The government’s next update to the traffic light travel restrictions is likely to take place on Thursday (16 September).

And the most recent government briefings indicate that the current system restricting travel to the UK is likely to be dismantled soon.

The UK has by far the highest infection rates for any major country in Europe, yet it also imposes the strictest rules on arrivals.

A total of 62 nations and territories are on the UK”s “red list,” representing a total population of well over one billion people.

Appearing on the red list is effectively a travel ban, with arrivals from those countries required to go into 11 nights of hotel quarantine once in the UK – at a cost, for a solo traveller, of £2,285.

So which countries might leave the club – and which nations should join?

Tim White, the Covid data analyst who tweets as @TWMCLtd, has trawled through the genomic sequencing records held by Gisaid, the worldwide database, with a focus on variants of concern.

He will be on hand to answer all your latest travel questions around the upcoming announcement and what might happen to the traffic light system in coming weeks during a live ‘ask me anything’ event being held on this page today (14 September).

Join Tim at 4pm today, 14 September, when he’ll be on hand to answer your travel questions about all the latest rules and restrictions live.

Register to submit your question in the Comments below. If you’re not already a member, click “sign up” in the Comments box to leave your question.

Don’t worry if you can’t see your question – they will be hidden until Tim joins the conversation to answer them.

Then join us live on this page from 4-5pm as he tackles as many as he can within an hour.

Could vaccines be mandated for U.S. air travelers?

It was reported by the Washington Post that White House Chief Medical Advisor to the President Dr. Anthony Fauci is in support of a vaccine mandate for domestic air travel.

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“I would support that if you want to get on a plane and travel with other people, that you should be vaccinated,” he told theSkimm in a recorded interview.

The U.S. Travel Association disagreed with Fauci, noting that travel precautions used by airlines to control the spread of COVID-19 are already sufficient.

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“The science—including studies from the Harvard School of Public Health and the U.S. Department of Defense—overwhelmingly points to the safety of air travel as long as masks are worn. And with the federal mask mandate for all forms of public transportation and U.S. airports extended through January 2022, proper tools are already in place to enable safe air travel for Americans,” said U.S. Travel Association executive vice president of public affairs and policy Tori Emerson Barnes.

The association maintained that there should be no mandates for vaccinations for domestic travel.

“Such a policy would have an unfair, negative impact on families with young children who are not yet eligible to get the vaccine,” noted Emerson Barnes. “While U.S. Travel does not endorse a national vaccine mandate, we continue to believe that vaccines are the fastest path back to normalcy for all, and we strongly encourage all who are eligible to get a vaccine immediately to protect themselves, their families and their neighbors.”

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Government briefings indicate that the current “traffic light” system that restricts travel to the UK is likely to be dismantled soon.

The UK has by far the highest infection rates for any major country in Europe, yet it also imposes the strictest rules on arrivals.

A total of 62 nations and territories are on the UK”s “red list,” representing a total population of well over one billion people.

Appearing on the red list is effectively a travel ban, with arrivals from those countries required to go into 11 nights of hotel quarantine once in the UK – at a cost, for a solo traveller, of £2,285.

So which countries might leave the club – and which nations should join? Tim White, the Covid data analyst who tweets as @TWMCLtd, has given his expertise to The Independent.

He has trawled through the genomic sequencing records held by Gisaid, the worldwide database, with a focus on variants of concern.

Staying on red

Fourteen nations, says Mr White, are likely to remain on red: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Egypt, French Guiana, Montenegro, Philippines, Seychelles, Suriname, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia.

Mr White offered this commentary: “Brazil uploaded many hundreds of samples, but 41 per cent were Gamma.

“Chile reported 37 per cent of its sequenced positive cases were Gamma, while almost 10 per cent were Lambda and another 16 per cent were the most recent variant, Mu.

“Colombia will be kept red because of lack of quality data.

“Costa Rica uploaded only four samples, two of which were variants.

“Suriname and French Guiana are likely to stay red with Gamma variant circulating widely.

But, he added: “Most scientists believe most of the variants circulating in South America are not more likely to evade vaccines so there is an argument to allow them all off red.”

Elsewhere in the world, he said: “Montenegro is Europe’s most infected country.

“The Philippines registered an all-time record recently

“Seychelles has still quite high rates.

“Tanzania has never bothered reporting any samples to the collective, so it is almost certain to stay on red, more so considering the government’s attitude to the virus has been to pretty much deny its existence and punish people for posting things about it.

