US considers lifting travel ban for Britons

Greg Dickinson
·23-min read
The United States could soon open its doors to European travellers - Getty
The United States could soon open its doors to European travellers - Getty

The White House is considering lifting its entry bans for non-US citizens who have recently been in Brazil, Britain, Ireland and 26 other EU countries.

The Trump administration imposed the bans earlier in 2020 in a bid to contain Covid-19. There are, however, some exceptions to the travel ban, to allow in travellers from Europe related to "humanitarian travel, public health response, and national security".

The White House is not considering lifting its ban on non-US citizens who have recently been to China or Iran, according to officials.

The plan has won the backing of the White House Coronavirus taskforce, as well as public health officials and other federal agencies.

As it stands, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advises against all non-essential travel to the United States, but the UK Government is reportedly considering a business travel corridor to kickstart travel between London and New York City.

Scroll down for more updates.

05:01 PM

What happened today?

These were the main travel headlines: 

  • Cruises given green light if companies agree to pay for repatriations 

  • Test for Release benefits holidaymakers returning on December 10

  • Reopening of French ski resorts ‘impossible’ before Christmas

  • Christmas rules likely to be tightened in Scotland

  • Package holidays 'as much as £400 cheaper' than DIY trips ​

Catch-up with the rest below.

04:53 PM

Dream trips for 2021: 20 holidays to make you happier

In the idler hours of this year, maybe you have had a think about your travels, writes Sarah Baxter.

She suggests 20 options for more interesting, more authentic and more regenerative experiences, from snorkeling in the Seychelles to hiking in Nepal.

snorkeling seychelles - Lucy Martin
snorkeling seychelles - Lucy Martin

04:41 PM

Would-be holidaymakers fined after repeated attempts to cross channel

More than 40 people have been hit with fines after trying to cross the Channel since the weekend.

Many admitted they were going on holiday and tried to get to France even after being stopped by police.

Among those fined were two men and two women from Barnsley, two men and a woman from Ipswich, a man from Preston, a man from Welling and several people from London, Coventry and Essex, Kent Police confirmed.

Assistant Chief Constable Claire Nix said: "It is very worrying that despite the well-publicised national restrictions and advice, some people still aren't getting the message.

"Unless you have to travel for work or have a legitimate reason to be arriving at the Port of Dover or the Channel Tunnel, our officers will turn you away."

04:39 PM

Emirates offers free stays at Dubai hotel

Craving a little winter sun? Well, the UAE is a travel corridor with the UK and the advisory against international travel will lift on December 3. Now, for a little extra incentive, Emirates, is offering a free night at the JW Marriot Marquis Dubai, one of the world’s tallest 5-star hotels.

dubai - Getty
dubai - Getty

To be eligible, you must book economy tickets to Dubai from December 2-23, for travel between December 6 and February 28, 2021.

Travellers booked in first and business class will receive two complimentary nights’ stay from the day of arrival. More information here.

04:25 PM

Few Britons understand post-Brexit travel rules, poll suggests

Most UK travellers do not understand how rule changes will affect trips to the EU and Ireland after December 31, according to a poll. 

Up to 94 per cent of consumers were unaware of changes the changes to EU travel in 2021 and 97 per cent didn't understand the changes that would apply for travel to the Republic of Ireland, the research by Discover Ferries revealed. Findings from the poll of over 2,000 responded included:

  • 54 per cent were not aware they need at least six months validity on their passports for EU travel

  • 27 per cent thought they'd a travel visa when visiting the EU, which is unnecessary for stays of less than 90 days

  • 31 per cent believed they would need to update their European Health Insurance Card (this will no longer be available to UK citizens)

04:09 PM

American tourist apologises for being 'an asshole' after stealing marble fragment from Rome

A guilt-stricken American tourist who stole a chunk of ancient marble from Rome three years ago has sent it back, asking forgiveness “for being such an American asshole," reports Nick Squires.

