UK’s speedy vaccine rollout could open the door to Greek holidays



a person in a pool of water: greece - getty


© getty
greece – getty

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has raised hopes that British tourists will be able to visit the country this summer thanks to the UK’s speedy vaccine rollout. 

With tourism accounting for about a fifth of its GDP and employing one in five workers, Greece will be keen to see overseas visitors return as soon as possible, and Mr Mitsotakis told Reuters he was “cautiously optimistic” of a lucrative summer. 

“Essentially we are dependent on the pace of vaccination in our main markets,” he added, noting that Britain and Israel were leading the way. However, despite leading calls for a European Union-wide vaccine certification system, he said that such documentation would not be mandatory for visitors this year. 

Under current rules, Britons may travel to Greece but must present evidence of a negative PCR test taken in the previous 72 hours, take a second rapid test on arrival, and self-isolate for seven days. They must then take a third PCR test before they can end their quarantine. 

Meanwhile, the British Government is today under increased pressure to announce a concrete plan for the implementation of quarantine hotels, as a mandatory requirement for all arrivals from ‘high-risk’ countries where concerning variants of the virus have been identified. Matt Hancock will lay out the “operational plan” next week.

Scroll down for more of the latest.

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03:28 PM

Sweden to develop ‘vaccination passports’ that allow you to travel and meet friends

Sweden is to follow its neighbour Denmark and develop digital ‘vaccination certificates’ residents can use to travel overseas, to meet an elderly relative in a care home, or even just eat in a restaurant. 

“A vaccination certificate is probably as desirable as getting vaccinated,” Sweden’s health minister, Lena Hallengren, said at a press conference announcing the measure.

She said that certificates, which will be held on residents’ phones, could be used as a vaccine passport, “to travel abroad on holiday or to meet a loved one”.

Everyone vaccinated in Sweden already has the right to receive a certificate from the vaccine provider, but the digital certificate will put this on their phones.

Sweden’s Minister for Digital Development Anders Ygeman said the plan was for the certificates to be available by June 1.  

03:14 PM

Comment: Government’s hotel quarantine plan is a dithering mess

Three weeks after the idea was mooted, it’s time to get on with it – or drop it for good, argues Ross Clark, writing:

So, are we going to have a hotel quarantine scheme for foreign travellers or not? After his success with the vaccination programme, which has earned him grudging plaudits even from hardened Remainers, the Prime Minister has reverted to Grand Old Duke of York mode.   

Just as he marched his ministers to the top of the hill to oppose second and third lockdowns, as well as to try to keep schools open, they have now been sent to scale Mount Quarantine, from which they now dangle helplessly on their ropes.      

It is three weeks since ministers first floated the idea of forcing  international travellers to isolate in airport hotels for 10 days before being allowed to mix with the general population. Then, at the beginning of last week, we got a ‘red list’ of 30 countries to which the rules would apply. By Friday it had grown to a list of 33 countries, and earlier this week we had suggestions that Spain might be added, too.   

Yet as the red list grows, we still have  no quarantine hotels. We have had no further announcement of how the scheme will operate or when it will begin. The CEO of Best Western hotels says that after initial conversations he has heard nothing at all. In the time that the Government has been prevaricating, we could all have nipped away for a fortnight in Dubai and come back still to find that nothing had happened.     

Read on here.

03:00 PM

Should Britain follow Germany’s lead on face masks?

With some countries in Europe making surgical-quality masks compulsory, should Britain do the same, asks Luke Mintz, or are the alternatives suitable?

Virtually every country affected by Covid-19 now has some sort of law or guidance encouraging the use of face coverings in public places, and it is easy to be overwhelmed by the variety of masks on offer; cloth, surgical, homemade, medical-grade – the list goes on.

In the UK, it is compulsory to cover your nose and mouth (unless you have a medical exemption) when on public transport, in shops or when not seated at a table in a hospitality venue. But the law does not specify which materials should be used in your mask, and does not give formal standards for masks or coverings.

But now some scientists are warning that casual fabric coverings might not provide adequate protection against highly contagious new variants of Covid-19.

