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A law firm representing travellers affected by the UK’s quarantine hotel policy says it has issued court proceedings against the Government, and slammed the current system as an “unlawful deprivation of liberty”.
London-based PGMBM has previously sought a judicial review of the blanket approach to regulations, which require all travellers coming from a red list country to spend 11 nights in a quarantine hotel at a cost of £2,285 – even if they are fully vaccinated and test negative for Covid.
Tom Goodhead, managing partner at PGMBM, said: “It’s disappointing that the government hasn’t yet realised that this policy is a fundamental breach of people’s human rights.
“Law abiding citizens who have been double vaccinated should be free from quarantine. The idea that they need to pay for the privilege of their own imprisonment is outrageous.”
He added: “The people that are contacting us for help every day are not reckless globetrotters. They are typically people who have been forced to travel to care for relatives or attend funerals of their parents or siblings.”
Scroll down for more of today’s travel news.
Covid headlines around the world
- The southeastern province of Fujian, China, has locked down after reporting just 22 new Covid cases. Schools have been closed and anyone leaving the area must have proof of a negative test in the previous 48 hours. Bus and train services are suspended; and cinemas, bars and other facilities are closed.
Chancellor Angela Merkel implored Germany to make use of a week-long vaccination campaign in which people can get a free jab at mosques, shops and football pitches. Merkel said while it was good that 62% are fully vaccinated, case numbers were rising and most people who are hospitalised are not vaccinated.
US health officials believe that the Pfizer vaccine could be authorised for children aged 5-11 years old by the end of October, two sources familiar with the situation have said.
Borneo orangutans tested for virus
Dozens of critically endangered orangutans in Malaysia have been tested for the coronavirus, with vets in protective suits undertaking the tricky task of giving the apes nasal swabs.
The antigen tests on 30 of the animals in Borneo were conducted last Tuesday, and all came back negative, wildlife officials said.
They were the first virus tests on orangutans in the Southeast Asian country, and were ordered after staff at a rehabilitation centre and wildlife park became infected.
“Testing for Covid-19 has been a vital tool in helping us get through this pandemic, and it is similarly important for this orangutan population,” said Sen Nathan, assistant director of the Sabah Wildlife Department. “The disease could prove vastly detrimental to their health and set back their rehabilitation.”
Vets will continue to closely monitor the apes and tests will be conducted regularly, officials said.
Fines of up to £10,000 for Covid travel test ‘cowboys’
Companies “messing around with costs” of PCR tests for holidaymakers will face fines of up to £10,000, Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said, following a review by the UK competition regulator:
It is completely unacceptable for any private testing company to take advantage of holidaymakers and we are taking action to clamp down on cowboy behaviour.
Through our regular reviews and spot-checks, we have identified even more providers that were messing around with costs and have now removed 91 providers from gov.uk and corrected inaccurate prices of 135 private providers who will be removed from the list if they advertise misleading prices again.
From September 21, in order to ensure travel test providers are performing to a high legalised standard, there will be tough new penalties for companies that fail to follow the law, including fixed fines of up to £10,000.
Developing countries ask for vaccines to attend UK climate conference
Some of the world’s poorest countries have asked for help to meet vaccination and quarantine requirements to ensure they can take part in next month’s global climate conference in Glasgow.
Some 20 low-income countries such as Ethiopia, Haiti and Bangladesh are on the UK’s red list, which means their delegates will have to quarantine in a hotel for up to 10 days before attending the COP 26 talks, which run from October 31 to November 12.
Britain has said it will pay the quarantine costs of delegates from red list countries, and has cut the time to five days from 10 for those who are vaccinated.
The talks aim to spur bigger commitments to start reducing manmade greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and stave off the worst effects of climate change.
“Delegates from the LDC Group remain concerned about the logistics of getting to Glasgow,” Sonam Phuntsho Wangdi of Bhutan, chair of the group of the 46 Least Developed Countries (LDC), said in a statement.
“Our countries and our people are among the worst affected by climate change – we must not be excluded from talks deciding how the world will deal with this crisis, determining the fate of our lives and livelihoods.”
It has also said it is distributing Covid vaccines to delegates struggling to get them.
Firefighter dies battling southern Spain wildfire
A firefighter has been killed battling a wind-fuelled wildfire in southern Spain which forced the evacuation of hundreds of locals and tourists, local officials said.
The 44-year-old was one of around 400 firefighters tackling the flames which had broken out late Wednesday in the Sierra Bermeja mountains in the southern province of Malaga, the Andalusia regional government said in a statement.
Firefighters were backed by 29 water-dropping aircraft in their battle against the blaze during the day.
The regional government said around 1,000 people were evacuated from their homes – mainly from the municipality of Estepona, an area popular with British pensioners and holidaymakers.
Several told Spanish public television they were given only minutes to leave by police.
Local officials suspect the blaze may have been deliberately started.”It is striking that at the same moment in the evening, when there were strong winds in different spots, there were different outbreaks of fire,” Estepona mayor Jose Garcia Urbano told reporters.
New Zealand PM extends lockdown in Auckland to Sept 21
New Zealand’s largest city Auckland will remain in lockdown to beat the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.
Health authorities recorded 33 new cases of the delta variant on Monday, all in Auckland, which was higher than 23 and 20 cases reported over the weekend.
Auckland will remain in the strict Alert level 4 lockdown until midnight on Sept. 21, after which it will move to alert level 3, Ms Ardern said in a news conference.
PCR tests for double-vaccinated travellers ‘to be dropped’
Ministers are preparing to lift the requirement for double-jabbed travellers to take PCR tests when they return to the UK, according to reports.
The tests will be scrapped for holidaymakers returning from green and amber list countries in what will prove to be a boost for the beleaguered travel industry.
Instead of expensive PCR tests on the second day after arrival, they will be asked to take a lateral flow test, which are currently offered for free by the NHS, according to the Mail on Sunday.
It could help cut the cost of holidays by hundreds of pounds for families, a financial barrier that has deterred millions from overseas trips this year.
The weekend’s headlines
Before we begin, a quick recap of this weekend’s travel news:
- ‘No more national lockdowns’ as Boris Johnson rips up Covid rules
- Airlines giving out ‘incorrect Covid testing information’ to passengers
- Vietnam to welcome fully vaccinated visitors in pilot scheme
- Australia-UK flights ‘by November’, says industry chief
Now, on with today’s top stories.