Roman Forum -  Andrew Medichini /AP
Roman Forum - Andrew Medichini /AP

The young woman, identified only as Jess, pilfered the piece of marble while on holiday in Rome in 2017.

She thought it would make a good present for her boyfriend, and scrawled “To Sam, love Jess, Rome” on it with a marker pen.

But on reflection she realised she should not have taken the object, which is believed to have come from the Roman Forum, once the heart of the Roman Empire.

She packed the marble in scrunched-up paper, placed it in a cardboard box and sent it from Atlanta, Georgia, to the Museo Nazionale Romano, a museum located a few paces from the imposing remains of huge public baths built by the Emperor Diocletian.

Read the full story.

03:47 PM

'A gunshot to an already dying sector'

Bar and pub owners across the country have reacted with fury to the news that Christmas bubbles will not be allowed to meet in pubs, bars or restaurants over the festive period.

While the Government has allowed the mixing of three households over the Christmas period (December 23 to 27), these newly formed bubbles will not be allowed to go to the pub for a Christmas Eve pint. 

Restrictions covering meetings inside hospitality settings will instead depend on what tier of restrictions in England a venue is in, and the rule of six will still apply. Many business owners have pointed out the apparent irrationality of this, with those within Christmas bubbles being able to visit each other's homes and stay overnight during that period, regardless of the tier.

Emma Cooke has this story.

03:21 PM

Comment: The Government's hollow 'plan' to restart cruising is an insult to millions of Britons

We need real experts to take the helm of cruise recovery – not the Government, writes Jane Archer:

I take my hat off to the Government. No, really. After months of deliberating, cogitating and digesting, the Global Travel Taskforce led by that tiresome Grant Shapps/Matt Hancock double act, have come up with a solution to the restart of cruise in the UK. Drum roll please.

Their clear and insightful conclusion is: The restart can happen. Sometime. I kid you not. The report did manage to spin cruising out to several pages, but frankly the words were as hollow as a rotten tree and twice as useless.

"The [cruise] sector has developed and published its Covid-19 Framework." We know that. "The sector now feels ready to restart.” We know that too. It’s something to do with having the framework in place. "It’s critical that we proceed cautiously as we consider when it is safe to restart cruise." No one would argue with cautious but progress in the UK has been glacial, despite seeing cruise lines sailing successfully in Europe this summer.

What really takes the biscuit, is that the report on the one hand recognises cruise lines need for clarity on the conditions for a restart, but then fails to give any.

Read Jane's comment in full.

02:54 PM

Flight searches spiked by 40 per cent following quarantine announcement

Skyscanner saw a 40 per cent increase in flight searches on Tuesday compared to a week earlier, following the announcement that quarantine for UK travellers returning from high-risk countries will be slashed from 14 days to 5 (with a negative Covid test) from December 15.

There was also a surge in interest for Dubai, which is currently trending as the top spot on Skyscanner’s winter sun searches rankings.

The United Arab Emirates are on the UK's travel corridor list and Dubai is currently proving 60 per cent more popular in searches volumes than the second most searched destination of Tenerife.

Jo McClintock, brand director at Skyscanner, said:

As we’ve seen with the vaccine news and the positive impact it's had on travel bookings, there is a real appetite for post lockdown holidaymakers to get out and explore, as soon as they can and it’s safe to do so. Now the amount of time travellers have to quarantine on return to the UK is significantly reduced, we would expect to see a direct impact on traveller confidence resulting in an uptick in searches and bookings on Skyscanner.

As well as flexibility around destinations, we’re increasingly seeing travellers wait until the last minute to book their flights and opting for flexible ticket options in order to continue to travel in the current climate with peace of mind. 

02:41 PM

How Pan Am's revolutionary plane food changed American dining forever

There's an unexpected historic significance to in-flight meals and its charted in a new book, explains Tomé Morrissy-Swan, who's spoken to its author, Dr Bryce Evans:

An onboard menu for Pan Am - Getty
An onboard menu for Pan Am - Getty

The postwar period saw the US rise to global predominance, an age of globalisation, of an identikit Western culture. It was the ‘American century’, and Pan Am was crucial in its development. “I think it’s one of the primary vehicles of transnationalism, for better and for worse,” says Evans.

