Covid UK: Brits cancel summer trip plans as cost of flights back from Balearics soar nine-fold

‘There’s no point booking a holiday until 2022’: Brits cancel summer trip plans as cost of flights back from Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca soar nine-fold after they were axed from green list

  • People are cancelling their planned trips to the Balearic Islands after they were axed from the green list 
  • The cost of flights back from Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca soared nine-fold after last night’s announcement 
  • Travel experts, MPs and holidaymakers slammed Transport Secretary Grant Shapp’s ‘disappointing’ decision 
  • Furious Twitter users accused the Government of ‘taking the pi**’ and said there is ‘no point going abroad’ 
  • British holidaymakers in Spain’s Balearic Islands are scrambling back to beat quarantine deadline on Monday 

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Spain's Balearic Islands will be moved to the amber list on Monday, while Bulgaria, Hong Kong, Croatia and Taiwan have been upgraded to green-list travel status

Spain’s Balearic Islands will be moved to the amber list on Monday, while Bulgaria, Hong Kong, Croatia and Taiwan have been upgraded to green-list travel status

The summer holiday plans of thousands lie in ruins this morning, with people cancelling their planned trips to the Balearic Islands after they were struck off the green list while the cost of flights back from Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca soared nine-fold after last night’s announcement.

Travel experts, MPs and holidaymakers slammed Transport Secretary Grant Shapp’s ‘bitterly disappointing’ decision to demote the archipelago to the amber list of foreign destinations this morning, after the islands enjoyed quarantine-free travel status for just two weeks.

Furious Twitter users accused the Government of ‘taking the pi**’ and complained there is ‘absolutely no point going abroad’ until next year. One wrote: ‘We’re staying in the UK this year. We decided to not even try to go abroad, too much hassle, quarantines etc… and way too expensive’. 

British holidaymakers currently in Spain’s Balearic Islands are now scrambling back to the UK to beat the latest quarantine deadline at 4am on Monday, July 19 – when most legal restrictions imposed during the pandemic are due to be scrapped on England’s so-called ‘Freedom Day’.

Flight prices from the archipelago have soared as much as nine times, with budget airline Ryanair’s morning and evening trips from Palma de Mallorca to Manchester Airport rocketing from just £12 at the start of yesterday to nearly £110 an hour before Mr Shapps’ announcement.

Saturday’s mid-afternoon British Airway flight from Ibiza to London Heathrow was priced at around £115. Within two hours, tickets for the same journey had increased to £220 – a 92 per cent increase. On the last easyJet flight from Menorca to Gatwick before the deadline, the last three seats on the passenger carrier cost £118 – around two-thirds more than the preannouncement fare, the Independent reports. 

Holiday operators TUI UK and Jet2 Holidays told MailOnline that they are not cancelling trips to Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca but blasted the sudden move. A spokesman for Jet2 Holidays said: ‘Hardworking customers and families continue to be judged by a different and stricter set of rules when it comes to taking their well-deserved holidays. Travel is not, and should not be, the preserve of the wealthy and powerful.’

Double-vaccinated people will still be able to return from the Balearic Islands quarantine free, even though they are on the amber list, when travel rules change on Monday. But the move will be a blow to younger holidaymakers who are not yet fully jabbed and will now have to quarantine on their return to the UK or cancel their booking altogether.

One unvaccinated couple told MailOnline they would have to cancel their trip to Ibiza to reunite with their grandchildren for the first time since the pandemic began, now that self-isolation rules for returning travellers are being re-imposed on the Balearics.

Another family who are due to fly to Menorca on Friday revealed that they were now stuck in limbo with travel agents and airlines refusing to offer refunds. Others who flew out from Gatwick said they were already considering cutting their holidays short to bypass the 10-day home quarantine.

Arriving back after Monday would also mean having to shell out as much as another £100 for an extra post-arrival Covid test. 

Though Bulgaria and Hong Kong have been fully downgraded to the green list, Croatia and Taiwan are on what’s known as the ‘green watch list’ which means they can be reverted back to amber at any moment. Those looking for a quick switch from the Balearics could face an uphill battle, with red tape potentially getting in the way of a trip to Croatia and Bulgaria.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office is yet to change its travel guidance – which currently advises against all but non-essential travel – in line with the Government’s travel list. And while the advice remains unchanged, travel experts say tour operators will not offer packages, while insurances will be invalid. 

Industry experts have slammed the Government’s ‘on again, off again’ decision-making. Henry Smith, Tory chairman of the All-Party Future of Aviation Group, said the move is ‘creating huge uncertainty in the sector and for the millions of people desperate for a summer holiday’.

Speaking to MailOnline, he warned of a jobs bloodbath in the autumn, arguing that the move to strike popular holiday destinations off the so-called green list ‘is likely to create huge trouble for the industry, and could lead to significant unemployment in the coming weeks and months’. 

EasyJet CEO Johan Lundgren accused ministers of a ‘double standard where (foreign) travel is treated differently to the domestic economy’. Pointing out that Covid cases in the UK are rising while most of Europe’s remain lower, he added: ‘We cannot understand why the Government is going to allow people to go to a nightclub – without a mask or social distancing – and yet is not comfortable with people going to the beaches of Europe, where the infection rates are lower than in the UK.’  