Read the story here.

02:44 PM

Quarantine hotel plans in ‘shambles’

Hotel quarantine plans have been described as a “shambles”, with hotels, airlines, airports and Border Force officials saying they were in the dark over the Government policy – three weeks since it was first mooted – reports Charles Hymas

Travel industry and hotel chiefs say they have heard next to nothing from Government about how proposals will work. 

An announcement on the policy by Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, on Thursday had been flagged by Boris Johnson at his Downing Street press conference on Wednesday – but officials said it had been postponed, possibly until next week.

Read the full story here and find out how quarantine hotels might work and what they mean for your holiday here.

02:35 PM

Ski gondolas 1,000 times less dangerous than dinner parties

A study by the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA) has found that the risk of catching coronavirus on a 12-minute gondola ride is 100 times less than during a normal working day in a small two-person office.

EMPA carried out a study into the risks of airborne transmission Covid-19 in the Swiss resorts of Engelberg.

They found that closed windows, long journeys and large numbers of people increased the risks of catching the virus. But, the risk during a 12-minute ride with open windows is a thousand times less than during a dinner with eight people in a room with closed windows.

In Switzerland, where resorts, lifts and pistes are open, authorities have limited the number of people allowed to travel on lifts together to two-thirds of the usual capacity to help curb the spread of the virus – local police are enforcing rules to ensure resorts can stay open.



a group of people that are standing in the snow: ski lift in switzerland - ALEXANDRA WEY/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock


© ALEXANDRA WEY/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
ski lift in switzerland – ALEXANDRA WEY/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

02:26 PM

Passenger numbers the lowest since the 90s

In another devastating blow for the nation’s aviation industry, Edinburgh Airport has confirmed it recorded its lowest number of passengers since 1995 over the past 12 months. 

The airport handled a little under 3.5million passengers in 2020, a 76 per cent decrease on the previous year that is estimated to have cost the Scottish economy £1billion and caused 21,000 people to lose their jobs.

Bosses at the airport have expressed concerns that there is “no clear path to recovery” beyond the pandemic.

“The fall in our passenger numbers is only one reflection of the long-term damage being inflicted by Covid-19 on Scotland’s economy and its social fabric, but it is a worrying one and there is no clear path to recovery,” said Gordon Dewar, chief executive of Edinburgh Airport.

“Nobody should assume that when the pandemic subsides, life will go back to normal. At the airport, we will be starting from a low level of activity not recorded here since 1995 and the choice of airlines and destinations may be dramatically different to those we had worked hard to build before 2020 and on which many people depend for bringing visitors to Scotland and for holidays and business, including exports.”

02:14 PM

Was London life better in the 1960s?

Rooftop concerts, elephant parades and the world’s first ATM – life was sweet, back in the Swinging Sixties.

Get yourself a drink, sit back, and embark on a journey through London of the 1960s with Greg Dickinson.

Here’s a sneak peek: 

01:59 PM

Reopen travel as ‘matter of urgency’, says industry body

Travel bosses and members of the Save Future Travel Coalition are calling on the Government to work urgently on a roadmap to reopen travel and to provide the industry with much-needed financial support.

“While the policy measures introduced, such as quarantine, travel corridors, testing, and localised restrictions on travel, are understandable from a public health perspective, they also diminish consumer confidence and damage trade. Yet, to date, these measures have not been combined with tailored financial support targeted at addressing the consequences of these policies for the businesses affected – as a result our members are under enormous pressure. We need Government to address this as a matter of urgency and work with the industry to develop a roadmap to reopen travel,” said Julia Lo Bue, CEO of Advantage Travel Partnership, a member of the Coalition.

01:56 PM

To ski or not to ski?

The reopening of ski resorts in Austria during a national lockdown has divided its people.

In the Alpine nation only essential shops and ski resorts are open. So far, the only skiers on the slopes are locals, for whom resorts are grateful for. But for many others in Austria a ‘hard’ lockdown which allows ski resorts to open is surprising.