It symbolised – pushed – American consumer capitalism by opening up new regions to American tourism, and played a role in the rise of a global cuisine. It is notable that Pan Am’s era of dominance (it went bust in 1991) ran almost entirely alongside the Cold War. 

Read the full story.

02:24 PM

In pictures: America prepares for Thanksgiving

Americans are getting ready for the Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow with many taking trips across the country to see friends and family.

Three million people were reported to have travelled through US airports from Friday to Sunday, the highest number since mid-March.

However, health officials in the US have urged people to avoid travel over the annual break. 

macy's new york city - Getty
macy's new york city - Getty
chicago roads - Reuters
chicago roads - Reuters
family hugging - Reuters
family hugging - Reuters

02:04 PM

Emirates has paid £1.3 billion in customer refunds due to Covid travel disruption

Emirates has cleared the backlog of refund requests that had built up since April and the airline has now repaid AED 6.3 billion (£1.3 billion) to its customers.

Of the total repaid, AED 4.7 billion was to customers who had booked directly with the airline, and the rest was refunded via travel agencies. The carrier said it had managed more than 130,000 refund-related queries from customers and travel agents, and made status changes to nearly four million flight coupons.

Sir Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline, said: "In the early months of 2020, Covid-19 massively disrupted travel around the world and led to an unprecedented volume of refunds requests across the aviation and travel industry, including at Emirates.

"It was not a situation any airline wanted, particularly while also facing a cash crunch from drastically reduced operations. Through those difficult months, as we dealt with the impact of the pandemic on our business, we’ve never lost sight of our commitment to our customers."

01:56 PM

Coronavirus Christmas rules likely to be tightened in Scotland, says Sturgeon

Rules allowing people to meet up at Christmas in Scotland are likely to be tightened when they are set out on Thursday, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The UK Government and devolved administrations have agreed a joint plan to relax social distancing rules over the festive period, allowing three households to mix from December 23 to 27.

During her daily Covid-19 briefing on Wednesday, Ms Sturgeon said guidance about the festive period to be issued on Thursday is still being finalised.

She said: "The expectation should be that the guidance will probably look to tighten around the edges rather than further expand and that will be true with the travel window of opportunity as well - we want to limit that window, not expand it."

01:37 PM

Having visited half the world, our writer reveals the greatest country of all

It shocks you, and shakes you, unlike almost every other country on the planet, before then rewarding you.

​Find out Simon Parker's favourite country, here.

01:27 PM

A blanket ban on Christmas skiing isn't just disastrous – it's delusional

"I remember vividly where I was when I received the news that Italy’s ski resorts would be closing to help curb the spread of coronavirus, back in early March: I was doing my weekly food shop," writes Lucy Aspden.

"At that point, between the fruit and veg aisle and the butcher’s counter, and while the shelves were still stocked high with toilet paper, I had no idea that the rest of the world would follow suit, the ski season would effectively be over, and life as we knew it would be thrown into turmoil."

Ski resorts in Europe could remain empty throughout the lucrative Christmas period - Getty
Ski resorts in Europe could remain empty throughout the lucrative Christmas period - Getty

"A lot has changed since then – and yes, many people face far greater hardships than the loss of a ski trip – but to hear that resorts will again remain shut is even more devastating now than it was back in March."

Read Lucy Aspden's comment piece, here.

01:05 PM

Package holidays 'as much as £400 cheaper' than DIY trips

Savvy travellers looking for the best value should opt for package holidays, which can work out to be more than £400 cheaper than their DIY equivalents, a study has found.

Not only do they end up paying more, but holidaymakers who have booked flights and accommodation independently are far less likely to get a refund if their plans are affected by coronavirus, according to research by Which? Travel.

