Tag Archives: international

Covid international travel: When will hotel quarantine rules end? What you need to know

In February, the government introduced a rule that saw anyone from a “red list” of 33 countries forced to quarantine in a government-designated hotel for 10 days upon arrival in the UK in an attempt to prevent the spread of coronavirus from other nations. But with England on track to end its current lockdown in June, does that mean the hotel quarantine will end too?
As part of the hotel quarantine rule, the government signed contracts with 16 hotels near airports to house those arriving from the “red list”.

These contracts will expire at the end of March but are expected to be extended.

According to the governments “roadmap” for lifting lockdown in the UK, international leisure travel could resume from May 17.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, however, hasn’t ruled out extending the hotel quarantine policy into the summer.

READ MORE: Holidays: France, Italy, Spain, Greece and Portugal latest FCDO advice

In February, Prof Van Tam said it was still “too early” for people to be booking summer holidays.

He said: “The more elaborate your plans are for summer holidays, in terms of crossing borders, in terms of house mixing, given where we are now, I think you just have to say, you’re stepping into making guesses about the unknown.”

Currently, all travel is banned for non-essential purposes.

However, holiday and tourism companies are eager for holidaymakers to return after a devastating year for the industry.

One third of all countries worldwide COMPLETELY closed to international tourism – UN

The latest data from the United Nation World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) showed that 32 percent of destinations worldwide – 69 in total – are now completely closed for global tourism as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Of those, just over half – 38 destinations – have been completely closed for at least 40 weeks, and 34 percent of all destinations are still partially closed to international tourists.

According to the UNWTO report, the emergence of new variants of the Covid-19 virus has prompted many governments to reverse efforts to ease restrictions on travel, with total closures to tourists most prevalent in Asia and the Pacific nations, and Europe. 

“Travel restrictions have been widely used to restrict the spread of the virus. Now, as we work to restart tourism, we must recognize that restrictions are just one part of the solution. Their use must be based on the latest data and analysis, and consistently reviewed so as to allow for the safe and responsible restart of a sector upon which many millions of businesses and jobs depend,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.

The report said that regional differences with regard to travel restrictions remain. “Of the 69 destinations where borders are completely closed to tourists, 30 are in Asia and the Pacific, 15 are in Europe, 11 are in Africa, 10 are in the Americas, and three are in the Middle East.”

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section


Xbox Celebrates International Women’s Day

As game developers, we should be held accountable for creating great games that are inclusive to all, championing the player experience and building positive player communities. With almost 20 years in game development, creating a space where everyone on the planet can experience the joys of gaming remains paramount for me.My current work on Forza Motorsport continues to teach me invaluable lessons about great and inclusive game design. I will always champion the culture of gaming for all so that it is directly a part of the game development process. First and foremost is ensuring that game designs are adaptable and support diverse play styles for our equally diverse players. Another valuable lesson is the importance of creating boundaries to support safer communities as part of building game experiences. I bring this knowledge with me as I continue to work on games for Xbox and push player experiences to new levels.

I want to inspire our next generation of innovators and creators and hope to make a difference through intentional inclusion, support, and mentorship, especially for women just starting on their journey.  As the Women in Gaming at Xbox co-lead, together with Ivory Harvey, we remain committed to fostering connections among the women in gaming community, to support each other and raise awareness.

In celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, I join Team Xbox as we focus on celebrating the amazing women in gaming and creating a space for them to shine. As Head of Xbox Phil Spencer says, “in the games industry, we have seen tremendous contributions when women are empowered in key roles of leadership, development, design, and across the entire creative team. We need to focus on bringing more women into gaming careers, at every stage and in every discipline.”

Xbox will continue to champion content that represents the diversity of today’s gamers and will continue to empower and support women throughout the industry. Here are some of the ways in which Xbox plans to celebrate women in gaming on International Women’s Day and during Women’s History Month:

Xbox Programming to Celebrate Women’s History Month

We will be dedicating our livestreaming content all month long in celebration of Women’s History Month by featuring women in various categories – protagonists in games, developers, content creators and streamers! Follow along on Twitch so you don’t miss any of the action!

Gears 5 Women’s History Month Tournament

We will also be throwing a Gears 5 online tournament featuring all women gamers that will be broadcasted on Twitch.tv/Xbox on Saturday, March 13 at 10:30am PT. This will be a collaboration between Xbox, The Coalition and Smash.gg. See official rules.

Minecraft: Women’s Equality Lessons on Education and the Right to Vote

Minecraft: Education Edition has released two new lessons on International Women’s Day, exploring the work of Malala Yousafzai advocating for girls’ education and Emmeline Pankhurst in the quest for women’s right to vote in Victorian Britain. Look for these lessons on education.minecraft.net or in the Minecraft Marketplace.

World’s Edge – Age of Empires: Queen’s Clash Tournament and Women of History Celebration

Queen’s Clash Tournament: Get ready to draw sword and shield March 13 and 14 for the first Queen’s Clash, an Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition tournament celebrating International Women’s Day. Queen’s Clash is run by Age of Queens, a women-led group from the Age community and sponsored by World’s Edge. Prepare your battle cry and support our sisters in arms! (https://www.twitch.tv/tinytriss)

Women of History Celebration: Age of Empires celebrates stories from all over the world. Throughout March, influential women throughout history will have their tales told on ageofempires.com and across the Age of Empires social channels! (https://www.ageofempires.com/news)

Gaming and Impact with Microsoft Rewards: Girls Who Code, Black Girls Rock

Microsoft Rewards Members can earn and donate points to organizations supporting women in gaming through Xbox. All Microsoft Rewards donations made to the organizations listed below will be matched by Microsoft through the month of March.

