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Travel UK update – live: Last countries leave red list and more than 30 new vaccines to be recognised by UK

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The government has announced further changes to the UK’s red list today, with the seven-strong list of countries reduced to zero.

Grant Shapps tweeted: “All seven remaining countries on the red list will be REMOVED from Mon 1 November at 4am.”

However he added that the UK will “keep the red list category in place as a precautionary measure to protect public health” and said the government is “prepared to add countries and territories back if needed, as the UK’s first line of defence.”

The seven countries that were formerly graded red - Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela - have all been added to the Rest of World list, meaning travellers fully vaccinated in a country whose vaccines are recognised by the Department for Transport need not quarantine on arrival here.

More nations’ vaccine certification will also be recognised in the UK from Monday, with 35 additions, including Peru and Uganda.

Follow the latest travel news below:

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Wales to follow red list changes

17:52 , Helen Coffey

The Welsh Government has confirmed it will follow the changes made in England to the travel red list.

In a statement, Eluned Morgan, health and social services minister, said: “These changes are not without risk - the UK’s Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (Sage) has advised the evolution of a vaccine escape variant is ‘almost certain’, and the risk of increased clinical severity is a ‘realistic possibility’.

“We are also concerned about the UK Government’s many decisions to change the border health measures, which are important protections to prevent the risk of new cases - and new variants of coronavirus - from entering the UK.

“However, it is difficult for Wales to adopt different arrangements to those required by the UK Government, as the majority of Welsh travellers enter the UK through ports and airports in England.

“Having different requirements would cause significant practical problems, confusion among the travelling public, logistical issues, enforcement at our borders and disadvantages for Welsh businesses.

“The pandemic is not over. It is for this reason that our advice continues to be to encourage people to only travel overseas for essential reasons.”

Which countries’ vaccines are recognised in the UK?

17:50 , Helen Coffey

In mid-September, the UK government announced major changes to the country’s international travel and health rules - including its plans to formally recognise a number of vaccines from overseas countries.

Prior to late July, only UK-administered vaccines were officially recognised.

In the latest travel announcement on 28 October, the government revealed that 35 more countries’ vaccinations would be accepted by England and Scotland from 1 November.

So which countries’ vaccine certificates are now recognised?

Click below to see the full list:

Which countries’ vaccines are recognised in the UK?

Jubilation from travel industry as restrictions ease

17:43 , Simon Calder

The travel industry has welcomed the abolition of hotel quarantine from next month – but is questioning why the “red list” was allowed to drag on for so long.

Panama’s Minister of Tourism, Ivan Eskildsen, said: “We are delighted that the UK has recognised the progress we have made in tackling Covid and we can’t wait to welcome UK visitors to Panama.

“Our doors are wide open.”

Danny Callaghan, chief executive of the Latin American Travel Association, said: “Latin American countries have excellent vaccination programmes and recognition of this is long overdue.”

Read the full story:

Red list cull: jubilation from travel industry as restrictions ease

Some 35 countries’ vaccines to be recognised

17:30 , Helen Coffey

The Scottish government has released the list of the 35 countries and territories to be added to the eligible vaccinated traveller policy:

Angola, Anguilla, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belize, Bermuda, Botswana, Cambodia, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Djibouti, Eswatini, Gibraltar, Guyana, Honduras, Lebanon, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mongolia, Nepal, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Panama, Peru, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Uganda and Uruguay.

More than 30 extra vaccines recognised

17:11 , Helen Coffey

The UK government will recognise vaccination certification from more than 30 extra countries from 4am on 1 November.

“Eligible travellers from over 30 new countries and territories including Peru and Uganda will be added to our inbound vax policy, bringing the total number of countries on this list to over 135,” tweeted Grant Shapps, the transport secretary.

Travellers from these destinations will no longer have to quarantine on arrival to the UK, but must simply take a rapid antigen test within two days of entering the country.

All seven remaining countries removed from red list

16:54 , Helen Coffey

All seven remaining countries will be removed from the UK’s red list from 1 November, the government has announced.

The seven countries moving off the red list are: Colombia, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.

However, the red list will continue to exist, with the same hotel quarantine requirement attached to any country that may move onto it.

Read the full story:

All seven remaining countries removed from red list

Government expected to recognise more vaccines

16:50 , Helen Coffey

In the latest travel update from the UK government, the transport secretary is expected to announce that more countries’ vaccine certifications will be recognised.

Grant Shapps could approve at least 12 more nations’ vaccines, reports the Guardian, meaning travellers from there will no longer have to quarantine upon arrival to the UK (provided they haven’t come from a red list country).

