Australian Government to update international travel warnings

With international travel back on the cards from November 1 – at least out of Sydney and Melbourne – and thousands of Australians headed overseas for the first time in over 18 months, the government will this week revise its travel warnings for almost 200 countries.

It’s a critical step in the restart of overseas travel, as the warnings – published on the website operated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – impacts the availability of travel insurance.

And international travel insurance will be more important that even in the Covid era of travel, especially as several countries make some form of ‘Covid cover’ a condition of entry.

Singapore’s Vaccinated Travel Lanes – which may extend to Australia in November – require that inbound travellers hold a policy which includes at least SGD$30,000 for Covid-related medical expenses.

In Thailand, which will reopen to fully-vaccinated Australians from November 1 – mandates “medical insurance with a minimum coverage of USD$50,000.”

Also read: As Australia’s borders reopen, will your travel insurance cover Covid-19?

DFAT and currently list all of the 177 countries on their watchlist as ‘Level 4 – do not travel’ destinations, with the sole exception of New Zealand which remains pegged as ‘Level 3 – reconsider your need to travel.’

Australian travel insurance providers typically won’t offer a policy if you’re headed for a country which DFAT has flagged as a Level 4 destination, which means that many people booking airfares right now for flights in November aren’t able to get travel insurance.

Travel insurance coverage is normally extended only to countries earmarked as ‘Level 1 – exercise normal safety precautions’ or ‘Level 2 – exercise a high degree of caution.’

In fact, the Smarttraveller website still carries the long-standing red alert first put in place in March 2020 saying “There’s a ban on overseas travel from Australia. You can’t leave Australia unless you have an exemption from the Department of Home Affairs, or are travelling to a destination that is exempt from the ban.”

Executive Traveller understands that DFAT is now working through a ‘risk assessment’ of all countries to update its travel advice to align with the reopening of Australia’s international border.

However, many countries are expected to remain at the current global ‘Level 4 – do not travel’ advisory or be nudged up to ‘Level 3 – reconsider your need to travel.’

“It’s important to check the reason that the country is under advice level 3, as you may not be covered for it,” DFAT advises.

Also read:

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Cheapest lateral flow travel test – Government approved list in full | Travel News | Travel

The Government has unveiled its list of “approved” COVID-19 lateral flow test providers two days before the latest travel testing update is due to come into force. The aim of the new “simplified” system is to offer “lower-cost” tests to those who have been fully vaccinated according to Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps.

What are the rules for day two lateral flow tests?

Testing requirements will change for fully vaccinated UK arrivals from October 25.

The new rules will also apply to arrivals from “eligible” countries such as the European Union (EU) and the US.

According to the Government, under the new rules “eligible fully vaccinated passengers and those with an approved vaccine from a select group of non-red countries will be able to replace their day two test with a cheaper lateral flow test, reducing the cost of tests on arrival into England.”

Prior to this, fully vaccinated arrivals were still required to book and pay for a day two PCR test, often costing upwards of £50.

READ MORE: The top 10 countries that offer the best expat opportunities exposed

Tests must be pre-booked and purchased from a testing provider included o. n the Government’s “approved” list.

Anyone who tests positive using a lateral flow test will be required to self-isolate and take an additional PCR test at no additional cost.

This PCR test will be provided by the NHS and will be delivered to the traveller’s home.

Anyone who received an inconclusive result will also be required to self-isolate.

Testing for unvaccinated passengers from non-red countries will continue to include pre-departure tests, day two and day eight PCR tests. Test to release on day five remains an option for those who want to reduce their quarantine period.

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Which company currently provides the cheapest lateral flow tests based on the “approved” list?

The Government has updated its list of “approved” providers under the new lateral flow testing scheme.

However, it notes this list may continue to be updated.

According to, they are still working to “bring the site fully online.”

Based on the Government’s current list, a firm named PeopleBio offer the cheapest day two lateral flow test costing £18.

This is a self swab to take at home.

But travel expert Paul Charles has warned Britons to do their research and be savvy before selecting the cheapest options they can find.

He said: “It’s vital to shop around and choose a low-cost but bona fide provider.”

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UK government invests £180m in SAF plants

As part of its Net Zero Strategy, the UK government has
announced it will provide £180 million in funding to support the development of
sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) plants in the nation.