As ministers dash the summer holiday hopes of thousands, it emerged:

  • Businesses should consider keeping staff wearing masks and social distancing indoors even after lockdown ends on Monday, according to new government Covid guidance;
  • Chancellor Rishi Sunak was last night urged by 77 MPs and peers to extend the furlough scheme for travel sector workers or face a jobs bloodbath this autumn;
  • Official figures show Covid cases rose by a third in a week to 43,302 while 49 deaths were recorded; 
  • A report commissioned by Sir Patrick Vallance warns up to 60,000 people in England could die from flu this winter because so few people have immunity due to lockdowns; 
  • The NHS Covid contact-tracing app ‘won’t be made less sensitive for weeks due to rising infection rates’;
  • First Minister Mark Drakeford said people arriving from England by train would be required to don a face covering as soon as they entered Wales;
  • The vast majority of nightclubs and cinemas will not require customers to provide Covid passports when they reopen from Monday, industry leaders said yesterday.
The summer holiday plans of thousands lie in ruins this morning, with people cancelling their planned trips to the Balearic Islands after they were axed from the green list while the cost of flights back from Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca soared nine-fold after last night's announcement

The summer holiday plans of thousands lie in ruins this morning, with people cancelling their planned trips to the Balearic Islands after they were axed from the green list while the cost of flights back from Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca soared nine-fold after last night’s announcement

Furious Twitter users accused the Government of 'taking the pi**' and complained there is 'absolutely no point going abroad' until next year. One wrote: 'We're staying in the UK this year. We decided to not even try to go abroad, too much hassle, quarantines etc... and way too expensive'

Furious Twitter users accused the Government of ‘taking the pi**’ and complained there is ‘absolutely no point going abroad’ until next year. One wrote: ‘We’re staying in the UK this year. We decided to not even try to go abroad, too much hassle, quarantines etc… and way too expensive’

British favourites Ibiza, Majorca (pictured) and Menorca have all been upgraded to the amber list amid surging infection numbers across the archipelago

British favourites Ibiza, Majorca (pictured) and Menorca have all been upgraded to the amber list amid surging infection numbers across the archipelago

But tourist hotspots Croatia (pictured) and Bulgaria have been given the green-light, along with Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bulgaria and Hong Kong have been full downgraded to the green list but Croatia and Taiwan are on what's known as the 'green watch list' which means they can be reverted back to amber at any moment

But tourist hotspots Croatia (pictured) and Bulgaria have been given the green-light, along with Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bulgaria and Hong Kong have been full downgraded to the green list but Croatia and Taiwan are on what’s known as the ‘green watch list’ which means they can be reverted back to amber at any moment

Are these the figures that sparked the Government into putting the Balearic Islands back on the Amber List? 

The Balearic Islands’ 14-day new infection rate has surged to around 408 per 100,000 of the population.

The total number of coronavirus cases across the islands on Wednesday stood at 4,896, up 6 per cent on the previous day.

The number of adults who have been fully jabbed is 510,108, or 49.2 per cent of the adult population.

Sixty-four per cent – or 665,809 people – have had their first jab. However, just 81 Covid patients were in hospital in Majorca.

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Mr Shapps showed no sympathy for the thousands of Britons who could be affected by the sudden change to the travel list, telling them that uncertainty was a ‘fact of life’. He said the reason the Balearics had been demoted to the Amber List was because Covid case rates there had more than doubled. 

He added: ‘When people book, particularly to a green watchlist country, you need to make sure you can get your money back. For some – children, those under 18 plus people who have been double vaccinated – you won’t have to quarantine. Treat it as though it is still a green country. But it will mean some people… will have to come home.’ 

However, the move was slammed by travel experts this morning. Tory MP Mr Smith said: ‘I think it’s incredibly disappointing, I would have liked to have seen the Government adding more countries onto the green list rather than removing them. I think we should be much more concerned with restarting international travel than we are, particularly as we move into the summer period.

‘There are two reasons for this. The first is the success of the vaccination roll-out, with even under-18s being offered the jab. The Government should be moving to allow people to head abroad without restrictions if they are jabbed because the vaccines significantly reduce the risk of serious illness.

‘The second is that the travel sector has been absolutely devastated by months of restrictions and this Government’s on again, off again attitude to international travel. We need a period of solid summer holidaying now to allow the industry to begin recovering from the effects of the pandemic.

‘Instead, the Government is creating an environment of tremendous uncertainty which is making it practically impossible for travel firms to operate. They need time to be able to adapt to any changes which are introduced.

‘I think if we are not careful, this on again, off again policy is likely to create huge trouble for the industry, and could lead to significant unemployment in the coming weeks and months.’ 

Jet2 CEO Steve Heapy told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he did not understand the decision to axe the Balearic Islands from the green list – calling the move ‘disappointing’.

He added: ‘We have a two tier system: (for the average person) travel is beyond them because they have to pay for tests when they get back. The average person can’t go on holiday, but 70,000 people can cram into a football stadium… Travel is beyond the reach of a lot of people, unless you’re rich and privileged.’  

A spokesman for Jet2 Holidays told MailOnline: ‘If customers have been fully vaccinated, today’s announcement changes nothing whatsoever. These customers (and children travelling with them who are under 18) can continue to enjoy, or look forward to enjoying, quarantine-free flights and holidays from across the UK to any destination on the Green or Amber List this summer. 

‘From the demand we are seeing this is most certainly the case, with customers looking to enjoy the benefits of the successful vaccination programme by getting away to the sunshine.

‘That said, as restrictions across the UK continue to be eased and ‘VIPs’ travel carte-blanche, it is still unfair that hardworking customers and families continue to be judged by a different and stricter set of rules when it comes to taking their well-deserved holidays. Travel is not, and should not be, the preserve of the wealthy and powerful.

‘It is frustrating that decisions continue to be made about international travel whilst the criteria for these decisions are withheld from us. Once again, we call on Governments to be transparent, both with the data and their parameters for making decisions.’ 

Andrew Flintham, Managing Director for TUI UK, said in a statement: ‘The latest travel announcement will be disappointing for customers who are not yet fully vaccinated, looking forward to well-deserved holidays, or to reconnect with loved ones. 

‘The continued lack of transparency about the methodology and data behind these changes make it incredibly difficult for customers to book far in advance with confidence.’

