New passports may not be issued until June

Hazel Plush
·27-min read
22 million Britons are unaware of new post-Brexit passport requirements, a Post Office study found - Getty
22 million Britons are unaware of new post-Brexit passport requirements, a Post Office study found - Getty

British travellers could be left waiting for up to 10 weeks for a new passport this summer, HM Passport Office has warned, after a delay in processing time caused by the pandemic and a recent surge in demand for new travel documents.

Under the revised timeframe, a passport applied for today may not be received until mid-June – one month after the proposed restart of international leisure travel, on May 17. Those hoping for an early summer getaway have been urged to check their paperwork now.

Meanwhile, research by the Post Office revealed that 22 million Britons are unaware of new post-Brexit passport requirements – which includes the need for six months' validity for most EU getaways. Almost half of holidaymakers risk being caught out by post-Brexit red tape, with the survey revealing that 42 per cent were not aware of new passport validity rules, while 37 per cent of people do not know when their EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) expires.

Just four million people applied for a passport in 2020, compared with around seven million during a ‘normal’ year – suggesting that as travel restrictions lift, the passport delay may worsen.

Rory Boland, editor of consumer magazine Which? Travel, has warned Britons not to get caught out. He said: "The significant drop in the number of people applying for a passport last year means we could see a sudden spike in demand when we can all start travelling again.

"That, and changes due to Brexit, could mean you need to apply for a new passport sooner than you think.”

Scroll down for the latest travel updates.

04:33 PM

What happened today?

Here are the main headlines:

  • New passports may not be issued until June

  • US rules out Covid passports

  • One third of Scottish island tourism businesses ‘unlikely to survive an extension to travel ban’

  • Legoland Windsor prepares for reopening

  • Malta plans to ease restrictions amid successful vaccine drive

  • International passenger traffic down 89 per cent in February

  • Travel restrictions have cut £148 billion from the UK economy

Catch-up with the rest below, and please join us again tomorrow.

04:16 PM

Surge in enquiries following PM's briefing, says travel company

Flight Centre UK has seen a 170 per cent jump in enquiries compared to the seven-day average, following Boris Johnson’s Easter update on April 5.

Yvonne Hobden, from Flight Centre, said:

The country waited with baited-breath on Monday for details on how travel may reopen, but were left in the dark, continuing to grasp for answers. At Flight Centre, we have seen a considerable spike in interest from customers, which we believe comes as a result of the government’s announcement; customers have been left feeling confused and seeking clarity from industry experts as to whether they can book, or if their holiday can still go ahead.

We stand with the rest of the travel industry in our hopes that the government will reassure Brits that they are able to book much-desired summer trips safely and avoid another summer of stop-start travel and uncertainty. We are yet to hear details of the regulations in each traffic light segment; if we are to reopen our borders on 17 May the industry needs time to prepare, so we have all the information at our fingertips to reassure the many Brits desperate to know if their dream summer trip can go ahead safely.

04:07 PM

Biden in talks about vaccine certification for foreign travel

The Biden administration is in extended discussions with US airlines and other travel industry groups to provide technical guidance for vaccine passports that could be used to ramp up international air travel safely, industry officials said.

new york - Getty
new york - Getty

The administration has repeatedly made clear it will not require any businesses or Americans to use a digital Covid-19 health credential, however. It will also publish guidelines for the public.

The key question, airline and travel industry officials say, is whether the US government will set standards or guidelines to assure foreign governments that data in US traveller digital passports is accurate. There are thousands of different US entities administering Covid-19 vaccines, including pharmacies, hospitals and mass vaccination sites.

Airline officials say privately that even if the United States does not mandate a Covid-19 digital record, other countries may require it or require all air passengers to be vaccinated.

03:54 PM

Princess Cruises reveals entertainment for UK sailings

Passengers sailing on Princess Cruises' Regal Princess and Sky Princess this summer will be treated to plenty of live entertainment.

Shows on Regal Princess will include the opera, Bravo, and rhythm and blues production, Sweet Soul Music.

