Travel news – live: Turkey and Pakistan may come off red list, says expert, as Trainline celebrates recovery

·9-min read

Turkey, Pakistan and Mexico are among the countries that could come off the UK’s red list at the next travel update, says expert Tim White.

The data analyst and travel expert has been closely watching the Covid cases and infection rates in destinations across the globe.

White has shared his expertise with The Independent, selecting a dozen countries he thinks are strong candidates for being removed from the red list.

The full line up is: Argentina, Bangladesh, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Kenya, Maldives, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Turkey.

“If cautious, Mexico may need to stay a while longer, and Dominican Republic needs help to conduct genomic sequencing,” added White.

At present, people coming into the UK from red list countries must quarantine in a hotel for 10 days, at their own expense.

In other news, train booking platform Trainline is predicting a return to profitability after its ticket sales recovered to £1 billion in the half year - 179% higher year-on-year.

Follow the latest travel news below:

Read More

Red list: Which countries could be taken off when travel system changes?

When is the next UK travel update?

What will replace the traffic light travel system?

Key points

  • Holiday bookings plunged by 83% this year amid UK travel restrictions

  • New traffic system could be narrowed down to two lists: safe and unsafe

  • Red list could be ‘significantly shrunk’ in next few weeks

Burden of travel testing to be lightened soon, says PM

15:55 , Lucy Thackray

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has spoken about the continuing travel restrictions in the UK, and suggested that the testing process around travel will be simplified soon.

“We have to do everything we can to stop the virus being reimported and particularly to control new variants... That’s why we have the rules, that’s why we have the red lists,” said Boris Johnson at today’s press conference.

“It is reasonable to ask people to do that, to help protect the population.

“We’ll be saying a lot more shortly about the traffic light system, about simplifying it and what we can do to make the burdens of testing less onerous for those who are coming back into the country.”

Watch the press conference live:

Watch: Watch live as Boris Johnson holds news conference on winter Covid plan

Health secretary hints that day two tests could be dropped

14:01 , Simon Calder

The health secretary, Sajid Javid, has hinted once again that “day two” PCR tests for travellers returning from abroad will soon be dropped.

At present the UK has the highest Covid infection rates of any major European country yet also the most draconian travel restrictions.

The “day two” PCR test – which, in fact, can be taken on arrival in the UK or on one of the two following days – is a particular concern, typically costing £50-£70.

The senior Labour MP Ben Bradshaw asked Mr Javid: “While travel in the rest of Europe has recovered to 60 per cent of pre-Covid levels, it’s a fraction of that here.

“So when will he scrap the outdated, unnecessary and hugely expensive travel testing regime, save what’s left of an industry and end the situation where foreign travel has, once again, become the preserve of the rich?”

The health secretary said: “It is important that we have a system of surveillance, especially around variants across the world.

“There are different ways to do that. We’ve chosen this particular path at the moment.

“We are planning to make some changes around the travel regime and my right honourable friend the transport secretary [Grant Shapps] will come to the house as soon as he’s ready.”

This will be ahead of the so-called “checkpoint” on the travel restrictions system, due on 1 October.

‘Close’ call for Jamaica going on the UK’s red list, says expert

12:08 , Lucy Thackray

Jamaica is a borderline candidate to go on the red list at this week’s travel traffic light update, says Covid data expert Tim White.

“Jamaica, on the old criteria of cases, tests, vax rates, incoming passengers arriving infected & genomic sequencing, would probably survive red again, so should be ok this week, but it’s close,” White tweeted today.

“Cases coming down now but many nations were added to red despite being beyond peak.”

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You can ask Tim your questions about which countries have rising or declining cases, and which may be safest for travel, at our Ask Me Anything event later today.

Couple thrown off US flight after mask row

11:31 , Lucy Thackray

A couple have been filmed becoming aggressive and shouting at cabin crew in Florida, after being asked to leave a JetBlue flight due to staff concerns over their mask-wearing.

In the video, posted to Instagram, the unmasked man shouts and swears at flight staff for several minutes, lunging at the crew member next to him at one point, as several passengers film the altercation.

Passenger Alice, who filmed the altercation, said the chaos began when a flight attendant asked the woman to fix her son’s mask before getting on the plane, which she apparently didn’t. She also said that the woman and her husband “had their masks on off the nose the whole time”.

