Travel news – live: France to lift UK travel ban today ahead of strict new vaccine passport rules

Vaccinated British tourists allowed back into the country

Helen Coffey,Lucy Thackray,Simon Calder
Friday 14 January 2022 16:10
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France eases Covid rules for schools as cases soar

From today, France is lifting its blanket ban on British travellers.

Tourists from the UK who are fully vaccinated will be allowed back into the country for the first time since 18 December, without the need to provide a “compelling reason” for travel or to isolate on arrival.

Travellers will need to provide a negative result from a Covid test - which can be a lateral flow or PCR test - taken in the 24 hours before departure.

The lifting of the ban was confirmed yesterday by French minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, who announced that a decree changing the rules would be published today, with the easing of restrictions taking immediate effect from that point.

Although Mr Lemoyne didn’t provide any timings for the change, The Independent’s travel correspondent, Simon Calder, arrived in France at 4am this morning and was allowed through border control without issue.

The lifting of the travel ban precedes strict new vaccine passport rules, which are being introduced in France from 17 January.

From Monday, visitors will need to have been fully vaccinated - including a booster jab if their second dose was administered more than seven months prior - in order to access most indoor venues.

Follow the latest updates below:

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Spain’s tourism recovery ‘unlikely to start before April’, says report

Spain’s tourism sector should reach 88 per cent of its pre-pandemic value this year, according to a report by industry association Exceltur.

The reported noted that, while Omicron and supply chain issues will prevent a full recovery, it forecasts the 2022 market to be worth €135 billion, or 88% of its pre-Covid value.

However, the report warned that Spain was unlikely to start its recovery in earnest until around April.

In 2021, Spain’s tourism sector hit 57 per cent of its previous size, while forecasters expect it to recover fully in 2023.

“Most business people are again postponing the full recovery of revenues to pre-pandemic levels to 2023, as a result of the triple impact of the Omicron, the energy and supply crisis at the end of 2021,” said the report, translated to English by Reuters.

Lucy Thackray14 January 2022 16:10
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Fares war brewing to … Luxembourg

Luxembourg, the smallest Continental country in the European Union, is the surprising target for a battle between two airlines from London City airport.

Earlier this week, British Airways announced it would launch up to three flights a day from the Docklands airport to the Grand Duchy.

Now the air schedule analyst Sean Moulton reports: “Luxair to increase its Luxembourg-London City flights to up to six a day in summer 2022.

“Luxair will now night stop at London City” – in other words, a plane will stay at the airport overnight rather than returning to Luxembourg, in order to offer an early morning departure.

Luxembourg is the first nation in the world to introduce completely free public transport, which it did in February 2020.

A reminder of that story here:

Luxembourg makes history as first country with free public transport

‘Mobility is one of the most important challenges of humanity in the 21st century,’ says deputy prime minister  

Simon Calder14 January 2022 15:28
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Northern Line City branch draws crowds on eve of closure for months

Tomorrow the City branch of the Northern Line, one of the Underground’s busiest routes, is to close for four months while Bank station is redeveloped and expanded.

It appears that Tube aficionados are congregating on the Northern Line platforms at Bank on the final day before the tracks and layout are realigned.

Rail historian Tim Dunn tweeted the message: “Yeah OK sure today is the last day ever of Northern line trains running thru a v specific Bank tube station platform that I’ve been thru a thousand times before… no WAY will I go there and get caught up in THAT scrum” – followed by a picture of him on the platform an hour later.

The line will be blocked between Moorgate, in the north of the City of London, and Kennington in south London, until mid-May.

Read about the work here:

Mind the gap: part of London’s Northern Line to close from 15 January

Angel, King’s Cross, St Pancras and London Bridge will be disconnected from the City for four months early in 2022

Simon Calder14 January 2022 15:10
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UK passenger locator form ‘created by Franz Kafka’, grumbles correspondent

One of the worst aspects of any trip abroad is the bureaucracy involved in returning to the UK.

The Independent’s travel correspondent, currently in Paris, has begun to complete the UK passenger locator form that travellers in any country apart from Ireland requires in order to board a train, boat or plane.

“Baffling, incoherent and capable of destroying all desire for travel,” he reports.

“No: not me: the UK passenger locator form, which I suspect was devised by Franz Kafka. On an off day. Using an Amstrad 8256.

“Case in point: when it says ‘Arrival date (optional)’, you might reasonably assume it means the day you plan to reach the UK. In fact, they’re after the date you arrived in the place you’re travelling from. But if it’s optional, why ask it at all?

“Then a bit later, when you are completing the part about your location back in the UK, it enquires: ‘When will you leave there?’

“It turns out that this question is also optional, but Herr Kafka can’t be bothered to tell you.

“Then he lobs in the concept of a ‘non-red list country, island or territory’ which you are supposed to understand as being everywhere in the world apart from the UK and Ireland. The red list is thankfully in retirement, so why mention it?”

He ends with an admin tip for fellow travellers: “I find a strong drink helps.”