The government said its ambition is to enable the UK’s
aviation industry to utilise 10 per cent SAF by 2030, a milestone that is seen
as a key factor in decarbonising the sector. It follows £21 million in funding for SAF announced last year.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said the funding would also
help to create “thousands of green jobs across the country”.

SAF is typically produced using waste and raw residue
materials such as used cooking oil and produces up to 80 per cent less
greenhouse gas emissions than traditional fossil fuels.

The announcement comes after Heathrow airport chief
executive John Holland-Kaye called on the government to implement progressive
on the use of SAF as well as policies that could help scale up its
production, which currently does not meet global aviation fuel demands.

Several international airlines have pledged to use SAF to
power at least 10 per cent of flights by 2030, including International Airlines
, Virgin Atlantic, Cathay Pacific, All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines,
among others.

Heathrow and Gatwick have both made moves to integrate SAF
into their fuel supplies.

In addition to money for SAF development, the government
will inject an extra £350 million of its existing up to £1 billion commitment
to support the electrification of UK vehicles and their supply chains, as well
as £620 million for electric vehicle grants and infrastructure, particularly
local on-street residential charge points.

Prime minister Boris Johnson said: “The UK’s path to ending
our contribution to climate change will be paved with well-paid jobs, billions
in investment and thriving green industries – powering our green industrial
revolution across the country.”

Shapps added: “We published our Transport Decarbonisation
Plan in July, which was just the start – as we look ahead to the COP26 climate
change conference and beyond, we need to continue our efforts to deliver its
ambitious commitments. This will provide certainty to drivers and industry as
we create sustainable economic growth, boost job opportunities and clean up the
air in our towns and cities.”

The UK will host the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference
(COP26) in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November.

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WTTC blames UK government for slow tourism recovery | News

The World Travel & Tourism Council has argued the year-on-year recovery in the UK may only claw back a third, while international travel spending continues to plummet.

Latest research from the body shows the recovery has been severely delayed by the lack of spending from international visitors.

WTTC blames strict travel restrictions, such as the destructive ‘traffic light’ system, for wreaking havoc on the sector.

Now, despite its highly successful vaccine rollout, the UK is set to record further losses in inbound visitor spending than the previous year, during which international travel ground to an almost complete standstill.

At the current rate of recovery, WTTC research shows the UK sector’s contribution to the nation’s economy could rise year on year by just under a third (32 per cent) in 2021, broadly in line with the global average of 31 per cent.

However, research conducted by the global tourism body goes on to show the increase has been primarily spurred on by the recent boom in domestic travel, with domestic spending growth set to experience a year-on-year rise of 49 per cent in 2021.

While this surge in domestic travel has provided a much-needed boost, it will not be enough to achieve a full economic recovery and save millions of jobs still under threat.

The research reveals that international spending is predicted to plunge by nearly half on 2020 figures – one of the worst years on record for the tourism sector – making the UK one of the worst performing countries in the world.

While other countries, such as China and the United States, are set to see a rise in inbound international travel spending this year, the UK lags behind and continues to record significant losses.

Severe travel restrictions, ever-changing policies, and barriers to travel to the UK, such as the current requirement for visitors to take an expensive day two PCR test after arriving in the country, have had their toll.

Julia Simpson, WTTC chief executive, said: “WTTC research shows that while the global tourism sector is beginning to recover, the UK continues to suffer big losses due to continuing travel restrictions that are tougher than the rest of Europe.

“Despite government announcements the UK still has a red list, costly PCR tests and a requirement for day two tests which simply put people off travel.

“Just as the world opens up the UK has more requirements for the double vaccinated than our neighbours.”

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Belgium’s Travel Organizations Urge the Government for Introduction of COVID-19 Rapid Testing

A total of 14 organizations in Belgium have addressed an open letter to the country’s Health Minister, Frank Vandenbroucke, urging for the acceptance of COVID-19 rapid antigen tests in order to ease the travel process.

The Belgian Association of Travel Management (BATM), together with Belgium and the Brussels Airport Company, as well as other organizations, expressed their concerns regarding the inconsistent measures imposed by each country and region that, according to them, are making the air travel process extremely difficult, reports.

In addition, the organizations also called on Belgium to fall in line with European Union Member States.

 “Restarting international aviation will energise the economic recovery from Covid-19. Along with vaccines, testing will play a critical role in giving governments the confidence to reopen their borders to travellers. For governments, the top priority is accuracy. But travellers will also need tests to be convenient and affordable since the cost of PCR testing can completely alter the economics of travel,” the organizations noted in the letter.