Read the full story:

Couple thrown off flight after mask row

10:57 , Lucy Thackray

A British woman who claims a gastric bug caught on holiday in Egypt left her with long-term health concerns has received a payout from tour operator Tui.

Donna Chatfield, 40, fell ill during a two-week break at the Jaz Aquamarine resort in Hurghada, Egypt, in August 2017, and was subsequently diagnosed with post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome.

Donna believes she caught the gastric illness from food and drink at the hotel, where she was holidaying with her partner and daughter.

Tour operator has paid £60,000 in total to families who sued them after taking ill during a stay at the resort between July and August 2017.

Read the full story:

Woman receives payout from Tui after ‘nightmare’ holiday sickness bug

Ask Covid data expert Tim White your travel questions - today

10:01 , Lucy Thackray

Want to know which countries are looking safe enough to be on the green list, or have Covid case rates high enough for a move to the red list?

In a digital event from The Independent, Covid data analyst Tim White will be on hand at 4pm today to answer as many of your queries as he can.

With a potential update to the travel rules expected on Thursday, and a larger overhaul of the UK’s international travel system within the coming weeks, it’s an uncertain time for travellers.

Tap into Tim’s in-depth knowledge of current Covid data across the globe to get the best steer on your travel plans.

Read the full story:

Covid data expert Tim White to host an ‘ask me anything’ live

Scale of collapse of holiday bookings revealed by Abta

09:08 , Simon Calder

Almost half of travel companies reported they have seen no increase in 2021 bookings compared to last year, despite the rollout of the vaccine programme.

Travel Association Abta says the majority (58 per cent) of bookings with departure dates in July or August this year had to be postponed or cancelled.

Just one-sixth of new holiday bookings were made this summer compared with 2019, figures from the travel body show.

In addition, all returning holidaymakers must take multiple Covid tests – the most onerous and expensive requirements in Europe.

“The government needs to wake up to the damage its policies are doing,” said CEO Mark Tanzer.

Read the full story:

Holiday bookings collapse 83% as travel restrictions bite

‘Do not enter this seating area’ – some tubes and trains keep Covid blocks in place

08:35 , Lucy Thackray

Transport for London is simultaneously telling commuters on the tube that there is zero threat from Covid and keeping two dozen seats on each Bakerloo Line train blocked off from passenger use.

The Independent has found that five months after lockdown rules in England were eased and use of public transport became possible for non-essential reasons, Tube and train operators are potentially adding to rush-hour crowding with Covid restrictions.

Tube passengers are told: “Do not enter this seating area or stand in the doorway vestibule. This is to allow our staff to follow social distancing guidelines.

“Doing this helps keep the Bakerloo Line running for essential journeys.”

Last week the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) revealed that commuting by rail, which collapsed as the coronavirus pandemic took hold, is still two-thirds down on the level in early 2020.

Read the full story here:

‘Do not enter this seating area’ – some tubes and trains keep Covid blocks in place

Brazil, Egypt, Seychelles, Thailand ‘will stay on red’, predicts expert

08:04 , Lucy Thackray

Amid reports that the UK’s red list could be significantly reduced in the coming weeks, Covid data analyst Tim White has shared his predictions for which countries might shift or stay with The Independent.

Fourteen nations, said Mr White, are likely to remain on red: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Egypt, French Guiana, Montenegro, Philippines, Seychelles, Suriname, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia.

The Seychelles “still has quite high rates,” said White, while “Thailand submitted very little data”.

“Given the fear over mutant strains and Beta in particular, I think Thailand will stay red until it can do more genomic sequencing,” he said.

But, he added: “Most scientists believe most of the variants circulating in South America are not more likely to evade vaccines so there is an argument to allow them all off red.”

Read the full story:

Which countries could come off the red list?

‘Zero variants of concern’ found in PCR tests, research shows

07:37 , Lucy Thackray

New NHS figures show there were zero variants of concern in PCR tests taken by holidaymakers returning to England between 12 August and 1 September.

Research carried out by consultant Suzanne Lugthart for The Sun shows that no variants of concern were found among the 1.1 million PCR tests undertaken in that three-week period of summer.

An average of one in 100 tests returned a positive result, but this was much higher - 1.77 per cent -among travellers coming in from “red list” countries.

At present, all passengers to the UK from every foreign country except Ireland must take a pre-departure test, as well as a “day two” test after arrival.

Good morning

07:31 , Lucy Thackray

Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s travel liveblog, where we’ll be sharing all the latest updates.

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