Travel roundup - Amber explained, plus all the latest news relating to holidays in Malta 2021.
Whilst not the #news we expected on Friday, things are still far from being all doom and gloom!
For a start as of 1201 AM on the 17th of May, it is now no longer illegal to travel abroad from the UK for touristic reasons! 🙌🙌🙌
As there is a lot of information to share, I'm splitting this update into two parts, travel news from the #UK followed by a full update from the sunny shores of our beloved island of #Malta.
Full UK travel update
It was decided quite some time ago it feels now, that when travel resumed it would follow a Red, Amber and Green Traffic Light System, with each light having it's very own rules.
How would this work?
Well, the countries within each category would be decided based on the following criteria:
The percentage of a country’s population that have been vaccinated
The rate of infection
The prevalence of variants of concern
The country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing
Whilst Green was obviously the coveted prize for Malta, the country has been placed at the moment into Amber.
Is Amber a #surprise? This early on, absolutely not.
A couple of reasons for that being,
the low cost carriers have all cancelled out their schedules until June and July
Malta will not reopen to UK travellers until the 1st of June*
*fully vaccinated British travellers will be freely welcomed from this date, none vaccinated or those who have only had one jab, will of course be welcome too, but will be subject to pre-arrival PCR testing.
The Amber rules are;
UK arrivals will need to take a pre-departure test in resort at least 72 hours prior to the return flight.
You must immediately self isolate at home for 10 days upon arrival back in the UK.
There is a PCR test requirement on days 2 and days 8 following your return, although there is the option to use the Test to Release scheme on day 5 too, which would hopefully end your isolation early if negative and will cancel out the need for a test on day 8.
I've said this before, but I really do like our Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. I feel he very much has UK #aviation at heart.
Quite simply, he understands😊
Some of the takeaway comments from his announcement for me were,
"looking outward again", "travel re-unites us", and "no substitute for human contact"
I do agree completely that we need to "turn the key slowly" and yes, the UK is very much now "a #fortress against COVID" and we need to #protect our walls at all costs.
We've come so far, we simply can't fall now. I can almost taste that pastizzi it's so close! 😅
How often will the Traffic Light Lists be reviewed?
Again, super news!
Instead of the 48 hour notice and the scramble to get home we all had to deal with last year, there will be now be three weeks notice between any light changes.
This greatly reduces the risk to taking a #holiday in Malta in 2021.
The lists of countries will be reviewed and updated every two weeks, with an extra weeks grace added to allow you to get home before the change is actually made.
Confirmed reduced price testing.
Testing thus far has been extremely expensive, circa £120 per test per person.
To make international #travel available to all, the price of testing has needed to reduce., and by golly, reduce it has.
Here is the up to date roundup of pricing,
TUI is offering test packages for between £20 and £90, to ensure holidays are affordable
Ryanair - £60 with code RYANHTK21, days 2 and 8 for £120 instead of £210
EasyJet has partnered with Randox to offer £60 home testing kits using code easyJet2021
British Airways is also offering the half price Covid testing kits for £60, using the code BritishAirways50.
Thomas Cook has also partnered with Randox too although currently only offering a 30 per cent discount, making the cost of their home kits £85 per person.
Jet2 passengers can get a discounted PCR test for £75 with a number of providers.
**We are also still awaiting details of the Government approved providers with pricing which will be set at circa £45**
Grant Shapps confirmed that come 17 May changes will have been made to the NHS App which will allow it to be used as a Vaccine Passport.
Those whose jabs for one reason or another do not show in the app, or who don't have a smartphone, will be able to call NHS 119 from the 17th of May and request a paper copy of their vaccination record.
Passenger Locator Form
The Passenger Locator Form (PLF) is here to stay.
You must complete the form online before you arrive in the UK. The PLF is available anytime within 48 hours of your return flight and is really easy to complete.
You’ll need to show your form when you check in or board your plane, plus on arrival back in the UK.
Border Force and Immigration
Border Force Director Paul Lincoln advised "for the time being, passengers will need to accept an increase in the time taken at each stage of their journey."
Processing times for each person arriving in the UK will now be 5-10 minutes, with 100% of passengers being checked.
This is of course using the traditional desk entry method with a Border Force Official manually checking details, although more Immigration Desks are being added in each airport.
Again more good news though, as this process is currently being digitised, with an E-Gate Upgrade Programme currently underway which will drastically reduce the wait times above.
Now, over to everything happening in Malta!
Malta's roadmap out of lockdown - a roundup of the latest relaxation of the rules!
The best news to make it out of Thursdays #Maltese press conference was that masks will no longer be required to be worn at beaches or pools from 1 June, and this awesome announcement was delivered by the Health Minister himself Chris Fearne.
From this date fines will no longer apply for anyone not wearing a mask on the #beach or around the pool.
However, Mr Fearne did state that "masks are still essential and that it was still necessary to wear masks in public places"
But hey, I will be more than #happy to wear them whilst moving around otherwise.
This virus is still with us, so we do need to retain a level of cautiousness or else we will all be heartbreakingly right back to square one again.
There are a number of notable dates in #Malta for the lifting of restrictions,
From May 10
#Restaurants and snack bars will reopen - but service is only available until 5pm, with a maximum of four sat at each table.
Training for professional contact #sports can re-commence, and non-contact sports can start again but with no spectators.
#Arts, educational and extracurricular activities, as well as doctrine lessons will be allowed to continue.
Open-air markets will be allowed to reopen.
Restrictions on travel between #Malta and #Gozo will also be lifted.
From May 24
Restaurants and snack bars will extend their hours until midnight.
Pools can reopen until 8pm for swimming only.
#Gyms can reopen but no classes allowed.
Contact sports resume for those aged over 17.
From June 1
Language #schools will begin to reopen.
Seated #weddings can take place, with 100 people indoors or 300 people outdoors.
Restrictions on mask-wearing on beaches and around pools is lifted.
From June 7
Restaurants can increase table size to six people.
#Bars and #kazini can open again with table service only. 🍷🥂🍻🍹
Contact sports will resume.
Groups of six can meet in public (up from four)
From June 28
Summer schools reopen.
Contact sports for those younger than 17.
Just like #aviation, the #cruise sector has been on its knees since the start of the #pandemic, so its fabulous to hear the news that Malta will welcome two Viking Cruise Ships between July and October of 2021.
Again cautiously, and rightly so due to the closed environment, the two new 11 day #cruises will be open to vaccinated people only.
The Malta & Adriatic Jewels Cruise
This itinerary will overnight in #Valletta before visiting #Montenegro and #Croatia with ports of call in Kotor, Dubrovnik, Split, Zadar and Sibenik, before returning to Valletta with a stop in Gozo.
The Malta & Greek Isles Discovery Cruise
This itinerary also will overnight in Valletta before sailing to #Greece, calling in Kalamata, Athens, Santorini, Rhodes and Souda Bay, before again returning to Valletta.
To allay cruisers fears, Viking have developed their very own onboard Health & Safety Program. Each ship has its very own full scale laboratory installed onboard where all guests and crew will receive daily quick and easy PCR tests. New air purification technology has also been installed too. Additional health checks, sanitization and social distancing measures will provide further protection for guests and crew at all points of the journey.
I'm sure you will have deduced by now that I'm eternally a glass half full lassie 😀 and therefore it was easy for me to pull lot's of positives and #hope from the various news items this week.
The #world is #healing, we just need to keep her wrapped in kid gloves for a little while longer.
Until next time, wishing you all a super Saturday, take care
Traffic Light System rules and country lists