​Tom Mulvihill has the report

12:53 PM

U.S. surpasses 2,000 Covid deaths in a day with hospitals already full

Daily U.S. deaths from Covid-19 surpassed 2,000 for the first since May and with hospitals across the country already full, portending a surge in mortalities to come as the coronavirus pandemic casts a shadow over the holiday season.

The death toll reached 2,157 on Tuesday - one person every 40 seconds - with another 170,000 people infected, numbers that experts say could grow with millions of Americans defying official warnings and travelling for Thursday's Thanksgiving holiday. 

U.S. hospitalisations for Covid-19 surpassed 87,000 on Tuesday, an all-time high, while 30 of the 50 states reported a record number of virus related hospitalisations this month.  

Since the global pandemic began, the U.S. totals of nearly 260,000 deaths and 12.6 million infections lead the world and "all the Thanksgiving travel ensures no one will catch us, either," said Dr. Tatiana Prowell of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

12:52 PM

Sandi Toksvig: 'In Sudan, I slept under armed guard inside a shipping container'

The broadcaster talks about living the Danish dream, navigating complicated trips and canoeing with crocs.

Sandi Toksvig has enjoyed some remarkable adventures 
Sandi Toksvig has enjoyed some remarkable adventures

 Read the interview, here.

12:33 PM

Dissent is growing in South Africa over corruption, job losses and bizarre rules

South Africans’ experience of coronavirus has jolted from decisive action to rebellious outbursts to the downright bizarre and disillusioning, writes Jamie Dickenson.

South African taxi operators strike over Covid-19 relief funding  - Getty
South African taxi operators strike over Covid-19 relief funding - Getty

Read his report, here.

12:20 PM

Business travellers and ‘tour bubbles’ could be exempt from quarantine

The Government is planning to make business travellers and foreign tour groups exempt from quarantine measures by early 2021, according to reports.

The Global Travel Taskforce, headed up by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Health Secretary Matt Hancock, is considering a policy whereby business travellers visiting the UK for up to three days will be able to forego self-isolation.

However, it is understood that these visitors would be prevented from socialising, or any other “non-business related activity”.

The taskforce is also considering “tour bubbles”, allowing groups of inbound tourists to avoid quarantine so long as they avoid public transport and stay together during the trip, in what could be a major boost for the UK's tourism sector.

This comes a day after Grant Shapps announced quarantine would be reduced from 14 days to 5, if you take a test on the fifth day after arrival into the UK.

11:53 AM

Scientists warn of third wave risk over Christmas bubble plan

Easing coronavirus restrictions over Christmas could lead to a third wave of the pandemic and another lockdown, scientists have warned. 

Boris Johnson urged the public to "think carefully" over the festive period after it was confirmed that three households will be able to mix from December 23 to 27.

Professor Graham Medley, an expert in infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine told BBC Radio 4's Today programme:  "I think we're in a process now whereby the population's risk of filling up the NHS is really being passed down to us as individuals

Andrew Hayward, professor of infectious diseases epidemiology at University College London, warned easing measures would lead to increased transmission and a possible "third wave" of infection.

"Effectively what this will be doing is throwing fuel on the Covid fire," the professor, who is also a Sage member, told BBC2's Newsnight on Tuesday.

11:11 AM

Mass testing at airports is "well overdue in the UK"

Andrea Bertoli, Managing Director, lastminute.com, has told Telegraph Travel:

"Mass testing at airports is well overdue in the UK. It should have come in well before the summer of chaos and uncertainty which defined 2020.  Until the vaccine is rolled out on a national scale, which will take a few months, testing is still people’s best bet for avoiding lengthy quarantines. We've been calling for more testing support from the government since March to no avail, so we welcome any efforts to strengthen testing capabilities at airports and we are exploring options with our partners."