Infections were already shooting upwards before the archipelago was added to No10’s ‘green list’ on June 30. But case numbers have continued to spiral following the influx on British holidaymakers. A graph shows how the infection rate — the number of cases spotted per every 100,000 people over the course of a week — in the Balearic islands has changed over time

Croatia has been downgraded to the green list. Britain is recording almost 500 Covid cases per million people currently compared to Croatia's 20

Croatia has been downgraded to the green list. Britain is recording almost 500 Covid cases per million people currently compared to Croatia’s 20

Faith Wheeler, 42, from Brighton is going to Ibiza to visit a friend. She booked her flights last week when the country was being battered with rain. Ms Wheeler said: 'If the rules change, I don't care - I'm going anyway. 'I've got all the insurance if it gets cancelled or if I get covid out there and have to stay'

Samuel Helps, 19, and girlfriend Hannah Simons, 19, from Bromley are going to Menorca for a week. They decided to take a chance and booked a last minute package deal. 'We're hoping there won't be any changes,' warehouse manager Samuel said

Faith Wheeler, 42, from Brighton is going to Ibiza to visit a friend. She booked her flights last week when the country was being battered with rain. Ms Wheeler (left) said: ‘If the rules change, I don’t care – I’m going anyway. ‘I’ve got all the insurance if it gets cancelled or if I get covid out there and have to stay’. Samuel Helps, 19, and girlfriend Hannah Simons, 19, from Bromley are going to Menorca for a week. The couple (pictured together right) decided to take a chance and booked a last minute package deal. ‘We’re hoping there won’t be any changes,’ warehouse manager Samuel said

Alex James, 33, and Verity Blair, 34, from Haslemere in Surrey, with their twins Penelope (left) and Sofia (right)

Alex James, 33, and Verity Blair, 34, from Haslemere in Surrey, with their twins Penelope (left) and Sofia (right)

The Spanish authorities have report a sharp increase in coronavirus cases in the Balearics over recent weeks

The Spanish authorities have report a sharp increase in coronavirus cases in the Balearics over recent weeks

British tourists took to Twitter to voice their frustration at the chopping and changing of travel restrictions yesterday

British tourists took to Twitter to voice their frustration at the chopping and changing of travel restrictions yesterday

What are the rules for people returning to England from abroad? 

AMBER LIST  

  • Take a Covid-19 test in the three days before you arrive in Britain 
  • Book and pay for day two and day eight Covid-19 tests – to be taken after arrival in England
  • Quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 10 days, and complete a passenger locator form 
  • From July 19, if you are vaccinated, you won’t need to quarantine in England – but you will need to take a test before arriving back in the country, and then another on day two after your return

For arrivals returning from an amber list country, before arriving in England, you must take a private PCR or lateral flow test in the three days before the service on which you will arrive in England departs.

For example, if you travel to England on Friday, you can take the test on or after Tuesday and will need to have the negative result available before boarding on Friday.

Before you arrive in England, you must also book and pay for day two and day eight Covid-19 tests, to be taken after your arrival in England.

But under the Test to Release scheme you can choose to pay for a private Covid-19 test on day five. If the result is negative (and the result of your day two test result was negative or inconclusive), you can end your quarantine.

From 4am on July 19, you will not need to quarantine on arrival in England or take a day eight Covid-19 test, as long as you are fully vaccinated. This means that you have had your final dose of an approved vaccine at least 14 days before the date you arrive in England.

If you are not fully vaccinated under the UK vaccination programme, you will have to quarantine on arrival and take both the day 2 and day 8 tests. If you arrive in England before 4am on July 19, you must follow the current rules, even if you have been fully vaccinated.

RED LIST

  • You can only enter England if you are a British or Irish National, or you have residence rights in the UK
  • Take a Covid-19 test in the three days before you arrive in Britain 
  • Book a quarantine hotel package, including two Covid-19 tests, and fill out a passenger locator form

If you have been in a country or territory on the red list in the last ten days you will only be allowed to enter the UK if you are a British or Irish National, or you have residence rights in the UK. 

You must also take a Covid-19 test in the three days before you arrive and book into a quarantine hotel.

The rate for one adult in one room for ten days (11 nights) is £1,750, while the additional rate for one adult (or child over 11) is £650, and for a child aged 5 to 11 it is £325.

While in the quarantine hotel you must also take two Covid-19 tests. 

GREEN LIST

  • Take a Covid-19 test in the three days before you arrive in Britain
  • Book and pay for a day two Covid-19 test, which will be taken after your arrival in England
  • Complete a passenger locator form

Before arriving in England, you must take a private PCR or lateral flow test in the three days before the service on which you will arrive in England departs. 

You cannot take an NHS test abroad with you to use on yourself before you return. If you are returning to the UK within three days, you can use the result of a Covid-19 test that you take in the UK before you travel – but this must be from a private test provider and not the NHS. 

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Dr Steven Freudmann, former President of ABTA – The Travel Association, told MailOnline: ‘It’s bitterly disappointing. Just two countries on the amber list currently have higher rates of infection than the UK.

‘It’s safer to go to most Amber list countries than it is to take a holiday in the UK. Between 20 May and the end of June not a single variant of concern was detected from any passenger returning from one of the amber list countries.’

Virginia Messina, senior vice president for the World Tourism Trade Council, told MailOnline: ‘This will throw summer holidays into disarray for tens of thousands of people. Businesses given the lifeline of holidays to the Balearics will also be left floundering as bookings collapse and customers clamour for refunds, piling on further financial pressure. 

‘There may be some good news with Croatia and Bulgaria moving up the scale and being added to the green list. But the overall impact is one of confusion, which will only deter more Brits from holidaying abroad as the summer season slips away.’ 

One woman, who had planned to fly to Ibiza this summer to see her sons with her husband, told MailOnline she was already planning to cancel her trip to the Balearic Islands. She said: ‘My partner and I will have to cancel our holidays if Ibiza is going on the amber list.

‘My sons are living there and I haven’t seen them for two years, now we planned our holidays there so we could spend time with him. I haven’t seen my sons and my grandchildren for so long time that it will kill me straight away if they don’t allow us to travel and we are going into lockdown again. We have a new baby girl on the family and I’m afraid I won’t be allowed to meet her.’    

