Travel news latest: Heathrow PCR tests to deliver results in three hours


British holidaymakers travelling from Heathrow will soon be able to book a pre-departure PCR test that will deliver results within three hours.

After a summer during which late test results have disrupted the plans of thousands of travellers, the new facility will ease such problems for passengers whose destination requires a PCR test for entry. 

Canada is among the countries which stipulate a PCR result, as opposed to a cheaper and quicker antigen test – it has opened to fully vaccinated Britons today. 

The £95-test will be available in a facility outside of the airport, in a car park near Bath Road. Collinson, which already has a presence at Heathrow, has partnered with biotech company Randox to offer the tests.

Dr. Simon Worrell, global medical director at Collinson, said: “No longer do travellers need to take a PCR test three days before travel, and so risk contracting the virus in the interim.”

Scroll down for the latest travel updates.

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‘After a summer of staycation hell I won’t be rushing to holiday on home soil next year’

Fed up with sodden campsites, crowded beaches and traffic jams, Emily-Ann Elliott’s family will be dusting off their passports to use next year. 

Emily-Ann's UK adventures this summer have only made her yearn for overseas holidays

Emily-Ann’s UK adventures this summer have only made her yearn for overseas holidays

Is there anything more soul-destroying than hearing your sat nav lady cheerfully announce a two-hour traffic delay?

My three-year-old has named ours Belle and it’s fair to say we’re not big fans of her these days.

Earlier this year, when it became clear that our once-in-a-lifetime family holiday to New Zealand wasn’t going to happen any time soon, we decided to cut our losses and buy a campervan with our savings instead.

“At least then we’ll be able to get away,” we reasoned. “Get off the grid.” Like everyone else, eager to salvage some kind of normality from the year, we leapt on the bandwagon of the Great British Staycation.

Read the full story.

Number of Britons who think holiday tests are necessary has fallen, ONS finds

​The proportion of people who consider it “very important” that overseas travellers take Covid-19 tests has fallen to 53 per cent, down from 64 per cent in May, the month in which the ban on non-essential overseas trips was lifted.

Meanwhile, most UK residents found it either difficult or very difficult to follow overseas Covid-19 restrictions, the latest ONS survey into attitudes towards Covid-19 among passengers arriving into the UK revealed.

Most overseas residents said that they understood UK Covid-19 restrictions either quite well, or very well. However, they were either not at all confident, or not very confident in finding information about the UK’s Covid restrictions.

These results come following a summer in which changes to the traffic light lists for travel have been announced every three weeks.

New rules also came into effect for fully vaccinated Britons arriving in the UK from amber list countries (on July 19) and for those immunised under approved US and European vaccination programmes (on August 2). The data of the ONS survey is unweighted, so does not account for any difference in the respondent group compared to all travellers during the period. 

A view from the Lakes

This striking image was taken in Cumbria this morning. It shows a group standing at the top of Latrigg fell and looking down on the cloud inversion covering the town of Keswick in the Lake District. 


Andrew McCaren/LNP

Philippines defers plan to ease Covid-19 curbs

he Philippines capital region will remain under the second strictest coronavirus containment measures, a senior official said on Tuesday, despite a day earlier announcing a relaxation of curbs to spur business activity.

Imposition of the more relaxed “general community quarantine” in Metro Manila has been deferred, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said, without giving a reason.

The decision means a delay in the government’s planned shift to smaller and localised lockdowns, which Roque said had been approved in principle by President Rodrigo Duterte.

South African tourism petition seeks red list removal

The South African tourism industry has united to apply pressure on the UK Government to remove South Africa from the travel red list.

south africa

There were unusually heavy snowfalls in the mountains and highlands above the town of Ceres, about 180km from Cape Town, at the end of August

AFP via Getty Images

It is calling on British citizens to support action via a petition to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to restart tourism between the two countries.

“Red list travel restrictions to southern Africa are unfair and are inflicting real social, environmental and economic hardship on families, businesses and ecosystems with no scientific justification given,” the petition says.

“The government should urgently review its travel policy towards South Africa to ensure it is fully aligned with the latest scientific evidence.”

It is gained over 31,000 signatures thus far; it needs at least 100,000 to be considered for debate in Parliament.

Heathrow third runway clears hurdle despite Johnson’s opposition

A key environmental hurdle standing in the way of Heathrow’s plans for a third runway has been removed by ministers, despite Boris Johnson’s longstanding opposition to the £18bn project.

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, has ruled out revising Whitehall’s Airport National Policy Statement (ANPS) – a blueprint for the travel industry which includes a decision to back Heathrow’s expansion plans. Campaigners were demanding a rethink of the statement in light of the Government’s pledges to tackle global warming.

In an open letter published on Monday morning, officials said that Mr Shapps would not be making any changes. They said that the ANPS would not have been materially different had it been published after the Government adopted its current stance on climate change.

