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.

The Cook Islands will not reopen travel to New Zealand until there has been no community transmission of Covid-19 for 14 days and travellers over 12 have been fully vaccinated, Prime Minister Mark Brown says.

Cook Islands borders have been closed to New Zealand for more than three weeks since the first Delta case was first reported on August 16 in Auckland.

The country’s government closed off travel immediately, only allowing Kiwis in the Cook Islands to return.

Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown says his government is doing everything possible to protect the health of Cook Islanders and the country’s economy.

Ryan Anderson/Stuff

Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown says his government is doing everything possible to protect the health of Cook Islanders and the country’s economy.

Brown said the decision by his Cabinet might be disappointing to many, but those people now had at least some indication of when tourism may resume.

READ MORE:
* Cook Islands tourism focus turns to Australia
* Cook Islands ready to host Kiwi tourists from May 1, says Prime Minister Mark Brown
* Fears Cook Islands will not be able to host as many visitors if two-way bubble doesn’t inflate soon

He said that at some point in the future, all countries would have to live with Covid-19. However, that time wasn’t now for Cook Islanders, as they closely monitor New Zealand’s Delta outbreak and vaccination programme.

Torika Tokalau/Stuff

Cook Islands hotel owner Richard Vinsen says the past 15 months have been difficult but he’s hopeful the New Zealand travel bubble will revive the country’s fortunes.

“As one of the few countries in the world that has managed to keep Covid-19 out, we do not want to do anything to jeopardise the safety of our people,” Brown said.

“While we acknowledge that at some point in the future all countries will need to learn to live with Covid-19, that time has not yet come.

“We do not want an outbreak here. The impact on our health resources as well as our economy would be devastating.”

Brown said his government was doing everything possible to protect the health and wellbeing of Cook Islanders as well as the country’s economy.

The Cook Islands closed its borders to New Zealand as soon as a community case was identified in Auckland in August.

RYAN ANDERSON/Stuff

The Cook Islands closed its borders to New Zealand as soon as a community case was identified in Auckland in August.

More than 300 Cook Islanders stranded in New Zealand would have to wait until at least next Tuesday to find out if they could return home.

Brown said his government was looking at repatriation flights from Christchurch for those outside of Auckland in level 2 areas, but no dates had been set yet.

Those travellers would need to provide a negative Covid-19 test 72 hours before departure, complete a Cook Islands managed return application form and undergo a seven-day mandatory quarantine upon arrival into Rarotonga.

Brown said because of the risk of Covid-19, Cook Islanders in Auckland had to wait for a drop to level 2 or below before being allowed to catch a flight home.

His Cabinet would continue to review new information and advice from its health authorities when vaccination numbers increase in

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

President Biden’s chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci has come out in support of banning people from flying on airplanes if they are not vaccinated against COVID-19.

Fauci was asked during an interview with theSkimm on Monday if he would support a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for Americans in order to fly.

RAND PAUL SAYS NEW WUHAN DOCUMENTS SHOW FAUCI LIED

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

The White House has not explicitly taken a federal vaccination requirement for air travel off the table.

Although, with Fauci’s influence as the president’s top doctor, the administration could sway in that direction if Biden chooses to follow suit, as he often has.

When asked if the White House was considering a vaccine mandate for air travel, an administration official pointed Fox News to White House coronavirus response director Jeff Zients’ comments from Friday when he was asked about the subject and remarking that is where the administration stood on the issue at the moment.

Zients did not take an air travel ban for unvaccinated Americans “off the table.”

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“As to travel, we’re taking further action, as you know, to double the fines for noncompliance of masking on airlines,” Zients said. “So that’s a TSA action that was announced yesterday.

“And overall, I think we have a – you know, 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,” he added.

Houston Keene is a reporter for Fox News Digital. You can find him on Twitter at @HoustonKeene.

People have their Green Pass (health pass) checked before entering the Vatican Museums as Italy brings in tougher restrictions where where a proof of immunity will be required to access an array of services and leisure activities in Rome, Italy, August 6, 2021. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

ROME, Sept 9 (Reuters) – The Italian government ruled on Thursday that catering and cleaning staff in schools and nursing homes can only work if they have proof of COVID-19 immunity, extending mandatory vaccination and the use of the so-called “Green Pass” document.