Amelia Ellis, 22, and Ben Randall, 23, were flying to green list Gibraltar from Gatwick and heading on to join her family on the Costa del Sol.

Ms Ellis, who has only had her first Covid jab, told MailOnline: ‘I’d rather not have to isolate on the way back but if we have to then I’ll work from home like I have been anyway. We might try to get home before the deadline if we have to.’   

Cases were already shooting upwards before the archipelago was even added to No10’s ‘green list’ on June 30. But they have continued to spiral following the influx of British holidaymakers.

Spanish newspapers have pointed the finger at young Spaniards travelling to the islands, and British experts say there is no proof yet that the decision to put Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca on the green list is to blame for the rise in cases.

Those travelling to amber listed countries, such as mainland Spain, have to self-isolate for 10 days on their return to England. However, as of July 19 the requirement to quarantine will be scrapped for the fully vaccinated and those aged under 18 – but thousands of young adults are not yet eligible for their second jab. 

Originally, there was a suggestion that Britons who could show a positive antibody test – which shows previous infection and implies immunity – would be granted similar freedoms to those who are jabbed.

On her trip to Ibiza, she added: ‘Now it will not be possible due my partner not having enough available days to do quarantine because his company forced him to take half of his holidays before 30th of June.’

A family of four who are planning to go to Mallorca next week said they are ‘prepared the jump through necessary hoops’ after booking a last-minute trip to the island when their break to Portugal was cancelled.

Verity Blair, 34, a sales executive from Haslemere in Surrey, and her partner Alex James, 33, have both had one Covid-19 jab each and are still going to travel to Mallorca on Tuesday even if it goes onto the amber list, and then self-isolate for 10 days once home.

Ms Blair – who has twins Penelope and Sofia with Mr James – works for an American company with no UK office, so it will not have an impact on her job.

She told MailOnline this morning: ‘At this stage, we are prepared the jump through necessary hoops to enjoy our first family holiday.

‘We booked to go to Portugal a year ago before the girls had even arrived and were so excited about having a holiday with them, not thinking that a whole year on we would need to worry about restrictions.

‘However, when it became clear about a week ago that we wouldn’t be able to go to Portugal owing to their restrictions, we decided to book a last minute trip to Mallorca.

‘We picked Mallorca because it was on the green list, knowing that might change – but even if it changes to amber, we won’t mind isolating when we get home.

‘As we have become so used to that over the last 16 months, it feels like a small price to pay for a week away in the sunshine.

‘Taking a holiday at home just wouldn’t be the same, and when we explored holidaying in the UK it was nearly impossible to book something last minute, and what was left would have cost the same as getting abroad.

‘Luckily isolating at home won’t affect us work wise, as my company recently announced that we will never be required to work from an office again, and so will always enjoy the flexibility of working from home.’ 

Samuel Helps, 19, and girlfriend Hannah Simons, 19, from Bromley flew to Menorca from Gatwick this morning for a seven-day holiday. They decided to take a chance and booked a last minute package deal. Both are double jabbed and are hopeful this will mean they are not caught out by any rule changes. 

‘We should be safe while we are out there and we are protected if the rules change, we have all the insurance,’ care home worker Ms Bromley said. ‘Because it’s a package we are pretty well covered if anything does change.’

Faith Wheeler, from Brighton is going to Ibiza to visit a friend. She booked her flights last week when the country was being battered with rain. 

Grant Shapps has issued a stark warning to holidaymakers amid signs tourist favourites including Ibiza are set to be upgraded to the 'amber list'

Grant Shapps has issued a stark warning to holidaymakers amid signs tourist favourites including Ibiza are set to be upgraded to the ‘amber list’

Malta in U-turn over ban on Britons jabbed with India batch of AstraZeneca vaccine 

Malta last night confirmed UK residents given AstraZeneca vaccines made in India would be allowed in after days of confusion.

The Mediterranean archipelago had banned travellers inoculated with jabs from the Serum Institute of India.

But it U-turned after Transport Secretary Grant Schapps appeared on television and threatened a confrontation with Maltese officials while insisting the jabs were ‘absolutely the same product’ as those made in the UK.

Hours later, Malta issued an update stating it would accept anyone from Britain with a ‘full course of vaccination with 14 days after last dose’.

Glenda Hardy, 63, and her husband Steve, 64, from Hull, pictured, were among holidaymakers stopped from boarding a flight from Manchester on Friday. The retired couple, whose first jab in March was made in India, are now holidaying instead in Llandudno, north Wales.

‘We were just gutted,’ Mrs Hardy told the Daily Telegraph. ‘We paid for PCR tests, downloaded the NHS app and printed off the letter – but we fell at the final hurdle.

‘We haven’t seen our son since he moved there a year ago. We had our flight refunded by Tui but that’s by-the-by.’

More than a dozen countries including France and Italy have refused to recognise the SII jabs, casting doubt on many popular destinations.

The vaccines made in India, with the batch numbers 4120Z001, 4120Z002 and 4120Z003, were given to up to five million people in the UK. They were approved by the UK medicines regulator, the MHRA, but not the European Medicines Agency.

 

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The 42-year-old marketing director said: ‘I’ve been double jabbed since April. I’m flying back on Sunday, so hopefully things won’t change before then. If the rules change, I don’t care – I’m going anyway. I’ve got all the insurance if it gets cancelled or if I get covid out there and have to stay.’ 

Mr Shapps showed no sympathy for Britons facing growing uncertainty during a round of interviews this morning. He told BBC Breakfast: ‘We review these every three weeks. I hope we have made very clear to everybody when booking trips at the moment there is always the chance that countries will move around. 

‘Some countries may go to the red list, some countries may go to the green, but some may move the other way to the amber list. It is a fact of life that they will continue to move around as the virus continues to develop and change globally.’ 