The line’s newest production, Rock Opera, will feature on Sky Princess’ entertainment programme.

The show was created exclusively for Princess and debuted on the ship in late 2019. It stars West End performer Ross Hunter, who has appeared in We Will Rock You and The Book of Mormon.

03:41 PM

'People’s desire to travel, irrespective of Covid, hasn’t changed'

Tim Clark, president of Emirates, told aviation website Simple Flying that he was hopeful about the resurgence of international air travel.

He said a “bow-wave of demand” would need to be met by a “diminished airline community” – with a particular surge between October and December this year.

“I’m very optimistic about what’s likely to happen during the course of the back three calendar months of this year,” he added.

03:27 PM

Jet2 launches Innsbruck flights for summer 2022

Low-cost airline Jet2 is to run services to Innsbruck from Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol next summer.

The carrier said it had introduced its first flights to the Tyrolean capital, the fifth-largest city in Austria, in response to demand for holidays next year.

Flights will run from May to September 2022. A service will run weekly from Birmingham and Bristol, and twice-weekly from Manchester.

Steve Heapy, chief executive of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, said:

We’re continuing to see confidence and strong demand from British holidaymakers looking to get away. As ever, we’ve listened to what customers are telling us and responded to that demand by announcing the start of services to Innsbruck in the summer from Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol Airports for Summer 22. Innsbruck is a fantastic city in the summer and acts as a gateway to the Alps, offering lots to see and do.

03:13 PM

Your travel questions: What would you like to know?

Every day, we publish expert advice pieces covering everything from Should you book a summer holiday now – or wait? , to The countries that could be added to the UK's red list next.

But if you have another burning question, or something travel-related that you'd like us to dig into on your behalf, please get in touch via the form below. We'd love to hear from you.

travel missed questions
travel missed questions

02:59 PM

Morocco will keep coronavirus night curfew during Ramadan

Morocco will keep its nightly curfew in place during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan when people gather after breaking their fast at sunset, the government said on Wednesday, underlining resolve to counter new variants of the coronavirus.

The decision to keep the 8pm-6am curfew will hurt restaurants, shops and markets that make most of their money in the evenings, especially during Ramadan, which this year will begin on April 13 and run through May 12. Moroccan law prohibits public eating by day during the fasting period.

A crowd-free Jemaa el-Fna square in Marrakesh – unthinkable pre-pandemic - Getty
A crowd-free Jemaa el-Fna square in Marrakesh – unthinkable pre-pandemic - Getty

Morocco will also maintain until June financial aid for workers in some of sectors hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic including tourism.

The North African kingdom has confirmed almost half a million cases of Covid-19 and registered nearly 9,000 deaths from the global respiratory pandemic.

However, it has rolled out a vaccination campaign more rapidly than its neighbours, inoculating 4.38 million people with AstraZeneca and Sinopharm shots to date.

02:48 PM

The best cruises in the Mediterranean – for when we can travel again

The Croatian city of Dubrovnik makes for an exciting port of call - Getty
The Croatian city of Dubrovnik makes for an exciting port of call - Getty

Open sea, cities to explore, and (hopefully) plenty of sunshine – what more could you want from a cruise?

Fred Mawer reveals the top Med voyages to set your sights on.

02:31 PM

Comment: O'Leary will fly Ryanair through Covid turbulence

At the end of March, O’Leary was pouring cold water on warnings from ministers not to book breaks this summer because a third Covid wave was sweeping across mainland Europe.

Criticising what he called "hysteria" around the threat to European breaks, Ryanair's famously outspoken chief predicted that the impressive pace of Britain’s vaccine rollout would enable unrestricted holiday travel as early as June.

A fortnight later, and that bullishness has faded with the airline warning it will carry fewer passengers than expected over the next year and struggle to turn a profit. The reason? This time it is the slow rollout of vaccinations across much of Europe.

So, is this an admission that the Government was right? Don’t bet on it. Ryanair’s boss would probably choose to fly easyJet before making such a concession.

Ben Marlow has the story.