Emirates returns “SuperJumbo” to Gatwick route in time for Christmas

14:24 , Simon Calder

London Gatwick, which was previously the world’s busiest single-runway airport, has at last received a crumb of comfort: Emirates is planning to bring the Airbus A380 back in time for Christmas.

The Sussex airport has lagged behind other Emirates gateways in getting a link to Dubai restored. London Heathrow and Manchester already have multiple Airbus A380 services, while Birmingham, Glasgow and Newcastle are also back on the Emirates network.

The Dubai-based airline had already announced a return to Gatwick, but with a smaller Boeing 777 aircraft. The daily link will now be served by the double-deck A380, with almost 50 per cent more seats.

Richard Jewsbury, divisional vice-president UK for Emirates, said: “Upgrading the Gatwick route to our incredible A380 will help us meet ever growing demand for international travel from the British public.

“London Gatwick airport has long been a valued partner for Emirates and we look forward to welcoming passengers back onboard Emirates’ flagship aircraft soon.”

At present Gatwick is operating with only its smaller North Terminal, with the South Terminal mothballed.

An Emirates A380 (Emirates)
An Emirates A380 (Emirates)

United Airlines restoring flights from London Heathrow to the US

13:58 , Simon Calder

One of the world’s biggest airlines is to restore some of the links between London Heathrow and the US that were cut during the coronavirus pandemic.

The carrier will offer seven daily flights to and from its hub at Newark, New York. United claims the highest frequency of any US airline from Heathrow to New York, but British Airways flies more often – serving both Newark and JFK.

The United schedule from Newark to Heathrow offers overnight flights on the hour, every hour, from 6pm to 11pm, as well as a daytime service at 8.30am.

From Heathrow, departures are also on the hour at 8, 9 and 10am; 12 noon; and 1, 4 and 6pm.

United will also add a link from Heathrow to Boston, which it did not previously serve, and boost service to Denver and San Francisco.

A United plane (Simon Calder)
A United plane (Simon Calder)

‘No plans’ to remove hotel quarantine, says government spokesperson

13:35 , Lucy Thackray

England has no plans to abolish its “red list” of high-risk countries for Covid, which requires travellers to quarantine in hotels on arrival, Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson has said.

But the spokesperson did not rule out the possibility that the final seven countries on the list will be removed when transport secretary Grant Shapps unveils the latest update on travel restrictions later today.

He dismissed reports that the seven - Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela - will all be declared safe as “speculation”, insisting that final meetings to decide any changes were still to take place.

Read the full story:

Red list will remain, says government

Red list travel update expected ‘late afternoon'

13:03 , Helen Coffey

No 10 has confirmed that Grant Shapps will announce the latest changes to the red and Rest of World (ROW) lists for travel today, with the update expected “late afternoon”.

There has been much speculation that the seven countries currently on the UK’s red list, requiring arrivals to pay for 11 nights of hotel quarantine, will be removed.

‘Not viable to maintain Queen Elizabeth’s existing schedule’ – Cunard

11:45 , Lucy Thackray

One of the UK’s leading cruise lines, Cunard, has cancelled all previously scheduled voyages on Queen Elizabeth between February and May next year, and replaced them with new itineraries.

A statement from the company read: “Unfortunately, based on the most recent advice for cruise guests, and given the complexities of many of the international destinations involved, it will not be viable to maintain Queen Elizabeth’s existing schedule.

“All departures from 20 February to 17 May 2022 inclusive are now cancelled.”

The cruise line has announced a series of new itineraries, all from Southampton. They include voyages to the Norwegian coast, the Canary Islands, the western Mediterranean and through the Panama Canal to Vancouver.

“Cunard continues to work very closely with authorities in all the destinations visited to ensure compliance with local health and entry requirements,” the statement continued.

The line’s president, Simon Palethorpe, said: “We hope our guests will be inspired to find a little adventure with these new itineraries.

“To all guests affected by the cancelled voyages we are sorry for the disappointment this will cause and we hope to welcome many back on board when we return to Japan in 2023.”

Passengers are being offered full cash refunds or a future cruise credit with a 25 per cent bonus.

Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth cruise liner (Steve Dunlop)
Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth cruise liner (Steve Dunlop)

Five-week bus strike in North Wales

11:16 , Simon Calder

Bus services in North Wales will “grind to a halt in the run-up to Christmas,” according to the Unite union.

Four hundreds drivers working for Arriva have “voted overwhelmingly to strike,” the union says.

The stoppage will run from Sunday 14 November to Sunday 19 December and will affect depots at for Amlwch, Bangor, Hawarden (near Chester), Llandudno, Rhyl and Wrexham.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “It is time that Arriva Cymru’s management woke up and smelled the coffee.

