A further 17 countries should be eligible to join the green list in the next update to the government’s traffic light list for international travel, according to an expert.
Austria, Germany, Poland and Canada are among the destinations that should be bumped up from amber to green, according to research by travel consultancy the PC Agency.
The research has identified 12 countries that could go fully green thanks to Covid rates below 30 cases per 100,000 residents and fairly robust vaccination rollouts: Austria, Bosnia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Bhutan, French Polynesia, North Macedonia, Norway and Saudi Arabia have been identified as candidates for the green watchlist.
The next review is due to take place this week, either on Wednesday or Thursday.
Meanwhile, a minister has defended the government’s pandemic travel rules amid suggestions a new amber watchlist could be created for countries – possibly including Italy and Spain – which would signal they were close to going red.
Matt Warman, minister for digital infrastructure, denied claims the guidelines were complicated – and defended the idea of moving away from “three cut-and-dried categories” for travel.
“Saying to people if a country is on a watch list there is a risk that it could, for instance, move from green to amber or amber to red seems to me to be providing people with really important information when they’re making significant financial decisions,” he said.
Follow the latest travel news below:
Good morning, and welcome to the travel liveblog.
From today, travellers who have been fully vaccinated in the EU and US can finally enter the UK from amber countries without having to quarantine.
The first people to benefit were American passengers on board British Airways flight 112 from New York JFK which touched down at London Heathrow just after 6am.
New York-Boston by seaplane – starts on Tuesday
Two great East Coast cities will be linked by seaplane from Tuesday 3 August.
The 85-minute journey between New York and Boston will be operated by Tailwind Air, which promises “the accessibility of the train with the speed of a flight”.
It connects Manhattan’s New York Skyport at the foot of East 23rd Street with Boston Harbor – where the airline promises “a dedicated, seven-minute water taxi to the South Boston waterfront”.
Jet flights from New York’s La Guardia aircraft to Boston’s Logan airport are scheduled for around 75 minutes for the 184-mile journey – to take account of congestion on the ground.
Passengers on Tailwind Air can turn up as little as 10 minutes before departure.
Test bookings made by The Independent found fares of $1,190 (£858) return.
Scientists voice ‘concern’ over foreign travel
Any increase in foreign travel this summer is concerning while autumn could prove to be “a particularly risky point” for the country, scientists advising the Government on coronavirus have warned.
The latest documents, revealing expert advice given to ministers earlier this month, raised concerns that the return of students to schools and universities for the new term could place “significant pressures” on the health service.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab this week insisted the government’s new rules on travel allowing fully vaccinated people from the US and EU to enter the country without having to quarantine are part of a “modest opening up”.
A document dated July 14 stated the importance of global surveillance on the emergence of new variants and added: “Any increase in foreign travel over the summer and the return of international students to universities in the autumn is of particular concern.”
In the same document from the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, Operational sub-group (SPI-M-O), experts warned that September and October “will be a particularly risky point in the trajectory of the epidemic”.
It states that “significant pressures on healthcare could be seen” if more normal behaviours, following the lifting of many restrictions, coincide with the return of schools and universities.
The warnings were published a day after England’s deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, said he hopes the worst of the pandemic is behind us but warned there could be “one or two bumpy periods” ahead.
Simon Calder answers your travel questions
The Independent’s renowned travel correspondent Simon Calder has answered 30 of your most burning questions about everything travel, from traffic lights to the France debacle.
The Independent’s travel expert gives advice on travel this summer to France and beyond
British Airways restores New York flights to 1970s levels
The key transatlantic link on British Airways from London Heathrow to New York JFK is soon to be restored to the 1970s level of three flights per day.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, British Airways had a dozen flights each way between London and New York.
BA is also adding frequencies to Chicago and Los Angeles. The new flights will begin on 16 August.
The extra flights are in response to the UK government allowing fully vaccinated American travellers, as well as arrivals from the European Union to visit without needing to quarantine.
The airline says bookings “surged by 95 per cent” within hours of the announcement, but it did not spell out the metric for this figure.
Sean Doyle, chairman and chief executive of British Airways, said: “We are very much looking forward to welcoming new visitors from the US and EU to the UK from next week, many of which will be reuniting with their family members for the first time in many months.
“This move will also help boost the British economy and the hospitality sector, which like aviation, has been crippled by the effects of the pandemic.”
It’s my last day as travel editor...
...and here’s what I’ve learnt in three years of running the travel desk.
Spoiler: there’s quite a lot of Covid, some Brexit and a lot of unforgettable trips.
Modern travel might be an obstacle course of nasal swabs and health declaration forms, but it’ll still be worth it, says Cathy Adams
Transatlantic flights down 83 per cent
Transatlantic flights are down 83 per cent compared to 2019, according to new research.
As the UK prepares to open to vaccinated travellers from the US, with no need to quarantine, travel data and analytics expert Cirium has revealed how capacity has slumped on this previously popular route during the pandemic.
Based on data from January 1, 2021, to July 23, 2021, Cirium found that, overall, transatlantic return flights have collapsed by 83 per cent, from 27,123 down to 4,751.
British Airways continues to dominate on transatlantic routes, with the largest share of capacity,: 36 per cent in 2019 and 35 per cent in 2021.
However, BA’s capacity in 2021 is down year-on-year by a whopping 84 per cent. In 2019 Virgin Atlantic had a 19 per cent share of capacity, but this has dropped to 14 per cent in 2021
Which countries could be added to the green list?
As always, this comes with the caveat that anything can happen on traffic-light day – no forecaster has so far been anywhere near completely accurate when making predictions on this score.
But some analysts and experts have thrown out suggestions based on current infection rates.
Some 77 countries are reportedly under consideration for the UK’s green list for international travel.
The destinations are currently under review by the Joint Biosecurity Centre, before the next update to the government’s traffic light lists is announced next week, reports the Daily Telegraph.
However, although a broad selection of countries is being considered for a promotion to green, many of these won’t make the grade, warned government sources.
Travel industry experts have tentatively forecast that around 10 destinations could go green.
Former British Airways strategist Robert Boyle has predicted the following upgrades: Austria, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland, Azerbaijan, Bhutan and Vietnam.
Consultant and founder of the PC Agency, Paul Charles, has named Austria, Bosnia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia and Slovenia as contenders.
When is the next green list announcement?
The next traffic light reshuffle is expected next Wednesday or Thursday, which is when the government will reshuffle the green, amber and red lists for travel and decide where Britons can travel quarantine-free.
Here is everything we know about when the announcement is, and what is currently on the low-risk green register.
When is the next green and amber list update announcement?
France is ‘amber plus’ due to Reunion... but Reunion is not
As France remains on the bespoke “amber plus” list due to the Beta variant in La Reunion, it turns out the island itself is... on the amber list. Which means double-jabbed Britons and Europeans can return from there with no quarantine at all.
Simon Calder has the lowdown on this most mangled of traffic light decisions here:
The Man Who Pays His Way: The location blamed for requiring tighter restrictions for France is now a quarantine laundrette