The UK government has confirmed that no countries will be added to the currently empty red list for travel.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps confirmed the decision in the Department for Transport’s (DfT) latest review of the lists on 18 November.
He tweeted: “TRAVEL UPDATE: there will be no countries or territories added to the red list. We will continue to keep all measures under review.”
However, there was one change: a further 15 countries’ vaccines will now be recognised by the UK, widening the pool of potential inbound travellers.
Shapps added: “Proof of vaccination will be recognised from 15 more countries and territories including Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Senegal and Zimbabwe, another boost for business and leisure travel.”
The changes will come into effect at 4am on Monday 22 November.
In other news, several countries across Europe are re-imposing local Covid restrictions - including ski and winter-break favourites Austria and the Czech Republic - after seeing their highest case figures since the pandemic began.
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Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s liveblog, where we’ll be posting all the latest travel news and updates.
‘Potential candidates’ for red list include Austria, Slovenia and Croatia
With an update to the UK’s travel rules expected later today, are any countries set to go back on the red list?
The Independent’s travel correspondent, Simon Calder, identifies Austria, Slovenia and Croatia - all seeing a spike in Covid infections at the moment - as possible candidates for a return to the highest-risk list of destinations.
However, he says, “Even though the health secretary, Sajid Javid, insists the red list is critical to protect public health, I would be very surprised if any nations are put on the hotel quarantine list.”
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No countries have been on the red list since 1 November
Integrated Rail Plan will be welcomed by businesses, says Raab
The deputy prime minister, Dominic Raab, has claimed that business will welcome the government’s Integrated Rail Plan – which involve axing the high-speed rail link between the Midlands and Leeds in favour of smaller schemes.
Mr Raab told BBC Today: “This is the feedback that we’ve had from the businesses, from the investors, from the communities that the interconnectivity within the Midlands, within Yorkshire and the northwest is crucially important.
“This will be, as an investment, transformative. It focuses on that interconnectivity.
“That’s the stuff that the small businesses, the medium-sized businesses say is critically important if they’re going to expand.”
But Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP), said: “Levelling up cannot and will not happen without the full delivery of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail together.”
‘London to Sheffield in 87 minutes’ – here’s how
Simon Calder, The Independent’s travel correspondent, has assessed how the prime minister’s claim of an 87-minute service between London and Sheffield could be delivered.
The high-speed trains can run at 225mph between London and East Midlands Parkway, where HS2 will end - a journey estimated at around 50 minutes.
Currently trains on the 46-mile run from East Midlands Parkway to Sheffield are scheduled for 40 minutes, with stops at Derby and Sheffield.
This would need to be cut to 37 minutes – which looks feasible if the Midland main line is electrified for its full distance (a project abandoned by the government in 2017).
But the line would need to be kept clear of local and freight trains between East Midlands Parkway and Sheffield: the exact opposite of the problem HS2E was supposed to solve.
When is the red list update today?
The Department for Transport (DfT) tends to be cagey about exact timings of its travel announcements.
But based on previous reviews, travel updates - which usually take place on Thursdays, every three weeks - tend to be released at around 5pm.
So what could happen today?
There are currently two lists - the red list and the ROW (“rest of world”) list - which dictate the rules travellers must follow when they enter the UK.
Rather confusingly, every country in the world is currently on the ROW list after the final seven red-list nations were officially bumped up on 1 November.
However, ministers were clear that the red list still existed in principle - and that countries could be put back on it if necessary.
Here’s everything we know:
The government is reviewing its lists for travel every three weeks
Woman faces 20-year prison sentence after mask row on flight
US authorities have taken a Texas woman to court for allegedly assaulting a flight attendant over a mask-related disagreement - charges that could result in up to 20 years in prison.
On Friday, Houston’s federal court heard that Debby Dutton, 50, was travelling on a United Airlines flight from Alaska to San Francisco on 29 June when cabin crew spotted that her sleeping husband was not wearing his mask.
According to airline staff, Dutton became aggressive after a flight attendant tapped her husband on the shoulder and asked him to put his mask back on before landing.
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Altercation left flight attendant with injuries, the court heard
Government gives wrong timings in new rail plan
The Department for Transport (DfT) has made some bizarre claims while revealing its Integrated Rail Plan.
The graphic supplied to the media claims that the current rail journey time between Liverpool and Manchester is 50 minutes.
In fact it is 40 minutes – meaning the Northern Powerhouse Rail time-saving on the link will be just seven minutes.
Between Manchester-Leeds, the travel time is currently 50 minutes – not 55 minutes as is claimed.
The Independent has asked the Department for clarification.
HS2 U-turn is ‘act of political spinelessness’, says rail expert
A senior railway industry figure has described the scrapping of the eastern leg of High Speed 2 (HS2) as “utterly catastrophic for the East Midlands and Yorkshire”.
Nigel Harris, managing editor of Rail magazine, told The Independent: “It’s dishonest, it won’t do what is claimed and will congest Yorkshire’s main lines even further to create even greater paralysis.”
He called the decision: “An act of political spinelessness of such mind-numbing stupidity that it’s hard to find adjectives which adequately convey how moronic it really is.”
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‘This madness creates a new east-west divide now down the Pennines,’ says Nigel Harris, managing editor of Rail magazine
Stena Line’s ‘booze cruise’ is back
A popular “no landing” duty free cruise from Wales to Ireland is making a comeback, allowing shoppers to stock up on cheap cigarettes, alcohol and beauty products ahead of Christmas.
Ferry company Stena Line is set to operate the return shopping cruise from Holyhead or Fishguard in Wales to Dublin every Friday, Saturday and Sunday until 12 December.
While most passengers take the return route from and to Wales, shoppers may disembark in Dublin if they satisfy the entry requirements for Ireland.
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The thrice-weekly services give access to discount alcohol, beauty products and electronics
Simon Calder to host ‘Ask me Anything’ event
As the government unveils its plans for the UK’s rail network and gives an update on the “red list” (expected later today), many have questions about their future travel plans.
The Independent’s travel expert Simon Calder will be on hand tomorrow from 1-2pm to answer your questions - be they about winter holidays, the possibility of travel shutdowns in countries with spiking Covid cases, or the security of booking travel in the coming months.
To ask a question, simply click on this article and scroll to the bottom to write your query in the comments section. You may need to register in order to leave a question.
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The Independent’s renowned travel correspondent will be on hand to answer your questions following the latest changes
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