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.

Irish citizens may soon be able to visit the United States as the latter could ease its travel restrictions imposed to stop the further spread of the virus in just over two weeks, according to the Editor of Air and Travel magazine, Eoghan Corry.

The Irish travel expert stressed that there are “very strong indications from America that the ban on Irish people going to America will be lifted on Labour Day,” September 6.

“We need a few things to go right for that to happen because it did look as if it was going to be lifted in July, and it did get put back. But the latest date, the important date, is September 6,” Corry pointed out in this regard, IrishMirror reports.

In March 2020, authorities in the United States imposed a travel ban on other countries, including the European Union and Schengen Zone countries, as well as the United Kingdom, China, India, South Africa, Iran, and Brazil, in a bid to halt the virus’ further spread. Such a decision means that citizens of Ireland are also prohibited from entering US territory.

At present, only citizens and permanent residents of the United States, certain family members, as well as other persons who meet the requirements of exemptions are permitted to enter the United States.

Even though travellers from Ireland and other European countries are prohibited from entering the US, Americans are eligible to visit European states after the Council of the EU placed the US on the list of epidemiologically safe countries on June 18.

According to Corry, the reciprocation has “broken down as the US is happy we’re welcoming American tourists, all while the opposite arrangement is not allowed.”

The travel restrictions imposed on European states and other countries have often been criticized by many governments, organizations, and airlines who called on the US authorities to lift the ban that remains effective for more than 16 months now.

Earlier this month, the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) urged the US President to abolish the restrictions imposed on European citizens through a letter signed by key figures at APEX, who claimed that Europe doesn’t present a risk while stressing that divided families deserve to rejoin after more than a year of separation.

The Ambassador of the EU to the US, Stavros Lambrinidis, previously emphasized that the United States should lift the travel restrictions imposed on European travellers. However, such a decision has not been taken yet, despite speculations that the US could soon permit travellers from other countries to enter its territory again.

Are you a taco fanatic? McCormick & Company announced this week it is hiring for a new position: Director of Taco Relations. The position will be the first of its kind for the food company.

Applicants must be 21 years or older and a resident of the U.S., with a valid driver’s license, among other requirements.

The position runs September through December and pays $25,000 a month, for a total of $100,000. The Director of Taco Relations will also recieve a supply of McCormick taco seasoning and other McCormick products.

It is a part-time position that requires 20 hours of remote work a week. Around 10% of the job will require travel to in-person meetings, including visiting other taco locations in the U.S., traveling to McCormick’s headquarters in Hunt Valley, Maryland, meeting with team members and participating in taco eating sessions.

While no prior experience is necessary and McCormick is open to all experience levels, the company is looking for someone with a strong teamwork mentality, an interest in all things tacos and a keen eye for storytelling through video and social media.

The position’s responsibilities will include creating recipes, scouring platforms like TikTok for the latest taco trends and bringing other taco enthusiasts together.

To apply for the position, you’ll need to submit a video that highlights your personality and “passion for tacos” in two minutes or less. The company is accepting submissions until Tuesday, July 20 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

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Yas Expert is a specialist online training program for travel agents and industry professionals.

Mumbai, India – Experience Hub, the trade and promotion arm of Abu Dhabi’s premier leisure and entertainment hub, Yas Island has collaborated with TBO academy for Yas Expert certification program to maintain Yas Island’s top of the mind (TOM) presence in India.

Through this collaboration, Experience Hub aims at engaging and refreshing the destination knowledge among travel professionals across different pockets in India. TBO academy launched a two-month campaign for Yas Island on 1st July wherein they will reach out to travel agents in tier 2 and tier 3 cities throughout the country via social media, email marketing and Google search. The goal is to educate the travel professionals on the Yas Expert certification program.

Yas Expert is a specialist online training program for travel agents and industry professionals, designed to help travel trade professionals familiarize themselves with the some ‘one-of-a-kind’ experiences Yas Island has to offer. Upon successful conclusion of the training, the agent will earn a certificate of completion and become a certified Yas Expert. The certified Yas Experts can be a part of incentive programmes and will receive regular travel updates pertaining to Yas Island

The program enables travel partners to become Yas Island Brand Ambassadors, providing expert advice to their customers on the experiences the island has to offer and its safety initiatives, to drive visitation to the destination. Travel professionals can access course content on mobile, tablet or desktop and study at their own pace to stay up to date with the island’s latest attractions and offerings to enrich their own client offerings and boost sales.

Liam Findlay, General Manager at Experience Hub, said, “Experience Hub continues to show its commitment to global partners by refining and enhancing its valuable trade programmes such as Yas Expert and we are delighted to have partnered with the TBO Academy in India. We are very keen to invite Indian visitors’ back to Yas Island when the time is right. This collaboration will not only help us in creating awareness about the safety measures that are in place for our guests, but it will also support recovery of the sector and foster growth of the travel industry. We look forward to helping more travel agents to become Yas Experts and showcase a destination ‘like nowhere else.’