The health pass was already required for teachers in Italy, while mandatory vaccination for health workers was introduced in March.

The government said on Thursday that under the new rules people working in schools in any capacity must have the health document, and that all nursing home staff will have to be vaccinated.

The Green Pass — a digital or paper certificate showing someone has received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, tested negative or has recently recovered from the virus — was originally conceived to facilitate travel among EU states.

However, Italy was among a group of countries that also made it an internal requirement for people to access a range of cultural and leisure venues such as museums, gyms and indoor dining in restaurants.

From Sept. 1 it became necessary for travel on inter-city transport Prime Minister Mario Draghi said it would be extended further, despite opposition from groups who say it tramples on freedoms and is a back-door way of making vaccination mandatory.

“We will expand the Green Pass requirement in coming weeks,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Thursday after the cabinet decreed the latest, limited extensions.

The issue has caused tensions in Draghi’s national unity coalition.

Several government officials have said the pass should become a requirement for all public sector workers and even private firms, but the right-wing League opposes this.

This week the League voted with a hard-right opposition party in parliament against the Green Pass requirement in restaurants.

Italy has the second-highest COVID-19 death toll in Europe after Britain and the eighth-highest in the world.

Around 72% of Italy’s 60-million-strong population have had at least one COVID shot.

Reporting by Angelo Amante, editing by Gavin Jones and Cynthia Osterman

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

We got a look at the new normal when the Centers for Disease Control extended its mask mandate for mass transit. Until at least January, you’ll need to wear a face-covering when you fly, ride a bus, or take a train – no matter what happens with all the covid surges and other uncertainty. 

But what else?

“Just as travel changed after 9/11 with increased security and stricter carry-on restrictions, we can absolutely expect travel post-pandemic to be permanently changed,” says Alexis Bowen, a founder of the travel planning platform Elsewhere.

In other words, travelers are realizing that the new normal means adapting to an ever-growing set of new policies and procedures, covering everything from COVID testing to sanitation protocols. If you haven’t traveled since the pandemic started, you’ll need to catch up.

Interestingly, many travelers seem unfazed. A new survey of Allianz Partners U.S. customers reveals two-thirds of its customers plan to take a trip between now and November. A majority feel confident in resuming pre-COVID activity levels for travel, including a return to cruising by the end of the year. Allianz says the number of customers planning trips in 2021 tripled in July as compared to the number in February.

So what does the new normal in travel look like? Masks, of course. Vaccination passports, too. Lots of travel insurance. And also, where and when you go may never be the same.

► Travel insurance and COVID:  What it covers – and what it doesn’t

Bring your mask – and a backup or two

For a brief moment this summer, it looked as if we could leave our face masks at home. And then the delta variant struck. In my travels, I’ve watched the mask requirements go from strict to optional to nonexistent – and back. It’s enough to give you whiplash. 

Here’s the thing: You never know when you’ll need a mask. Even if your hotel, airline and cruise line all give you the OK to take off your face covering, you could still wander into a gift shop somewhere along the road that insists you wear a mask. I recommend you pack one and bring a backup or two. (You never know when your strap will break.)

“Wearing masks – especially on planes – should be second nature by now,” says Debbie Pham, founder of the travel agency Live Travel.

Yes, you’ll need a vaccination passport

It’s really just a question of when you’ll need show evidence that you’ve had your shots. Europe and Israel already have vaccination passports for their citizens. Even if the United States never formally adopts one, you’ll still have to show you’ve gotten your shots. This summer, when I checked into the Latchis Hotel in Brattleboro, Vermont, a receptionist asked for my CDC vaccination record. My advice: Take a picture of your card on your phone for safety. Carry the real one with you wherever you travel.

► Need to share proof

France is joining the list of European travel destinations tightening restrictions on U.S. tourists as COVID-19 cases surge due to the delta variant.

Beginning Sunday, Sept. 12, only vaccinated visitors will be allowed to visit for vacation, the French embassy confirmed Friday. Non-vaccinated travelers can only visit for essential reasons and need a negative COVID-19 test. They also must isolate for seven days upon arrival. Currently, unvaccinated tourists just need to show a negative COVID test to enter France.

