Northern Ireland has indicated it will follow many of England’s COVID-19 rules on international travel, as holiday companies see an increase in bookings.
The country’s traffic light system for international travel will change from October 4 with a single red list of destinations and a «simplified process» for travelers for the rest of the world.
Travel companies say they saw Increase in bookings After the UK government announced that the current traffic light system for red, amber and green countries will be canceled for England, also on October 4th.
Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps revealed Friday that the system will be replaced early next month with a single red list of destinations.
From this point on, travelers arriving in England from the red countries will have to be quarantined in a government-run hotel.
Fully vaccinated people will no longer need pre-departure testing before returning to England from non-red list destinations and, from the end of October, will be able to replace the second-day PCR test with a cheaper lateral flow test.
Eight countries have been removed from the red list, including Turkey and the Maldives. PCR tests will still be required for unvaccinated people.
One expert supported the change in the rules because, he said, the high rates in the UK meant it would be «terrible» to have obstacles in the way of traveling abroad.
Jet2 chief executive Steve Hebe says of the «£1 billion vacationers spend on PCR tests» only about «1% have been genetically sequenced» for variants of concern as he welcomes changes to coronavirus travel rules that will come into force. Implementation as of October 4 https://t.co/lqkze9PK0v pic.twitter.com/GtLTjJlkAJ
Sky News September 18, 2021
Dr Simon Clark, Associate Professor of Cellular Microbiology at the University of Reading, added that travelers are as likely to contract the novel coronavirus on a trip to Torquay as travelers are to contract COVID-19.
Steve Hebei, president of Jet2, told Sky News the «responsible thing to do» was reopening step by step.
He said: «Other areas of the economy are pretty much back to normal – you can go and watch a football match between 75,000 people without taking a side test or proof of your vaccinations.
«I am in favor of a full return to the old normal but doing it in phases seems reasonable. This is a good first step.»
Having previously announced that Jet2 bookings are up «by more than 250%,» he added that being on a plane was «very safe» due to air recirculation every three minutes and the use of filters.
Paul Charles, a travel consultant and founder and president of the PC agency, told Sky News the changes to international travel were «a significant advance» and would help boost confidence.
But he added that «there are still many questions to be answered» after the government chose to keep some countries on the red list despite changes to travel rules.
CEO Thomas Cook said customers were «already booking in droves» after The latest travel changesThe holiday company sees its second best day for bookings alone this year on Friday and anticipates its «best weekend ever».
Airlines including British Airways and easyJet have also welcomed a significant easing of travel rules for people arriving in and departing from England – but have increased pressure on the government to remove. Test requirements entirely.
TUI also said it had already seen a «slight increase in bookings for Turkey in October» and expects to further boost customer confidence with the new rules.
Meanwhile, online travel platform Skyscanner said it saw a 133% increase in traffic in the 30 minutes after Mr. Shapps’ announcement, with «huge increases» in searches for destinations such as Turkey and the Maldives.
Not everyone shared this optimism, however, with one scientist warning that recent changes could not only risk new variables coming in, but make them difficult to identify if they do.
Professor Lawrence Young, Professor of Molecular Oncology at the University of Warwick, said: «The main concern is what this means for the genetic sequence of the virus. How can we ensure that those who test positive on the lateral flow test are isolated and undergo PCR testing?»
“There is no transparency behind making this decision.”
«There are still many questions to be answered» after the government chose to keep some countries on the red list despite changes to travel rules, says Paul Charles, founder of the PC agency. https://t.co/lqkze9PK0v pic.twitter.com/VnNVhI5j9t
Sky News September 18, 2021
«This approach potentially reduces our ability to effectively monitor the introduction of new variants into the country.»
The Scottish government said it would abandon its traffic light system but would not follow England in removing pre-departure testing requirements for full vaccinations returning from non-red list countries, and would not change to using lateral flow tests on the second day after return. .
The Welsh government said it was studying the changes proposed by the UK government, but was concerned they could weaken the ability to stop the import of new forms of infection.
Northern Ireland said anyone traveling there from the EU and US who has been fully vaccinated will no longer have to self-isolate or take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on day eight.
From October 4, fully vaccinated travelers from a number of countries, including Canada, Australia, Israel and New Zealand, will be included in the policy.
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