Furthermore, the organizations have stressed that rapid antigen testing is as effective as PCR testing in reducing the risk of cross-border transmission.

“Meanwhile, the cost and bureaucracy of PCR tests add huge burdens to…businesses looking to travel. These are important considerations in preparing for a successful restart,” the letter reads.

Even though no concrete decision has been taken regarding the acceptance of the COVID-19 rapid antigen test for travel up to this point, Belgium’s health authorities previously abolished several restrictions after confirming that the country was close to meeting the objective of 70 per cent of the population being fully vaccinated in all municipalities.

The announcement clarified that tourists visiting Belgium would be permitted to attend many events and activities, including private gatherings and other organized activities.

Recently, Brussels Airlines revealed that there was marked an increase in booking of 30 per cent to 40 per cent, while the airline expects that companies will further relax travel restrictions starting from the next month.

However, previously, reported that the COVID-19 situation brought Belgium’s tourism sector on its knees, followed by the weak weather conditions. In this regard, the representatives of the tourism sector in Belgium called on the country’s government to extend the temporary unemployment measures.

Such a measure is granted to all temporarily unemployed persons, while aid consists of 65 per cent of their average salary, with a total sum of €2,785.07 per month.

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How did 14,000 Haitians travel across Mexico without the government noticing?

It started with a trickle. A dozen people one day, maybe 20 the next day. Then several busloads in the weeks after. People noticed the presence of Black people in the bus stations of cities like Saltillo and Monclova in the Mexican state of Coahuila, but they didn’t pay much attention.

Until one day last week, 14,000 Haitian immigrants converged in the city of Acuña, across the Rio Grande from Del Rio. The imperceptible trickle of weeks became a humanitarian crisis overnight, and people started asking, “How did this happen?”

The question seeks to explain why there is a crisis like this when the Mexican government agreed to stop the flow of migrants to the U.S. at Mexico’s southern border. That is why we regularly see in the news images of the Mexican National Guard breaking up migrant caravans in the state of Chiapas, right after the migrants cross to the border from Guatemala.

But this time, the flow of migrants is not in caravans. Instead, it is Haitians coming into Mexico from different countries where they had been refugees for years, particularly since the devastating 2010 earthquake. After another earthquake hit amid a political and economic crisis earlier this year, many gave up hope of returning to their homeland and made their way to the United States.

They came in small groups, not in a large caravan, through different points of entry into Mexico, and made their way north. A tip spread by word-of-mouth that the city of Acuña is a better environment for migrants than other Rio Grande towns, safer than the border cities of Tamaulipas and less surveillance by the National Guard than in Piedras Negras. Also, the Rio Grande is shallower in this area and easier for crossing. Authorities are also exploring the possibility that many were lured there by organized crime groups.

And yet this doesn’t answer the question of how the migrants arrived. Because they had to cross almost the length of Mexico to get to Acuña without being detected or stopped.

This is something the governor of Coahuila, Miguel Ángel Riquelme, would like to know.

“It’s clear the federal government did not make an effort to contain them,” he told me. “Because they were traveling for some time. How did they cross the country? How long were they traveling?”

To get to Acuña from Mexico City by land, a person must travel through five states. Even though the National Guard polices bus stations, has checkpoints in the highways of Coahuila and has surveillance in railroads, these migrants were not stopped.

Over the past month, migrants came to Acuña and crossed to Del Río, where the Border Patrol caught them and put them in a makeshift camp under the bridge. And yet people kept coming until more than 14,000 migrants were spread out under the bridge and in shelters in Acuña and surrounding towns. A camp of 14,000 people equals almost 10% the population of Acuña and almost half the population of Del Rio. Border agents sorted people, allowing some to apply for asylum and deporting others, eventually dispersing the camp.

This is not the first time a migrant crisis has hit the Coahuila-Texas border. At different moments of 2019 and 2020, thousands of people from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras were stranded in Piedra Negras and Acuña. Just a couple of months ago it was an influx of Venezuelans. But this most recent group of Haitians is by far the largest. The largest number of migrants congregated at the border before this week never surpassed 5,000.