Gaurav Bhatnagar, Co-Founder, TBO Group, said, “At TBO, we are committed to creating opportunities for travel agents to learn and promote new and exciting destinations. We believe travel agents will play a key role in leading the recovery for tourism post-pandemic. Travelers are looking for assurance on safety measures as travel resumes. Yas Island is not only a safe destination but also offer a whole range of experiences and activities. Travel agents in our vast network across the country will benefit greatly by becoming a Yas Expert”.

With summer already underway and UK residents desperate for sunnier skies, there could be a glimmer of hope for that last minute getaway.

An expert claims some 22 countries, including popular destinations such Italy and France as well as countries outside Europe, meet the government’s threshold for moving from the amber to green travel list.

Aviation consultant and former chief strategist for British Airways Robert Boyle told The Telegraph he has used an algorithm based on the data he says the UK government uses for the traffic light system. This determines which countries are safest for international travel.

The criteria states a country has to have an infection rate lower than 20 cases per 100,000 people and have a positive COVID-19 testing rate of less than 1.5 per cent.

“There seems to be nothing in the data the government says it is using that explains why they are languishing on the amber list at this point,” he told The Telegraph, adding, “there doesn’t even seem to be any obvious political logic for why two apparently similar countries get classified differently.”

What makes a ‘green list’ country?

But Paul Charles, chief executive officer and founder of specialist travel PR and brand consultancy The PC Agency says Boyle’s calculations are “nonsense”.

“Anyone that claims they’ve cracked the algorithm are talking nonsense. There is no algorithm the government is using,” Charles told Euronews Travel.

He said political, economic and health reasons are what determine the travel list for the UK and other countries, adding it was “no coincidence” that Germany removed quarantine on entry for UK citizens five days after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with his German counterpart Angela Merkel.

Charles said he is “certain” that there will be changes to the travel list on July 15, when the UK will review which countries are safe to travel to.

In the last review on June 24, 16 countries or regions were moved from amber to green, including, Malta, Madeira and Spain’s Balearic Islands.

But Charles said any changes need to be made “urgently to salvage the summer.” If the UK government doesn’t, UK residents will not be so willing to travel and will also request refunds on pre-paid tickets, which will hurt the already wounded airline and travel industries.

He also urged the government to scrap COVID tests for passengers who are fully vaccinated as the cost and nuisance of it might deter travellers.

Which countries could be on the UK’s green list?

  • Austria
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bulgaria
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Hungary
  • Italy
  • Lebanon
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Moldova
  • North Macedonia
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Taiwan
  • Vietnam

What is the traffic light system?

Current rules state that returning from an amber list country means you would have to quarantine for 10 days, take a COVID-19 test as well as two further tests on day two and eight of arrival – and fill in a passenger locator form.

But from a green listed country, no quarantine is needed, unless the required COVID

Health workers are seen at Bondi Beach Drive-through Covid-19 Clinic on June 26 in Sydney.

Jenny Evans/Getty Images

Health workers are seen at Bondi Beach Drive-through Covid-19 Clinic on June 26 in Sydney.

Quarantine-free travel to South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory has resumed, but one epidemiologist warns anyone planning a trip should be prepared to spend weeks or even months stuck there.

University of Auckland epidemiology professor Rod Jackson said the Government should be prepared to suspend the bubble at the first sign of community transmission across the ditch, and travellers needed to be aware they could be stranded at a moment’s notice.

“I’ve seen some things in the newspaper and the media about people complaining they are not being helped by the New Zealand government when they’re stuck in Australia and can’t come back.

“I think that they need to suck it up, that anyone who wants to go to Australia needs to be aware that at a moment’s notice they could end up being there for weeks, if not months.”

READ MORE:
* Should the trans-Tasman bubble be paused until more people are vaccinated?
* Covid-19: What’s happening in Australia as coronavirus continues to spread in some states
* Covid-19: New Zealand is right to pause travel to Australia. It buys time to upgrade its coronavirus response

Jackson said he was confident in Australia’s handling of Covid-19, with their approach similar to New Zealand’s.

“But – and the big but is – if there’s even some possibility of any community spread in Australia we need to shut down immediately.”

A negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of departure will now be required for all passengers before boarding flights to New Zealand from South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory.

Inbound travellers also cannot have been in certain red zones since certain dates.

These include a requirement not to have been in Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia on or after 10.30pm on June 26.

Travellers must also not have been in New South Wales since midnight on June 22.

The pause in the travel bubble for Western Australia, Northern Territory, New South Wales and Queensland remain in place. These will be reviewed on Tuesday.

The most recent numbers reveal 16 new local cases of Covid-19 recorded in New South Wales, with most in isolation for their full infectious period.

The dip in new cases follows Saturday having the highest number of daily cases so far this year.