02:17 PM

Greece will reopen to tourism on May 14, minister confirms

Greece's tourism industry has been hit hard by travel restrictions - Getty
Greece's tourism industry has been hit hard by travel restrictions - Getty

Greek Tourism Minister Haris Theoharis has confirmed that the country will reopen to tourism on May 14. All international arrivals must either have been fully vaccinated, or have certification of a negative test result.

According to Greece news website ekathimerini.com, random Covid tests will continue to be enforced, with a hotel quarantine stay required for any arrivals who test positive for the virus.

Theocharis emphasised that the legislation applies to both Greek nationals and international visitors: “We make no discrimination,” he told Parliament. “The whole country is safe.”

Read more: Which countries are accepting vaccine passports this summer?

02:01 PM

When should you book a holiday for?

Hold off booking your next holiday abroad, is the Government's advice. Yet, from securing annual leave to finding a good-value trip in the school summer break, Britons know it pays to plan ahead. And booking a holiday, even during the toughest of lockdowns, is not illegal.

So, how can you make an educated guess as to where the UK Government will permit us to go on a foreign holiday throughout the remainder of 2021? And, indeed, when exactly other countries will open their borders to Britons without prohibitive restrictions?

Emma Featherstone investigates.

01:46 PM

What Telegraph Travel would advise the PM, if we were in the Travel Taskforce

If we were in charge, there are eight key points about travel that we would be targeting. For starters? No holiday restrictions for the fully vaccinated.

Also, the Government should scrap the 'red list', and get rid of the Declaration to Travel form while they're at it.

Here's how it could work.

01:33 PM

'Covid breach' weekender stranded on Loch Lomond island

A man who travelled illegally from England to Scotland over the Easter weekend was left stranded on a Loch Lomond island, after losing his kayak paddle.

The man was reportedly camping on Inchtavannach at the weekend, but misplaced his paddle while on the island. After he called the emergency services for assistance, the Police alerted Loch Lomond Rescue Boat (LLRB), which brought him back to the mainland.

Loch Lomond - Getty
Loch Lomond - Getty

In a Facebook post, LLRB said: “The rescue boat was launched and located the person on the island and safely transferred himself and his equipment over to his car at Aldochlay. LLRB then returned to Luss and stood down.

“This person had travelled from England to camp on the island for the Easter weekend.Please could we remind all to stick to the Covid rules and keep people safe.”

01:15 PM

Once you're lying on a Greek beach, you won't be moaning about vaccine passports

Vaccine passports are not illiberal, inconvenient nor an affront to personal freedom – they're the key to our summer holidays, writes Hugh Morris:

Vaccine passports are discriminatory. They discriminate between those who have been vaccinated against coronavirus and those who haven’t.

They would therefore discriminate between those who have both a reduced risk of becoming seriously ill from Covid as well as spreading it, and those who could both suffer its worst effects and happily spread it willy nilly. It is not rocket science.

Such documentation would discriminate in the same way driving licences discriminate between those who can drive and those who cannot. My front door keys discriminate between those who own my house, and those who do not.

If discrimination is the only way to kickstart the resumption of international travel and see me on my way to anywhere but here (preferably Sicily, please) then on the sliding scale of discrimination it is very, very gentle. Sign me up.

Read his excellent argument here.

01:01 PM

Iceland volcano unleashes third lava stream

A third fissure opened overnight in Iceland's nearly three-week-old volcanic eruption near the capital Reykjavik, officials said Wednesday.

The eruption began on March 19 when a first fissure disgorged a steady stream of lava, flowing into the Geldingadalir valley of Mount Fagradalsfjall on Iceland's southwestern tip.

volcano iceland - Getty
volcano iceland - Getty

The new split comes two days after two fissures opened around 700 metres (yards) from the initial eruption, creating a long molten rivulet flowing into a neighbouring valley.

The third lava stream, about a metre deep and 150 metres (490 feet) long, is a new draw for tens of thousands of gawkers taking advantage of the site's relatively easy access, just 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Reykjavik. It is about half a kilometre from the craters of the initial eruption.

