Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Airlines

Airplane Wastewater Study Reveals UK Travel Restrictions Didn’t Halt Covid Spread

3 days ago

A laboratory study has cast doubt on the effectiveness of the UK’s travel restrictions last year.

Scientists at Bangor University in Wales tested wastewater on planes to monitor coronavirus infections and the general health of passengers coming into the UK from other countries.

Almost all aircraft arriving at the three monitored UK airports (Heathrow, Edinburgh and Bristol) between March 8 and March 31, 2022 had the virus in their wastewater, according to the study, published in medical journal PLOS Global Public Health.

“Despite all the intervention measures that the UK had in place to try to stop people with the illness getting on flights to the UK, almost every single plane we tested contained the virus, and most of the terminal sewers, too,” said professor David Jones of Bangor University’s School of Natural Sciences, reported Lab Manager.

“That might have been because people developed symptoms after testing negative, or were evading the system, or for some other reason. But it showed that there was essentially a failure of border control in terms of Covid surveillance.”

Wastewater sampling has been cited as a better method to monitor travelers coming from China, rather than requiring negative pre-departure Covid tests. Airports Council International Europe has argued this can shift the focus to genomic sequencing to identify new variants.

The British government spent around $585 million on implementing a traffic light system as part of its wider response to manage travel during the Covid-19 pandemic, but a Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons review in July last year found that it was unable to tell if it worked, or whether the cost was worth the disruption caused.

A review into Canada’s travel restrictions imposed during the pandemic also claimed they did little to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Bangor University helped track the spread of Covid in early 2020 by testing wastewater in major cities. Scientists at the university hope wastewater sampling will extend beyond coronavirus, allowing the UK government to establish an “infectious disease transmission surveillance network” for any future viruses, Lab Manager also reported.

Tourism

Qatar Will Allow Ticketless Fans to Enter the Country From December 2

3 months ago

Qatar will allow visitors without football World Cup tickets to enter the country from December 2 after the group stage matches end.

However, even as a match ticket will no longer be mandatory for inbound arrivals to Qatar, visitors will still need to furnish a Hayya Card before traveling, organizers said.

The Hayya Card is an ID that serves as an entry permit to Qatar and also provides stadium access along with the match tickets.

Earlier, Qatar had made Hayya Card mandatory for those wanting to enter Qatar from November 1. 

As it gets set to host the most geographically-compact football World Cup from November 20, Qatar has been easing entry restrictions into the country.

Last month, Qatar announced that it would drop the requirement of a pre-arrival negative polymerase chain reaction test from November 1.

Expecting congested roads during the World Cup, officials had earlier warned that managing four soccer games a day in Doha will be a challenge.

Tourism

Qatar Drops Pre-Arrival Covid Test Requirement Right in Time for World Cup

3 months ago

Qatar will be dropping its requirement of a pre-arrival negative polymerase chain reaction test from November 1, just in time for the FIFA World Cup that kicks off from November 20.

Qatari citizens and residents coming into the country will also not be required to undergo a rapid antigen or polymerase chain reaction test within 24 hours of arrival.

Visitors entering Qatar from November 1 onwards would also not be required to pre-register on the Ehteraz health application. Registration on the Ehteraz app would only be needed to enter healthcare facilities.

The Ministry of Public Health made the announcement on Wednesday, in light of the continuing decline in the number of Covid-19 cases throughout the world and in Qatar. 

Last month, the government had said in a statement that Covid vaccination would not be mandatory football fans coming in to the country for the World Cup.

From this month onwards, masks are also not mandatory while travelling on public transport in Qatar and it was announced that masks would be optional at the eight World Cup stadiums.

However, all visitors would need a Hayya Card to enter Qatar from November 1. The Hayya Card is a mandatory document given to anyone attending the World Cup that serves as an entry permit to the Qatar and also provides stadium access along with the match tickets.

Tourism

Hong Kong to End Hotel Quarantine From September 26

4 months ago

Inbound arrivals to Hong Kong will not be required to undergo mandatory hotel quarantine from September 26.

Chief Executive John Lee made an announcement on Friday marking an end to some of the strictest restrictions imposed by a country during the pandemic.

Hong Kong has also replaced the requirement of a pre-arrival polymerase chain reaction test with a rapid antigen test taken within 24 hours of departure.

Inbound arrivals would still need to take a test at the airport but unlike earlier where they had to wait for the results, this would be more of a test-and-go measure and travelers would also be able to take public transport from the airport.

However, they would be required to self-monitor at home for three days and would not be able to dine in at restaurants and visit bars. On days 4 and 6, travellers would need to take mandatory polymerase chain reaction tests.

One of the last few destinations that still follows a stringent Covid policy for inbound arrivals, Hong Kong has been progressively easing restrictions, the pace of which quickened after Lee took charge as the city chief.

Daily Covid cases in Hong have now fallen below 6000.

Lo Chung-mau, the city’s health chief, mentioned that the shortening of the quarantine period in August to three days in a hotel and four at home had resulted in a 20 percent increase in inbound arrivals.

However, speaking at an aviation conference in Qatar on Wednesday, Willie Walsh, director general of International Air Transport Association, said that the stringent Covid policies have resulted in Hong Kong losing its position as a global aviation hub.

A once-vibrant financial hub of Asia, pressure had been mounting on the Hong Kong government to fully reopen its international borders. 

On Thursday, Japan announced its decision to reopen to mass tourism from next month. Asian destinations will surely be competing with each other to bring back tourists into the country and help resurrect the economy.

Tourism

South Korea to Lift Pre-Arrival Testing for Inbound Travelers This Week

5 months ago

South Korea will be lifting its requirement for a pre-arrival Covid test to enter the country from Saturday, according to local media reports.

The scrapping of pre-arrival tests would be for all arrivals into South Korea, regardless of their vaccination status or the country of departure. However, incoming travelers would still need to take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) within 24 hours of their arrival into the country.

Currently, all inbound travelers to South Korea are required to submit the results of a polymerase chain reaction test taken within two days of traveling to the country or a rapid test taken within 24 hours. After arriving into the country, travelers are required to undergo a polymerase chain reaction test within 24 hours.

On Monday, South Korea’s advisory committee on infectious diseases, under the office of the prime minister, had advised the government to lift the mandatory pre-travel polymerase chain reaction test for inbound travelers.

“All inbound travelers, whether nationals or foreigners, arriving aboard a plane or ship will not need to hand in a negative polymerase chain reaction test starting midnight of September 3,” second vice health minister, Lee Ki-il, was quoted saying in a virus response meeting.

Japan and South Korea are some of the few countries that still ask for a pre-arrival Covid test from incoming travelers. Last week, Japan announced it would waive pre-departure Covid-19 tests for vaccinated travelers from September 7.

On Wednesday, South Korea reported around 104,000 new Covid cases, which brings the country’s total tally up to more than 23 million.

Filters

Tags

pcr-tests

Clear Filters