11:02 AM

Ryanair boss says nervous 737 MAX fliers will be allowed to disembark and change planes

Michael O'Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, has promised to give passengers the chance to disembark the 737 MAX before takeoff, and find them another flight, if they feel nervous about the jet’s safety record, writes Oliver Smith

Michael O'Leary
Michael O'Leary

The model has been given the green light to return to the sky after it was grounded last year following two fatal crashes in six months. With Ryanair having ordered 135 of them, Michael O’Leary said he has no concerns. However, Telegraph Travel readers have expressed reticence to step on board the aircraft, with a poll suggesting 43% would avoid doing so. In response, O’Leary promised that worried passengers would be transferred free of charge to another available flight if they turn up at the airport to find they are flying on a MAX (now rebranded the 737-8200). 

Read the full story.

10:47 AM

Which tier could my area be in? Use our Covid postcode search for latest infection rates

On December 2, England will emerge from its month-long lockdown and return to a three-tier system. 

As previously, the country will be divided into tiers of  "medium" (Tier 1), "high" (Tier 2) and "very high" (Tier 3) risk areas. 

The Government will decide which tier each region is placed in after Dec 2 based on "the number of cases" in each area, but particularly the numbers of people aged over 60 testing positive for the virus, according to the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

Map of UK's seven-day Covid-19 infection rate, by local authority
Map of UK's seven-day Covid-19 infection rate, by local authority

Details of the preliminary tier allocations are expected on Nov 26. The tiers will be reassessed every fortnight. 

Currently, the tiers are suspended as a national lockdown is in place. Use our postcode search for the latest on infection rates in your area. This data will update as the Government feeds through the latest numbers. 

Find out what tier your area could be in, here.

10:27 AM

What the revised tier rules mean for hotel stays in Britain

Tier 1

Hotels will be able to reopen for leisure purposes. The 'rule of six' applies, so you can stay overnight with a group of up to six people. 

Tier 2

All businesses and venues not currently shut are ‘expected to stay open’ – so it is likely that hotels can reopen for leisure purposes.

Tier 3

Hotels will remain shut unless it’s for ‘essential’ purposes, such as business. Travel in and out of a tier-three area should be avoided, and pubs and bars must close completely there. 

Here is everything you need to know about hotel stays after lockdown.

10:02 AM

Reopening of French ski resorts ‘impossible’ before Christmas, warns Macron

Ski resorts in France will likely not reopen this year, despite the country's imminent easing of lockdown rules. 

President Macron explained in a televised address on Tuesday evening: “The Government has held talks with the industry, but it seems impossible to consider reopening for the year-end festivities.”

Chairlifts and slopes in France will likely remain empty until 2021
Chairlifts and slopes in France will likely remain empty until 2021

In the same announcement, the President revealed a staged plan, starting this weekend, that will ease the lockdown restrictions that have been in place throughout France in November. However, the phased approach will likely force ski resorts to postpone their plans until next year, though an official announcement is yet to be made.

Read the full report here.

09:40 AM

'This new '5-day quarantine' is all smoke and mirrors – we're as grounded as we were before'

It should have been a day for celebration. We should have heard suitcases slamming shut across the land, and a symphony of party poppers coming from travel agents and tour operators, writes Greg Dickinson.

But there’s a pretty substantial snag. The Government has not aligned the ‘Test to Release’ scheme with an update to its official travel advice. This means that much of the world remains off-limits in the eyes of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) – if you go to a red-listed country, your travel insurance (vital in 2020, and indeed going into 2021) will very likely be invalidated.

Read his comment piece, here.

09:17 AM

Test for Release benefits holidaymakers returning on December 10

The Government's new 'Test for Release' scheme comes into effect on December 15, but Telegraph Travel has learnt that it will benefit anyone arriving into the country from December 10.

The Department for Transport confirmed that anyone who is on day five of quarantine on December 15 will be able to take a test from a designated testing clinic on that day (the list of approved companies is to be confirmed) – if they prove negative, usually within 24 to 48 hours, they will be able to leave quarantine.

This means that people can already start making the most of Test for Release's reduced quarantine if they go on a two-week holiday to a 'high-risk' destination on this Thursday November 26, arriving back on December 10.