12:47 PM

IATA: International passenger traffic down 89 per cent in February

International passenger traffic slumped by 89 per cent in February compared to the same month in 2020, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Willie Walsh, IATA's new director general, said at a presentation on Wednesday that passenger traffic "is showing no signs of recovery in the current environment".

Mr Walsh, formerly the chief executive of British Airways-parent group IAG, was holding his first media briefing since taking on the IATA job at the beginning of April.

12:41 PM

Merkel backs short lockdown for Germany

Germany could be placed under a brief, countrywide lockdown with Chancellor Angela Merkel favouring a national measure, a spokesperson says.

Various forms of shutdowns have been in place in the country over the winter, but it needs to bring infection rates under control. However, under its federal system, each of the 16 states can ultimately decide its own rules.

These varying restrictions are "not contributing to security and acceptance at the moment", spokesperson Ulrike Demmer told reporters, and the health system "is under intense pressure".

12:22 PM

Malta plans to ease restrictions and reopen tourism from June

Malta is forging ahead of the rest of the EU with its vaccination programme and will begin lifting some Covid rules this month, the country's Prime Minister Robert Abela said on Wednesday.

The Government will consider reopening restaurants and non-essential shops on April 26. Masses will resume in churches on April 18.

Me Abela said Malta planned to reopen its crucial tourism sector on June 1. “We will promote ourselves as one of the safest tourism destinations,” he said.

It had been confirmed last month that Malta would welcome back vaccinated Britons, without testing or quarantine restrictions, from this date.

Health Minister Chris Fearne said 42 per cent of adults in Malta have now had at least one vaccine shot. According to latest Reuters data, no other EU state has come close to matching Malta’s figures, with second-placed Hungary on 24 per cent.

The 33 hotel quarantine 'red list' countries
The 33 hotel quarantine 'red list' countries

12:10 PM

Gatwick south terminal drop-off fee applies from Monday

People dropping off passengers at Gatwick airport's south terminal will have to £5 to do so from April 12.

The charge, previously announced in February, is already in place for stop offs at the airport's north terminal. It will be imposed for all vehicles other than blue badge holders and airport staff. To avoid the charge, people can drop off or pick up passengers from the airport’s long-stay car parks, with shuttle buses operating to the terminals.

This measure is an attempt to offset losses of £465.5 million due to the pandemic and resulting travel restrictions.

The airport said: “The introduction of a drop-off charge will also encourage more sustainable journeys to the airport – including use of Gatwick’s strong public transport links – and may also reduce traffic congestion.

“Reducing the airport’s environmental impact continues to be an important focus for the airport.”

11:55 AM

Buckingham Palace gardens to reopen this summer, with picnics permitted on the lawn

Features in the south-west garden, including the Rose Garden, summer house and wildflower meadow, will also be accessible via a daily guided tour - Royal Collection Trust/John Campbell
Features in the south-west garden, including the Rose Garden, summer house and wildflower meadow, will also be accessible via a daily guided tour - Royal Collection Trust/John Campbell

The Buckingham Palace gardens will reopen this summer and visitors will be able to picnic on the sweeping lawn for the first time.

The 39-acre gardens, closed last year due to the pandemic, will open from July to September, allowing visitors to freely roam the grounds of Her Majesty’s official London residence.

They will have the unique opportunity to guide themselves along a route taking in the 156-metre herbaceous border, plane trees planted by and named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and views of the island and its beehives across the 3.5-acre lake.

The visits will be in contrast to the traditional summer tours, which have always been led by a guide.

Victoria Ward has the full story.

11:42 AM

Forget Europe: South America is the perfect remedy for snow-starved skiers

South America is an untapped ski hotspot - Pia Vergara
South America is an untapped ski hotspot - Pia Vergara

Covid is once again crippling Chile, but with time to go until the ski season begins this could be the year that snow-loving Britons are tempted to the Andes.

While the rest of the country is scrabbling to visit the Costas or dip their toe back into the Med, a summer spent exploring the legendary Andes and enjoying some of South America’s spectacular snow, scenery and heart-warming hospitality has never felt more enticing.