“The 95 per cent vote in favour of industrial action shows how determined our members are to fight for a better pay deal.

“They were local heroes in the pandemic, so surely now is the time for that dedication and hard work to be rewarded with a substantial pay rise.”

Heathrow is big winner for aviation tax cut

10:44 , Simon Calder

When the chancellor announced that Air Passenger Duty will be halved for domestic flights, he described it as “a boost to regional airports like Aberdeen, Belfast, Inverness and Southampton”.

In fact, the main beneficiary will be the UK’s biggest airport, Heathrow.

The Independent has analysed Civil Aviation Authority figures for the top 10 domestic links in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic.

London Heathrow is at one end of five of them, including four of the top five: to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Belfast City. The fifth is Heathrow-Manchester, in 10th place.

Read the full story:

Heathrow is the big winner from flight tax cut

Ryanair says it’s better than Facebook

10:04 , Simon Calder

Europe’s biggest budget airline has unveiled what it claims to be a wide range of “customer improvements” – and in doing so disparages Facebook.

Ryanair tweeted: “We’ve been listening (not like Facebook). Our new customer improvements are here.”

The carrier has created a “Digital Self Service Hub” that will allow changes such as flight bookings and the names of passengers to be made without calling the airline.

A “Day of Travel App Assistant” will provide information such as the gate number and, in the event of widespread disruption, live video updates.

The carrier also promises a “Ryanair Wallet” with refunds for cancelled flights made within five working days – which merely meets existing European air passengers’ rights rules.

Spanish trains between London and Paris?

09:05 , Simon Calder

Another continental train operator has expressed interest in competing with Eurostar on the high-speed line from London through the Channel Tunnel.

Spain’s national railway, Renfe, could launch services between St Pancras International and Paris.

A spokesperson for Renfe told the International Rail Journal: “According to the demand analyses carried out, it would be viable and profitable for Renfe to compete with Eurostar.”

The Spanish train operator also said it might extend trains deeper into France, but did not reveal details.

A decade ago Deutsche Bahn, the German rail operator, ran a test train later this month through the tunnel to try to make the case for relaxing regulations and hope to run services to Cologne and Frankfurt.

But the plan never took shape. Other operators, ranging from a consortium involving Air France to a "low-cost" Italian rail firm, have shown interest in running trains to and from London St Pancras.

But Eurostar – which has been extremely hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic and international travel restrictions – currently has the line to itself.

Trains at St Pancras (Simon Calder)
Trains at St Pancras (Simon Calder)

Chancellor defends cut in flights tax

08:38 , Simon Calder

Rishi Sunak has defended the cut in Air Passenger Duty (APD) that will incentivise flying on UK domestic flights.

In the Budget, the chancellor announced that APD on domestic flights will halve from £13 to £6.50 from 2023.

Speaking on BBC Today, Mr Sunak said the tax cut would be “largely offset” by the introduction of a new ultra-long-haul APD band – even though the government’s own figures show that the overall tax take will decline by £35m in the first full year.

Read the full story:

Rishi Sunak cuts taxes on domestic flights days before Cop26 climate summit

Airline boss fury as APD hike announced for long-haul

08:23 , Simon Calder

The aviation industry has reacted strongly to yesterday’s news that Air Passenger Duty (APD) will rise for long-haul flights.

The increase of to £91 for an economy class flight above 5,500 miles will affect trips to key Asian and Latin American cities, including Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, Tokyo, Buenos Aires and Santiago.

The Board of Airline Representatives in the UK (BAR UK) described the move to increase tax on flights over 5,500 miles as a “Halloween horror for long-haul travellers”. The organisation called the move “political posturing that undermines the industry’s net-zero commitments”.

Meanwhile, Iata director general Willie Walsh calling it a “cash grab masquerading as a green tax the week before COP26”.

Read the full story:

Tax to rise on ultra-long-haul flights, prompting fury from travel industry

Could the red list be scrapped today?

07:55 , Simon Calder

Leaks from government indicate that all seven remaining nations could be removed from the red list later today, ahead of both the Cop26 climate summit and World Travel Market, the UK’s prime travel industry event.

Reports suggest the red list will continue to exist in case new variants appear, but changes could also be announced that would allow travellers from any new red list nations to self-isolate at home rather than a quarantine hotel.

Such a move would align the UK with many other European countries and ease the barriers to travel – but people already in quarantine hotels would be expected to complete their 11-night stays.

However, some industry figures have suggested the “popular” red list will remain.

Read the full story:

Could red list be scrapped?

Good morning

07:49 , Lucy Thackray

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

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