The moves come after the European Union’s decision on Aug. 30 to remove the United States from its list of safe countries due to a spike in COVID-19 cases, essentially recommending a ban of nonessential travel such as vacations. It is only a recommendation, with individual countries setting their own travel policies.

France already requires vaccination proof or a COVID test to visit restaurants and ride on trains as well as to visit popular tourist destinations including museums and the Eiffel Tower.

►International travel:European Union countries tightening COVID-19 restrictions for US tourists

►Travel testing:Here’s what travelers should know about at-home COVID-19 tests

The NetherlandsSpain and Denmark are also banning unvaccinated U.S. tourists and Italy has added entry requirements, even for those who are vaccinated.

The new restrictions add up to another confusing maze of entry requirements for travelers planning fall visits to Europe.

United Airlines says that more than half its employees who weren’t vaccinated last month have gotten their shots since the company announced that vaccines would be required.

The airline’s 67,000 U.S.-based employees face a Sept. 27 deadline for getting vaccinated. United said Wednesday, however, that employees whose bids for exemptions based on medical reasons or religious beliefs are denied will get five more weeks to get vaccinated.

After that, the airline said, they will face termination or unpaid leave.

Kirk Limacher, United’s vice president of human resources, made the statement about vaccinations Wednesday in memos to employees that spell out how United will handle requests for exemptions.

►Jamaica vacation plans?:CDC, State Department say avoid travel to the Caribbean island

►Two states, four Walgreens and a sense of defeat: Travelers struggle to find timely COVID tests, putting trips in jeopardy

United declined to say exactly how many employees have recently been vaccinated, what percentage of the workforce is now vaccinated, or how many workers requested an exemption. The airline said it will have enough workers to operate its schedule this fall and into the holidays.

The airline said that in most cases, employees who refuse to get vaccinated won’t be allowed into the workplace starting Oct. 2.

United says requests for medical exemptions will be judged by medical staffers including nurses, while requests for waivers based on religious beliefs will be handled by personnel-office employees.

The process for handling workers whose exemptions are approved will vary slightly depending on the employee’s job.

Workers who routinely come in contact with passengers, such as flight attendants, gate agents and pilots, and whose exemptions are approved will face indefinite unpaid leave starting Oct. 2. They won’t be allowed back on the job until the pandemic “meaningfully recedes,” according to one of the memos.

Employees who rarely deal with passengers – examples include baggage handlers and mechanics – and whose exemptions are approved will also be put on leave, but only until the airline comes up with a plan for weekly testing and mandatory mask-wearing for them.

Headquarters employees whose exemptions are approved will be placed on leave until United decides on safety measures, including whether the person needs to come into the office.

In explaining the rules to employees, United cites statistics on the state of the pandemic in the U.S., where new infections are at their highest level since March and “likely to rise into the fall as more people are hospitalized.” Most of the cases, hospitalizations and deaths are occurring among unvaccinated people, the memos said.

Chicago-based United has taken the strongest pro-vaccination stance among U.S. airlines. Delta Air Lines says it will levy a $200 monthly surcharge on unvaccinated employees who are covered by the company’s health plan. Others including American Airlines say they will cut off paid leave for unvaccinated workers who contract COVID-19.

DALLAS — Several leading U.S. airlines warned Thursday that the rise in COVID-19 cases due to the delta variant is hurting their bookings and further delaying the travel industry’s recovery.

The summer got off to a strong start, with many planes full of vacationers eager to break out after being stuck at home for more than a year. After months of improving travel numbers, however, August was disappointing.

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said Thursday that people are still traveling, but key segments – business and international flyers – are still largely missing. He said the rise in COVID-19 cases won’t derail the travel recovery but will delay it by 90 to 120 days.

►Book your holiday flights now to get the best fares:Here are 4 things you need to know.

►Airfare prices are expected to drop 10% this fall as travel demand declines

Delta said it still expects to post an adjusted pretax profit for the third quarter, but revenue will be toward the lower end of its previous forecast.