Innsbruck resident Julia Gdowka shares both sides of the argument, for and against the return to skiing during a pandemic. Read her report here.



a person riding skis down a snow covered slope: skier in face mask - Getty Images


© Getty Images
skier in face mask – Getty Images

01:48 PM

Travel bosses call for financial support

In a letter sent to the Chancellor today the UK travel industry, represented by the Save Future Travel Coalition, has stressed the urgent need for the Government to provide tailored financial support to both inbound and outbound travel businesses in the upcoming Budget, as many head towards 12 months of lost income due to the pandemic.

The Coalition, formed by Abta, is made up of 12 travel organisations from across the UK and is urging the Government to consider three key priorities to save future travel: 

  • Expand the grant schemes available to support travel businesses.
  • Extend other support schemes such as furlough, VAT deferrals and business rates relief.
  • Enable travel businesses to trade their way out of the crisis by putting in a place roadmap to recovery that ensures stability for both travellers and businesses.

In its call for action the Coalition reveals that as many as one in six travel jobs have been lost or put at risk due to the pandemic and that data has shown the travel sector has been the hardest hit financially – with revenues down 90 per cent from February to October last year. Despite this no tailored financial support has been made available.

01:31 PM

Covid variants: More than 4,000 are known to exist worldwide, says vaccine minister

There are already around 4,000 variants of coronavirus around the world, some of which are “more concerning than others,” says Nadhim Zahawi, addressing the House of Commons this afternoon. 

Manufacturers including Oxford, which stands ready to alter its vaccine if necessary, are “already working on variants to their vaccine to take into account mutations,” he adds.

Zahawi announced a year-long, world-first study that will look at if different vaccines can be safely used for two-dose regimes in future to support flexible distribution, stating: “No one is really safe until the whole world is safe,” says Zahawi, announcing a year-long, world-first study which will look at if different vaccines can be safely used for two-dose regimes in future to support flexible distribution.”

Head over to our live coronavirus blog for more.

01:18 PM

Overseas arrivals had biggest impact on first wave deaths, study finds

International travel has been cited as the key factor in driving higher death rates during the first wave of the pandemic, according to a new study.

Scientists at the University of Aberdeen found border arrivals to be the ‘strongest predictor of mortality increase’ in the worst-hit countries, compared to other factors examined; including population density, the percentage of people living in urban areas, age, average body mass index and smoking prevalence.

Tiberiu Pana, medical student and author of the study, said: “Our assessment of available data indicates that very early restrictions on international travel might have made a difference in the spread of the pandemic in western Europe, including the UK.”

However, in December European health authorities urged EU governments to end mandatory testing and quarantine for air travellers, stating that such measures are ‘unlikely’ to halt the spread of Covid-19 in communities where the virus is already established.

01:11 PM

Denmark to launch vaccine passports

The Danish Government has confirmed it is developing a digital passport for people who have been vaccinated against Covid-19, allowing them to travel and help ease restrictions on public life, AP reports.

Finance Minister Morten Boedskov told a news conference that “in three, four months, a digital corona passport will be ready for use in, for example, business travel.”

He added: “It is absolutely crucial for us to be able to restart Danish society so that companies can get back on track. Many Danish companies are global companies with the whole world as a market.” 

As a first step, before the end of February, citizens in Denmark would be able to see on a Danish health web site the official confirmation of whether they have been vaccinated.

“It will be the extra passport that you will be able to have on your mobile phone that documents that you have been vaccinated,” Boedskov said. “We can be among the first in the world to have it and can show it to the rest of the world.”

12:59 PM

In pictures: airports around the world today

As Britain’s airports stand largely empty, here’s the view elsewhere…

12:45 PM

Cruise lines may not return to the US ‘until late 2021’

The comeback for cruise holidays in US waters may be delayed until later this year despite their resumption in Europe.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) lifted its seven month ‘no sail order’ on cruising in US waters on October 31, replacing it with a ‘Framework for Conditional Sailing Order’ that appeared to pave the way for the resumption of sailing.