Lucy Thackray14 January 2022 14:22
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Bristol Airport opens sensory room

Bristol Airport has opened a purpose-built sensory room designed to help customers with autism, dementia or cognitive impairment feel safe and relaxed as they prepare to travel.

The room is described as being for anyone “who would benefit from a safe and interactive place when in unfamiliar surroundings”.

Open from 4am to 9pm daily, it is located just after security in the special assistance area, and can be booked for 45-minute sessions.

It’s also wheelchair-accessible and completely free.

Richard Thomasson, head of customer operations at Bristol Airport, says: “The new sensory room at Bristol Airport will make a huge difference in the lives of those traveling with autism, dementia or cognitive impairment for themselves, their carers and accompanying family.

“An airport can be a busy and stressful environment, therefore having a safe and interactive place for children and adults, will help to reduce anxiety before boarding their flights and is an invaluable asset in reducing stress.

“We are committed in providing the best possible experience for all our customers and we hope the new sensory room will provide a comforting place for passengers who might feel overwhelmed in unfamiliar surroundings.”

Images of the sensory room

Lucy Thackray14 January 2022 13:57
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Portugal tops list of best remote working countries

Travel booking website Kayak has revealed the top countries from which to work and live as a digital nomad, with Portugal topping the list.

To create the site’s first “Work from Wherever Index”, the team analysed 111 countries and ranked each on 22 factors across six categories: travel costs and accessibility, local prices, health & safety, remote working capabilities, social life, and weather.

Spain followed close behind as a popular spot to wield a laptop; followed by the rather more surprising Romania.

Portugal was ranked first for its winning combination of great weather, a buzzing social scene, low-crime rates, affordable cost of living and international culture with English widely spoken.

Here is the top 10 in full:

  1. Portugal
  2. Spain
  3. Romania
  4. Mauritius
  5. Japan
  6. Malta
  7. Costa Rica
  8. Panama
  9. Czech Republic
  10. Germany
Lucy Thackray14 January 2022 12:41
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Dubai theme park to launch new John Wick rollercoaster

A Dubai theme park will this month unveil the world’s first rollercoaster inspired by the John Wick movie franchise.

Film-mad amusement park Motiongate Dubai - which already has rides themed around The Hunger Games, Shrek, The Green Hornet and Kung-Fu Panda - will open the new ride, “John Wick: Open Contract” on 21 January.

Designed in collaboration with the film’s production team, the ride will enable visitors to enter an “immersive environment” on a set styled as the films’ Continental Hotel.

It then becomes a choose-your-own-adventure experience - you can opt to join the assassins hunting John Wick, or you can pick his team and help him escape.

Read the full story:

Dubai launches world’s first John Wick rollercoaster

Designed with help from the film’s production team, attraction resembles the Continental Hotel

Lucy Thackray14 January 2022 12:33
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Hong Kong suspends transit flights from 150 destinations

Hong Kong is suspending transit flights from around 150 countries and territories for the next month.

Travellers who have been in a destination classified as “high risk” by health authorities in the 21 days before travel cannot transit through the city from 16 January until 15 February, Hong Kong International Airport said in a statement.

The measure was taken “in order to control the spread of the highly infectious Omicron variant,” it said.

Hong Kong currently classifies more than 150 countries and territories as high risk.

Last week, the city banned all incoming flights from the UK, plus Australia, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, the Philippines and the US, a measure that remains in place.

Additional reporting by agencies

Helen Coffey14 January 2022 11:17
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Watch as world’s largest plane cuts a clear path through fog

Planes landing in thick fog always seems miraculous to us, but this video of the world’s largest cargo plane swiping a clear streak of blue sky through the haze is a thing of beauty.

The Antonov Airlines An-225 Mriya - a Soviet-designed cargo plane - was landing at Poland’s Rzeszow Airport on Sunday.

Hundreds of planespotters took to the fences outside the airport to film and photograph the majestic aircraft making its final approach.

Watch the video:

Watch as world’s largest plane cuts a clear path through fog

Plane has a wingspan of 290 feet and is the heaviest aircraft ever built

Lucy Thackray14 January 2022 11:01
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EasyJet reports 600% lift in last-minute French flights

EasyJet has seen a 600 per cent uptick in last-minute bookings for flights to airports serving French ski resorts following the news that France was lifting its ban on British tourists.

Last-minute bookings to Switzerland also saw a peak immediately after the news broke, with a 386 per cent increase in flight bookings, suggesting consumer confidence in international travel continues to build. 

EasyJet is operating 37 routes this winter from the UK to 10 destinations across Europe which serve the continent’s major ski resorts, with flights starting at £14.99.

Ali Gayward, easyJet’s UK country manager, said: “With France welcoming British tourists once again, skiing is well and truly back on. This is welcome news for UK consumers, particularly for those looking to book a last-minute family break or planning to head to the slopes, with low fares still available across thousands of flights to France this winter, including over half-term.”

 

Helen Coffey14 January 2022 10:22

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