The Government is set to reveal on Friday its “green list” of quarantine-free travel destinations starting 17 May.
The highly anticipated list, which is part of the UK’s “traffic light” travel system, is expected to be revealed by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
Ministers were expected to meet on Thursday to determine which countries will make the list, which is expected to be relatively short.
It comes as senior travel industry figures have called on the Foreign Office to provide “clarity” and “consistency” in its travel advice.
Chief executives of Airlines UK and travel association Abta wrote to the Foreign Office demanding that its advice be “used for its intended purpose, to assess the risk to individuals travelling to a particular destination”.
They said the office’s advice must also be “consistent and coordinated with the traffic light system – providing clarity for the industry and travellers.”.
Travel industry leaders have alsostruck out at the UK over its “cautious” approach to easing holiday restrictions as the Government prepares to release its “green list” of countries travelers can visit without having to quarantine after.
In a joint article in The Daily Telegraph, leaders of British Airways, easyJet, Jet2, Heathrow Airport and the Manchester Airport Group took aim at the British government’s “overabundance of caution”.
In particular, the group hit out at the government’s plan to require fully vaccinated holidaymakers to take a PCR test when returning home from a country on the green list.
“Instead of taking advantage of the success of the vaccine programme the Government risks closing the UK off from the rest of the world,” they said.
Three quarters of people aged 45 to 49 likely to have had first vaccine dose, NHS England says
Roughly three quarters of people in England aged 45 to 49 have likely had their first dose of coronavirus vaccine, NHS England has said.
According to the NHS, 74.7% of people in the age group are estimated to have gotten the jab as of 2 May.
The data also suggests that 89.5% of people aged 50 to 54 have also had their first dose, while 95.3% of those aged 55 to 59 are believed to have had their first jab.
Among 60 to 64-year-olds, 98% are believed to have had their first dose while 94.4% of those ages 65 to 69 are estimated to have received theirs.
Meanwhile, some 97.7% of people aged 70 and over are estimated to have had their first dose.
Holly Willoughby describes ‘amazing’ and ‘emotional’ vaccination experience
Holly Willoughby has described her experience getting the coronavirus jab as an “emotional” after receiving the jab.
The star, 40, said she had received her first dose on Wednesday.
She said she was prepared for the potential side effects of the jab, but said she ended up feeling “left out” after experiencing no changes.
Speaking on ITV’s This Morning, she said: “I went for my vaccine, and I stood in the queue and I went in, totally seamless, all fine.
“It’s quite an emotional experience, isn’t it? I think you’ve been talking about it for so long and then you go in there and it’s everybody around you.
“There’s sort of a real atmosphere that we’re all finally getting that vaccination that we’ve wanted,” she said.
“So it was, it was amazing. That’s the first one, I’ve got to wait a while now,” she added.
Her co-host Phillip Schofield said he had also been vaccinated, calling the process “unbelievably efficient”.
“You’re sort of in and you’re out, shake it all about. I was so thrilled I did actually, as a matter of fact,” he said.
Schofield said he had felt fine after receiving his jab other than a “slightly bruised arm”.
He also expressed disappointment that he did not receive a badge after getting the jab, jokingly branding the incident “badge-gate”.
Opinion: The pandemic has made life more difficult for disabled Britons
The coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly been a challenging time for most across Britain.
However, for disabled Britons, the pandemic has also further exacerbated problems that existed before the pandemic.
In an opinion piece for The Independent, James Moore paints a picture of what it has been like for disabled residents in the UK.
“It’s almost as if the virus has delivered a time machine and taken the entire country back fifty years,” he writes.
Read more here:
UK set for best growth since Second World War amid vaccine rollout, Bank of England says
The Bank of England has forecast that the economy will grow at its fastest pace since the Second World War amid the rollout of Britain’s vaccination programme.
The Bank has predicted that gross domestic product (GDP) will rebound by 7.25% in 2021, representing a rise from its previous prediction of 5%, according to PA.
It would also be the best growth since official records began in 1948.
The forecast comes after the UK saw its biggest decline in output for 300 years in 2020 at a 9.8% drop.
It also comes after the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted unanimously to hold interest rates at 0.1%.
Duchess of Cambridge has call with youngster separated from father during lockdown
The Duchess of Cambridge reportedly chatted with a child whose separation from her father during lockdown shone a light on the difficult isolation many have suffered during the pandemic.
Kate called four-year-old Mila Sneddon, a youngster who had to shield during lockdown while undergoing chemotherapy for leukaemia, preventing her from being able to spend time with her father, who had to go into work and could not risk bringing coronavirus into the family home.
Mila was featured in the duchess’s “Hold Still” photography project, with an image showing her kissing the kitchen window as her father, Scott, stands outside.
Her call with Kate took place last autumn, but was posted as part of a video on the Cambridges’ new YouTube channel on Thursday to mark the publication of Kate’s lockdown photography book Friday.
Mila started off the call by saying “Good morning your royal highness”.
“Good morning. Goodness me, you’re so polite Mila,” Kate replied.
