. The fact that it is in your maiden name makes no difference.

Coming back, it matters little which passport you use: Europeans will be able to use the same e-gates as British travellers when entering the UK.

Fourteen hundred weeks ago, I could never have imagined that any major European country – let alone the increasingly welcoming, open and diverse UK – would choose to make life more difficult for its citizens to travel.

That the two key Vote Leave claims – “Turkey (population 76 million) is joining the European Union” and “Let’s give the NHS the £350m the EU takes every week” – were blatant lies is now irrelevant, and just illustrates what judiciously applied nationalism can achieve, even in a moderate and tolerant nation.

Meanwhile, Nathalie and anyone else who is entitled to a passport issued by a moderate and tolerant EU nation can take back control of their travel despite the UK’s decision to surrender ours. Bon courage et bons voyages.

COVID-19 Second Wave: Atiku wants FG to temporarily halt all UK flights - VANGUARD

DECEMBER 20, 2020

By Emmanuel Okogba

Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, wants the Federal Government to halt all flights to and from the United Kingdom as a second wave of the pandemic continues to ravage it. 

Atiku made the call on Sunday in a series of tweets where he explained that the reason Nigeria took a harder-than-necessary hit during the first wave was because the Federal Government failed to heed warnings of well-meaning Nigerians. 

He further opined that Nigeria’s health sector is not sufficiently prepared to handle a sudden and unpredictable surge of the pandemic. 

He advised that Nigeria must take necessary precautions due to the volume of air traffic between Nigerian airports and London, where this new strain has erupted. Read his tweets below… Vanguard News Nigeria Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/20...

Quarantine-free travel from the U.S. to Europe shows the first, small signs of becoming reality - CNBC

DECEMBER 20, 2020

BY  Monica Buchanan Pitrelli

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­New preflight testing programs are allowing a small number of Americans to have a European Christmas holiday this year after all.

On Tuesday, Delta Air Lines launched a Covid-19 testing program for customers flying from Atlanta to Amsterdam, while a second program is scheduled to start on Saturday for Delta passengers flying to Rome.

Unlike other preflight testing programs being conducted by American and United Airlines, Delta’s programs allow passengers to avoid quarantine requirements in Europe.

Three tests to Amsterdam, and four for Rome

Delta’s new â€œCovid-tested flights” originate from Georgia’s Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and will fly four times weekly to Amsterdam and three times weekly to Rome.

Passengers can avoid quarantines if they test negative for Covid-19 at varying intervals before and after the flight, including:

  1. Five days before arriving in Amsterdam or up to 72 hours before departing to Rome (via PCR, or polymerase chain reaction test)
  2. Before boarding the flight at Atlanta’s airport (rapid test)
  3. Upon landing in Amsterdam (PCR test) and Rome (rapid test)
  4. At the airport before returning to the U.S. (rapid test, Rome’s program only)

Delta passengers to Amsterdam and Rome can bypass quarantining if they test negative for Covid-19 at least three times and meet EU exemption rules. Delta passengers to Amsterdam and Rome can bypass quarantining if they test negative for Covid-19 at least three times and meet EU exemption rules. Nicolas Economou | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Notably, passengers must pass two PCR tests to avoid quarantining in Amsterdam. PCR tests, also referred to as molecular tests, are more accurate than rapid antigen tests but results can take days to process since they must be sent to a lab.   

In a press release published on Dec. 15, Delta said “once a negative result is received, customers will not need to quarantine.” In response to a question about how long passengers must wait for their results, a Delta representative told CNBC’s Global Traveler, “We would say most [PCR tests] take a few hours to get results.”

The Delta representative also said passengers can wait for their test results in their homes and hotels.