However industry groups criticised the move, with trade association ABTA said: ‘The decision to move the Balearic Islands to the amber list is a step back for the travel industry. 

‘Thousands of travel jobs and businesses are in desperate need of a successful summer season, and this further emphasises the urgent need for tailored financial support for a sector that has struggled to make any meaningful revenue for almost 18 months now.’

Tim Alderslade, head of the umbrella body Airlines UK, said: ‘While the vaccination programme is permitting a full reopening of the domestic economy, international travel between safe countries with low infections and high vaccination rates is still portrayed as a serious danger to public health.  Moving countries between tiers is shattering consumer trust.’ 

Meanwhile, Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency, criticised the Government’s decision making as ‘opaque’, adding: ‘It’s a totally unpredictable list of changes which won’t help most consumers. 

‘You have to quarantine on arrival in Hong Kong for 21 days, so rules out travel there for most people. The Balearics were one of the last green options for those not fully-jabbed to be able to get away.’

‘Overall, this revision supports the view that decision-making is opaque, complex for consumers to understand and ignores the many countries which should be on a wider green list.’

Francina Armengol, president of the islands, said ministers should look beyond infection rates, adding: ‘We are experiencing a high level of contagion, but many are not having to be admitted to hospital because the most vulnerable are double vaccinated.’ 

The Transport Secretary also said Brits who received doses of AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine made in India should not be prevented from travelling, after a British couple given the jab were turned away from travelling to see their son in Malta.  

Steve and Glenda Hardy, who received doses of the vaccine in March, were barred from flying by staff working for travel operator TUI at Manchester Airport on Friday. The retired couple, from Hull, were trying to visit their son, who they have not seen for over a year.

Mr Shapps told BBC Breakfast the Government will take up the issue with authorities in Malta, adding: ‘It is not right and it shouldn’t be happening.’

Malta last night confirmed UK residents given AstraZeneca vaccines made in India would be allowed in after days of confusion. The Mediterranean archipelago had banned travellers inoculated with jabs from the Serum Institute of India.

But it U-turned after Transport Secretary Grant Schapps appeared on television and threatened a confrontation with Maltese officials while insisting the jabs were ‘absolutely the same product’ as those made in the UK.

Hours later, Malta issued an update stating it would accept anyone from Britain with a ‘full course of vaccination with 14 days after last dose’.

A decision on putting the Balearic islands back on the amber list could come this afternoon as the government carries out its three-weekly review of the traffic light system.  

NHS England figures show another 124,905 second doses have been dished out, bringing the total number of Brits jabbed to 35.1million, or 66.6 per cent

NHS England figures show another 124,905 second doses have been dished out, bringing the total number of Brits jabbed to 35.1million, or 66.6 per cent

British Airways asks travellers to drop bags off a day early after staff shortages 

British Airways is urging travellers to consider dropping off their luggage a day early after staff shortages sparked chaotic scenes at Heathrow.

It is sending reminders to customers that Terminal 5 will be busy and they may want to check in their bags the night before they fly. BA also advises that the next day they should arrive several hours before they are due to take off.

On Monday travellers described scenes of ‘total chaos’ as dozens of security staff failed to show for work because they were ‘pinged’ and told to self-isolate by the NHS app.

Only two security lanes were reported to be open at one point to deal with thousands of passengers. Extra staff were eventually drafted in.

Images and videos posted on social media showed travellers packed into Terminal 5 with little social distancing as they waited to get through security. Dozens of planes were delayed and some passengers missed their flights. BA is urging travellers due to take off before 1pm to consider dropping off their bags at Terminal 5 between 4pm and 9pm the previous night.

The airline’s message, being sent by text and email to passengers, advises: ‘You can also check in hand baggage free of charge.’

 

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‘It’s all still up for discussion, but the figures aren’t great which is why it was on the watch list in the first place,’ a source told The Sun. 

Spanish media report that health officials have advised students living on the mainland to cancel trips to the islands because ‘the risk of transmission in the same environment where the cases are occurring is high’.

More than 1,000 infections have been linked to young adults returning from Mallorca, El Pais claims. 

The infection rate across the group of islands — how many cases are spotted in a week for every 100,000 residents — has risen fourteen-fold from a low of 20 in mid-June to around 280 on July 13.

Dr Simon Clarke, an infectious disease expert at the University of Reading, told MailOnline that it was too early to blame British holidaymakers for the spike.

He said: ‘Not very many people have been going to the Balearics until recently, and certainly there has been upset among people when people from places like Germany have been allowed to go to the Balearics while we haven’t.

‘Just because the UK and Balearics are going up in terms of case numbers it doesnt mean that they are linked, they might be it is possible, but there is no proof yet that they are linked.’ 

He added that it was possible the explosion in cases could have been fuelled by visitors from other countries. 

Britons aged 12 or over must have either proof of a negative test 48 hours prior to arrival, or proof of being fully vaccinated at least 14 days beforehand.  

British tourists took to Twitter to voice their frustration, with Rosie Scott from Brentwood in Essex saying: ‘Changing holiday from Crete to Israel to Crete to green list Mallorca… Mallorca now set to go amber. This is utter bulls***.’

Cara Hooton from Bristol tweeted: ‘@BorisJohnson, pls don’t ruin my Ibiza holiday I really need this. Love cara x’

Another potential holidaymaker tweeted: ‘Holiday to Turkey cancelled so started looking at Mallorca and now it’s looking likely it’ll go on the amber list… No holiday this year then.’

And Brandon Hale said: ‘Flying to Ibiza tomorrow. All tests are back negative – looks like it will be going back to amber. Are people still going to go? Or cancel? We’re still going.’

The UK is battling its own summer spike in cases, with a further 36,660 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases reported as of 9am on Tuesday.

Government data also recorded a further 50 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus as of Tuesday – the highest day-on-day increase since April 9 – taking the country’s total to 128,481. 

