A UK government minister has told MPs that the hoped-for restart of international travel will not take place, as hoped, on 17 May. At a meeting of the Transport Select Committee, Robert Courts, Aviation Minister, said: “We have laid out how we are going to make progress over the course of the next month, with the report to the prime minister on 12 April, and then looking towards travel at some point after 17 May.”
The government’s roadmap says it ‘will determine when international travel should resume, which will be no earlier than 17 May’. Many travel firms have planned to restart operations on that day.
The Labour MP Ben Bradshaw checked the assertion by Courts, saying: “Minister, you just said ‘at some point after 17 May’. Can you be a bit more specific? Most people are hoping that these stage-posts are not going to be put back by a long time. Are you talking about days, weeks? The industry needs to plan, and consumers need to plan.”
Seychelles to open up for tourists from 25 March
Meanwhile, the Seychelles said that arriving tourists will only need to present a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before departure from 25 March. There will be no quarantine for visitors or restrictions upon movement within the Seychelles. The destination will also no longer be requiring minimum stays in hotels on arrival but visitors will have to follow public health measures such as wearing face masks, social distancing and washing of hands.
Foreign affairs and tourism minister Sylvestre Radegonde said relaxing entry requirements was now possible due to the country’s ‘aggressive vaccination campaign’.
However, visitors from South Africa will still not be permitted to enter the Seychelles ‘until further review’.
German companies allowing business travel
Elsewhere, the number of German companies allowing unlimited business travel has grown in the past two weeks, according to the latest survey of buyer sentiment by the German Business Travel Association.
The VDR survey, carried out every two weeks, shows that 4.2 per cent of companies are now allowing all business travel, up from 2.4 per cent two weeks ago and 1.1 per cent in mid-December. The number of companies not permitting intercontinental business travel has also fallen in the same period, from 32.7 per cent two weeks ago to 23.3 per cent now.
German travel buyers are also becoming more confident about the resumption of business travel. More than a quarter (25.8 per cent) now say they think their company’s internal travel restrictions will be removed by the end of the first half of 2021, up from 20.2 per cent two weeks ago and 17.1 per cent in mid-December.
The research also revealed that 82.2 per cent of companies say their travellers are using cars more often for business trips within Germany.
Australian border ban extended until June
In Australia, the federal government has extended the international border ban until June citing the emergence of more highly transmissible variants of Covid-19 overseas, leaving at least 40,000 Australians stranded. The extension, announced on Tuesday evening, will make it 15 months of Australia’s borders being shut to the rest of the world, and citizens banned from leaving unless they seek an exemption.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the Governor-General had extended the ‘human biosecurity emergency period’, first imposed on 17 March to 17 June to ‘ensure the Australian government has the powers to take any necessary measures to continue to prevent and control Covid-19’.
“The extension of the emergency period is informed by specialist medical and epidemiological advice provided by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee and Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer,” Hunt said in a statement.
So, as some countries begin to tentatively emerge from strict lockdowns, many still remain tightly closed to visitors.