Travel news live: Pre-departure tests axed from today

Thousands of travellers entering the UK today will benefit from the country’s less onerous restrictions, which came into play at 4am this morning.

From that time, fully vaccinated arrivals will have swerved the requirement to present a negative Covid test before departure.

They will still have to take a post-arrival PCR test on the day they enter the UK or the following two days – but they need not isolate while awaiting the result.

From Sunday at 4am, rules will ease even further, as double-jabbed travellers may swap this “day two” PCR test for a cheaper lateral flow.

The travel industry has welcomed the change to the travel testing rules, with a surge in holiday bookings expected in the coming weeks.

As many travel companies reported a surge in enquiries and website traffic, Kuoni’s CEO Derek Jones predicted that travel will be “90 per cent back before the end of spring”.

Follow all the latest updates below.

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These are the most popular holiday destinations for Brits in 2022

Spain has topped a list of countries Britons are planning to visit this year, according to a survey by ABTA, the Travel Association.

The poll of 2,000 consumers, taken at the end of 2021, revealed nearly a third (29 per cent) of respondents planned to visit the Med holiday favourite in 2022.

Second most popular was the US, with 18 per cent saying that they had plans to visit the States this year.

Third on the list was France – which has currently banned most British visitors – with 17 per cent saying they’d like to visit.

Lucy Thackray7 January 2022 15:56

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France loosens some travel restrictions on UK arrivals

France has loosened its strict travel ban on visitors from the UK, making it possible for some business travellers and those journeying to their home in an EU country to enter.

“From 6 January 2022 onwards, the list of compelling reasons is being expanded. Among other things, work journeys in both directions and travel through France to reach your home in the EU are being made easier,” read a statement from the French Consulate in London.

Previously, Britons needed one of a small number of “compelling reasons” to enter France from the UK, such as those with French citizenship, a right to residency, a diplomatic role or those working in the transport sector.

Now, the French government has added two extra items to the list of compelling reasons, allowing for “passing through through France to his/her main residence in a European Union country or equivalent”, and “missions necessary for the pursuit of an economic activity requiring presence on site (which cannot be postponed)”.

Lucy Thackray7 January 2022 14:32

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Expert Simon Calder answers your questions on the latest travel changes

In January, the travel correspondent of The Independent is normally to be found on the practice courts at Australia’s National Tennis Centre in Melbourne. But in the era of coronavirus, he chose instead to respond to questions from readers as the travel testing rules are relaxed.

Click below to see readers’ key questions – and Simon Calder’s answers – following the latest update to the UK’s travel rules:

Simon Calder7 January 2022 14:12

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Thousands of passengers arriving into UK benefit from eased travel testing rules

Thousands of passengers have arrived in the UK since the travel rules were eased at 4am this morning.

Fully vaccinated travellers no longer need to take a pre-departure test, nor self-isolate on arrival until they get a negative test result.

The first arrival was Côte Des Flandres – a DFDS ferry from Calais that arrived in Dover at 4.04am.

Few travellers were on board, due to the travel ban currently imposed by France on the UK.

Simon Calder7 January 2022 12:19

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Cruise line cancels eight sailings due to Covid restrictions

A major cruise line has cancelled eight sailings in response to tighter travel restrictions introduced in the wake of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Norwegian Cruise Line cited “ongoing travel restrictions” and “Covid related circumstances” when announcing it was axing future itineraries.

“Our first priority is the health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we visit,” the brand said in a statement.

Helen Coffey7 January 2022 11:28

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Israel lifts UK travel ban

Israel has removed the UK from its red list for travel, lifting a travel ban that has been in place for nearly a month.

“Starting tonight (Thursday to Friday, midnight 07.01.2022), all countries will be removed from the list of red countries, subject to the approval of the Government and the Knesset’s Constitution Committee,” Israel’s Ministry of Health announced yesterday on Twitter.

“Despite the change, it should be noted that in many countries around the world the morbidity situation is higher than in Israel, and therefore it is advisable to avoid reaching these places unnecessarily as much as possible,” the Ministry added.

Lucy Thackray7 January 2022 10:43

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Propeller smashes through cabin window after bird strikes plane midflight

A bird struck a plane’s propeller on Monday, causing it to disintegrate and smash through one of the cabin windows.

The Airlink Jetstream JS-41 was running a charter flight from Johannesburg to Venetia Mine, South Africa, on 3 January when the incident happened shortly before landing, the airline reported.

According to an Airlink statement, none of the passengers or crew were injured and pilots were able to land safely, but the aircraft sustained substantial damage.

Dramatic passenger photos show an almost entirely shattered cabin window, a frayed segment of the right hand propeller, damage to the inside of the fuselage and debris strewn across the plane aisle.

Lucy Thackray7 January 2022 09:54

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Pre-departure travel tests scrapped from today

Travel to the UK has become easier for those who are fully vaccinated from today, as the government has scrapped the need for pre-departure Covid tests.

From 4am, travellers who can prove they’ve been double jabbed need not show a negative test result before embarking on their journey to the UK.

They also need not quarantine while awaiting the result of their “day two” post-arrival coronavirus test.

However, all previous rules remain in place for arrivals who aren’t fully vaccinated.

Read our travel correspondent Simon Calder’s full explainer on the new rules here:

Helen Coffey7 January 2022 08:48

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Good morning, and welcome to The Independent’s travel liveblog. We’ll be bringing you all the latest updates throughout the day.

Helen Coffey7 January 2022 08:29

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Scotland eases restrictions in line with rest of UK

Scotland has become the last UK nation to relax travel restrictions, in line with England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport Michael Matheson said:

“Given the rapid spread of Omicron last year it was essential that we took immediate steps to protect public health in Scotland, particularly with regards to international travel.

“We still have significant concerns over Omicron, but we recognise that, now it is the most dominant strain in Scotland and across the UK, it is sensible to review the measures currently in place.

“We also fully understand the impact of the restrictions on staff and businesses in the travel and aviation sectors and these changes demonstrate our commitment not to keep measures in place any longer than necessary.

“However, people still need to be extremely careful when travelling and to remember that both our and other countries’ Covid-19 requirements can change at short notice as things can evolve very quickly.

“People should therefore ensure they have travel insurance and carefully check their booking terms and conditions, as well as ensuring compliance with the latest regulations for the country being visited.”

Simon Calder6 January 2022 17:24

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