However three months down the line, the public health agency appears to be dragging its feet when it comes to giving the cruise industry the guidance needed to resume cruising from US ports.

While North America is at a standstill, MSC Cruises have restarted sailing in the Mediterranean. The operator’s flagship, MSC Grandiosa, re-entered the water at the end of January on a seven-night cruise departing from Genoa.

Kaye Holland has the story.

12:35 PM

The 33 hotel quarantine ‘red list’ countries

Here’s the current list of countries from which arrivals will have to enter a 10-day hotel quarantine period upon entry to the UK:

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

12:30 PM

Ministers consider extending hotel quarantine as variants emerge in 27 more countries 

Ministers are considering extending hotel quarantine to more countries as the Brazilian and South African variants have emerged in 27 more nations including Spain, Charles Hymas reports.

Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, said yesterday that he was “up for strengthening” the current border crackdown, while Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, indicated that it could “go to more [countries]” although a blanket border closure has been ruled out.

There are currently 33 “red list” countries from which foreign travel is banned and any Britons returning from them will be required to quarantine at their own cost in Government-approved hotels.

There has been speculation the hotels could open on February 15, but logistical problems mean it may be delayed. An announcement due on Thursday by Mr Hancock has been pushed back, possibly until next week.

Best Western Hotels has emerged as a frontrunner but contracts have yet to be agreed on cost, the operation of the scheme, security and insurance. Problems over insurance are thought to have deterred some companies because of the potential liability for any Covid outbreak.

Read more: Border crackdown ‘could go to more nations’

12:20 PM

Edinburgh Airport: ‘No clear path to recovery’ as passenger numbers plunge to 1995 levels

The boss at Edinburgh Airport has appealed to the Government for more financial help as the annual number of passengers has declined to their lowest level since 1995.

The airport handled a little under 3.5m passengers in 2020 – a 76 per cent reduction on the previous year, which is estimated to cost the Scottish economy around £1bn and over 21,000 jobs during the same period.

Gordon Dewar, chief executive of Edinburgh Airport said:

The fall in our passenger numbers is only one reflection of the long-term damage being inflicted by Covid-19 on Scotland’s economy and its social fabric, but it is a worrying one and there is no clear path to recovery.

Nobody should assume that when the pandemic subsides, life will go back to normal. At the airport, we will be starting from a low level of activity not recorded here since 1995 and the choice of airlines and destinations may be dramatically different.

We believe that now is the right time for industry, government and trade unions to be thinking about a substantial economic recovery plan – one that does not distract the health professionals from the important job of saving lives and protecting the NHS today, but one which puts Scotland in the best possible position to recover as quickly as possible when the conditions allow.

Other countries around the world are providing support for their aviation sectors and UK and Scottish Governments should do the same.



a room that has a sign on the side of a building: edinburgh airport - getty


© getty
edinburgh airport – getty

12:12 PM

Fred Olsen cruise line cancels all sailings until July

UK-based Fred Olsen Cruise Lines has confirmed this morning that it is cancelling all sailings until the end of June 2021 in light of the current travel restrictions in England, reports Benjamin Parker.

The operator had been due to resume sailing on May 22, and this extension will affect 14 planned sailings.

Peter Deer, the managing director of Fred Olsen, said:

“We are constantly reviewing our back in service dates in line with the latest Government guidance, and working closely with CLIA and other industry bodies towards a return to sailing. This extra time allows us the opportunity to fully understand how the roll-out in the vaccine affects the procedures we operate on board and ashore.

“We know that our guests are missing cruising, as indeed are we, and we can’t wait to welcome them all back on board when the time is right.”

The cruise line said that all customers affected will be able to request a “no-quibble” refund or a future cruise credit.

11:55 AM

New airport ‘health check pass’ trialled in Spain and UAE

Travel IT provider SITA has today launched Health Protect, an industry-wide platform for airports, airlines, government agencies to “safely and securely” share details about test results and vaccinations of passengers.

Trials have already been undertaken with travellers to the United Arab Emirates, and more will begin soon at Milan Malpensa Airport. Passengers add their negative Covid tests to a health app on their phone, which is then accessed by border officials.