Experts have started advising caution on re-establishing the Australian travel bubble too quickly, with new threats from the highly infectious Delta variant likely to make accidental importation of the virus more likely.

Jackson said the principle should be remaining overly cautious.

.

“I don’t think we can change that approach until nearly everyone is vaccinated.”

He said New Zealand needed to aim for a 90 per cent vaccination rate because evidence from the likes of the UK showed even with 60-70 per cent of eligible adults vaccinated, outbreaks were still happening.

“That’s the task for the team of 5 million

It’s not just vaccinations and use of the Tracer app that need to improve before we can safely open the borders, he thinks – the Ministry of Health also needs to up its game. Dr Gorman says it was too slow to notify the public of the potential exposure in Wellington.

Despite knowing about the case on Tuesday night, it didn’t go public until Wednesday morning. By then most Kiwis had already heard about it via Australian media reports.

“Yesterday all those people went to work in Wellington who shouldn’t have gone to work – they should have been forewarned the previous evening,” said Dr Gorman. “The argument was ‘there’s a process we have to follow and we have to sort out the risk’ and so on. I don’t accept that. Just put the names out there, and if the next day you have to edit them, so be it.”

He said most people would have been okay with being told to stay home unnecessarily, if the alternative was going to work and potentially being exposed to the virus.

“We keep encountering these things as if it’s the first time we’ve encountered them as if there’s no plan, as if there’s no memory… We’re putting a very complex task on a bunch of bureaucrats who are used to doing policy work. I feel sorry for them – they’re simply not up to the job.” 

By David Shepardson and Tracy Rucinski

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The Biden administration is forming expert working groups with Canada, Mexico, the European Union and the United Kingdom to determine how best to safely restart travel after 15 months of pandemic restrictions, a White House official said on Tuesday.

Another U.S. official said the administration will not move quickly to lift orders that bar people from much of the world from entering the United States because of the time it will take for the groups to do their work. The White House informed airlines and others in the travel industry about the groups, the official said.

“While we are not reopening travel today, we hope that these expert working groups will help us use our collective expertise to chart a path forward, with a goal of reopening international travel with our key partners when it is determined that it is safe to do so,” the White House official said, adding “any decisions will be fully guided by the objective analysis and recommendations by public health and medical experts.”

The groups will be led by the White House COVID Response Team and the National Security Council and include the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other U.S. agencies.

The CDC said on Tuesday it was easing travel recommendations on 110 countries and territories, including Canada, Mexico, Japan, South Africa and Iran, but has declined to lift any COVID-19 travel restrictions.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the U.S. travel restrictions in place since 2020 are subject to “an interagency conversation, and we are looking at the data in real time as to how we should move forward with that.”

The Biden administration has faced pressure from some lawmakers who said U.S. communities along the Canadian border have faced economic hardship because of land border restrictions.

Airlines and others have pressed the administration to lift the restrictions that prevent most non-U.S. citizens who have been in the United Kingdom, the 26 Schengen nations in Europe without border controls, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil from traveling to the United States. The United States also bars most non-essential travel at its land borders with Mexico and Canada.

Airlines for America, a trade group representing American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and others, praised the working groups but the group believes “these working groups should act quickly to endorse a policy backed by science that will allow travelers who are fully vaccinated to travel to the U.S. Quickly is the key – we believe the science is there.”

United Airlines said it was encouraged the White House was prioritizing a plan to reopen air travel to international markets and requested urgency, given the typically busy impending summer travel season. “Now is the time to implement a reopening strategy for the benefit of both the economy and the traveling public.”

On Monday, the heads of all passenger airlines flying between Britain and the United States called on both countries to lift limits on

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Cruises leaving from Florida are expected to resume this summer.

In the United States, cruise companies are still talking with federal, state and local officials about health measures and trial sailings. Royal Caribbean plans trial voyages starting later this month. Those pilot trips are required before cruise lines can operate regular sailings with less than 95% of passengers being vaccinated.

“Test cruises will last for the next few weeks,” said Scott Lara, The Cruise Genius and travel expert. “Once these test cruises are over and all the protocols are met, looks like we are going to revenue cruises.”

Lara is optimistic with cruises resuming.

“I believe cruising is going to be very safe, safer than before because of everything that’s going on,” Lara said. “The enhanced ventilation, the sanitation and everything is going to be great.”

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Lara said there will be some changes to cruises due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are going to be to do the same fun things, however, it is going to be staggered boarding — a little different because of COVID — and we all have to be safe on cruises,” Lara said.

Lara said he expects cruises out of Jacksonville to resume by this summer.

“I expect cruises to return to Jacksonville at the end of July, which is going to be great,” Lara said. “Unfortunately, the next ten cruises are sold out. If you want to cruise from Jacksonville or Cape Canaveral or Miami, you have to book now.”

The first cruise out of Jacksonville is scheduled for July 31.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Florida lawsuit to reopen cruise industry
Florida lawsuit to reopen cruise industry

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