Officials added that it is not possible to gauge the impact of Covid on the long-term demand for air traffic.

Read the full story.

Planning a trip to Austria? Here’s what you need to know

To avoid quarantine upon arrival in Austria, you must have had your second vaccination no longer than nine months ago, explains Annabel Fenwick Elliott


Austria’s Salzburg Castle: The nation is on our green list and welcoming vaccinated Britons


From flights schedules to rules on arrival, here’s everything you need to know.

Etihad Airways ‘thrilled’ by Abu Dhabi’s reopening

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, has welcomed Monday’s announcement that all fully vaccinated international travellers can enter Abu Dhabi without having to quarantine.

With Etihad’s three daily flights from London Heathrow and one daily flight from Manchester Airport, UK travellers who have had two COVID-19 vaccinations can now enjoy Abu Dhabi, quarantine-free.

All travellers will still be required to show a negative PCR test from within 48 hours of departure, a test on arrival, as well as additional tests on day four and day eight. Unvaccinated UK travellers will be still be required to quarantine for a 10-day period.

Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad, said:

We are thrilled at the news of the Abu Dhabi government’s decision to open up to all fully vaccinated travellers from around the world. This is a huge step forward as the UAE prepares to host the EXPO 2020, the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and many more global events over the coming months.

The news is perfectly timed to begin welcoming the world back to Abu Dhabi. 

BA unveils plans for ‘net zero carbon emissions’ by 2050

British Airways has this morning unveiled a new sustainability programme, with the aim of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, Hazel Plush reports. 

At the launch of ‘BA Better World’, the airline set out plans to invest in more fuel-efficient aircraft, improve operational efficiency, and further the development of sustainable aviation fuel and zero emissions aircraft.

By 2030, the airline intends to power 10 per cent of flights with sustainable aviation fuel, and switch its ground support and engineering vehicles to 100 per cent renewable energy.

“We’re putting sustainability at the heart of our business,” said CEO and chairman Sean Doyle at the launch. “With BA Better World we’re on our most important journey yet – to a better, more sustainable future and one which will ensure the long-term success of our business. 

“We’re clear that we have a responsibility to reduce our impact on the planet and have a detailed plan to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The airline also announced a new collaboration with energy provider bp to source sustainable aviation fuel for its flights between London, Glasgow and Edinburgh during the UK

COP26 sustainability conference, providing a lifecycle carbon reduction of up to 80% compared to the traditional jet fuel it replaces.

Doyle added: “It is only through working in partnership with Government and industry that we’ll be able to reach our targets.”

No half-term firebreak but ‘last resort’ plans remain in place, say Government 

A firebreak lockdown at October half term is not being planned, the Government has confirmed, but there remain plans in place that would “only be reintroduced as a last resort” to protect the NHS.

Asked about a report in the i newspaper, which quoted an unnamed member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) saying a “precautionary break” could be part of “contingency plans”, the No 10 spokesman said: “It is not true that the Government is planning a lockdown or firebreak around the October half-term.”

It was reported that the firebreak could mean a two-week school holiday instead of one week.

 ”We have retained contingency plans as part of responsible planning for a range of scenarios, but these kind of measures would only be reintroduced as a last resort to prevent unsustainable pressure on our NHS,” said the spokesperson.

“I think we’ve been clear throughout that we will take action, and indeed we have done when necessary to protect our NHS.

“But under the previous occasions when that action has been required, we have been without the significant defences that our vaccination programme provides us – we’re now in a much different phase.”

Britain’s best autumn walks

derwent valley

Summer might technically be over but September is still a great time to explore the beauty of the UK. An added bonus is this late influx of hot weather – allowing us to see a few days’ worth of a heatwave –  there’s no better excuse to strap up your hiking boots and make tracks for Britain’s walking trails.  

Discover Britain’s best autumn walking trails here.

New Caledonia goes into lockdown after three cases confirmed

New Caledonia has announced a fresh lockdown after three new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in the South Pacific French territory, which had previously been declared “Covid free”.

A two-week lockdown will begin at midday on Tuesday. The cases are reported to not be connected and do not involve travellers.

President Louis Mapou said investigations have been launched immediately to identify contacts and the chain of transmission.

The borders to the island remain largely closed, anyone who does visit must spend two weeks in a government-run quarantine facility.

new caledonia


Thai protests turn violent amid government’s faltering Covid response

Thai pro-democracy protesters vented their anger in fierce clashes with the Bangkok police this weekend after Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha survived a no-confidence vote over accusations his government has bungled its response to the pandemic. 

In recent weeks, the capital has seen almost daily demonstrations and escalating violence as riot officers and activists exchange tear gas and fireworks.