Passengers who just landed from New York on an Alitalia flight undergo a rapid antigen test for Covid-19 at Rome's Fiumicino Airport on Dec. 9, 2020. Passengers who just landed from New York on an Alitalia flight undergo a rapid antigen test for Covid-19 at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport on Dec. 9, 2020. ANDREAS SOLARO | AFP | Getty Images

Delta is talking to other governments about launching additional quarantine-free flights, including a New York to Rome connection, Reuters reported this week.

Italy’s national carrier, Alitalia, on Dec. 8 started three weekly flights on that route which allow passengers to avoid quarantines if they present a negative Covid-19 test conducted within 48 hours prior to the flight or perform a rapid test at the airport before boarding.

Alitalia customers departing from the United States must also pass a rapid test upon arrival to avoid Italy’s quarantine obligation.

Program eligibility

Delta’s two preflight programs are available to â€œall citizens permitted to travel to the Netherlands or Italy for essential reasons, such as for certain specified work, health and education reasons,” according to Delta’s website.

Americans have been blocked from entering the European Union since it closed its external borders last March. The U.S. was not on a list of countries permitted to enter the EU starting July 1, a list which has since dwindled as countries have struggled to contain coronavirus outbreaks within their borders.

However, some travelers are able to enter the EU through exemptions, which include people who provide “an essential function or need” such as health care professionals and researchers, diplomats, military personnel, humanitarian aid workers and passengers traveling for imperative family reasons, among others.

Airlines aren’t waiting for vaccines

Though vaccines are expected to help repair the badly tattered global travel industry next year, airlines are not waiting.

“The arrival of a vaccine is fantastic news, but it will take time for it to become widely available around the world,” said Delta Senior Vice President Perry Cantarutti. “It’s for this reason we have worked tirelessly with the authorities and our partners to create a blueprint for travel corridors that will enable air travel to safely resume.” 

Steve Sear, Delta’s executive vice president of global sales, said the company is focused on testing to revive travel.

“Carefully designed Covid-19 testing protocols are the best path for resuming international travel safely and without quarantine until vaccinations are widely in place,” he said.

Covid flight risk? Depends who you ask

Delta is working with advisors from Mayo Clinic to implement the preflight testing program to Rome as well as safety standards on international flights.

“Based on the modeling we have conducted, when testing protocols are combined with multiple layers of protection, including mask requirements, proper social distancing and environmental cleaning, we can predict that the risk of Covid-19 infection — on a flight that is 60% full — should be nearly one in a million,” said Henry Ting, Mayo Clinic’s chief value officer.

Airlines have increased visible cleaning standards on flights in a bid to reassure people who are nervous to fly during the pandemic. Airlines have increased visible cleaning standards on flights in a bid to reassure people who are nervous to fly during the pandemic. Andrew Matthews | PA Images | Getty Images

Throughout the pandemic, the airline industry has tried to increase safety standards and instill confidence among potential passengers, with various experts and entities serving up statistics on the risk of infection that vary dramatically:

·       1 in 4,300 based on a full two-hour flight in the U.S. with everyone wearing a mask (a study by Arnold Barnett, professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

·       1 in 7,700 if middle seats are vacant (Barnett, MIT)

·       1 in 1.7 million (Boeing)

·       1 in 27 million (International Air Transport Association)

IATA’s figure was based on 44 known or suspected cases of inflight Covid-19 transmissions in some 1.2 billion flight passengers this year, a statistic that U.S. infectious disease specialist Dr. David Freedman called “bad math.”

“One-point-two billion passengers during 2020 is not a fair denominator because hardly anybody was tested. How do you know how many people really got infected?” he told Reuters. “The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

IATA cited an article co-authored by Freedman in the Journal of Travel Medicine to support its data. However, the Sept. 25 article acknowledges that the “U.S. CDC has stated awareness of 1,600 cases on U.S. flights and 11,000 contacts within 2 rows but has not yet published in-flight transmission estimates” — a situation which “may be partly related to current economic or political circumstances.”

At the article’s conclusion, Freedman called the lack of large numbers of confirmed in-flight Covid-19 transmissions “encouraging but … not definitive evidence that fliers are safe.”