The duchess thanked Mila and her mother, who took the image for the photo series, for sending in the “fantastic” picture.
“We love your photograph,” she said.
The two also discussed how difficult it was for Mila to not be able to spend time with her father.
They also talked about Mila’s favourite colour – pink – and her love of dressing up in fun costumes.
Covid vaccine patent waiver: Who it impacts and what happens next
The European Union has said it will consider a proposal recently backed by the US to temporarily waive intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines.
The call to waive protections comes as parts of the world see a surge in cases, including India, where the current crisis is taking a devastating toll.
Danielle Zoellner breaks down who a Covid vaccine patent waiver would effect and how:
Majority of music fans glad to provide Covid certification to attend gigs: Survey
The majority of music fans would be happy to provide Covid certification in order to attend a live event, a survey has shown.
Around 75% of people surveyed in the poll conducted by live music industry body LIVE, said they would have no qualms with being asked to show proof of a negative test or vaccination to attend a show, according to PA.
More than half of the 25,000 people surveyed said they would go to a gig now if they were allowed.
Meanwhile, 25% said they would return to seeing gigs once safety measures are put in place.
Two in five respondents (41%) said they would be put off attending an event if they had to wear a face mask as a Covid safety measure.
LIVE, which represents more than 3,000 businesses, said it also found that 85% of fans were planning to attend either the same number or more gigs than they did before the pandemic.
More than half (55%) said they had already bought tickets for gigs in the coming months.
The study’s findings come after roughly 5,000 people attended an outdoor gig in Sefton Park in Liverpool, with the Blossoms, The Lathums and Zuzu performing.
Concertgoers had to provide a negative coronavirus test upon entry, but they did not have to wear face coverings or follow social distancing rules.
The event will be used to inform decisions around the further lifting of restrictions in the Government’s road map out of lockdown.
India says ‘double mutant’ variant may be behind country’s Covid crisis
The Indian government has said that the “double mutant” coronavirus variant first identified in the country could be linked to its deadly second wave.
The B.1.617 variant, which was first identified in March, has 15 mutations compared to the original virus.
While its epidemiological and clinical correlation has not been not fully established, experts have said there appears to be a correlation in cases and the rise of B.1.617.
Shweta Sharma reports:
No hint Covid variants can fully evade vaccines, scientist says
Health experts have yet to see “any hint” of a Covid variant being fully able to evade the effectiveness of vaccines, a leading scientist has said.
Speaking on Times Radio, Sharon Peacock, head of the Covid-19 Genomics UK Consortium (COG-UK) and professor of public health and microbiology at the University of Cambridge, addressed questions on whether a variant could emerge that is resistant to current vaccines.
“That’s what we’d call it, a variant of major concern. We haven’t seen anything like that to date, and the question you’re asking is the million dollar question in many ways, everybody wants to know what’s the likelihood and when is it likely to occur, if at all,” she said.
“What we don’t know is if it is likely to occur. We know that as mutations accumulate in the virus, it can actually make it more fit in terms of avoiding our immune system, but the more mutations it accumulates, it could actually lead to a virus that is less infectious, for example,” she continued.
“So there’s a trade-off for the virus in terms of how many mutations it can tolerate,” she said.
While the expert acknowledged that “some people have predicted that a virus could emerge that is pretty resistant to vaccines,” she said “we haven’t seen any hint of that at the moment”.
“The idea that this could arise is based on models from previous viruses, not this current one, so at the moment, I remain optimistic that we’re in a good place – that the viruses that are circulating are susceptible to vaccinations,” she said.
The professor said that the “key thing is to get on and vaccinate the world so that we can clamp down [on] disease. If we can reduce disease rates, then we reduce the risk of variants arising in the first place”.
Prof Peacock also said the variant first identified in India is being investigated, including the question of whether it could spread in the UK.
The Indian government has said the variant first discovered in March could be linked to the country’s deadly second wave, with the B.1.617 variant being found in several states with high case numbers.
Prof Peacock did offer some hope, asserting that it could be that coronavirus mutates to become less infectious.
However, she said even if that does happen, it could take years for it to become like the common cold.
Additional reporting from PA
70% of unpaid carers say pandemic has worsened mental healthy, study shows
Seven in 10 unpaid carers in the UK say that their experiences during the coronavirus pandemic has worsened their emotional or mental health, according to a global study across 12 countries.
Around 70% of UK respondents in the the Carer Well-Being Index produced by science and technology firm Merck said caring during the pandemic has had a clear negative impact on their emotional and mental health.
The figure represents a higher share than the 61% average for all 12 countries.
Meanwhile, more than three quarters (77%) of UK participants said they have been experiencing unprecedented levels of burnouts.
They were also more likely than counterparts in other countries to feel that they could not take a break and to say their social lives have been negatively impacted by their responsibilities.
The survey saw more than 9,000 unpaid carers across 12 countries in Europe, Asia and the Americas surveyed.
Among them were 755 UK respondents, who were polled between 3 September and 27 October, 2020.