Simon Kelton has the story.

11:21 AM

91 pc of travellers 'would be comfortable' using vaccine passport – but security concerns remain

The overwhelming majority of travellers would be 'comfortable' using a vaccine passport, according to analysis by Amadeus. In the recent study, 9 in 10 people questioned said that they would be prepared to use one on future trips.

However, 93 per cent of respondents also said the have 'some concerns' about how their health data would be stored. The survey of 9,055 travellers in France, Spain, Germany, India, UAE, Russia, Singapore, UK and US, also yielded the following results:

  • Just under three quarters (74 per cent) of those surveyed would be willing to store their travel health data electronically if it enabled them to pass through the airport faster with fewer face-to-face interactions

  • Over 7 in 10 (72 per cent) would be willing to store their travel health data electronically if it enabled them to travel to more destinations

  • 68 per cent agreed they would be more likely to share their health data if the airlines they most frequently travel with offered a way to store their travel health data

Although receptiveness to sharing data is high, many concerns were raised by respondents – including worries about personal information being hacked, privacy concerns over what information needs to be shared, and lack of transparency and control over where it is shared.

11:01 AM

Travel and tourism contribution to UK GDP fell by £148 billion in 2020

Last year also saw the loss of 307,000 travel and tourism jobs across the UK - Getty
Last year also saw the loss of 307,000 travel and tourism jobs across the UK - Getty

Travel restrictions have cut £148 billion from the UK economy, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council’s annual Economic Impact Report, which was published today.

The sector’s contribution to GDP dropped by 62.3 per cent, falling from £238 billion in 2019 to just £90 billion in 2021.

Last year also saw the loss of 307,000 travel and tourism jobs across the UK, with thousands more employees placed on furlough or job protection schemes.

‘These job losses were felt across the entire UK Travel & Tourism ecosystem, with SMEs, which make up eight out of 10 of all businesses in the sector, particularly affected,’ reads the report. ‘Furthermore, as one of the world’s most diverse sectors, the impact on women, youth and minorities was significant.’

10:45 AM

Qatar operates fully-vaccinated 'flight to nowhere'

Qatar Airways has flown a 'flight to nowhere' with fully vaccinated passengers, air crew and handler – an operation the Gulf airline describes as a 'world first'.

Flight QR6421 departed from Hamad International Airport, Doha, at 11am yesterday – and returned to the location three hours later. It crossed into UAE airspace, before flying the length of Oman, and then retracting its route back to Doha.

The flight was designed to showcase the carrier's safety measures, explained group chief executive, Akbar Al Baker: "We are proud to continue leading the industry by operating the first flight with a fully vaccinated crew and passengers and providing a beacon of hope for the future of international aviation.

"With aviation being a critical economic driver both globally and here in the State of Qatar, we are thankful for the support we have received from our government and local health authorities to vaccinate our staff, with over 1,000 vaccinations being administered per day."

10:21 AM

'I had to fly to Dubai to get it back': Tell us your nightmare travel passport story

It is a sort of rite of passage for a traveller of any grade, from fly-and-flopper to hardened nomad; you must have a passport nightmare story – and we want to hear yours.

Let's start with this sweaty-palmed tale, from our features editor Penny Walker:

Immigration at Melbourne airport swapped my passport – and boarding pass – with another passenger's.

By the time I realised about half an hour later, they'd allowed her to board her Business Class flight and left for Dubai. I was treated like a criminal and had to fly Emirates to Dubai (instead of Etihad to Abu Dhabi) to meet her and swap back.

It was very traumatic. And also Christmas, so because they'd changed my flights, I eventually arrived in London but my bags didn't. They did just make it in time for Christmas Eve though, with all the presents.

Read more of our confessions – and share your passport woes too.

10:17 AM

What the roadmap out of lockdown means for spas – and spa holidays

Spas in England have been given the green light to reopen on April 12 – but not all facilities will be available. Steam rooms, saunas, and other types of thermal suites are to remain closed until the next stage of the roadmap.