SITA said: “For many countries, economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic relies heavily on travel and tourism. As governments globally seek a way to resume safe and secure travel in the wake of Covid-19, the ability for passengers to share vital health information such as PCR test results or vaccination history with authorities is increasingly important.”

The system will allow “authorities to make an informed decision whether a passenger can travel at the point of check-in, improving the safety of all passengers and avoiding costly return flights,” it added.

11:47 AM

Vaccines minister: Home quarantine rules now being enforced ‘much more strictly’

The Government’s vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi addressed the UK’s border policy today, telling Sky News:

The hotel quarantine is one part of our border policy. Of course, you know that people now are required to have pre-departure testing, otherwise they’ll be turned away, they have to fill in a passenger locator form, otherwise they’ll be turned away.

And of course they have to quarantine for ten days, which is being enforced much more strictly, including fines being issued by the police and much greater police presence at ports and airports.

People have to actually say why they are travelling and travel is restricted to essential travel only. But the quarantine hotel plan is being operationalised and that will play a part of this overall strategy. And the Secretary of State for Health will be setting out the operational elements of that policy as other countries have done.

Germany changed that that border policy in January as did Canada when these new variants were appearing, and of course we did as well to strengthen it and make it more robust and we continue to so with hotel quarantine next week.

11:41 AM

Ryanair plans to axe domestic routes

Ryanair‘s spat with the Civil Aviation Authority escalated on Wednesday night as plans emerged to axe all domestic routes and all services from Britain to non-EU countries, Oliver Gill reports.

The budget carrier will only operate out of London Stansted airport and will cull 13 routes to Morocco, Ukraine, Montenegro, and Norway.

A row erupted in December between Ryanair and the CAA over pre-Brexit rule changes. At the centre of the dispute is Ryanair’s use of so-called “wet-leasing”, where airlines hire aircraft and crew to operate services on their behalf.

Ryanair only has one UK-registered aircraft. The CAA wanted less than half of Ryanair’s UK services to be run by “wet leased” aircraft.

Read the full report here.

11:35 AM

Scotland’s closed ski resorts have ‘best snow in years’ 

Scotland’s ski resorts are experiencing the best snow conditions they’ve seen in years – but due to ongoing lockdown restrictions, they are not allowed to open their slopes.

As the UK braces itself for another weekend of wintery weather, experts have described the conditions in the Highlands – where snow is lying undisturbed – as “very unusual”, and the most seen in over a decade.

It is a bitter twist of fate for the nation’s five ski resorts, which aren’t allowed to operate during the lockdown. Susan Smith interim chief executive of Cairngorm Mountain, the country’s second-largest ski resort, states:

For the whole team here, it is hugely frustrating that we are unable to welcome snow-sports enthusiasts to enjoy the high-quality snow cover, which is the best we have seen in recent years

We await guidance from the Scottish Government on the potential opportunity to reopen the ski area and hope that this winter weather continues.

Read the rest here.



a person that is standing in the snow: snow scotland - CAIRNGORM MOUNTAIN RESORT/ANGUS TRINDER/FACEBOOK


© CAIRNGORM MOUNTAIN RESORT/ANGUS TRINDER/FACEBOOK
snow scotland – CAIRNGORM MOUNTAIN RESORT/ANGUS TRINDER/FACEBOOK

11:24 AM

Britons are spending £1,000 more on holiday bookings this year

Lockdown-weary Brits are preparing for a substantial holiday splurge, according to one operator.

“People are dreaming and booking big – the value of our holidays are up £1000 on average,” says Not Just Travel co-founder Steve Witt.

Couples are spending more, the data reveals, and top destinations being booked this week include the USA, followed by Spain, Greece, Lapland and Turkey.

Of these bookings, 38 per cent are for late summer/winter 2021, while the other 62 per cent are for 2022 and 2023.

11:13 AM

France must rescue Eurostar, says Grant Shapps

Eurostar “is not our company to rescue”, the Government has said, insisting France must take responsibility for the bailout of the struggling Channel Tunnel operator.

