Pre-departure testing for travellers entering the UK, and the need to self-isolate on arrival until receiving a negative PCR result have now been scrapped under new COVID travel rules.
Speaking to MPs in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that several changes would be made to relax the rules that are required to be followed by travellers entering the UK with at least two doses of a COVID vaccine.
The changes came into force from 4am this morning (7 January).
The changes mean that new vaccinated arrivals will no longer have to self-isolate until they get a negative PCR test result, and instead, will have to take a lateral flow test at the end of their second day in the UK, and if that result is positive, they will then require a follow-up PCR.
Unvaccinated passengers will still need to take a pre-departure test and self-isolate for 10 days, ensuring they take a PCR test on day two and day eight.
The Prime Minister explained when he announced these new and more relaxed rules, that previous pre-departure measures were said to be having a limited impact because the Omicron variant is so prevalent.
He said the change to measures is a way to “live with COVID without letting our guard down”.
“When the Omicron variant was first identified, we rightly introduced travel restrictions to slow its arrival in our country – but now Omicron is so prevalent, these measures are having limited impact on the growth in cases, while continuing to pose significant costs to our travel industry,” he said in his statement.
Johnson continued: “All these measures are balanced and proportionate ways of ensuring we can live with COVID without letting our guard down.
“And we can only do this thanks to the biggest and fastest booster campaign in Europe.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he hopes the move will make travel “easier and cheaper” for passengers who are fully-vaccinated.
The decision to relax the rules on travel comes after the travel industry had been consistently calling for the removal of all COVID testing restrictions, arguing that it would have no real impact on Omicron infection rates and would actually help to restore consumer confidence.
Reacting to the news at the time, Charlie Cornish – CEO at Manchester Airport Group (MAG) – said: “Today’s announcement is very positive news and will help restart the recovery of the travel and tourism sector [as] the removal of these temporary measures is important recognition that travel restrictions should not remain in place if they no longer help prevent the spread of the virus.
“By removing barriers to travel in what is a critical period for forward-booking, passengers, airports, airlines and business across the UK can now plan ahead with confidence.
“We look forward to working with Government on a roadmap for the removal of all remaining restrictions, in order to help our prized aviation sector enjoy a full recovery.”
Since the changes were announced on Wednesday, a number of travel companies have now reported a spike in interest for international travel, with easyJet revealing it had seen a boost of almost 200% in bookings, with demand for some destinations up more than 400% week on week.
British Airways also told Sky News that its holidays arm had seen a rise of almost 40% in web searches compared with the previous week.
Sir David Jason set for TV return in Only Fools and Horses documentary Christmas special
In a surprise bit of festive news, the only and only Sir David Jason is returning for an Only Fools and Horses Christmas special this December. Lovely jubbly!
The best-loved and most-watched British comedy of all time will be back on our screens in documentary form this festive season, with Del Boy himself David Jason revisiting the iconic comedy character after 20 years he last played him on screen.
While the legendary sitcom was broadcast on BBC back in the day, the highly-anticipated Only Fools doc will be airing on Channel 5 right before Christmas as a special one-off programme.
Looking back on the show’s incredible run on UK screens over seven series and the several ‘Christmas Cracker’ specials, specifically, the latest Only Fools and Horses documentary will see Jason and a number of other guests appearing to chat about the legendary show.
While it’s still unclear how many of the original cast will be appearing, Jason’s on-screen wife Tessa Peake-Jones (Raquel) is confirmed to be appearing along with other special guests including newscaster Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Bendiorm‘s Sherrie Hewson.
Sadly, a full theatrical reunion just isn’t on the cards following the deaths of Roger Lloyd Pack (Trigger), Kenneth MacDonald (Mike the Landlord) and Buster Merryfield (Uncle Albert) in the 30 years since the show ended its run.
Only Fools writer John Sullivan also sadly passed away aged 64 in 2011 and fellow co-star Nicholas Lyndhurst, a.k.a. Rodney Trotter, told Metro: “We can’t. John is no longer with us. John was the driving force of the show and we have also lost quite a few cast members now.
“I don’t think I could do it without them and I certainly couldn’t do it without John. At the risk of depressing everyone, I think the last two times I’ve seen David has been at funerals.”
Simply entitled, ‘The Story Of Only Fools And Horses At Christmas’, the 90-minute special is yet to have its broadcast date fully confirmed but you best keep your eyes peeled on the TV guide — we’ll let you know as soon we do.
Jason, 81, has only just recovered from hip surgery earlier this year, so it’ll be nice to see his familiar grin back on our screens.
Right, we’re off to binge a whole series on UK Gold.
Habas restaurant in Manchester announces shock closure – with huge closing-down discount
Habas, the Middle Eastern restaurant launched by the team behind El Gato Negro, has announced its shock closure.
The subterranean restaurant will be going out with a bang though, promising one last knees-up with a big discount.
Habas will be doing 25% off its entire food and drink menu this New Year’s Eve so that fans of the eatery can raise a glass to the Manchester restaurant.
They’re also hoping that Mancs will raise a glass to new beginnings, teasing a brand new concept.
Habas is located at Brown Street in Manchester city centre and has been serving up its Middle Eastern menu since 2021.
It comes from Mills Hill Developments Limited, the company also responsible for El Gato Negro and Canto, fronted by celebrated chef Simon Shaw.
Habas has stressed that its closure ‘is not forever’ as it announces details of its New Year’s Eve closing down party.
You can ring in the new year with a selection of mezze dishes, sharing platters and small plates, feasting on chicken tagine and traditional tzatziki, all 25% off on Sunday 31 December.
Drinks, too, like the cranberry elderflower martini, blackberry ginger smash and clementine daquiri will be with 25% off.
Simon Shaw, Chef Parton at Mills Hill Developments Limited, said: “As of January 2024, we have made the decision to close the doors of Habas Bar & Restaurant, however we are thrilled to announce that our Brown Street venue has an exciting new concept on the way.
“Throughout December, Habas, will continue serving up the city’s best middle-eastern cuisine, so make sure you pop in and see us. AND on New Year’s Eve, Habas, will be hosting an unforgettable celebration with 25% off food and drinks. We want to rejoice with all of our customers, with one final hurrah!
“We would like to thank all of our guests and reassure Habas fans that this is not the end of Habas Bar & Restaurant forever, simply a farewell from Brown Street for now.
“We look forward to welcoming you to our new exciting concept in Q1 of 2024.”