People arriving in the UK from a red-list location must spend 11 nights at a quarantine hotel, at a cost of £1,750 for solo travellers. 

Family are ‘prepared to jump through the necessary hoops’ to enjoy a holiday to Mallorca even if it moves to amber list

A family of four who are planning to go to Mallorca next week have said they are ‘prepared the jump through necessary hoops’ after booking a last-minute trip to the island when their break to Portugal was cancelled.

Verity Blair, 34, a sales executive from Haslemere in Surrey, and her partner Alex James, 33, have both had one Covid-19 jab each and are still going to travel to Mallorca on Tuesday even if it goes onto the amber list, and then self-isolate for ten days once home.

Ms Blair – who had twins Penelope and Sofia with Mr James – works for an American company with no UK office, so it will not have an impact on her job.

She told MailOnline this morning: ‘At this stage, we are prepared the jump through necessary hoops to enjoy our first family holiday.

‘We booked to go to Portugal a year ago before the girls had even arrived and were so excited about having a holiday with them, not thinking that a whole year on we would need to worry about restrictions.

‘However, when it became clear about a week ago that we wouldn’t be able to go to Portugal owing to their restrictions, we decided to book a last minute trip to Mallorca.

‘We picked Mallorca because it was on the green list, knowing that might change – but even if it changes to amber, we won’t mind isolating when we get home.

‘As we have become so used to that over the last 16 months, it feels like a small price to pay for a week away in the sunshine.

‘Taking a holiday at home just wouldn’t be the same, and when we explored holidaying in the UK it was nearly impossible to book something last minute, and what was left would have cost the same as getting abroad.

‘Luckily isolating at home won’t affect us work wise, as my company recently announced that we will never be required to work from an office again, and so will always enjoy the flexibility of working from home.’

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What restrictions do other countries have on Britons visiting? 

FRANCE

Travellers who can prove they are fully vaccinated do not need an essential reason to travel to France and do not need to self-isolate on arrival. 

Anyone aged over 11 years must give evidence of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure, or a negative antigen test result taken within 48 hours of departure, as well as a ‘sworn statement’ they are not suffering from Covid symptoms and have not been in contact with confirmed cases in the preceding fortnight. 

SPAIN

Britons aged 12 or over must have either proof of a negative test 48 hours prior to arrival, or proof of being fully vaccinated at least 14 days beforehand.

ITALY

Anyone aged six or over who has been in the UK in the previous 14 days must present a negative test result from the past 48 hours.

They must also self-isolate for five days and take another test at the end of the period.

Those arriving without a negative test will need to self-isolate for 10 days and then have a test.

GREECE

Travellers from the UK can avoid quarantine requirements if they have proof of a negative PCR test up to 72 hours before arrival, a rapid antigen test within 48 hours, or that they have received two vaccine jabs at least 14 days earlier. 

It is also acceptable to show evidence of having recovered from coronavirus – such as a positive test from months earlier. 

PORTUGAL

All travellers, apart from children under 12, must have proof of a negative COVID-19 test to travel to or through mainland Portugal. 

If you have travelled from the UK to mainland Portugal, you must quarantine for 14 days in the place you are staying.

But this requirement is waived if people can show they are fully vaccinated, and children travelling with a vaccinated adult are exempt from quarantine.

In Madeira and Porto Santo tests are not required for people who are fully vaccinated.

GERMANY

Fully vaccinated Britons are exempt from quarantine, but must do a pre-departure digital registration.

Unvaccinated children under 12 years of age are allowed to enter Germany if they present proof of a negative test result and travel with at least one fully vaccinated parent.

UNITED STATES 

Since 16 March 2020, it is not possible for most British nationals to enter the US if they have been in the UK, Ireland, Schengen zone, Iran, Brazil, or China within the previous 14 days. 

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‘Pingdemic’ chaos with record 520,000 alerts sent by NHS app last week as minister admits No10 is ‘concerned’ millions may have to take time off work to self-isolate – but officials ‘won’t tweak software to make it less sensitive for WEEKS’ 

NHS Covid app (pictured) will not be made less sensitive for weeks, reports say

NHS Covid app (pictured) will not be made less sensitive for weeks, reports say

The NHS Covid contact-tracing app sent a record 520,000 alerts last week, figures reveal, amid claims it could be weeks before it is made less sensitive. 

NHS England data revealed the number of people ‘pinged’ and told they had been in close contact with someone who tested positive for the virus had jumped 46 per cent from the previous seven-day period.

This was the highest weekly number since the data was first published in January.

It comes amid claims the app won’t be made less sensitive because of mounting concerns over rising infection rates. 

Fears have been raised that the software will create a ‘pingdemic’ by forcing millions to take time off work, potentially leaving supermarket shelves empty and mountains of rubbish piling up in the street.

Ministers are planning to tweak the app to reduce the number of people who are told to self-isolate as a result of being ‘pinged’.

But sources told the Times newspaper that no imminent changes are expected, and that it may only be made weaker on August 16 – the same day quarantine rules end for the fully-vaccinated.

And they claimed a review of the app – ordered by the newly-appointed Health Secretary Sajid Javid – may not amount to anything. 

Ministers are understood to have been spooked by soaring infection rates, with the pressure of the third wave having started to trickle through into hospitals. 

And SAGE advisers have warned they will only continue to rise, with around 2,000 admissions a day expected later this summer. No10 wants to know how many more infections will be spotted if the app asks fewer people to self-isolate, the newspaper claimed. 

People who are ‘pinged’ are not legally obliged to isolate, which means there is little stopping Britons from simply deleting the software or ignoring its alerts.

Polling yesterday revealed a fifth of Britons are planning to delete the app and one in three 18 to 24-year-olds have done so.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick called on Britons to keep using the app today, but hinted ministers were still mulling over how to update it. 

