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Weekly UK Media, Travel, Consumer & Social Update — 26 February, 2021

Weekly UK Media, Travel, Consumer & Social Update — 26 February, 2021
26 February 2021 Zac van Manen

Accurate as of: 25 February 2021

Current UK status:

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  • As of 4pm on 17 February 2021, a total of 84,392,344 coronavirus (COVID-19) tests have been conducted in the UK. 4,144,577 people have tested positive.
  • 18,242,873 people have had their first dose of the vaccination, while 669,105 have been fully vaccinated.
  • 121,747 patients in the UK who tested positive for COVID-19 have died.
  • As of 5 January, the whole UK has re-entered national lockdown, with schools reopening on 8 March
  • Guidance for the current lockdown rules in England can be found

UK travel restrictions:

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  • Boris Johnson has laid out a roadmap out of lockdown, with key touchstones to open up the country on 8 March, 29 March, 12 April, 17 May and 21 June.
  • Currently, UK residents can only travel internationally – or within the UK – where they first have a legally permitted reason to leave home. In addition, they should consider the public health advice in the country they are visiting.
  • UK residents cannot leave their home or the place where they are living for holidays or overnight stays unless they have a reasonable excuse for doing so. This means that holidays in the UK and abroad are not allowed.
  • In order to enter the UK, a negative Covid-19 test must be completed 72 hours before travel and presented to staff on planes, trains, and ferries in order to board. A further two tests must be completed at the travellers’ expense during their quarantine before they can return to day-to-day life.
  • People entering the UK from high-risk countries, or “red” countries, will have to quarantine in a hotel at their own expense for 10 days.

Latest updates:

  • On 22 February, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his roadmap out of lockdown for England. After the first stage in March, further lifting of the rules will happen if certain conditions are met – such as the vaccine rollout going to plan. The aim is for all restrictions to be lifted, which will happen by 21 June at the earliest. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has also announced details of Scotland’s path out of lockdown, with restaurants and non-essential shops opening on 26 April at the earliest. Northern Ireland and Wales will outline their plans in the coming weeks. (BBC)
  • Greece is in “technical” talks with the UK over allowing Britons carrying a vaccine passport to travel to its tourist hotspots from May despite concerns in Brussels and other EU capitals. Haris Theoharis, the country’s Tourism Minister, said he hoped to “dovetail” with Boris Johnson’s roadmap for allowing Britons to travel but refused to be drawn on whether Greece would break with Brussels to establish the scheme. (Guardian)
  • Spain hopes to welcome back British tourists this summer, the country’s Tourism Secretary of State, Fernando Valdes, has said. Mr Valdes confirmed Spain was canvassing the European Union and the Organisation for Economically Developed Countries to agree to a system of vaccine passports to increase tourists’ mobility. Spain will not bar tourists if they do not have proof they have been inoculated, he stressed, saying they would be part of a series of measures to allow British holidaymakers to return to the coasts. “We are defending this approach and we would like to coordinate these works with the British government.” (Independent)
  • Jet2 has reported a 1000% increase in sales following the lockdown announcement – despite an official start to foreign holidays still to be given. Spain, including the islands, is one of the most popular bookings for Brits, along with Portugal, Greece, Cyprus and Turkey. (Sun)
  • Michael Gove will lead a review into vaccine passports, Boris Johnson has confirmed. However, the Prime Minister admitted “fervent libertarians” would object to any proposals to use certificates of immunity to unlock parts of the economy from Covid-19 restrictions. He also said it would be wrong to “discriminate” against people who can’t – or won’t – get vaccinated. (Mirror)
  • The catering and domestic hospitality industry has expressed disappointment as full reopening in England has put on hold until May without an extension to the furlough scheme. Elizabeth Haigh, operator of Mei Mei London in Borough Market, said: “If most restaurants are not allowed to operate as fully as possible until mid-May, there’s going to be this gap in between when we’re going to be short of work, money and hours for our staff. There needs to be more extended support for the furlough scheme and, if possible, an extension to the VAT cut.” (The Caterer)
  • Meanwhile, travel industry leaders have largely welcomed the government’s roadmap for reopening the economy, announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Tim Alderslade, chief executive of airline association Airlines UK, said: “We’re grateful to the Prime Minister and Department for Transport for providing the clarity the sector was looking for that international travel can reopen this summer, as soon as it is safe to do so.” (Travel Weekly)
  • Home Secretary Priti Patel has said it is too early to book holidays, only a day after the industry saw booming sales as the 17 May restart was pencilled in. Asked what her advice would be to those booking holidays now, Patel replied: “Well, it’s too early, it’s far too early. We have to look at the data at every single stage and the roadmap outlined by the Prime Minister makes that abundantly clear.” (TTG)

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