Britain wants to allow people to have holidays abroad again but the government is wary of the risks, a minister said on Thursday ahead of an announcement on whether a narrow list of quarantine-free travel destinations would be expanded.
Anger is growing at Britain’s onerous restrictions on foreign travel: pilots, cabin crew, travel agents and other workers from the travel industry held protests on Wednesday, begging the government to open up more routes.
British citizens are essentially prevented from travelling to most countries — including those in the European Union — as quarantine and testing rules are so cumbersome and expensive.
“Personally I want us to get back to a position where we can support those who want to travel to do so,” Environment Secretary George Eustice told Sky News when asked if Brits could soon be on the beach in Spain’s Balearic Islands.
“But it is difficult, we are being cautious,” he added, saying that there was a risk of new variants emerging in other countries that are more resistant to vaccination.
11 ‘green list’ destinations
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps will later on Thursday say whether any new destinations are added to England’s “green” list for quarantine-free travel amid speculation that restrictions could be eased for Spanish islands such as Ibiza.
Eustice warned that there were unlikely to be huge changes to the green list.
Malta and the Portuguese island of Madeira have also been touted as possible additions to the list, and British Airways, easyJet and TUI have said they will be ready to go should new destinations open.
Currently there are just 11 “green” destinations where Britons can go without having to quarantine for 10 days on their return, despite the easing of lockdown domestically.
Those rules have held back any recovery for airlines and holiday companies, which are on their knees after nearly 18 months of COVID-19 restrictions.
-From Reuters, last updated at 7 a.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
As of early Thursday, Canada had reported 1,410,927 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 9,645 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 26,175. More than 33.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered so far across the country, according to CBC’s vaccine tracker.
In Atlantic Canada, there was just one new cases of COVID-19 reported across the region on Wednesday. Health officials in New Brunswick reported a single case in the Bathurst region.
While case numbers declined, frustration over travel rules imposed on New Brunswickers seeking to head into Nova Scotia ramped up on Wednesday as people blockaded the Trans-Canada highway to protest the rules.
In Quebec, where a coroner’s inquest into COVID-19 deaths in long-term care is ongoing, health officials reported three deaths on Wednesday and 127 new cases of COVID-19.
Ontario health officials on Wednesday reported 11 deaths and 255 new cases of COVID-19. The update came as sources said Ontario would move into the second stage of its reopening plan slightly ahead of schedule. Premier Doug Ford says residents should expect an announcement “very shortly.”
In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported three deaths and 123 new cases of COVID-19 as officials announced the province would move into its first phase of reopening on Saturday.
Saskatchewan reported 32 new cases of COVID-19 and one additional death on Wednesday. The province on Thursday was opening up second dose eligibility to anyone who got a first dose at least 28 days ago.
In Alberta, health officials on Wednesday reported two additional deaths and 92 new cases of COVID-19.
Across the North, there were no new cases reported in Nunavut or the Northwest Territories. In Yukon, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley reported four additional COVID-19 cases and one additional COVID-19 death on Wednesday — the territory’s fourth death.
In British Columbia, health officials on Wednesday reported one death and 87 new cases of COVID-19.
-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 7:20 a.m. ET
What’s happening around the world
As of early Thursday morning, more than 179.6 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to data published on the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracking tool. The reported global death toll stood at more than 3.8 million.
In the Middle East, Israel’s government has postponed the planned reopening of the country to vaccinated tourists over concerns about the spread of the infectious delta variant of the coronavirus. Israel was set to reopen its borders to vaccinated visitors on July 1, after having largely closed the country during the pandemic. It had already started allowing groups of vaccinated tourists to enter in May. All visitors will need to be tested before boarding flights to Israel and show proof of vaccination.
But after a rise in infections in the past week, the government said Wednesday that it would be pushing that date until Aug. 1. Israel’s Health Ministry recorded 110 new cases of coronavirus in the past day.
In Europe, coronavirus infections continue to soar in Russia, with the authorities reporting 20,182 new cases on Thursday and 568 further deaths. Both tallies are the highest since late January. A surge in infections that hit Russia earlier this month comes as authorities struggle to overcome widespread vaccine hesitancy and immunize its 146 million people.
In the Americas, Mexico will donate over 400,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses on Thursday to the so-called Northern Triangle Central American nations of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, the Mexican foreign ministry said.
Brazil registered a single-day record of 115,228 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, as its outbreak shows new signs of accelerating despite long-delayed vaccination efforts finally gaining steam.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Australia’s most-populous state, New South Wales, reported a double-digit rise in new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 for the third straight day as officials fight to contain an outbreak of the highly contagious delta variant.
In Africa, South Africa’s health regulator said it had received documentation for China’s Sinopharm vaccine and will evaluate the data to assess the efficacy of the shot.
-From Reuters and The Associated Press, last updated at 7:10 a.m. ET