NHS England data showed a record 520,000 alerts were sent by the app last week, telling people they had been in close contact with someone who tested positive

NHS England data showed a record 520,000 alerts were sent by the app last week, telling people they had been in close contact with someone who tested positive

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick (pictured visiting Redcar last week) said ministers were still considering how the app could be updated

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick (pictured visiting Redcar last week) said ministers were still considering how the app could be updated 

There are mounting warnings supermarket shelves could be left empty by the app

And bins could also be left to rot in the street because there are not enough staff available to self-isolate

There are mounting warnings supermarket shelves could be left empty by the app, and bins could also be left to rot in the street because there are not enough staff available to self-isolate

Official figures show Covid cases rose by a third in a week to 43,302 while 49 deaths were recorded

Official figures show Covid cases rose by a third in a week to 43,302 while 49 deaths were recorded

Thousands of ministers and officials are escaping self-isolation rules thanks to ‘get out of jail free card’ pilot scheme 

Thousands of ministers and government officials are escaping self-isolation thanks to a pilot scheme that amounts to a ‘get out of jail free card’, it was revealed.

The Cabinet Office, Border Force and Transport for London are among the bodies signed up to a trial that replaces quarantine with daily testing – meaning they can continue working after being ‘pinged’ for close contact with a positive case.

Michael Gove used the arrangements to avoid self-isolating when he returned from watching the Champions’ League final in Porto in May.

Several Downing Street staff have benefited from the pilot, instead being able to take daily lateral flow tests to check whether they have the virus. They can carry on duties as normal unless they develop symptoms, but must still isolate when not at work.

According to the Telegraph, some politicians have likened the scheme – which is apparently in place in businesses in utilities, manufacturing and retail – to the famous Monopoly card.

Nadhim Zahawi highlighted at the weekend that daily testing could replace self-isolation more widely in future. However, the news will raise questions about whether ministers and civil servants are getting preferential treatment when hundreds of thousands of healthy members of the public are being forced into house arrest.

Self-isolation rules aren’t due to be relaxed for fully jabbed Britons until mid-August, which has led to fears many will delete the app in case a surge in infections post Freedom Day means they get ‘pinged’ and have to quarantine.

Business leaders have warned that the tough rules could lead to a summer of chaos after Monday, when most remaining Covid curbs are due to be lifted. Lidl has party blamed empty shelves at some of its stores on so many truck drivers having to isolate.

 

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He told LBC: ‘It is important that we have the app, that we take it seriously, that when we do get those messages we act accordingly.

‘But we are going to give further thought to how we can ensure it is a proportionate response.’ 

Government sources last week told the Mail the app’s ‘sensitivity’ will be reduced to cut the numbers being asked to isolate unnecessarily. 

Figures show more than 356,000 Brits were pinged by the app and told they could have been exposed to the virus in the last week of June. 

Modelling warned up to 2million people could be told to quarantine at home every week by the app, if cases continue to spiral. 

Britain yesterday recorded 42,000 cases in the highest figure since mid-January, as the second wave was beginning to die down. Ministers fear they could spiral to 100,000 a day by mid-August.

Business leaders have warned the app could lead to a summer of chaos after Monday, when most remaining Covid curbs are due to be lifted. 

Lidl has party blamed empty shelves at some of its stores on so many truck drivers having to isolate.

And councils have raised concerns over bin collections after Leeds, Bristol and Rochdale were forced to leave resident’s rubbish on the curbside after the app forced workers to stay at home.

There are reports that up to one in five workers in pubs, restaurants and bars were also self-isolating due to the app.    

The NHS app – heralded as a way to halt the spread of the virus – uses Bluetooth to estimate how close a user has been to a Covid positive patient and for how long.

This information allows it to determine whether someone is at risk of catching the virus and if they should self-isolate.

Everyone who gets alerted is advised to self-isolate for ten days, even if they have had both doses of the vaccine or a negative test 

Ministers have promised to drop isolation requirements for the double-jabbed on August 16, but are under pressure to push this date forward. 

More than 26million Britons have downloaded the app – or around half the adults in the country – but many are now deleting and deactivating it.

Mr Jenrick said today the Government was ‘concerned’ about the number of people who may have to self-isolate because of the app, but that it should still be followed.

‘We have indicated that for those who have been double-vaccinated there are opportunities to take a more proportionate approach,’ he told LBC.

‘We are concerned about absences as a result of being pinged, for example.

‘That is one of the reasons why we do need to move to a more proportionate approach.’

It comes after polling revealed yesterday that a fifth of Britons are planning to delete the NHS app before ‘Freedom Day’ amid fears they may be asked to self-isolate.

It also found more than a third of 18 to 24-year-olds in the UK have already deleted the app, and another third say they are considering wiping it from their phones within the next week.

Among adults of all ages, the proportion debating deleting the app in the next six days was 20 per cent according to Savanta ComRes. 

The number of contact tracing alerts has been spiking as the Delta variant fuels an increase in cases, figures show

The number of contact tracing alerts has been spiking as the Delta variant fuels an increase in cases, figures show

It comes as it was revealed yesterday that thousands of ministers and government officials are escaping self-isolation thanks to a pilot scheme that amounts to a ‘get out of jail free card’.

The Cabinet Office, Border Force and Transport for London are among the bodies signed up to a trial that replaces quarantine with daily testing – meaning they can continue working after being ‘pinged’ for close contact with a positive case.

Michael Gove used the arrangements to avoid self-isolating when he returned from watching the Champions’ League final in Porto in May.

Masks indoors, plastic screens, table service and a slow return to work: Why workplaces after Freedom Day will still look remarkably like they do today as government finally releases guidance for bosses that’s barely changed

Businesses should consider keeping staff wearing masks indoors even after lockdown ends, according to new government Covid guidance released tonight.

Documents released online just days before the July 19 unlocking also suggest workplaces keep social distancing measures like plastic screens and back-to-back desks in a bid to placate nervous workers.