Read the full story here.

thailand protests

Italian-focussed British ski operator folds

Ski 2, a British tour operator specialising in winter sport holidays in the Italian resort of Champoluc, has announced it is closing, following what it calls a ‘traumatic’ 18 months for the company.

In a letter posted on the operator’s website and sent to customers, founders Roger Walker and Simon Brown told customers that ‘with a heavy heart’ there is no future for the brand, which has been running ski holidays in the resort, part of the Aosta Valley, for 22 years.

“Clearly, after 22 years of trading and tens of thousands of happy clients, this decision has been incredibly hard to make. The reality however looking forward is that the nature of our business model with the extremely high running costs, together with ongoing uncertainty over Coronavirus, challenges providing the required financial guarantees to our insurance company to comply with the Package Tour Regulations and the complications of employing UK staff abroad in a post-Brexit world, has left us with no other option than to close the business for good” read the statement.

“We know that many will be as heart-broken as we are about this news. So many of you have become great friends and many have watched our own children grow up spending time in the Alps. Every single client has been an integral part of our amazing adventure and it is with great pride and fondness that we will remember the wonderful times that we have spent with you all. The loyalty and support of so many of our clients for so many years has been incredible and helped build such a strong and respected brand. It’s no-one’s fault that we can’t keep going for another 20 years, but it is now time to bid farewell to the amazing entity that was Ski 2.”

The company has refunded all customers who had bookings with them.

‘Canada’s rocky reopening proves even the most competent nations can’t get their act together’

With the Canadian border reopening to vaccinated travellers today, here’s a step-by-step guide to the remaining hurdles facing Britons: 

These days you do what you can, when you can – especially when it comes to booking a holiday. With green-list Canada reopening to all international travellers, a place we’ve never been to despite numerous road trips to the US, that was all my wife and I needed to start making plans to visit.

English author PG Wodehouse once said that a chap called Alf Todd had about as much chance of winning a fight “as a one-armed blind man in a dark room trying to shove a pound of melted butter into a wild cat’s left ear with a red-hot needle”. He could have said the same thing about travelling today.

From traffic lights (Britain) to draconian 21-day hotel quarantine (Hong Kong), every country seems to have come up with its own system of Covid precautions at the border, and Canada is no different. There’s no consistency whatsoever, apart from getting fleeced – yet Covid is the same disease across the globe.

We took a punt with the air tickets, booking seats into Vancouver with British Airways, along with a car, to get the all-important Atol certificate, and hoped Canada would go ahead with its plans to reopen for fully-vaccinated foreigners. They did, the official news appearing on September 3, much to our relief, but that was the easy bit, and proof of two jabs in your arm isn’t the hassle-free green light you might have imagined.

Read the full story.

Mini heatwave lures Britons to the coast

The post-summer heatwave is set to stay until rain and perhaps thunderstorms arrive on Thursday. 

Temperatures reached the mid 20s in some parts of the country on Monday. 

bournemouth beach

Beachgoers flocked to the seaside in Bournemouth yesterday


Lithuanian government offers travellers free night’s stay to boost tourism

The Lithuanian government has introduced a new travel deal in an attempt to lure holidaymakers to the country. 

The deal, launched by the Ministry of Economy and Innovation in partnership with Lithuania Travel, means that if tourists stay three nights in the country, they pay for only two.

Aušrinė Armonaitė, Minister of Economy and Innovation, said: “The campaign signifies an active cooperation between Lithuanian businesses and the government to sustain the tourism industry amidst the pandemic waves, as well as to give international tourists extra time to travel the country.

“Lithuania, located right in the heart of Europe, is rich in unspoiled nature, comfort cuisine, and never-ending cultural life. Why not extend the trip for a while longer and indulge in a full-on Lithuanian experience?”

France’s wine output set for 29pc fall to record low

France faces its lowest wine output since records began after vineyards were hit by spring frost, the farm ministry said on Tuesday.

It forecast production at 33.3 million hectolitres this year, down 29 per cent and 25 per cent below the average of the past five years.

“The spring frosts cut down a good part of the production, which will be historically low, below those of 1991 and 2017,” the ministry said in a statement.

Diseases had accentuated the losses, it said.

How the uber-rich are secretly holidaying… now that we’re all back at work

Summer might be over for we mere mortals, but the one per cent are enjoying a travel splurge that’s been compared to the Roaring Twenties, writes Anna Tyzack.

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez in Amalfi in July

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez in Amalfi in July

GC Images

Whether at land or sea, returning to bricks-and-mortar offices or schools is still off-menu for those continuing the party into the shoulder season. Charting a floating five-star hotel (J-Lo’s had a 20ft pool) costs upwards of £375,000 per week, but the super wealthy – after 18 months of stilted travel and restrictions – are more than happy to pay silly money for the perfect post-Covid break. 

Read the full story.

Budget rail service will offer £15 trips between London and Edinburgh.