Gov. Riquelme told me the main objective now is preventing migrants from dispersing across towns in northern Coahuila, where they will be harder to find. So far, the migrant crisis has not developed into a health or safety crisis. Many residents of Acuña are responding by giving migrants food, clothing or hygiene supplies, after people left the bridge camp and crossed back to Acuña because there was nothing to eat. Other residents have taken migrants into their homes or they have donated to shelters.

In the rest of the country the issue of immigration is one that comes and goes in the news but does not provoke the political excitement as in the United States. This is not to say that people don’t notice. From time to time in cities across the country, immigrants show up more frequently. Their skin is often darker than the local residents, in some cases bearing the trait of African descent.

In my hometown of Torreón, halfway between Mexico City and Ciudad Juárez, hundreds of Central American immigrants pass by each month. Some stay for a few days or weeks to make some cash, showing up at street intersections where they wipe windshields, sell trinkets, or ask for food or money.

Local people notice and sometimes they are wary, fearing perhaps that the presence of immigrants will drive up crime. To others, the thought that the migrants are only passing, that their goal is to reach another country, is reassuring. But whatever anti-immigrant fear might exist is kept in check because it is not stoked for political purposes, unleashing xenophobic panic.

However, immigration does turn into a political problem, because after failing to prevent migrants from reaching the border, the Mexican government must face the logistical nightmare of sending them back. Haitians are being taken to shelters and then put on flights to Port-au-Prince, even though many migrants have not been there in almost a decade. U.S. authorities are doing the same, flying people from San Antonio.

Already there are reports that Haitians on their way north are stopping their journey seeking shelter in cities along the way as they learn about the situation at the border. They will bide their time until the current crisis subsides, and then they will resume their journey and head to the border in a trickle.

Javier Garza Ramos is a journalist in Coahuila, Mexico, and co-host of the Expansión Daily podcast. He wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News.

Got an opinion about this issue? Send a letter to the editor and you just might get published.

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Covid travel news live: Government to introduce charges for tests

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps explains the new travel rules as restrictions are eased

The government will end free provision of lateral flow tests within months in a move that has been criticised as “reckless” by public health chiefs.

Plans to introduce charges for the tests were buried in the government’s Covid winter plan, which was unveiled earlier this week by Sajid Javid, the health secretary.

The relaxation of travel rules is expected to fuel a surge in holiday bookings this weekend, as the amber list was scrapped in favour of a single list of places which will require hotel quarantine on return to England.

Meanwhile, a new tool has found certain groups remain more vulnerable to the virus after vaccination.

The QCovid tool developed by scientists at the University of Oxford shows that immunosuppressed people, and those with dementia, Parkinson’s or chronic disorders such as kidney disease are still at a greater risk of hospitalisation or death from Covid when vaccinated compared to the rest of the population.


That’s the end of The Independent’s live coverage of the pandemic for today, thank you all for following.

Make sure to check our site for more Covid stories as the day goes on. They will mostly be published on our health page.

Liam James18 September 2021 13:06


Travel surge expected, as firms see bookings spike

Holiday bookings are expected to soar after the Government announced a relaxation of international travel rules, but concerns have been raised over a changed approach to Covid-19 testing.

Alan French, chief executive of travel firm Thomas Cook, said October half-term bookings were up 200 per cent compared to August and he expected this figure to increase as a result of the changed system.

“Based on our bookings already today, I would expect this weekend to be the biggest of the year so far as people take advantage of the great deals on offer, the new easier rules on testing and the simplified system for international travel,” he said.

Andrew Flintham, managing director of holiday company TUI UK, said he had already seen “an uptick in bookings for Turkey in October” and expected a boost in customer confidence with the new rules.

Online travel agency Skyscanner said it saw a 133 per cent spike in traffic in the 30 minutes following Mr Shapps’s announcement, while there had been “huge increases” in searches for destinations such as Turkey and the Maldives in anticipation of Friday’s news.

Liam James18 September 2021 07:49


New tool identifies groups most at-risk from Covid after vaccination

Scientists at Oxford university have developed a new tool that predicts which groups are most at risk from Covid-19 after vaccination.

The QCovid tool found that immunosuppressed people and those with dementia, Parkinson’s or chronic disorders such as kidney disease were found to be at a greater risk of hospitalisation or death from Covid after vaccination compared to the rest of the population.

Age and ethnicity also factored into risk outcomes.