COVID-19 second wave: Flights from UK banned - DAILY POST

DECEMBER 20, 2020


The Dutch government has banned all passenger flights from the United Kingdom (UK), after finding the first case of a new, more infectious strain of COVID-19.

The ban sets in from 6am on Sunday, December 20, until January 1.

It came hours after the UK government announced a stay-at-home order for part of the country to slow the spread of the new variant.

“An infectious mutation of the Covid-19 virus is circulating in the United Kingdom. It is said to spread more easily and faster and is more difficult to detect,” the Dutch health ministry said in a statement.

The Dutch public health body, the RIVM, therefore “recommends that any introduction of this virus strain from the United Kingdom be limited as much as possible by limiting and/or controlling passenger movements.”

Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s cabinet has now taken the “precautionary decision” to ban flights from Britain, the statement said.

Eurostar also announced that service would be interrupted from London to Amsterdam and Brussels starting Monday, while ferry company Stena Line has announced a cutback.

Canada restricts travel from U.K. due to new strain of virus that causes COVID-19 - THE CANADIAN PRESS

DECEMBER 21, 2020

OTTAWA — The Trudeau government is restricting travel from the U.K. in an effort to prevent a new strain of the virus that causes COVID-19 from making it to Canada.

The move comes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Monday and doesn't apply to cargo flights or stops where passengers do not disembark.

A spokeswoman for Transport Minister Marc Garneau says more information will be released shortly.

The news, contained in a Notice to Airmen sent out by NAV Canada, comes after a closed-door meeting with members of the Incident Response Team.

The ministers of health, transport, foreign affairs, intergovernmental affairs and public safety were all in attendance.

Several European countries announced earlier that they would close their borders to the U.K. as British officials struggle to contain the new strain, which has been blamed on a genetic mutation and led to a surge in COVID-19 cases.

The list includes France, Belgium and the Netherlands, which have expressed concerns about the new strain leading a similar surge in their own countries and overwhelming health-care systems that are already struggling with the pandemic.

Those travel bans follow British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's announcement that Christmas shopping and gatherings in southern England must be cancelled because of rapidly spreading infections blamed on the new coronavirus variant.

The new strain is wreaking havoc on the U.K., accounting for 60 per cent of new infections in London in December.

The U.K. recorded 35,928 further confirmed cases on Sunday, around double the number from a week earlier.

Viruses mutate regularly, and scientists have found thousands of different mutations among samples of the virus causing COVID-19. Many of these changes have no effect on how easily the virus spreads or how severe symptoms are.

The British government has said the strain has been circulating since September, but it wasn’t until the last week that there was enough evidence to declare that it has higher transmissibility than other circulating coronaviruses.

Before Trudeau met with his cabinet ministers, Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet called on the government to follow Europe’s lead and impose a travel ban on Britain to prevent the strain from reaching Canada.

“It will be several months before the pandemic is contained, especially with the number of (vaccine) doses available remains far too small,” Blanchet said in a statement released in French.

“If a variant of COVID-19 were to spread with increased speed among vulnerable people, the effects could be devastating on people's health as well as on the health-care system and staff already under tremendous pressure.”

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh made the same call on Twitter, writing: "With vaccines still very rare, if this new strain gets loose here in vulnerable populations, it will be a disaster.

"We need more information, but until we know more, flights from the UK need to be suspended."

The Trudeau government did not respond to repeated questions from The Canadian Press on Sunday about whether Canada was considering a travel ban on the U.K.

Conservative health critic Michelle Rempel Garner demanded the government provide more information about what it knows about the new strain and what it is doing to address it.

"If the Trudeau government is considering a similar travel ban, they need to clearly communicate this to Canadians and their rationale for doing so as soon as possible," Rempel Garner said in a statement.

"Canadians deserve certainty and clarity from the Trudeau government."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 20, 2020.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press


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