“Thailand submitted very little data. Given the fear over mutant strains and Beta in particular, I think Thailand will stay red until it can do more genomic sequencing.

“Tunisia had awful figures for number of travellers arriving into UK infected with Covid-19.”

Added to red

Tim White picked another 10 nations not currently on the red list which, he said, have high case rates or were “fibbing about figures”, meaning they should probably be added to the red list.

These were Azerbaijan, Belarus, Cote d’Ivoire, Fiji, Grenada, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Russia and Venezuela.

All of these are currently amber, except Grenada – currently on the “low-risk” green list.

Mr White speculates that Iran, Iraq and Russia have avoided the red list up to now “for political

Sandals Resorts International (SRI) has announced the introduction of Sandals Holiday Assurance.

The new initiative offers the guarantee of a free replacement stay should a holiday be impacted by Covid-19 while on resort.

It also provides guests with complimentary on resort Covid-19 testing.

Clients who have holidays booked before December, including those made through third parties, can rest assured that if they should test positive for Covid-19 whilst in resort and are required to quarantine, they will be provided with an accommodation credit voucher for the value of their room cost.

This can be redeemed against a replacement stay within 12-months of the issue date.

Agents can book their clients’ holidays via Unique Caribbean Holidays (the UK tour operator for Sandals and Beaches Resorts) with complete confidence, knowing that their holiday is fully assured with Sandals Resorts.

Certain restrictions, terms and conditions do, however, apply.

According to SRI executive chairman, Adam Stewart, the new Sandals Holiday Assurance programme is designed to take the worry out of travel, giving guests certainty that their investment in an all-inclusive luxury holiday is safeguarded from interruptions outside of their control.

“We want to put the fun and joy of planning and anticipating a great holiday back into travel. While we recognise the real concerns that may weigh on our guests’ minds, we’re taking extraordinary measures to remove worry from the equation, so travellers’ can delight in the entire travel journey – from booking to departure,” said Stewart.

In addition, UK guests travelling to any Sandals or Beaches Resort will benefit from complimentary on-resort Covid-19 PCR or antigen testing, based on the requirements of the local governments in the islands where Sandals and Beaches Resorts operate.

This also includes the required antigen test for British guests to return into the UK, which is carried out at all Sandals and Beaches resorts within 72 hours prior to guests’ departure.

Results are usually received from within 24-hours.

More Information

Sandals Resorts International is the parent company of the leading luxury all-inclusive resort brands Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts.

Sandals is recognised as the World’s Leading All-Inclusive Company by voters at the World Travel Awards.

Dr Anthony Fauci has backed the idea of banning unvaccinated people from air travel in the US.

“I would support that if you want to get on a plane and travel with other people, you should be vaccinated,” Dr Fauci, the director of the US’ National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the Skimm This podcast, according to The Hill. The podcast was taped last week and is set to be released on Thursday.

The support from Dr Fauci, who earlier led the Covid-19 task force, comes days after Democrat representative Don Beyer introduced a bill in the House of Representatives to make a proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours from travel a requirement to board an airline or a train.

Mr Beyer, the representative from Virginia, introduced The Safe Travel Act in the House on Thursday.

“Requiring airport and Amtrak travellers and employees to provide a proof of Covid vaccine or negative test is just common sense,” Mr Beyer said on his bill. “These are easy steps we can take to make travel safer, as companies like United have already demonstrated with responsible policy changes.”

Earlier in August another Democrat, New York representative Ritchie Torres, also pushed a bill to require Americans to get immunised or tested before travelling. In his letter to the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security, Mr Torres said such a requirement was “common sense”.

On Friday, the White House refused to rule out the introduction of such a policy. “I think we have a very strong track record that shows we’re pulling available levers to acquire vaccinations and we’re not taking any measures off the table,” White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said.

So far, 54 per cent of Americans have been fully vaccinated, while 63 per cent have received at least one dose, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data. Over 35 per cent, or nearly 80 million, Americans are unvaccinated.

President Joe Biden said last week that vaccine hesitancy, which remains a major hurdle for the US, has cost the country a great deal. “We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin,” Mr Biden said. “And your refusal has cost all of us. So, please, do the right thing.”

(CNN) — Island destinations from the Caribbean Sea to the Indian Ocean joined a handful of Eastern European countries among the latest places deemed “very high” risk for travel by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Mauritius, Albania and Serbia on Monday moved to the “Level 4: Covid-19 Very High” category on the CDC’s evolving list of travel notices.

