BREAKING: Travel corridors ditched, BA’s dry January, & Shapps says what we were all thinking

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British Airways dry January – the “Detox Festival”

Yesterday I wrote that BA had stopped serving alcohol in their UK lounges due to a change in the rules. This appears to have affected any airside food and beverage retailers, not just lounges. World Duty-free are still selling alcohol according to their website, but you can’t buy anything from WDF except food and drink without pre-ordering it due to the regulations. 

In the lounges, British Airways is having a “Detox Festival” promotion during the ban on alcohol. That’s the first time I have heard Dry January called a festival! I actually think they have done a great job with this and hope they would actually keep quite a few of the selections after the ban ends. As regular readers will know, I definitely enjoy a drink (or 3!) but there are times when you want to have a non-alcoholic drink and there is little to choose from apart from water, coke, or long-life juices. Qatar excels at this for obvious reasons with their lemon mit drink. mocktails and sparkling wine substitute So Jennie (if you like this I can recommend Freixenet 0% Rose which is less sweet and I think better at around £5 a bottle from Ocado). 

Here is the full menu of drinks available currently:

Jukes is the wine substitute invented by wine critic Matthew Dukes. I have yet to try it but I’m tempted to order some using the discount code for BA Executive Club members which is code BA15 at the checkout to redeem. It’s valid on purchases made before 23:59 GMT on 14 February 2021. You can find Jukes here. 

Alcohol is still being served on board and I would expect the lounges to start serving alcohol again at the end of lockdown. 

 

Shapps says what we were all thinking – don’t ask him for travel advice!

Grant Shapps

Grant Shapps, the UK Transport Minister has been doing the rounds of interviews today and as usual avoiding answering any difficult questions. Sadly he made something of a faux ps when he commented on BBC Radio 4

“Don’t take travel advice from me”

He also told LBC: “Don’t take advice from me on where to book your holidays, that’s all I’m saying.” Given the lack of action and general ineptitude of the government to do what was needed for travel at the correct times, I think we can all agree with his statements. Sadly he actually meant that he chose to go to Spain just before they took it off the corridor list and had to fly back early. (

Given that the travel industry is on its last legs I also don’t think he should have said that he would not book a holiday “right now”. Given that you can now book up to January 2022 or further that’s a very negative statement and not what the travel industry needs. 

He did at least say there was some hope with the vaccination program. Mr Shapps has also tried to defend the shambles of the introduction of testing for UK arrivals due to the fact that “There are 200 countries and territories in the world and they are all using different types of tests,”  “We needed to check them all in order to inform people which ones will be adequate to meet our very exacting standards.” This could have easily been solved by an exemption for rapid testing on arrival for countries where there could be an issue until they had enough information to do it properly. Yes its not perfect but it would have been a hassle-free way to start the program quickly. I also find it hard to believe that they had not prepared something for this eventually long ago in case it was needed. 

On social media, there are calls for borders to the UK to be shut completely. I don’t actually believe this is necessary in terms of controlling cases, but the new variants are definitely something we need to stop the import of until we understand them more. He gave a very interesting statistic that backs up what I have been telling people, the current high rates of infection, have absolutely nothing to do with travel. Initially, in early 2020, it was the cause of introducing coronavirus into the UK because we did not do anything to protect our borders. Shapps has now revealed that 0.001% of COVID cases in the last month were from travellers. 

Shapps also was talking about quarantine as the primary tool to stop importing COVID. He said that “quarantine is 100%” because people can’t pass on the disease. I do wonder what reality he is living in? Someone coming from a country that requires quarantine could take the test 72 hours before, then go on to have covid, spread it to people on public transport as they go home. Then break quarantine which is not strictly monitored, unlike many other countries. Unless we go down the route of quarantine hotels or properly checking, I can’t see how he can state this. 

 

Travel corridors ditched

Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5C

Despite the fact that rates here are topping 550/100,000 and we are not allowed to travel anyway, the government have still been fiddling about with the travel corridor list. The Azores, Chile, and Madeira were removed from the travel corridors exempt list from 4am Friday 15 January. It was also announced that Aruba, Qatar and Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba would be removed from the list from 4am Sat 16 January. 

Then less than 24 hours later, they changed their minds again and announced at 5pm that they will be closing all travel corridors from 0400 from Monday 18th, when testing comes into force. Boris did say this was temporary, but it is not what the airlines and travel companies need right now, causing more uncertainties for people looking to book later in the year. This will initially happen for a month, although it will be kept under review and could be extended.

Anyone arriving in the UK must quarantine for 10 days or they have the choice of doing an extra test on day five to shorten the isolation.

Currently, we can’t travel so it makes little difference, but it is still concerning that there is a constant flip-flopping of policy from one day to the next without any coherent planning. Rather than keeping changing things which is confusing for people, and given the new variants, I personally think they should have just removed them earlier for the period of lockdown and keep things simple. 

 

 

2 Comments on "BREAKING: Travel corridors ditched, BA’s dry January, & Shapps says what we were all thinking"

  1. The travel corridors should have been shut before Christmas. Pure and simple. The less well informed who went abroad for Christmas and New Year, mixed with other foreign nationals and then returned to the UK, unchecked via these ridiculous corridors. At last (despite the insistence of some that travel makes no difference – how did it get here then??) and very belatedly, it appears that travel DOES make a difference and you will have to take a test and quarantine when you enter the UK. I think most people would agree with this stance once they have had a close family member affected by C19 or if they are NHS staff who see the impact of this virus daily. The frightened look on patients faces as they struggle for each breath. It’s a sobering job we go to each day.

    • I don’t think anyone is saying that travel has not been an issue in the pandemic (apart from maybe the government defending why they were one of the only countries in the world to not close their borders). We all know that’s how it ended up in the UK since the government did not act when it was needed. That was a year ago now though.

      Up until the last month or so, studies including that from the European Centre for Disease, have found that once COVID is endemic in a country, travel makes little or no difference in case numbers. The current situation in the UK, has absolutely nothing to do with travellers going abroad for Xmas. The new Kent variant was rife in London and the South East long before then and numbers were growing even in the last lockdown when travel was banned. The latest statistics show that 0.001% of cases in the last month were related to travel. Many countries that Brits were travelling to such as those in the Caribbean have far lower rates than here. Until recently Barbados was almost COVID free. As I am sure you know, the issue is new variants in S America and Africa which we don’t know if the vaccines will be effective against and they also appear to be more contagious. So the government have acted to stop any new variants getting into the country by introducing quarantine for all arrivals as well as testing. It is a very difficult moment for the travel industry but obviously, at the moment it is necessary. Yes, we all know that the NHS do an amazing job and the current situation is horrifying. I have had a good friend end up in ICU, I’m classed as extremely vulnerable, so I’m very much not a COVID denier. However, I do not think we should not be stating things that are factually incorrect about travel and demonising people that have travelled within allowed guidelines. People travel for lots of reasons other than holidays.

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