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, said French taxpayers rather than their British counterparts must lead Eurostar’s rescue.

“We will look to be helpful, but we don’t actually own this company,” he said. “It is not our company to rescue.”

Eurostar has warned it is on track to collapse after passenger numbers fell 95 per cemt during the pandemic. The operator is pleading for a bailout before it runs out of cash this summer.

Oliver Gill reports.

11:01 AM

Travel over fornication: 40% of Britons would give up sex for a year to go on holiday

That’s according to a new survey by accommodation search platform Trivago. It found that 46 per cent of British women polled would be willing to forgo sex for the entirety of 2021 if it meant they could travel now, compared to 34 per cent of men.

Similarly, 42 per cent of respondents said they were willing to give up their job if it meant jetting off forthwith. 

Whichever survey you read, it does appear that pent-up appetite for travel is strong. Looking for inspiration? We’ve got an expert directory of 1,000 Dream Trips to help you decide where to venture next.

10:48 AM

The wild corner of Scotland that exists between heaven and hell

The Scottish region of Knoydart is one of Europe’s great wildernesses, home to 100 hardy souls but where no road nor rail ventures, writes Robin McKelvie:

It sounds like a feverish lockdown-induced dream. Escaping to a land that exists literally between heaven and hell, that couldn’t be more off the literal and metaphoric grid. An oasis where people are measured in what they can do for the community, not who they are, or pretend to be. A place whose people cheerily gather in the UK mainland’s remotest pub; resolutely outnumbered by red deer. Mercifully in these constricted times, the big skies and even bigger visions of Knoydart are gloriously real.

As a travel writer, with the shared clipped wings that bind us all, I’ve spent a lot of time pouring over maps, tracing contours in search of hope, solace; anything to steer my brain and soul away from the maul of constant Covid coverage. As the weeks have turned into months – and the year into another – I find I’m increasingly drawn to the most remote parts of my sprawling country and the places beyond the end of the road. And that place increasingly is Knoydart.

​Read the full story here.



a person standing in front of a mountain: Knoydart - getty


© Getty
Knoydart – getty

10:36 AM

UK quarantine hotels: how will they work and what do new rules mean for holidays?

More details are due to be announced regarding this policy next week. In the meantime, Hazel Plush and Rachel Cranshaw examine some of the key questions as to how they will function:



a man standing in front of a door: hotel - getty


© getty
hotel – getty

10:28 AM

Three South African variant cases discovered in Wales with no travel link

Officials in Wales will meet later to discuss the South African variant after three cases with no clear link to travel were identified in the country.

Health minister Vaughan Gething told Times Radio that health experts will be examining who the cases had been in contact with and where they had been “to try to pinpoint” how they became infected with the variant.

“The three are quite different instances as well, so each of them will tell us something different,” Mr Gething said.

“We’re looking at targeted testing at this point to help us as we identify more people they’ve been in contact with. We don’t think there’s a sensible basis to have the wider community testing that you’re seeing in England.”

10:15 AM

Comment: How tough do our travel restrictions need to be before the fundamentalists are happy?

In case you missed it yesterday, Oliver Smith argues that the time to bring in iron-clad border restrictions has long been and gone. He writes:

These must be the most draconian travel restrictions in British history, and some of the toughest currently imposed by any country on Earth. Yet, incredibly, some people want them to be tighter. 

How much tighter can they get, I hear you cry. What about ditching the wimpy 10-day sentence and replacing it with something heftier. A month of self-isolation? That will really squeeze the life out of this pesky virus. 

And do we really want to reward these selfish and irresponsible travellers with a comfy hotel bed? Surely a bed of nails in a dank and windowless quarantine dungeon would be more appropriate, and a sure-fire way to stamp out those nasty variants.

I jest, of course, but the actual measures being considered will kill off the travel industry, which supports millions of jobs both here and overseas, just as effectively. 

Read on here.