So, when can you enjoy the full luxuries of a hotel spa? What will it be like when you finally do? And how does a 'non-contact' massage work, exactly?

Charlotte Johnstone has the answers.

10:00 AM

One third of Scottish island tourism businesses ‘unlikely to survive an extension to travel ban’

"We are told that arrangements in place for the mainland are not safe for the islands," says Rob McKinnon, chief executive of Outer Hebrides Tourism - Getty
"We are told that arrangements in place for the mainland are not safe for the islands," says Rob McKinnon, chief executive of Outer Hebrides Tourism - Getty

Hotel and tourism businesses in the Scottish islands have demanded clarity from the Government regarding reopening restrictions, with one third of companies saying they are 'unlikely' to withstand an extension to current travel bans.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that she hopes island communities will move to Level Two restrictions, but "there may be a need to retain some restrictions on travel to and from the mainland – to protect island communities from the importation of new cases."

Sturgeon's comments have caused "unnecessary confusion", says Rob McKinnon, chief executive of Outer Hebrides Tourism:

The Government has commenced a consultation to gather opinions on alternative proposals that would allow islanders have more freedom internally, but critically would ban non-essential travel between the mainland and the islands.

The approach taken has already caused unnecessary confusion and millions of pounds of damage.

A failure to provide any robust reasons why the islands have been selected for special treatment, against a background of falling case numbers, major progress with vaccinations is adding to frustrations. We are told that arrangements in place for the mainland are not safe for the islands, despite operating successfully on the islands last summer without widespread transmission between the local and visitor populations.

We are calling for the government to end its discrimination against our islands and urgently clarify arrangements for opening of the Scottish islands.

Any changes to the current restrictions will be announced on April 20, taking effect on April 26.

09:47 AM

Vaccine passports are really only for 'larger events', says minister

Paul Scully, a business minister, has said that officials are "really looking at the larger ticketed events that are far more of a challenge" for vaccine passport plans – not shops.

The minister acknowledged there were "debates and discussions... to be had" in the "longer term" about where else the certificates might be required.

The minister says the government is "working through all the evidence" and has not made a final decision.

"There are obvious practicality issues we've got to work through as well as ethical and discriminatory issues," he said.

09:30 AM

For millennials like me, 'vaccine passports' would be another kick in the teeth

"The sacrifices my generation has made are now worsened by a potentially expensive set of restrictions to all but 'green' destinations," writes Lottie Gross. And the prospect of vaccine delays for younger people only complicates matters:

Let me start by saying this: I am actually in support of vaccine passports. I’ve had my yellow fever jab and I proudly tuck my dog-eared, mustard-coloured certificate into my passport wherever I go.

If the Thai government made Japanese Encephalitis jab essential for travel to the country, I’d gladly get the injection and pack my certificate before jetting off to Bangkok. I’m all for vaccinating against dangerous diseases, and I don’t mind having to present the proof.

But a coronavirus vaccine passport system for international travel (or some way of reducing restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers) would do one thing: create large-scale inequality and, frankly, I’m angry.

Read the full article.

09:15 AM

Where will Britons be heading on holiday first?

Bath: top of the wishlist - Getty
Bath: top of the wishlist - Getty

According to data from hotel comparison site Booking.com, holidaymakers are setting their sights on Bath, Cornwall and Edinburgh for their first post-lockdown summer getaway.

While international leisure travel remains off-limits, the most searched-for UK destinations are:

  1. Bath

  2. Newquay

  3. St Ives

  4. Edinburgh

  5. Blackpool

  6. Bournemouth

  7. Torquay

  8. Inverness

  9. York

  10. Brighton & Hove

The research also claims that 64 per cent of Britons say they won’t travel internationally until they have been vaccinated – yet two thirds (68 per cent) feel more hopeful about travelling in 2021, in light of the vaccine rollout.