They appear to suggest firms introduce ‘fixed teams or partnering’ to reduce the threat from coronavirus spreading through their workforce, – which has echoes of Covid bubbles in place in this year’s full lockdown.

Table service in pubs and widespread working from home should also continue, the guidance suggests. 

The guidance appears likely to set the scene for furious battles between employees and their staff in the days and weeks ahead about how often they can return to their primary workplace and how it should be set up. 

It tells bosses: ‘You should discuss a return to the workplace with workers, and trade unions to make working arrangements that meet both business and individual needs.

‘Employers and others must continue to follow statutory health and safety requirements, conduct a risk assessment, and take reasonable steps to manage risks in their workplace or setting.’ 

Unions and employers hit out at the guidance with a warning that it is a ‘recipe for chaos’.

Businesses should consider keeping staff wearing masks indoors even after lockdown ends, according to new government Covid guidance released tonight.

Businesses should consider keeping staff wearing masks indoors even after lockdown ends, according to new government Covid guidance released tonight.

Documents released online just days before the July 19 unlocking also suggest workplaces keep social distancing measures like plastic screens and back-to-back desks in a bid to placate nervous workers

Documents released online just days before the July 19 unlocking also suggest workplaces keep social distancing measures like plastic screens and back-to-back desks in a bid to placate nervous workers

Old rules V new guidance 

 Old Rules

  • Work from home unless it’s unreasonable for you to do so 
  • Provide adequate ventilation … supplying fresh air to enclosed space.
  • Arrange work spaces to keep staff apart. Consider using barriers to separate people and introduce back-to-back or side-by-side working. 
  • Face coverings are not mandatory in offices. However, they are required for customers and staff in some businesses that are customer facing. 
  • When car sharing … share the car with the same people each time and, where possible, only with members of your household or support bubble … open windows for ventilation … travel side by side or behind other people, rather than facing them, where seating arrangements allow facing away from each other 

 

 New Guidance

  • Come back to work, but gradually over the summer.
  • Maximise the supply of fresh air in your premises. 
  • (Consider) reviewing layouts, using screens or barriers to separate people from each other, or using back-to-back or side-to-side working. 
  • Consider encouraging the use of face coverings by workers particularly in indoor areas where they may come into contact with people they do not normally meet.
  • Encourage people travelling together in any one vehicle to, wherever possible: use fixed travel partners, do not sit face-to-face  (and do) open windows 

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Dr Roger Barker, policy director at the Institute of Directors, said: ‘Like everybody else, businesses across the country having been awaiting ”freedom day” with bated breath, but instead we have had a series of mixed messages and patchwork requirements from Government that have dampened that enthusiasm.

‘Return to work or continue to stay at home. Throw away your masks or continue to wear them. Today’s long-awaited guidance from Government has done little to dispel that confusion.

‘Whilst it is right that companies should be allowed to take decisions based on their unique circumstances, it is vital that government provides businesses with best practice in developing their own policies.

‘However, business leaders are understandably confused as to the legal status that this guidance has and are concerned about vulnerability under health and safety legislation, as well as the validity of their insurance.’

The guidance is for ‘offices, factories, plants, warehouses, labs and research facilities and similar indoor environments’.

On masks it notes their use will no longer be mandatory indoors in England. But it adds: Consider encouraging the use of face coverings by workers (for example through signage), particularly in indoor areas where they may come into contact with people they do not normally meet. 

‘This is especially important in enclosed and crowded spaces.

‘When deciding whether you will ask workers or customers to wear a face covering, you would need to consider the reasonable adjustments needed for staff and clients with disabilities. 

‘You would also need to consider carefully how this fits with other obligations to workers and customers arising from the law on employment rights, health and safety and equality legislation.’

Pubs and restaurants are asked to consider maintaining table service, even though Monday was meant to herald the return of buying drinks at the bar. The guidance also calls for venues to consider the introduction of Covid passes, which would see people granted entry only if they have had both vaccine doses, or recently tested negative for the virus.

In addition, it states: ‘You can also encourage the use of outside space where practical, in particular for higher risk activity such as exercise or when people are singing or raising their voices.’

Hugh Osmond, founder of the restaurant group Various Eateries, added: ‘What was billed as Freedom Day is actually going to be Chaos Day.

‘I can’t see how anyone is supposed to know what to do… it’s Wednesday and I can’t tell you what we’re going to do on Monday.’

A retail industry source added: ‘You can’t force people to wear a mask in a shop. You risk having staff being attacked for ruining someone else’s Freedom Day.’

Roger Barker, policy director at the Institute of Directors, said: ‘Like every-body else, businesses across the country having been awaiting ‘Freedom Day’ with bated breath. Instead, we have had a series of mixed messages and patchwork requirements from government that have dampened that enthusiasm. Return to work or continue to stay at home?

‘Throw away your masks or continue to wear them? Today’s guidance has done little to dispel that confusion.’

On office layout it points out there will be no social distancing rules any more but ‘Covid-19 can still be spread through social contact’

‘You can mitigate this risk by reducing the number of people your workers come into contact with,’ it adds.

‘Examples of ways to do this include reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’ or ‘cohorting’ (so each person works with only a few others)…

‘(And) reviewing layouts, using screens or barriers to separate people from each other, or using back-to-back or side-to-side working, instead of face-to-face (screens are only likely to be beneficial if placed between people who will come into close proximity with each).’  

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘We all want the economy to unlock as soon as possible, but these new back-to-work safety guidelines are a recipe for chaos and rising infections.

‘They have been published without proper consultation with unions or employers, just two full working days before restrictions end on Monday.

‘Instead of providing clear and consistent guidance on how to keep staff safe at work, the government is abandoning workers and employers. As infection rates surge, every employer must by law carry out a thorough risk assessment and take action to keep their workers safe.

‘But these inadequate guidelines will leave many employers with more questions than answers and worried about their liability if they get things wrong.’

Ms O’Grady said wearing face coverings should remain a legal requirement on public transport and in shops.

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