United Airlines said its revenue is weaker than previously expected, and it forecast a pretax loss in the third quarter that could extend into the fourth quarter if the virus outbreak continues. It is trimming flights to match the lower demand.

American Airlines said a slowdown that started in August has continued into September, and the airline further lowered its outlook for third-quarter revenue.

Southwest Airlines reported that leisure travel has weakened, with more cancellations and softer bookings for September and October. Southwest said, however, booking patterns for the winter holidays look normal.

Airlines are watching COVID-19 numbers closely and finding hope in the latest figures showing the surge that started in July might have peaked. The seven-day average of cases is roughly flat compared with two weeks ago.

Airline executives say they believe bookings will pick up as soon as case counts go down.

“Things moved downward rather quickly, but they can, I think, move upwards just as quickly,” Andrew Nocella, United’s chief marketing officer, said during an investor conference held by financial-services firm Cowen.

Airline stocks fell shortly after trading began Thursday but then turned higher. By early afternoon, American was up 6% and others rose between 3% and 5%.

►Traveling to Jamaica?:CDC, State Department say avoid travel to the Caribbean island

►Two states, four Walgreens and a sense of defeat:Travelers struggle to find timely COVID tests, putting trips in jeopardy

Americans have been willing to travel over the summer and during shorter holiday periods. Air travel over the Labor Day weekend approached 2019 levels — on two days, the Transportation Security Administration screened more than 2 million travelers.

By Wednesday, however, the number of people going through airport checkpoints dropped back to 1.4 million, down 28% from the comparable Wednesday in 2019.

United’s Nocella warned that travel is likely to slump in October, early November, and the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

In a bid to reassure passengers worried about the virus,

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Hospitals across the state are overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, and depending on travel nurses more than ever.

Even before the pandemic, the Department of State Health Services projected Texas will be short 30,000 nurses by 2025. Now, COVID-19 is only heightening that shortage.

Hospitals are making difficult treatment calls.

“They actually called me the day before and said that they had to cancel it,” Teresa Griffin, of Austin, said her open heart surgery was canceled just the day before due to staffing problems.

“They were having to take the surgical nurses to put them in with the patients with COVID,” 65-year-old Griffin said.

She’s frustrated because she’s done everything on her end during the pandemic.

“I’ve even had my third vaccination, you know, so it’s very frustrating that other people are not willing to go and get it and then getting sick and ending up in the hospital,” Griffin said.

Similar stories can be heard across the state.

DSHS has allocated 8,100 extra medical personnel to deploy across the state, but even that doesn’t meet current demand.

“Even the number that we were allocated, we have not received them because the staffing agency is not able to fulfill that request,” CNO Susan Greenwood at Hendrick Health in Abilene explained.

StaffDNA, a Plano-based app that connects travel nurses to open positions across the country, has noticed a massive increase in open positions.

“Back in January, we’re looking at roughly 10,000 jobs in our job board. We’re now averaging roughly about 22,000 jobs on the job board,” Jennifer Pomietlo, StaffDNA’s Vice President of Strategic Development, explained.

In Texas, specifically, demand is so high that pay has more than doubled.

“The pay package just previously used to be about $2,000 a week, and we’re seeing now pay packages paying roughly about $5,000 a week,” Pomietlo said.

“In August, 20% of the job applications from StaffDNA went to Texas. It was the second most applied to state behind Florida,” Pomietlo added.

On average, it takes about two weeks for a nurse to get relocated, trained and on the floor.

“You typically only get one orientation shift on the floor, and then your next shift, you’re expected to be on your own and be independent,” Dakota Dahlke, a travel nurse based in South Austin now, explained.

She said she’s noticed a massive shift at each hospital she’s worked at during the pandemic, compared to pre-pandemic times.

“You tend to have to get used to being short-staffed and taking maybe a larger patient load than we were expected to pre-COVID,” Dahlke said.

The Texas Nurses Association said it’s worth looking at the bigger picture and coming up with long-term solutions to the shortage going forward.

“Almost 40% of people who apply to nursing programs are turned away. And so we have to figure out how we can enroll all of those students,” Serena Bumpus with TNA said last month.

For now, Teresa Griffin is hoping more Texans will get vaccinated to help our