A new train operator will take over the state-owned LNER on the UK’s East Coast main line this October, with one-way fares starting at less than £15.

Lumo will initially offer two services a day each direction between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh Waverley, starting October 25.  Services will increase to five daily trips as new trains are delivered.

The trip will take around four-and-a-half hours, with stops in Newcastle and the Northumberland town of Morpeth. Some trains will also call at Stevenage.

Welcome to Filey, the Yorkshire town with one of Europe’s best beachesv

The quaint old-fashioned seaside resort, with a five-mile beach and a spiritual energy of its own, beat off competition from the continent, writes Karyn Noble.

Stretching across five miles of sand, from the cliffs at Reighton to Filey Brigg, the expanse of beach is impressive, especially at low tide when it swells to half a mile in width, a magnet for dog walkers and joggers. Strolling the completely empty promenade on a balmy July evening at 10pm, with the sun just setting, I found myself equally enchanted and amused. I almost missed a sign at my feet with an arrow pointing into the sea which screams “ENERGY!”, presumably for the non-believers.

Read the full story.

Canada opens to vaccinated Britons

Canada is welcoming back full vaccinated UK travellers from today. 



Destination Ontario

If you fancy a trip to the world’s second largest country this autumn, how about Toronto?

Chris Leadbeater writes: 

Toronto may not be able to match New York – or even Vancouver – on charisma or image, but the past decade has seen it gain a burgeoning hipness. It has always been a melting pot, but its sociological swirl has become so notable that, in 2017, research by the BBC declared it the planet’s most diverse city; a metropolis where 51 per cent of the 2.7million residents were born abroad and some 230 nationalities and ethnic groups rub shoulders. 

This global influx is obvious on its grid, in the likes of Little Italy, Little Tibet, Little Portugal, Koreatown and Chinatown. And over the past decade these districts have been joined by pockets of increasingly cool ambience, most of them – such as Kensington Market, the Annex and West Queen West – located west of “Downtown”. Not so much a featureless blank canvas, then, as a rich tapestry.

Read the full story.

Extended October half-term or lockdown ‘worst thing we can do’

Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccine minister, was questioned about a report in the i newspaper of a possible October “firebreak”, if hospital admissions remain high.

He told Sky News : “The right thing is that we open schools, we’ve opened them well with a really comprehensive testing programme. But we want them to stay open and the way you do that is by protecting the most vulnerable which is why my focus is on the booster programme.

“I don’t want to adjust the half term or go back to any form of lockdowns. 

“That’s the worst thing we can do to the economy and people’s livelihoods.”

Comment: Five things we need from the October 1 travel review

Our overly burdensome rules are paralysing overseas travel, with testing, quarantine and haphazard communications all barriers to booking, writes Emma Featherstone.

 The five most pressing needs ahead of the Global Travel Taskforce’s “checkpoint” on October 1 include: 

  • An overhaul of the traffic light system
  • Make testing simpler and cheaper
  • An end to quarantine hotels
  • Bilateral travel agreements
  • Effective communication of rule changes 

Read the full story.

Which countries are on the green, amber and red lists?

A review of the traffic light categories is due next week. Here’s how they look after the latest changes came into effect on Monday. 

Global Travel Taskforce summarises developments on international travel 

A recap of the changes made on the UK Government’s international travel rules and the traffic light system over the summer recess has been published by the Department for Transport. A ‘checkpoint’ review of travel rules is due by October 1.  The changes have included:   

  • 14 destinations added to green list
  • Four countries moved to amber list
  • Six destinations added to red list
  • Increase in price for single adult staying in hotel quarantine to £2,285
  • Reviews of prices and standards of private Covid test providers 
  • Amber list quarantine exemption extended to some international arrivals

See the full summary.

Rush-hour Tube traffic surges to pre-pandemic levels

A rush back to offices saw traffic jams on the roads and record numbers on the Tube on Monday, as public sector workers seemed to be left behind in remaining at home.

Traffic surged back to pre-pandemic levels in major cities as a slew of big companies ordered employees back to their workplaces with the end of the summer holidays.

However, many public sector workers did not rejoin the morning rush as the ministers continued a “gradual” return for civil servants.

The official work from home guidance was rescinded on July 19, however Whitehall sources said departments had only a slight increase in civil servants returning to the office over the summer.

Read the full story.

Monday’s main headlines

Here’s a recap of yesterday’s travel news: 

  • Venice warns tourists: ‘If there’s no room, you won’t be able to come in’
  • Langkawi to reopen to domestic tourists
  • French Polynesia ‘stops counting’ Covid cases amid devastating spike
  • Japan to issue vaccination certificates for international travel
  • ‘Covid free’ island locks down over surge in cases
  • Balpa: Transport secretary has been ‘wasting time’ on travel support

​Now onto today’s updates.

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