Backpackers Tokyo

Spain will allow unvaccinated children to enter the country with a negative PCR test result from 14 February, the country’s Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism has announced.

“The government updates the health requirements for entry to Spain for the group between 12 and 17 years of age from non-EU countries... Starting at 00:00h. on Monday 14 may submit negative NAAT test (RT-PCR or similar) made 72h before,” tweeted the Ministry on Friday.

The news comes slightly too late for half-term holidays, which start on Monday - many families will have already booked trips or planned to set off over the weekend, before the rule change kicks in.

In other news, from today fully vaccinated travellers in the UK no longer have to take any Covid tests around travel, in a major rules shake-up transport secretary Grant Shapps called “a landmark moment for international travel”.

Some measures remain for unvaccinated or partly vaccinated travellers, but they have been drastically reduced.

Follow the latest updates below:

36 minutes ago

‘Competitive reopening’ as destinations rush to ease Covid rules

The change in Spain’s onerous restrictions for younger people is part of the “competitive reopening” across the world – with nations battling to rescue what is left of their tourism industries.

In his weekly travel newsletter this morning, The Independent’s travel correspondent, Simon Calder, reports “the usual favourites are being left behind”.

Three of the destinations that are thriving, he reports, are Cape Verde (the Portuguese-speaking islands off the coast of West Africa), Mexico and Turkey.

“What they share in common are relatively light-touch rules. Arrivals to Turkey, for example, can demonstrate proof of jabs, recovery from Covid in the past six months or a negative test.

“The lovely Portuguese island of Madeira now requires just a single online form, and, for unvaccinated visitors, a swift lateral flow test on arrival.”

Sign up for Simon Calder’s Travel Week newsletter here:

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Lucy Thackray 11 February 2022 10:43

48 minutes ago

Channel Tunnel down to single line amid technical issues

A “technical issue” has closed one of the bores of the Channel Tunnel. The link between Folkestone and Calais is down to single-line working. As a result Eurotunnel shuttles – carry cars, coaches and trucks – and Eurostar passenger trains are delayed. Eurotunnel is telling drivers at Folkestone to expect a one-hour delay.

The morning Eurostar departure from Brussels to London is currently 50 minutes late, while some trains from London to Paris and Brussels are running around half-an-hour late.

The problem coincides with one of the busiest days of the year so far, with testing restrictions lifted for fully vaccinated visitors to the UK and half-term beginning for many schools.

Simon Calder 11 February 2022 10:31

55 minutes ago

Spain reopens to unvaccinated teens - too late for half-term

In one of the most poorly timed announcements in the entire coronavirus pandemic, Spain has reversed its draconian policy of demanding everyone aged 12 or over be double jabbed in order to enter the country from abroad.

The easing of the travel rules takes effect at midnight on Sunday, allowing anyone aged 12-17 arriving from Monday to take a PCR test instead.

But it comes too late for tens of thousands of families who had hoped to take half-term holidays in the UK’s favourite nation for tourism.

Spain’s Minister for Trade, Industry and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, says: “As one of the world’s favourite tourism destinations, we are committed to making travel to Spain a safe and easy experience for our visitors, especially for families travelling with children. We hope that with these changes, many families will choose Spain to enjoy safe and memorable holidays together.”

Read the full story:

Simon Calder 11 February 2022 10:25

1 hour ago

Spain rule change due to ‘difficulty or impossibility' of vaccination for under 18s in some countries

Spain’s Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism has published an order altering their border rules from midnight on Monday.

The new clause for entry requirements allows “Persons 12 years of age or older and under 18 who present proof of molecular nucleic acid amplification-NAAT (RT-PCR or similar) of SARSCoV-2 with negative result performed 72 hours before arrival, prior verification by the health authorities, or children under 12 years of age.”

“Vaccination is a key instrument to combat the COVID-19 pandemic,” reads the order.

“However, in many countries there are difficulties or [an] impossibility of obtaining the vaccine for use in the population aged under 18 years. Consequently, it is considered appropriate to establish conditions specific to these people,” reads a statement from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism.

The statement is signed by Spain’s Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska Gomez.

Lucy Thackray 11 February 2022 10:01

1 hour ago

Spain to allow unvaccinated children with a PCR test

Spain has announced that, from midnight on Monday 14 February, children and teenagers aged 12 to 17 travelling from the UK will be able to present a PCR test result and enter the country even if unvaccinated.

