UK to add more countries to its green travel list

  • UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to add Balearics and Malta to the UK’s green travel list today
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel said all UK travellers visiting EU countries should quarantine on arrival due to the Delta COVID variant
  • UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock provided further optimism for UK summer holidays abroad this week
  • New Zealand extends travel ban to New South Wales after rising coronavirus cases
  • Premier of New South Wales Gladys Berejiklian says there will not be another lockdown in Sydney despite new coronavirus infections
  • The UK reports the highest number of new coronavirus cases since February 2021
  • UK vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi says coronavirus vaccines have prevented 44,500 hospitalisations in the UK

The UK’s traffic light system for international travel will undergo a review today after UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock recently provided fresh optimism for holidays abroad this summer. Following the UK government’s increasingly positive outlook, UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps will today reveal new countries to be added to the UK’s green travel list.

UK to add more countries to its green travel list

It’s anticipated that Malta and the Balearic Islands will be added to the UK’s green travel list following a sign off from ministers at a COVID operations committee meeting. The green travel list contains countries where UK travellers will not need to quarantine their return home.

Many popular UK holiday destinations currently remain on the amber travel list, such as Portugal and Greece. UK travellers returning from amber listed countries must quarantine for ten days on their return home, take a COVID test before or on day two of quarantine and on or after day eight. However, there is the possibility to end quarantine early through the test to release scheme where travellers can pay for a private COVID-19 test.

The news follows reports that the UK government is considering allowing quarantine free travel to amber list countries to Britons who have received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine. This alteration would make numerous popular holiday destinations available to Britons without the need to self-isolate and could help support the tourism industry across Europe.

Despite the increased optimism for travel abroad, some UK ministers are said to be wary of lifting restrictions too early. There are concerns that relaxing travel rules could lead to Britons bringing forward their second coronavirus vaccination appointment, placing pressure on supplies. Nevertheless, the UK government is determined to offer all UK adults their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine by 19th July.

Conservative MP Steve Baker said if UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson does not lift coronavirus restrictions and place his trust in the vaccines, we will face a hollow society.

However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that all UK travellers visiting EU countries should quarantine on arrival due to the Delta COVID variant. Although not the case in every EU country, UK travellers entering Germany are forced to quarantine on arrival. Ms Merkel highlighted that she would like to see this rule applied to all EU countries to keep coronavirus infections under control.

Despite significantly lower coronavirus infections than across Europe, Australia and New Zealand have once again tightened their travel restrictions.

New Zealand extends travel ban to New South Wales

Today’s reports confirm that New Zealand has extended their travel ban to New South Wales for an additional twelve days after a surge of new coronavirus infections in Sydney. New South Wales has experienced a recent outbreak of coronavirus cases, with 36 new infections confirmed in the state.

New Zealand Minister of Education Chris Hipkins confirmed that the New Zealand government is taking an incredibly cautious approach when it comes to travel restrictions following an additional public health assessment today.

Health and Government officials within New Zealand will reassess the ‘travel bubble’ next week to determine whether they can ease travel restrictions.

Meanwhile, the Cook Islands have stated that those who have travelled to Wellington and visited a ‘place of interest’ cannot fly back until they have completed their quarantine and coronavirus testing in Wellington. The requirements were prompted by an infected Australian tourist who visited the New Zealand capital, visiting a range of tourist hotspots.

Although Wellington is not subject to a full coronavirus lockdown, the capital has been lifted to level 2 restrictions. All gatherings must have less than 100 people, social distancing enforced in public places, and masks are obligatory on public transport. Restaurants are allowed to stay open provided they are seated, with table service only.

Mr Hipkins stated that if the rules were observed, a lockdown in Wellington would not be necessary. The New Zealand Ministry of Health highlighted that this incident is the first time an Australian traveller has brought COVID-19 into the country and confirmed that the individual has since returned home.

Sydney will not enter lockdown despite rising coronavirus infections

Premier of New South Wales Gladys Berejiklian says there will not be another lockdown in Sydney despite new coronavirus infections. On Thursday, the state recorded 11 new coronavirus cases and 48 total coronavirus infections in Sydney.

Ms Berejiklian stated that whilst this was a ‘scary period’ for Sydney, New South Wales has reached a stage where citizens are familiar with the restrictions in place and believes the situation will remain under control if everyone complies.

At the beginning of June, Sydney underwent a ‘soft lockdown’ consisting of one week. New South Wales chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant was asked whether a three-day lockdown may be considered, but it was confirmed that this would not be long enough.

Dr Chant confirmed that the Delta COVID variant was transmitting more rapidly within retail settings, highlighting the need for more contact tracing.

Australian Health Minister Brad Hazzard further confirmed that there would not be an imminent lockdown in New South Wales, stating that the current restrictions in place are proportionate and appropriate. Within the city of Sydney and surrounding areas, household visitors are currently limited to five people, masks are mandatory in all non-residential indoor spaces, and outdoor seated events will operate at 50% capacity.

COVID-19 infections

UK reaches the highest number of daily COVID-19 infections since February

The UK has reported 16,135 new coronavirus infections, which is the highest number of new daily cases since 6th February 2021, where 18,262 were confirmed.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that there had been 153,000 deaths in the UK, where COVID-19 was stated on the death certificate.

Whilst coronavirus infections in the UK remains a concern, new figures reveal that 43,448,680 Britons have received a first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, whilst 31,740,115 have received both.

Recent reports also indicate that there have been cases of a ‘Delta plus’ COVID variant in the UK, with 41 cases discovered so far. However, Francois Balloux, a professor at University College London, stated that as the Delta plus cases are so low, it is not a particular cause for concern in the UK.

Meanwhile, the UK government recently amended rules to allow football officials and VIP fans into Wembley Stadium to watch the remaining stages of Euro 2020. The altered requirements mean that those with a Euro 2020 invite will not have to self-isolate to watch the game. Individuals allowed to bypass the system include members of UEFA, the council of FIFA and executives of companies sponsoring Euro 2020.

Vaccine minister says coronavirus jabs have prevented 44,500 UK hospitalisations

Nadhim Zahawi, the UK Vaccine minister, has said that coronavirus vaccines have protected 14,000 lives and prohibited 44,500 hospitalisations in the UK. Mr Zahawi stated that the UK has shown a ‘Dunkirk spirit’ during the coronavirus pandemic and that the mission remains to get as many Britons vaccinated as possible.

With younger age groups now invited to receive their coronavirus vaccine, Mr Zahawi praised the number of young people who had come forward so far. To help encourage further vaccinations, Dr Nikki Kanani, medical director of primary care NHS England, revealed that walk-in vaccine appointments would be encouraged this weekend.

Dr Kanani also highlighted the significant rise in vaccinations from those within ethnic communities, noting that the uptake in Asian communities had increased from 75% to 86% between March and June and 55% to 68% within black communities.

Although hospital admissions linked with coronavirus cases are rising in the UK, health officials noted that the admissions are at a much slower rate than the upsurge in infections. Dr Mary Ramsay, PHE head of immunisation, said that new COVID-19 cases in the UK stood at 10,000 to 11,000 each day. Dr Ramsay said the decline in links between coronavirus cases and hospitalisation admissions provided evidence that the vaccine is working and relieving stress on the NHS.

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