10:05 AM

There’s lots of lovely snow in Scotland today

… too bad skiers can’t enjoy it. The Cairngorm Mountain ski centre has the best snow cover for many years but has not been able to open due to Covid restrictions…



a map of a snow covered slope: scotland - peter jolly northpix


© peter jolly northpix
scotland – peter jolly northpix



a car covered in snow: snow - MIKE MERRITT


© Provided by The Telegraph
snow – MIKE MERRITT

09:57 AM

Government should have rolled out quarantine hotels ‘a long time ago’, says Yvette Cooper

Senior Labour MP Yvette Cooper has joined the fray, arguing that the Government should have done the work to rollout quarantine hotels “a long time ago”.

Cooper, chairwoman of the home affairs select committee, told Radio 4’s Today programme it was “troubling they don’t seem to be talking to some of the major hotel chains already.”

She added:

We’ve always been warned about both second waves and new variants; the work should have been done a long time ago.

The problem is, of course, as long as we’re waiting, not just for this system but for stronger measures, we know that the system isn’t working at the moment.

We can see that because the South Africa variant is spreading across the country, that’s the evidence that too many cases are getting into the country, then spreading in the country.

09:55 AM

‘Insurance and security staff’ among concerns over hotel quarantine logistics

More criticism over the ongoing saga. Here’s what Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy, The PC Agency, has to say:

09:50 AM

The full story: Best Western  ‘left in the dark’ over hotel quarantine plans

The boss of one of Britain’s biggest hotel chains revealed his company had been ‘left in the dark’ by the Government on their quarantine plans a week after they were announced, Charles Hymas reports.

Rob Paterson, chief executive of Best Western, said he would be out of job if he had handled the quarantine hotel plans in such a disorganised way.

As vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi admitted a delay in the roll-out of the hotels, Mr Paterson said he had not “heard anything” from the Government “other than very broad information” about timings and who was handling it despite making multiple offers.

An announcement on the policy by Health Secretary Matt Hancock had been flagged for Thursday by Boris Johnson at his Downing Street press conference on Wednesday, but has been postponed until next week.

Read the full story here.

09:45 AM

Best Western hotels boss slams Government over quarantine communications

A hotel chain boss has criticised a lack of communication from the Government over quarantining international arrivals in hotels.

Rob Paterson, chief executive of Best Western hotels, told the Today programme:

We got the understanding that quarantine hotels was something going to be considered in the UK quite some time ago and we’re yet to understand exactly what the protocols are required of the hotels.

We’ve set out a set of protocols, suggested protocols, we’ve shared that information, and we’ve offered our support and we’re yet to hear anything.

I think in any normal company if you went out and announced a programme nationally and you hadn’t thought about how you were going to plan that and you hadn’t spoken to the people involved, I’m not sure I’d have a job if I did that in my company.

To this day we simply haven’t heard anything despite multiple offers.



a sign on the side of a building: best western - reuters


© Reuters
best western – reuters

09:43 AM

Matt Hancock to set out plan for hotel quarantine next week

Matt Hancock will lay out the “operational plan” for hotel quarantines next week, Nadhim Zahawi as confirmed, as he defended the delay in action yet again. 

The vaccines minister told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “Next week the Secretary of State for Health will be setting out the operational elements of this policy. We will absolutely be setting out how the quarantine hotels will work next week.”

Asked whether he had been frustrated by the delay in implementing the tighter border restrictions, Mr Zahawi replied: “No, because it is one part of a greater piece.

“(There is) the passenger locator form – you will be refused by the airlines to get on a flight if you haven’t filled in a passenger locator form – so we know exactly where you are, so we can check where you are and that you are quarantined, and you get fined – and I make no apology for the 40,000 fines that we’ve issued already.

“But, as I say, it is one part, and next week you will have the operational plan for how we are implementing the hotel quarantine.”

08:37 AM

What happened yesterday? 

A quick recap of the key developments:

  • Sweden: Covid-19 test now required for arrivals from abroad
  • Airbnb to partner with… Dettol
  • Government will not fund travellers’ quarantine
  • More countries could be added to hotel quarantine list
  • Sturgeon: ‘I should have been tougher on travel rules’