Coronavirus news UK – DON'T book summer holiday to Spain until Government fully explains green list plans, Brits warned

BRITS have been warned NOT to book their summer holidays until the government fully explains its traffic light system.

This week Spain, Portugal and Cyprus all said they hoped to welcome Brits back within a matter of weeks with the NHS app providing proof of a negative covid test.

But Lee Hunt, managing director of Deben Travel, said there is "still so much uncertainty" that he is dissuading customers from booking holidays.

“We are actively putting customers off booking for this summer until the list of green countries is announced along with the associated rules. We then hope to see an influx of bookings," he said.

Meanwhile Jet2 has cancelled all flights until June 24.

In a statement it said it needed “clarity [from the Government] about when we can fly, where we can fly to, and how much a Covid-19 testing regime will cost”.

Read our coronavirus live blog below for the latest updates…

  • Aliki Kraterou

    LOCKDOWN RULES FOR THE BANK HOL

    While Brits can drink in the outdoor areas of pubs and bars, social distancing must still be adhered to with pals only allowed to have pints within the Rule of Six.

    Punters won't be able to stand up and drink by the bar – and will have to stay seated while in the pub.

    People must continue to keep their distance and stay away from people outside of their household or bubble, the PM urged.

    Every pub-goer must check-in with the NHS Covid app to get a pint from April 12.

    Under the rules, all punters must be contact-traced via the app or by giving their contact details when a group enters a pub or restaurant.

  • Aliki Kraterou

    COVID RATES

    In January only three of the 380 local areas had rates below 50 per 100,000 and now, 364 out of 380 are below this rate.

    In England only a dozen areas are still above 50, ranging from Selby on 109.2, the highest rate anywhere in the UK, to Slough on 53.5.

    Three local areas, Maldon in Essex, Shetland and the Western Isles, are currently recording case rates of zero.

    The third national coronavirus lockdown, coupled with the successful jabs rollout across the UK has helped drive infection rates down.

    Three vaccines are currently being rolled out across the UK, the Pfizer/BioNTech, the Oxford/AstraZeneca and the Moderna jab.

  • Aliki Kraterou

    INFECTION RATES HAVE DROPPED SINCE JANUARY

  • Aliki Kraterou

    ENDEMIC

    Professor Tim Spector from King's College London said that rates are beginning to plateau, moving the UK into a new era of the pandemic.

    Three regions also recorded no new infections, these are the East of England, the North East and Northern Ireland.

    "Prof Spector said: "Consistent low levels signal that we’re moving from a Covid pandemic to Covid becoming endemic in the UK, where we expect to see low levels in the population with the occasional outbreak.

    "It’s very reassuring that low rates continue despite reopening  gyms and outdoor areas in pubs and restaurants, and bodes well for further relaxation of restrictions in line with the government roadmap out of lockdown.”

  • Aliki Kraterou

    AREAS IN THE UK WITH ZERO CASES

     

  • Aliki Kraterou

    CASES HAVE PLUNGED

    Coronavirus infection levels have plunged to rates not seen since September, with several areas now recording no new daily infections, data has revealed.

    Infections are so low that the pandemic is now moving towards an endemic, one expert has today claimed.

    Current infection levels are among the lowest to have been recorded by experts at the ZOE Symptom Tracker app, with just 757 infections being logged each day in England.

    There are currently 1,046 new symptomatic cases of Covid in the UK on average compared to 1,165 daily cases a week ago.

  • Aliki Kraterou

    CONTINUED

    He said: "We are trying to coordinate all the different companies across Heathrow to be able to cope with the growth – the airlines, the retailers, the ground handlers, the police. All those are in place.

    "The one concern I have is Border Force, because they've been struggling even with the low volume we have today.

    "We don't see enough changing at the moment to be confident that that will be fixed within the next few weeks."

  • Aliki Kraterou

    'BAD ORGANISATION' AT BORDER FORCE COULD CAUSE LONG QUEUES

    The boss of Heathrow is concerned that there could be delays at the border when international travel restrictions ease, unless the Government throws resources behind its border agents.

    "Bad organisation" from the Border Force has already led to hours-long queues after passengers disembark from their flights, despite the heavily reduced number of people travelling through the airport.

    Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said that while most of the airport is ready for a potential relaunch of international travel on May 17, it risks being thrown off by poor staffing on the Border Force desks.