09:00 AM

Tokyo tightens measures after new Covid spike

Tokyo is urging bars and restaurants to operate shorter working hours, and is asking residents to stay indoors as much as possible amid a spike of Covid-19 cases, Tokyo's governor said today.

Measures are tightening in the Japanese capital
Measures are tightening in the Japanese capital

The curbs come as Japan sees its highest surge in infections to date, with daily tallies exceeding 500 in Tokyo, where serious cases stood at 51 on Tuesday. This is the highest number since the state of emergency was lifted in May.

08:53 AM

Boom for private jet travel

Adam Twidell, CEO of private jet booking service PrivateFly, responded to the news that quarantine will be reduced from 14 days down to 5:

“The increased clarity around the relaxing of quarantine restrictions is welcome news indeed for the whole travel industry. And we are seeing an immediate impact: this news, combined with the end of lockdown; and the anticipation of festive family gatherings, is driving an increase in enquiries and bookings for private jet travel in the second half of December.

Reduced quarantine, paired with the end of lockdown, have prompted a spike in enquiries for private jet companies
Reduced quarantine, paired with the end of lockdown, have prompted a spike in enquiries for private jet companies

“Since the Prime Minister's announcement yesterday, we have seen enquiries for December flights increase by 120%, compared to the previous 24 hours. Clients include those looking to unite with relatives abroad for the festive period, or to bring relatives to the UK.  

"Travel confidence is increasing, with other clients now making plans to visit second homes in France or Spain; for ski holidays; or for winter sun in Dubai and the Caribbean. And they are looking for the safest way to get there with their families. We fully expect demand to continue to rise in the coming days. "

08:44 AM

Cruises given green light if companies agree to pay for Covid outbreak repatriations

The Government has given cruises the green light to restart once companies agree to pick up the bill if passengers have to be repatriated because of a Covid outbreak, writes Charles Hymas.

The cruise industry has been in suspended animation since July, when the Foreign Office issued blanket advice against all cruise ship travel following a string of Covid outbreaks around the world.

The advice has made it impossible for travellers to get holiday insurance and effectively halted a sector which the industry estimates to be worth almost £10 billion to the UK economy.

P&O Cruises has cancelled sailings until at least April
P&O Cruises has cancelled sailings until at least April

In an interview with The Telegraph, Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, said the cruise sector had worked "very, very hard" to guarantee Covid-secure travel but added that, for the final clearance, the Government wanted reassurance that it would pick up the cost of repatriation.

The Foreign Office had to spend around £6 million flying hundreds of passengers stranded after cruise ships were hit by Covid outbreaks, trapping many in quarantine on the quayside.

Read the full report here.

08:36 AM

Three households can meet for five days at Christmas as Covid restrictions eased

Families will be able to meet with two other households for five days at Christmas under a deal struck by the Government with the devolved nations.

From December 23 to 27, Covid restrictions on household mixing will be lifted in all four home nations, allowing three households to form a Christmas "bubble" together.

Boris Johnson had originally hoped to allow families to get together for a week but had to water down the plan following opposition from leaders in Scotland and Wales, The Telegraph understands.

08:34 AM

What the 'Test for Release' scheme means for your next holiday

British holidaymakers returning from high-risk countries will see their quarantine period cut by from 14 days to five, following yesterday's announcement from Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

This opens up a numbers of questions for people hoping to get away this winter. How does the testing process work? What does this mean for family members flying into the UK for Christmas? How do the timings work if you travel before the cut-off date, but arrive after? Can you go on an overseas holiday if you live in 'Tier Three'?

We answer all of these questions, here.

08:23 AM

A re-cap of yesterday's top stories

What did we learn yesterday?

  • Travel bosses welcome testing plan to cut quarantine period to five days

  • Wizz Air to offer discounted Covid-19 tests and 'fit to fly' certificates

  • Qantas will require passengers to be vaccinated for international flights

  • Australia opens up more borders, boosting domestic travel

  • International trips will not be illegal for people living in Tier 3

Now, on with today's news.