Christmas travel plans could face disruption as details of the Government’s ‘Test to Release’ programme still have not been revealed – with less than a week to go before its launch.
From December 15, anyone arriving into England from a ‘high risk’ destination will be able to reduce their 14-day quarantine period to five days if they pay for a Covid test after the fifth day. However, the promised list of government-approved test providers is still yet to be announced, with the ‘Test to Release’ website stating only that they will be published online “soon”.
The lack of information at such a late stage was described as “disappointing” by Clive Wratten, the chief executive of the Business Travel Association.
Brian Strutton, general secretary of pilot union Balpa, said that although the programme as “laudable in its intent” it should be “up and running urgently”.
He told City AM: “Rishi Sunak, Matt Hancock and Grant Shapps all lined up to trumpet the Government’s ‘Test to Release’ scheme but here we are two weeks later and only a week before the scheme is supposed to go live, to find that passengers can’t actually use it.
“How can passengers plan Christmas visits to family and friends abroad, if they can’t book the promised tests to reduce quarantine?”
A spokesman for the Department for Transport said that a full list of approved providers for ‘Test and Release’ will be “made available shortly before [December 15]”.
Scroll down for the latest updates.
Swedish government wants vote on lockdown powers
The government in Sweden is looking for temporary news powers to tackle coronavirus, which would make it easier for authorities to enforce the closure of shops and gyms as part of lockdowns.
Under the proposals, the government would be able to limit the number of people in stores, as well as control opening hours, and if necessary call for closures across the board.
A vote on the legislation is expected early next year and will create rules that would last for just over a year, the governing coalition said in a statement.
Sweden has been seeing a second wave of coronavirus in the past month, with record daily infections.
The British Virgin Islands reopens with strict rules in place
Winter sun, anyone? The British Virgin Islands have officially reopened to international travelers, with strict entry measures in place in an effort to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
All travellers need to apply for a BVI Gateway Travel Authorisation Certificate within the five days before travelling, completing it at least 48 hours prior to arrival. Once landed, you must present a negative PCR test from within five days of arrival, as well as travel insurance that covers the costs of the treatment, and possible medical evacuation, of Covid-19.
Once at Terrance B Lettsome International Airport, a further test will be undertaken before arrivals are given a wristband monitoring device and required to turn on a tracing app on their phones. Then it’s quarantine for four days at a hotel or villa, with another test on the fourth day – if it’s negative, you’re free to move around the islands as you please.
If it’s positive, the quarantine period is a minimum of 14 days. The cost of the tests, use of the mobile phone app and the monitoring bracelet must be paid for by the traveller.
Early end to first Royal Caribbean cruise in nine months
A high-profile return to cruising in Asia for Royal Caribbean had to be aborted early on Wednesday after a passenger was found to be positive for the coronavirus, reports Nicola Smith.
Quantum of the Seas returned to port on day three of a four-day “cruise to nowhere” after the captain confirmed that a guest had a Covid-19 infection despite strict checks before boarding.
All leisure activities were suspended following the positive test, and the ship isolated all guests and crew who had close contact with the infected man, an 83-year-old. All of them subsequently tested negative for coronavirus.
Cruise holidays have largely been suspended globally since early this year after several mass Covid-19 outbreaks left hundreds of passengers sick or stranded as borders closed to keep the pandemic at bay, although river cruises across Europe successfully resumed during the summer.
‘Third wave’ sees Covid-19 cases rising in South Korea
South Korea reported 686 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday – its second-highest daily figure of the pandemic.
The East Asian nation is battling a third wave of the infection that, according to reports, is threatening to overwhelm the health system.
Earlier this week the country raised its alert level, banning gatherings of more than 50 in the capital, Seoul, and closing gyms and karaoke bars.
Japan to allow limited inbound tourism next spring
International tourism could return to Japan from next spring ahead of Tokyo’s hosting of the delayed Olympic Games, according to reports.
But it will be limited to countries where infection rate are low, such as China and Taiwan, and the Japanese government is leaning towards allowing in small tour groups.
The Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported that under the new plan, tourists would have to test negative for Covid-19 before being allowed into Japan, and would be required to submit detailed itineraires of their holiday plans. They would only be allowed to travel around by coach, and would be kept separate from other guests at hotels.
Here’s a reminder of Tuesday’s main stories:
Two thirds of Britons say restrictions are stopping them from travelling
Britons arriving in Greece will face 10-day quarantine
China removes Tripadvisor from its online stores
Mount Everest higher than thought, say China and Nepal
Cathay Pacific to offer free Covid-19 travel insurance
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