Samuel Lovett, Science Correspondent, has the details:

Liam James18 September 2021 08:08


Travel rule change ‘will make it much easier for customers to understand’

Chris Parker, director of capacity and commercial performance at DFDS ferries, said his company welcomed the change to the travel rules system.

“It will make it much easier for customers to understand what they need to do,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

There was a spike in visitors to the DFDS website yesterday, Mr Parker said, and an “uptick” in bookings for October onwards.

Mr Parker estimated the ferry company had this year seen only 20 per cent of the number of bookings seen in 2019.

Liam James18 September 2021 08:25


UK aviation much slower to recover than rest of Europe, says industry chief

Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, said UK aviation was recovering from the pandemic far slower than in most other European countries.

Passenger numbers in the UK were only around 20 per cent of a normal summer, while the rest of Europe was seeing around 50-60 per cent, Ms Dee told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“That’s all down to the complexities we’ve built in the UK in the testing system,” she said.

Ms Dee also said this summer had been worse than last year’s for aviation.

Liam James18 September 2021 08:37


Singapore pauses reopening amid rise in Covid cases

Singapore reported 935 new Covid cases on Friday, the country’s highest daily total since last April.

The city state has paused the lifting of restrictions as cases have risen. More than 80 per cent of the population has been vaccinated.

Liam James18 September 2021 08:55


New travel changes: What are they, and what are the effects?

Simon Calder, Travel Correspondent, has put together a guide to the new travel system.

In his opinion, there are two “modest positives” to the changes:

Liam James18 September 2021 09:13


Scotland won’t ditch pre-flight tests

The Scottish government has said it will also be making changes to travel rules.

The traffic light system will be dropped but Scotland will not follow England in removing the pre-departure test requirement for the fully vaccinated returning from non-red list countries, the government said.

Michael Matheson, the transport secretary, said there were “concerns” that dropping the test would “weaken our ability to protect the public health of Scotland’s communities”.

Liam James18 September 2021 09:32


Charges to be introduced for Covid lateral flow tests within ‘months’ in ‘reckless’ move

The free provision of lateral flow tests will end within months, the government has announced.

No date has been set for the introduction of charges, but the winter plan unveiled by Sajid Javid, the health secretary, says the tests will only remain free for “the coming months”.

Public health chiefs and school leaders have united in criticising the “reckless” move.

More on this from Rob Merrick here:

Liam James18 September 2021 09:50


India has vaccinated more than 790 million

More than 790 million people in India have now been vaccinated, a figure higher than the total population of Europe.

A vaccination drive in the country to mark prime minister Narendra Modi’s birthday saw 25 million doses administered on Friday alone, according to the Indian Health Ministry.

Officials say they aim to have administered more than one billion doses by the middle of next month.

Liam James18 September 2021 10:09

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Government unveils wholesale rail overhaul in UK | News

The government has pledged to end what it called a quarter-century of fragmentation on the railways under new proposals to shake up the system.

A new public body, Great British Railways (GBR), will integrate the railways, owning the infrastructure, collecting fare revenue, running and planning the network, as well as setting most fares and timetables.

The hope is to refocus on passengers and freight.

GBR will simplify the current mass of confusing tickets with new flexible season tickets and a significant roll-out of more convenient Pay As You Go, contactless and digital ticketing on smartphones.

A new GBR website will sell tickets and a single compensation system for operators in England will provide a simple system for passengers to access information and apply for refunds.

There will, however, remain a substantial and often greater role for the private sector.

GBR will contract private partners to operate most trains to the timetables and fares it specifies, with a model similar to that used by Transport for London in its successful Overground and Docklands Light Railway services.

The new Passenger Service Contracts will be designed to include strong incentives for operators to run high-quality services and increase passenger numbers.

They will not be one-size-fits-all: as demand recovers, operators on some routes, particularly long-distance, will have more commercial freedom.

Affordable walk-on fares and season ticket prices will be protected, the government said.

Prime minister, Boris Johnson, said: “I am a great believer in rail, but for too long passengers have not had the level of service they deserve.

“By creating Great British Railways and investing in the future of the network, this government will deliver a rail system the country can be proud of.

The journey to this new passenger-focused model has begun today, transport secretary Grant Shapps said.

New National Rail Contracts will be announced this year.

They will be in operation for 2 years and act as a bridge to reform.

Shapps added: “Our railways were born and built to serve this country, to forge stronger connections between our communities and provide people with an affordable, reliable and rapid service.