“The government updates the health requirements for entry to Spain for the group between 12 and 17 years of age from non-EU countries... Starting at 00:00h. on Monday 14 may submit negative NAAT test (RT-PCR or similar) made 72h before,” tweeted the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism.

Lucy Thackray 11 February 2022 09:39

2 hours ago

Has the passenger locator form been simplified?

The much-reviled passenger locator form (PLF) has been causing problems for travellers since June 2020, when the UK government imposed blanket quarantine on arrivals from all locations abroad except Ireland.

By the end of that summer, the prime minister promised the PLF was to be simplified.

In fact, the health form that every passenger must complete before returning to the UK became much more complicated – first because travellers had to list individual islands they had visited, then because they had to include details of mandatory post-arrival tests.

Finally, it has been simplified for fully vaccinated travellers: today it appears reduced to just 20 online pages, many of which are simple questions.

Some are labelled as “optional”, such as specifying where on a plane or train you are sitting. This may have been of some use when Test and Trace were calling passengers to to order them to self-isolate after someone tested positive for Covid, but now it appears redundant – and an unnecessary diversion.

There are still the familiar traps, such as questions that are not marked as optional but which turn out to be. After you have entered your home address, the challenge “When will you leave there?” does not need to be answered.

The list of possible arrival points is boggling in its complexity, from “London Corringham Port (Stanford Le Hope)” to the Hebridean “beach airport” of Barra, which I believe has never seen an international arrival. The choice of airlines includes Air New Zealand (which no longer serves the UK) and the currently dormant carrier, Flybe.

I selected the Heard Island and McDonald Islands as my starting point – which Wikipedia describes as “a volcanic group of mostly barren Antarctic islands, about two-thirds of the way from Madagascar to Antarctica” – my airline as Flybe and my jabs as coming from Kazakhstan.

Stopping short of ticking the declaration on the final page – “The information I have entered in this form is correct” – the exercise took 15 minutes, saving around five minutes on the previous edition. It’s a definite improvement but could be so much better. Or, ideally, shut down.

Some of the more outlandish options on the PLF

(Simon Calder)

Simon Calder 11 February 2022 09:03

2 hours ago

Our travel correspondent returns to the UK from France

For rail travellers from Paris to London, the tricky business of proving entitlement to travel to the UK has slightly reduced: the passenger locator form (PLF) has been slimmed down to 20 online pages for fully vaccinated travellers. There is no need to provide evidence of a Covid test booking. But the first hurdle of the journey from the Gare du Nord terminus remains a check to ensure that each passenger has a PLF.

Once this is done, the remaining formalities are familiar: a passport check leaving France, the UK Border Force (which directs most travellers to the e-gates) and a security search, plus X-ray of passengers’ baggage.

On board the 7.10am Eurostar from Paris, I counted the passengers in Coach 4: just 24 of us, not even a quarter of the 98 available seats filled.

My one-way ticket cost £75, which is significantly less than the average over the past few months – when Eurostar has been running a skeleton service with often only a handful of passengers, due to severe restrictions in the countries it serves.

Our 186mph train emerged into a frosty Kent with a polite bilingual announcement reminding us to watch for Covid symptoms such as a loss of appetite.

Many travellers have lost their hunger for international journeys over the past two years. Eurostar, like every other operator, is hoping that changes soon – and has been offering £35 tickets to stimulate demand.

Yet on my journey to France, I had to spend a further £30 on a pre-departure test. Much more red tape needs to untangle before international travel begins to look anything like normal.

Simon Calder 11 February 2022 08:21

3 hours ago

What are the new rules for vaccinated travellers?

At 4am today, the UK’s travel rules changed in a major shake-up for holidaymakers.

Complex and hard-to-follow testing rules for return to the UK have been scrapped just in time for half-term - but only for those who have had two doses or more of a vaccine. Measures remain in place for those who have had no jabs, or just one.

So do we still need to register our details online when on a trip, and is there a chance that the rules could change again?

Here’s everything you need to know.

Lucy Thackray 11 February 2022 08:17

3 hours ago

What has changed for travel today?

Since the transport secretary’s original announcement about the change in rules, testing companies have earned an estimated £60m from returning travellers.

The government says a family will typically save £100 on tests when returning to the UK. But overseas holiday destinations have a range of complex rules, often including testing.

Read the full story:

Simon Calder 11 February 2022 07:51

3 hours ago

Good morning

Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s travel liveblog, where we’ll be sharing all the latest news and updates.

Lucy Thackray 11 February 2022 07:44