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    MEETING INDOORS AFTER TWO JABS IS SAFE – BUT NOT ALLOWED

    Two fully vaccinated people meeting indoors is "incredibly safe" according to experts – but it's still not allowed under the cautious Covid lockdown roadmap.

    Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, England's deputy chief medical officer, said meetings between fully vaccinated people are "incredibly safe".

    He added that England was “extremely close” to allowing people to meet indoors – but that we needed to “hold the line for just a teeny bit longer”.

    Professor Van-Tam warned that there would be "bumps in the road" as Covid lockdown restrictions were rolled back.

    He said: “I would be highly confident, scientifically, that if those were reputable vaccines, then indeed it would be incredibly safe for those two people to meet.”

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    MATT HANCOCK SAYS COVID JAB 'DIDN'T HURT AT ALL'

    Health Secretary Matt Hancock receives a jab of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine from Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    BRAZIL VARIANT SPREADS 'TWICE AS FAST'

    The Brazilian Covid variant is more transmissible than previously thought, scientists have warned.

    It could spread at more than double the rate of previous circulating strains, explaining why the virus has ripped through Brazil. 

    Prof Samir Bhatt, a researcher at University of Copenhagen and corresponding author on the paper, told The Sun: “Moving forwards the bigger concern is immune escape given substantial vaccination rates. 

    “This is the most important thing to keep an eye on in the UK right now where continued surveillance and caution is critical.”

    More on the story here

  • Aliki Kraterou

    CONTINUED

    "He then went on to make the point, which I think is important, that we still need further data to understand whether these vaccines work as well for people who are frail and elderly as they do in fit and young people – there is some data on that – and that only 64.5% of the population have had their first dose, so we are still a way off the full population having been fully vaccinated.

    "The point he was making is that we are close but it is right that we continue to be cautious and follow the steps set out in the road map."

  • Aliki Kraterou

    MORE DATA REQUIRED

    No 10 said more data was required before signing off on fully-vaccinated people meeting up.

    The Prime Minister's official spokesman was asked whether Boris Johnson agreed with England's deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam's suggestion it would be safe for two inoculated people to meet up.

    The spokesman said: "I think JVT made two points yesterday.

    "Firstly he said that if two people who had been fully vaccinated meet, then he would be confident that it would be safe for both of those individuals."

  • Chiara Fiorillo

    VACCINE PASSPORTS 'TO BE READY BY MAY 17'

    Vaccine passports are set to be ready in time for the May 17 reopening of foreign travel, a top minister declared today.

    Nadhim Zahawi said officials are working to make sure the Covid certificates can be issued in time for people to jet off on their holidays.

    He said: "For travel overseas, clearly a number of countries are now indicating they will request a Covid certification.

    "That's proof of either a Covid jab, or obviously a test as we currently request a pre-departure test certificate – other countries do the same thing.

    "So, NHSX under Matthew Gould are working on making that operationally possible by May 17."

  • Aliki Kraterou

    'SPREADING RAPIDLY'

    Prof Bhatt and colleagues studied P1, in Manaus, the Amazonian city in Brazil where it first emerged.

    They concluded P1 was between 70 per cent and 140 per cent more transmissible than other variants circulating in Manaus, which were not named.

    For comparison, the variants from Kent and South Africa have been estimated to be 70 per cent and 50 per cent more transmissible, respectively, compared against the original virus strain from Wuhan, China.

    P1 can also reinfect between 20 and 40 per cent of people who have already had Covid before, meaning it can evade some immunity, the study found.

  • Aliki Kraterou

    CAUTION IS CRITICAL

    Prof Samir Bhatt, a researcher at University of Copenhagen and corresponding author on the paper, told The Sun: “Moving forwards the bigger concern is immune escape given substantial vaccination rates. 

    “This is the most important thing to keep an eye on in the UK right now where continued surveillance and caution is critical.”

    In the UK, a very small number of cases of P1 have been confirmed – 60 since February 2021.

  • Aliki Kraterou

    SCIENTISTS WARN ABOUT THE BRAZILIAN VARIANT

    The Brazilian Covid variant is more transmissible than previously thought, scientists have warned.

    It could spread at more than double the rate of previous circulating strains, explaining why the virus has ripped through Brazil. 