“Years of fragmentation, confusion and over-complication have seen that vision fade and passengers failed.

“That complicated and broken system ends today.

“The pandemic has seen the government take unprecedented steps to protect services and jobs.”

Rocio Concha, director of policy and advocacy at Which?, warned passengers must come first.

“Before the pandemic, passengers had been treated as an afterthought for too long on the railways – so it is good that the government’s plans seek to improve the passenger experience on trains, bring innovation to the ticketing system and make it easier to get compensation.

“The true test of this plan will be whether passengers see real improvements to the way their train services operate, not only adapting to new needs but addressing the old challenges that could cause so much disruption to the lives of those reliant on the railways,” she concluded.

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Calls to federal government for tougher travel restrictions

The B.1.617 variant first detected in India has now made its way into the country, with Ontario reporting at least 36 cases

As India deals with record breaking daily COVID-19 cases, Canada is now dealing with a new variant.


The B.1.617 variant first detected in India has now made its way into the country, with Ontario reporting at least 36 cases.   


Last week the federal government announced it would be suspending all incoming passenger flights from India and Pakistan.


This came as dozens of flights from the two countries carried passengers who later tested positive for COVID-19.


The travel ban is expected to last at least 30 days.


Prabmeet Sarkaria, associate minister of small business and red tape reduction said the ban is not going far enough, as many can still take connecting flights into Ontario.


“About 20 percent of air passenger travel was coming from both countries that were banned, but more importantly 50 percent of all positive travel test cases were from those destinations. When we look at hot spot countries across the world we really needed action on this earlier.”


According to Sarkaria, the government needs to limit all non-essential travel into Canada.


“We are now also calling for the federal government to stop all non-essential travel to Canada before new variants overwhelm our intensive care units completely. We are stretched in our limits because of these new variants and that’s why we need tougher restrictions.”



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Trinidad and Tobago government disagrees with US travel advisory | News

The Trinidad and Tobago government has expressed disagreement and concern about the United States’ level four categorisation of the twin-island republic in its latest travel advisory to US citizens.

The warning has come even though Trinidad and Tobago’s borders have been closed for more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The US advisory warns US citizens against visiting some 130 countries, including Trinidad and Tobago.

“We also recognise and respect that the United States of America, like other sovereign nations, must take measures to guide and protect its citizens during these unprecedented and unpredictable times, especially in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement from the Office of the Prime Minister said.

But it said “notwithstanding, Trinidad and Tobago must register our disagreement and concern with some of the statements made in the current advisory, particularly as ‘terrorism’ is not a specific feature of any current threat within our shores.”

“We would expect that the United States, which is not unfamiliar with the face of home-grown terrorism, would reconsider the association of such a term with Trinidad and Tobago, as it certainly does not accurately reflect the local realities,” the Government of Trinidad and Tobago maintained.

The US Embassy in Trinidad said Washington had “recently adjusted our travel advisory system to give more weight to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention” and that “following this update, approximately 80 per cent of countries worldwide have a Travel Advisory Level of 4: Do Not Travel.”

Playing politics

The Trinidad and Tobago government also criticised the country’s opposition United National Congress (UNC) for a release following the issuing of the US travel advisory, accusing it of embarking on an agenda against Trinidad and Tobago.

The UNC had, in its statement signed by its public relations officer, Dr. Kirk Meighoo, said that the US travel advisory had warned Americans not to visit several parts of Trinidad and Tobago, which it said were “all areas ruled by the PNM (People’s National Movement) continuously since 1956 up to today.”

On Friday, the US Embassy sought to distance itself from the statement issued by the main opposition party.

It said: “The embassy is aware of the UNC’s response to the Department of State’s travel advisory to US citizens. The travel advisory for Trinidad and Tobago is now level four, do not travel, due to restricted travel options put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” the embassy responded.

It continued: “The Department’s travel advisories are apolitical in nature, and in no way reflect our relationship with any country or with any specific political party within a country.”

It said that the naming of specific neighbourhoods in Trinidad and Tobago in the travel advisory “comes from a specific provision of US law that provides there can be no double standard for US citizens versus employees of the Department of State.”

Follow The Gleaner on Twitter and Instagram @JamaicaGleaner and on Facebook @GleanerJamaica. Send us a message on WhatsApp at 1-876-499-0169 or email us @[email protected] or [email protected].

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