Travel latest news: Scrap quarantine – testing is just as effective, says new study

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The chief executive of Virgin Atlantic has urged the UK Government to push for “seamless travel” when borders reopen, as a report shows a single Covid-19 test on arrival is as effective as a 10-day quarantine.

A study by Edge Health and Oxera revealed that rapid antigen tests can reduce the number of “infectious days” of international travellers by 63 per cent— the same rate as those forced to isolate for 10 days under current rules. Their findings have been submitted to the Global Travel Taskforce.

If the Government were to introduce a ‘traffic light’ system for arrivals, the report suggests “a single test strategy could be appropriate for countries categorised as medium-risk”, with quarantine requirements scrapped. And those entering the UK from countries with higher rates of coronavirus would only need to quarantine for three days if a two-test strategy – PCR and antigen – was introduced.

Responding to the report, Shai Weiss, head of Virgin Atlantic, said his company “believe that international travel can safely restart at scale” by following the “scientific evidence”.

Seamless travel “must remain the objective, enabling the free movement of people and goods that are vital to the UK’s economic recovery”, he added.

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‘Frustrating and eerie, but at least bookings are up’ 

From difficult decisions to promising bookings, hoteliers in England share their thoughts on how they’ve found the last year.

For hoteliers, having to manage restrictions, staff and bookings has been a challenge, but many are looking forward to a busy year of staycationing guests – especially Paul Bayliss, general manager of Hotel Brooklyn in Manchester, which has been trying to launch for the past year.

The property was supposed to open in early 2020 – just before the first lockdown hit. Then again in summer. Now it is hoped it can open once and for all on May 17.

He said:

Trying to launch a brand new hotel and having to open and close three times has been frustrating. But also fascinating, because there’s been plenty of time to reflect on guest experience and how we all deal with uncertainty.

Read more:  Hoteliers on the year lost to lockdown

Pubs may demand Covid passport before they will pull your pint 

There’s little more I’ve been looking forward to than post-lockdown UK break that involves a whole handful of pit stops in pubs. But will it be as simple as walking in and ordering a pint?

Coronavirus vaccine certificates could be introduced by pubs when they reopen later this year, reports Ben Riley-Smith. People may have to prove that they have had a Covid jab or tested negative for the virus before entering a pub, and Mr Johnson said: “I think that that’s the kind of thing – it may be up to individual publicans, it may be up to the landlord.”

His lack of opposition suggests the Government will not intervene if pubs – and potentially other private companies – decide to require proof of Covid status.

The position is a stark departure from two months ago, when Government ministers were arguing that making people reveal such information within the UK was “discriminatory” and against British values.

Speaking of getting back to normality… 

My colleague Emma Featherstone has found some of the most indulgent travel experiences for each new stage of England’s roadmap – including spectacular gardens (hello there, picnics), meals in Michelin-starred pubs, brilliant train journeys… and much more.

You’ll find the feature right here. Give yourself something to look forward to.

The Spa Garden at Rockliffe Hall 

The Spa Garden at Rockliffe Hall 

When will we get back to normal?

Bill Gates has his crystal ball out. The Microsoft co-founder has said in an interview that he believes the world will be back to normal by the end of 2022.

The pandemic is “an incredible tragedy”, he told Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, but access to vaccines meant that by the end of next year “we should be basically completely back to normal.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has committed at least £1.3 billion to the help fight coronavirus, including funding for vaccines, diagnostics and potential treatments.

Set out overseas summer holidays plan or face Covid laws rebellion, Tory MPs warn

Tory MPs have called for the Government to lay out a “clear” plan for overseas summer holidays or run the risk of a major revolt against the extension of Covid powers, reports Charles Hymas.

They have warned that the Government’s foreign travel ban – potentially to the end of June – and the £5,000 fines to enforce it are “sowing confusion” among the public and in danger of damaging an aviation and travel industry “already on its knees”.

Ministers’ global travel taskforce must lift the blanket ban on travel and lay out a clear “opening up” plan for overseas breaks in lower-risk countries from the proposed date of May 17, they say.

The full story is here.

What happened yesterday?

Good morning. Here’s a reminder of Wednesday’s headlines:

  • Boris Johnson warns of new border restrictions with France ‘very soon’
  • Europe tightens restrictions as ‘third wave’ takes hold
  • Wild weather leads to waterfalls on Uluru
  • Australia lifts ban on international travel to New Zealand
  • Ministers expect to set out ‘traffic light’ system on April 5
  • British Airways owner in Heathrow and Gatwick slots deal

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