Afghanistan, which has been in turmoil since the Taliban takeover and US withdrawal last month, also moved to Level 4, along with several more destinations.

People should avoid traveling to locations designated with the “Level 4: Covid-19 Very High” notice, the CDC recommends. Anyone who must travel should be fully vaccinated first, the agency advises.

• Afghanistan
• Albania
• Belize
• Grenada
• Lithuania
• Mauritius
• Saint Kitts and Nevis
• Serbia
• Slovenia

The CDC’s travel notices range from Level 1 (“low”) to Level 4 (“very high”).

Destinations that fall into the “Covid-19 Very High” Level 4 category have had more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days, according to CDC criteria.

All of the destinations listed above moved up from “Level 3: Covid-19 High.”

The Level 3 category applies to destinations that have had between 100 and 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days.

Israel was also listed as a Level 4 update on Monday afternoon. However, Israel was already listed in the Level 4 category before the weekly update. The CDC has not immediately responded to CNN’s request for clarification.

New ‘Level 3’ destinations

Four other destinations moved to the Level 3 category on Monday: Australia, Brazil, Ethiopia and Romania.

Brazil moved down from Level 4, while Australia, Ethiopia and Romania were previously listed in the Level 2 “moderate” category.

Australia has recently struggled to contain an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant, which has spread to the major population centers of Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, leading to lengthy lockdowns.

In its broader travel guidance, the CDC has recommended avoiding all international travel until you are fully vaccinated.

“Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread Covid-19. However, international travel poses additional risks, and even fully vaccinated travelers might be at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading some Covid-19 variants,” the agency said.

Top image: Aerial view of Sandy Island, Carriacou, Grenada (Adobe Stock Photo). CNN’s Ben Westcott contributed to this report.

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Hawaiian Airlines released a new in-flight video with an important message to incoming visitors: “Travel Pono.”

The video features scenic views and popular locations across all Hawaiian islands.

Hawaiian Airlines employees are featured in the video providing safety tips for travelers when hiking or enjoying island coastlines.

The video explains how tourists can show respect to the local culture and marine life during their visit.

“Our commitment to protecting Hawaii’s environment, culture and community remains steadfast. We have heard our community and employees’ voices and are happy to share our new in-flight Travel Pono video,” the company said in a post online.

”We are proud to serve as Hawaii’s hometown carrier and hope that this video will welcome our guests with valuable information that will enrich their experience on our Islands while helping to protect its natural resources and way of life.”

The airlines also posted a link to additional information on how visitors can travel pono.

The video comes amid growing dissatisfaction among Hawaii residents about the impacts of tourism on quality of life in the islands.

There was also concern earlier this year about visitor behaviors after several tourists were seen on social media harassing marine animals ― in incidents that angered residents.

Copyright 2021 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, thinks passengers should also be subject to a vaccine mandate in order to fly.
  • Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian called it a “logistical dilemma” trying to figure out who among the millions of passengers the airline carries every week has been vaccinated.
  • “U.S. Travel has long maintained that there should be no mandatory vaccination requirement for domestic travel,” Tori Emerson Barnes, the U.S. Travel Association’s executive president said.

President Joe Biden recently announced sweeping federal vaccine mandates in a bid to get COVID-19 cases under control, a move that will likely require airline employees to be vaccinated or take weekly tests.

But what about airline passengers?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser and the nation’s top infectious disease expert, thinks passengers should also be subject to a vaccine mandate in order to fly.

“I would support that if you want to get on a plane and travel with other people that you should be vaccinated,” Fauci said in a weekend interview with The Skimm.

Biden hasn’t publicly mentioned a vaccine mandate for flights but when asked about travel restrictions in a COVID-19 briefing Friday, Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response team coordinator, said nothing is off the table. He pointed to the government’s Thursday announcement that fines will be doubling for passengers refusing to follow the federal mask mandate on planes and other public transportation.

►Doubling fines:Biden directs TSA to double the fines on travelers who refuse to wear a mask while flying

►’Sit down now’:Video shows unruly passenger growling, snarling on American Airlines flight

“Overall, I think we have a … very strong track record that shows we’re pulling available levers to acquire vaccinations and we’re not taking any measures off the table,” Zients said.

When asked about a possible vaccine mandate for domestic flights at a different briefing Friday, Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, said: “We are always looking at more we can do to protect and save lives. Obviously, he made a significant and bold announcement yesterday, so I don’t have anything to preview – predict or preview for you, but we’ll continue to look for ways to save more lives.”

