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.

PETALING JAYA: Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri is confident that the opening of the domestic tourism sector under the travel bubble programme, which will be done in stages, can provide some light for the tourism industry.

The Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister said that she welcomed the news by the Prime Minister who had announced the initiative, subject to certain conditions and a local vaccination rate of 80%.

“Langkawi was chosen as a ‘testing ground’ project to revive the tourism industry that has long been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic considering that the island is isolated,” she said in a post on Facebook today (Sept 2).

“Thankfully, this is good news not only to the ministry, but all the industry players who had been badly affected, due to hotel and restaurant closures at the holiday island after the crisis was sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic,” she added.

She said that the other factor for choosing Langkawi was to facilitate monitoring purposes.

“The selected pilot destination has its own strengths such as having a network of public and international flights, as well as having a variety of accommodation facilities for various types of the tourist segment.

“If this Langkawi pilot project is successful, I believe it can restore the people’s confidence to travel because seeing is believing,” she said.

The government had announced that local tourists will get to visit Langkawi from Sept 16 under the much-anticipated pilot project of a tourism bubble as the nation eases back to recreational activity.

The starting date was agreed to at a meeting of the Special Committee to Address Covid-19, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

“Other tourist destinations will be allowed to operate once the local vaccination rate reaches 80%,” he said.

After Ardern’s announcement last month, the Insurance Council of New Zealand warned that while travellers should still take out travel insurance, they won’t be completely covered in a pandemic.

“In addition to the normal travel insurance cover, some policies may include cover for specific COVID-19 claims such as cancellation costs if you contract COVID-19 and can’t travel, costs to return home if a relative gets sick with COVID-19 or costs if you get sick with COVID-19 and need to quarantine while overseas. Some also cover reasonable costs if the person you are supposed to stay with gets COVID-19 and you need to find alternative accommodation,” chief executive Tim Grafton said.

“However, as discussed over the last few days, border closures imposed by a government are not covered by any insurer as it is simply not possible to develop a product that accounts for the uncertainty and the level of risk this presents.

“Insurers and customers need certainty of the exact dates and times borders open or close so that they know when cover is available and when it is not.”

The Opposition has been pushing for a travel bubble between New Zealand and Australia for months but the Opposition recently ramped up that pressure even further, launching a petition calling for its immediate implementation. 

“We just need to make sure when we do it, we get it right,” Ardern said. “A petition isn’t what makes this decision – we make it based on health advice and when we believe we’ve got everything in place.” 

Both New Zealand and Australia celebrated Easter weekend in a relatively unrestricted way as both countries reported no new community COVID-19 cases.

Queensland, which was the epicentre of a recent, small community outbreak, has only had one infection in the past three days. The state currently has the tightest restrictions out of the two countries.

Wellington: New Zealand is set to announce on Monday whether it will open quarantine-free travel to Australians, but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern indicated that such an arrangement may only be with some Australian states.

Ardern told state broadcaster TVNZ in an interview that initial country-to-country negotiations had turned to state-by-state discussions as the process was taking too long.

“We’ve said: ‘Look, let’s just move state-by-state’ because it’s actually just taking a bit too much work, a bit too difficult,” Ardern said.

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.Credit:Getty Images

“Let’s just operate as Australia has been operating with us. That’s helping to speed things up.”

Stuff reported officials from the two countries had gathered 12 times to work on a country-to-country arrangement, but it had been too difficult to get an arrangement on that basis.

Australia’s border has been mostly open to neighbouring New Zealanders since October, with a few short suspensions when there were small coronavirus outbreaks in Auckland. But New Zealand has delayed returning the favour amid more frequent bursts of COVID-19 clusters across Australia.

Loading

Air NZ last week announced non-stop flights between Auckland and Tasmania would be operational as soon as a trans-Tasman bubble was established.

Ardern did not give any details on when such a travel arrangement was expected, but local media have reported it may be operational by the end of April. The Prime Minister is expected to announce her decision in a post-cabinet news conference later on Monday.