    Scientists led by University of Copenhagen warned the UK needs to stay on guard to stop the variant, named P1, causing chaos.

    Because it has also shown to reinfect people who have previously had Covid, it could also infect people who are vaccinated. 

  • Aliki Kraterou

    CONTINUED

    "Due to this rise, we're extending our usual testing service. As well as asking those with the usual Covid symptoms to get tested, we need those experiencing 'mild or extended symptoms' to come forward for testing.

    "This wider range of symptoms includes chills, fever, a dry or productive cough, sore throat, headache, runny nose, shortness of breath, general weakness, muscle pain, diarrhoea, or loss of taste or smell to book a PCR test immediately. You can do this online by going to nhsinform.scot or call 0800 028 2816 if you cannot get online. "

    She added: "It is vital we get the virus back under control in Moray and not let it run away from us."

  • Aliki Kraterou

    VITAL TO STICK TO THE RULES

    NHS Grampian director of public health Susan Webb said: "We really are on a worrying trajectory in Moray and it is vital everyone ensures they are sticking to the rules to ensure the area isn't left behind as the rest of the country unlocks.

    "There is a real fear, that with unlocking and the May Day weekend, if individuals don't act responsibly and stick with the guidelines they could create the perfect storm in the area.

    "Until now Moray has escaped the worst of the pandemic, but we could now see Moray get left behind as the country unlocks.

  • Aliki Kraterou

    WARNING TO MORAY AS CASES SURGE

    People in Moray are being warned to follow coronavirus rules to avoid creating a "perfect storm" as lockdown eases amid a surge in cases in the region.

    NHS Grampian said that since April 10 the area has seen more than 100 new cases, with around half of those in the last seven days as the infection rate increases locally.

    Moray currently has one of the highest rates of Covid-19 in the country and is well ahead of the rest of the NHS Grampian region.

    In the last week it accounted for close to 50% of Grampian's cases although it is home to less than 17% of the population.

  • Aliki Kraterou

    CONTINUED

    Transport minister Robert Courts replied: "The restart of domestic cruises has indeed been confirmed and the global travel taskforce advises that international cruises will restart along the wider restart of international travel.

    "I am committed to working with colleagues at the FCDO and across Government to see a safe restart of international cruises as soon as is possible in line with the GTT."

  • Aliki Kraterou

    INTERNATIONAL CRUISES BACK ASAP

    The Government is committed to allowing the safe restart of international cruises "as soon as is possible", a transport minister has said.

    Conservative former minister Caroline Nokes (Romsey and Southampton North) told the Commons: "The cruise industry is a significant employer in the Southampton area but British travellers are still advised by the FCDO against cruising even as advice on flying is set to be relaxed along with eased restrictions.

    "Approval has been given for domestic cruising, but please can (Mr Courts) work with colleagues across Government to make sure that international travel advice for cruising is aligned with that for aviation?"

  • Aliki Kraterou

    CONTINUED

    He also said there will be a "green watchlist where we're able to flag up – perhaps a couple of weeks in advance – to say that we are looking at perhaps a variation of interest which could turn into a variation of concern in order to help provide a little bit more forward guidance this year".

  • Aliki Kraterou

    TRAFFIC LIGHT SYSTEM

    Four factors will help decide where countries are allocated on the traffic light travel system, the Transport Secretary has said.

    Conservative Julian Sturdy (York Outer) asked Grant Shapps to "commit to publishing detailed assessments of the categorisation of specific countries in the traffic lights system so that the industry bodies are able to see if there is an immediate prospect of improvement."

    Responding in the Commons, Mr Shapps said: "I can confirm that we will be having the JBC look at four principal factors: the level of coronavirus in any given country, the amount of vaccines that they have dispensed in that country, the concern over any particular variants and the quality of the data.

    "Those are the facts and figures they'll be looking at."

  • Aliki Kraterou

    REDUCE COST OF PCR TESTS

    Grant Shapps said the Government has been working with companies to "drive down the cost" of PCR tests to make them more widely accessible as international travel returns.

    The Transport Secretary told MPs: "I know that the House is interested on the update with regard to travel returning internationally over the coming months and I wanted to provide a very quick update to say that although PCR tests may be required from a medical, scientific point of view, we have been working with private laboratories, pharmacies, supermarkets and other companies to encourage them to deliver on their logistical expertise and enter the market and drive down the cost.

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