Would airlines go for a vaccine requirement for passengers?

The idea of vaccine mandates for flights would not be groundbreaking. Canada already requires air travelers to be vaccinated. 

U.S. airlines have generally been against a vaccination requirement for domestic travel, and repeatedly note that it’s already a de facto requirement for a lot of international flights because of countries’ ever-changing entry requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an interview with “CBS This Morning” in late August, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said he doesn’t see a vaccine requirement for U.S. flights happening.

Bastian called it a “logistical dilemma” trying to figure out who among the millions of passengers the airline carries every week has been vaccinated, not vaccinated or is exempt from vaccination rules.

“It would actually bottleneck the

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. State Department raised their travel alert levels Monday for the Caribbean travel spots of Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Belize due to the “risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 variants.”

The CDC raised both dual-island nation Saint Kitts and Nevis and Belize to a level 4, which signifies “very high” COVID levels and means tourists should avoid travel to the popular Caribbean vacation destinations.

Those who must travel to either destination, the CDC travel health notice says, should be fully vaccinated. Aside from following each country’s specific guidance, CDC recommends travelers wear a mask and stay 6 feet apart from others.

►Visiting Maui this fall? Forget about indoor dining at restaurants, bars unless you’re vaccinated.

►Which EU countries are open to US tourists?:A breakdown of EU travel restrictions by country

The CDC also raised several countries’ travel alert to a levels 4, including: 

  • Slovenia
  • Serbia
  • Mauritius
  • Lithuania
  • Israel
  • Grenada
  • Albania
  • Afghanistan

The agency raised the alert levels last week for Jamaica, Sri Lanka and Brunei to level 4.

The CDC assesses COVID-19 risk based on each destination’s new cases and new case trajectory. The Travel Health Notice level can be raised if a large increase in COVID-19 cases is reported or a destination’s case count meets or exceeds the threshold for a higher level for 14 straight days. Level 4 destinations have more than 500 new cases per 100,000 people over the past 28 days or more than 500 cases period if their population is smaller than 100,000.

Contributing: Dawn Gilbertson, USA TODAY

Companies included on the government’s approved Covid-19 travel test provider list appear to be flouting consumer law by refusing to refund customers for unfulfilled orders, according to dozens of travellers who have contacted the Guardian.

Boots is among the firms whose terms and conditions state that orders for tests are non-refundable even if they fail to materialise despite the Consumer Rights Act allowing customers to claim money back if an order or service is not as described or fit for purpose.

Another test provider has threatened legal action against customers who complain about missing tests.

Sajid Javid, the health secretary, said on Sunday that he wanted to scrap the costly PCR test requirement for double-jabbed people returning to the UK from some countries as soon as possible.

“The PCR test that is required upon your return to the UK from certain countries, look, I want to try to get rid of that as soon as I possibly can,” Javid told Sky News.

“I am not going to make that decision right now but I have already asked officials that at the moment we can, let’s get rid of these kind of intrusions, the costs that generates for families, particularly families just trying to go out and holiday.”

People arriving into the Uk from countries on the government’s green and amber list are required to pay for PCR tests on or before day two after they return. Those who have not received both vaccines also have to take a test on day eight from amber list countries and failure to comply can result in a fine of up to £2,000.

The government website directs travellers to an official list of test providers who have self-declared that they meet minimum standards.

According to the Department of Health and Social Care, companies have been removed from the list for misleading price claims, but complaints from customers suggest that no action has been taken against firms that fail to fulfil orders and rely on unfair terms and conditions to evade refunds.

Richard Claughton and his wife, both NHS workers, paid Boots £150 for two day two tests after a trip to Spain to visit family in July. Only one test kit arrived, damaged beyond use, six days late.

Boots refused to refund them, claiming that, according to its terms and conditions: “The service is deemed to have been provided in full by Boots and ReCoVa-19 by providing the customer with their booking reference number.”

The company told the Guardian that, instead of a refund, missing or faulty kit would be replaced free of charge. A replacement in Claughton’s case would have meant his test results arriving after his official quarantine period had ended.

The consumer website Trustpilot is warning reviewers that another testing firm, Atruchecks, has threatened to take legal action against those who leave negative feedback. All reviews since June have rated it “bad”, citing the non-delivery of testing kits, misleading pricing and unresponsive customer service.

The company, which is owned by the