09:00 AM

The 'British Holiday Experience' is regressing to Fawlty Towers levels

Without foreign tourists to impress, British hospitality workers are allowing petty habits to creep back in, writes Rob Crossan:

We’re brilliant at being rude. Us Brits have the knack of going from petulant, passive aggressive sarcasm to power outage levels of rage in a matter of milliseconds at any given time. It has terrified foreigners and kept us in a state of emotionally repressed anxiety for centuries.

But things have improved. Or so we like to think. We now laugh at the bad old days of the hatchet-faced, 'can't-do' attitudes of hoteliers and publicans.

Yet, it appears that we may already be seeing the beginnings of a new after-effect of Covid. Will the knowledge among the hospitality industry that they will only be serving Brits for the time being cause service levels to plummet?

Read the full comment piece – and tell us, do you agree?

08:45 AM

LEGOLAND Windsor prepares for reopening – with mandatory masks on rides

Masks are now required on all rides - LEGOLAND
Masks are now required on all rides - LEGOLAND

When LEGOLAND Windsor Resort reopens next Monday, guests aged 11 and over will be now required to wear face masks on all rides (except for water rides), as well as throughout the park.

Some ride rows and seats will also be left empty to enable social distancing, and temperature checks will take place at the park entrance.

Roller-blading giraffes: a new addition to the park - LEGOLAND
Roller-blading giraffes: a new addition to the park - LEGOLAND

As LEGOLAND celebrates its 25th year, it has unveiled 15 new LEGO models made from 1.2 million bricks and featuring a host of characters such as a Minifigure Scientist, Musical Dragon, and a family of roller-blading Giraffes, which collectively took more than 8,000 hours to build.

08:31 AM

How Bhutan managed to vaccinate more than half its citizens in a single week

A Buddhist monk receives a Covid vaccine under the watchful eye of Bhutan's King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck - Upasana Dahal/AFP
A Buddhist monk receives a Covid vaccine under the watchful eye of Bhutan's King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck - Upasana Dahal/AFP

A tiny population, vaccine diplomacy and an army of volunteers have enabled the tiny mountain kingdom of Bhutan to outstrip much richer nations.

By Tuesday, almost 469,664 out of its total population of 735,553 had received a single dose of vaccine – 85 per cent of its citizens, with children excluded.

Certainly, Bhutan’s small population size is a major advantage over many other countries. But its success can also be attributed to its dedicated citizen volunteers, known as "desuups", as well as robust public healthcare planning and a regional geopolitical struggle between New Delhi and Beijing.

Joe Wallen has the full story.

08:10 AM

Just how clueless are Britons about post-Brexit passport rules?

According to new research by Post Office, 22 million Britons don’t understand the post-Brexit passport validity rules. UK travellers now need six months' validity on their passports to visit most EU destinations – yet a third of holidaymakers say they 'haven't considered' that Brexit rules may affect their travel plans.

Are you guilty of this too? Here are Post Office's main findings:

  • 33 per cent said they haven’t considered that the UK’s exit from the EU would affect their travel plans

  • 42 per cent couldn’t correctly identify the six months required on their passport to travel post-Brexit

  • 37 per cent don’t know when their EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) expires

​Does that sound like you? If so, it's probably time for a quick post-Brexit travel masterclass from our consumer expert Nick Trend – and watch the video below:

07:56 AM

US rules out Covid passports

The White House on Tuesday ruled out imposing any form of a coronavirus vaccine passport in the United States, but said private businesses were free to explore the idea.

Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters: "The government is not now, nor will be, supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential. There will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential."

Vaccine passports, showing that someone has been inoculated against Covid-19, are seen by Boris Johnson as a potentially powerful tool in safely reopening Britain to mass gatherings and travel, but the move is opposed by a number of Tory MPs and the Labour Party.

Read more: SNP open to voting for Covid passports in England

07:44 AM

A quick catch-up

Before we start, here’s a quick recap of Tuesday’s headlines:

  • EasyJet boss says tests will make travel too expensive for most Britons

  • US and Gulf states on the green list?

  • Government accused of 'damaging' approach to travel restart

  • 'Vaccine passports' not required for travel, says WHO

  • Chile shuts border for full month

Now, on with today’s travel news.