  • Girls Who Code is an organization that values diversity, equity, and inclusion as essential to their mission. They aim to inspire, educate, and equip girls with the computing skills to become change agents in their communities.
  • Black Girls Rock is a non-profit committed to mentoring, enriching, and educating the next generation of young women leaders by giving girls the tools needed to develop leadership skills, improve academic achievements, refine critical thinking, promote social awareness, and increase civic engagement.

Xbox gamers can earn Microsoft Rewards points in various ways, such as playing or purchasing games after downloading the Microsoft Rewards app on Xbox. Earn points and redeem them for real rewards. Join today and donate through Xbox.

Discover Games, Movies and TV Curated by Women at Microsoft

This March and beyond, we are highlighting games, movies, and TV shows selected by women at Microsoft that bring focus to content created by women, leading women, affirming experiences, and more.

Check out a few highlights from the full games collection featuring creators, protagonists,  playable characters and character creation options:

Control – Jesse Faden is the new director of the Federal Bureau of Control who wields telekinetic powers and is praised for her competence, thoughtfulness, and might.
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider – Billie Lurk is a Black woman embodying standout depth and intersectionality who lost her eye and arm.
Never Alone – Nuna is young Iñupiat girl at the center of this puzzle-platformer adventure, and created to be a strong, resourceful, smart, and brave role model for girls.
Beyond Eyes – This unique game is developed by Sherida Halatoe and follows the journey of Rae, a ten-year old girl who is blind and her journey to find her lost cat.

Explore movies and TV shows with similar themes here.

View the complete collections on the Microsoft Store on Xbox, the Microsoft Store on Windows, and the Xbox App on Windows. After March 31, visitors to both the Xbox and Windows Stores can find community picks from women at Microsoft by searching for “Women’s History Month” and related terms.

Women of Xbox UK: Video and Visual Podcast, March – June 2021

In honor of International Women’s Day, the next Women of Xbox UK video will be published today, featuring Louise O’Connor from Rare in conversation with Mary McGuane (Chief of Staff, Xbox Game Studios), Nina Kristensen (Ninja Theory’s Chief Development Director) and Rose Buahin (Senior Category Manager for Games in the UK Marketing team). During the discussion, these remarkable leaders will be sharing their thoughts on the challenges they have faced and how their experiences have empowered their success.

In addition, today we are announcing a new Women of Xbox UK podcast series. The podcast will showcase women from Xbox Game Studios and other teams discussing their experiences, sharing advice and encouraging the aspirations of listeners. Each episode will focus on where these women began their journey, where they are today and what they see for the future. The first episode will be available toward the end of March. View the podcast here.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection – Women’s History Month Nameplate “Spartan Kat”

Halo Nameplate

In Halo: The Master Chief Collection, our players can customize their profile with special nameplates commemorating in-game activities or celebrating special events.  Any players who log in during the month of March will automatically gain access to this unique Women’s History Month nameplate featuring Spartan Kat!

Xbox Ambassadors Share Their Stories

Ambassadors image

Highlighting and amplifying community voices is central to the Xbox Ambassadors mission. In celebration of Women’s History Month, we asked members who identify as women to share how games with diverse representation have impacted them and to share their own stories about being a member of a gaming community. Here are their stories.

Xbox Community Game Club

Xbox Game Club image

The Xbox Community Game Club is a weekly way to play, share, and discuss games together as a community. In celebration of Women’s History Month, we are featuring games with women in strong lead or supporting roles. Check in weekly to discover your next favorite game and use #XboxGameClub to tell us about some of your favorite women in video games and how they have had an impact on you.

In recognition of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we look forward to celebrating women in gaming and highlighting the women in leadership at Xbox. As we honor their achievements, we hope to inspire the next generation of innovators and leaders in the gaming industry. We will also continue to advocate for a safe and inclusive space where everyone can experience the joys of gaming.


Learn more about all that Xbox and Microsoft are doing to celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month at the Xbox Community Hub and Microsoft | Women’s History Month.

Jennifer Lane, Turn 10 Studios Design Director and Xbox Women in Gaming Co-Lead

P&O Cruises cancels all international summer sailings in fresh cruise holiday blow

P&O Cruises cancelled swathes of summer cruises today, in the latest cruise news. International cruises will now not return until autumn. P&O Cruises is offering a series of short break and week-long UK cruises instead.
While the roadmap details the date for the return of jet-setting as May 17, there is still much uncertainty about when foreign travel can really go ahead.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said in yesterday’s press briefing: “We are still in a zone of great uncertainty about what the virus will do next.

“On top of that, many of the vaccination programmes in Europe, which is a place where we frequently go on holiday abroad are running behind ours.”

“Clearly, whether we can go on holiday abroad to places such as Europe, depends upon what other countries will say and do in terms of foreign tourists.”

The expert added: “I would just say that there has to be great uncertainty.”


P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said today in a statement: “Following recent Government announcements and as the vaccine programme is rolled out across the globe we can all begin to feel a sense of reassurance and hope that this current lockdown period in the UK will come to an end.

“Life can, we hope, slowly return to some semblance of our previous normality as hospitality opens up and summer holidays can be booked with confidence.

“Whilst holidays here in the UK will be the first to become a reality we will, of course, gradually see the return of international travel but first we want guests to be able to enjoy a proper summer holiday at sea with the best in relaxation, entertainment and dining choice.

“These sailings will leave from our home port in Southampton and sail around UK coastal waters enjoying the summer sunshine.

“More details of dates, prices and the experience onboard will be announced later this month, but they will, of course, all have flexibility so guests can book with confidence.”

Ludlow went on: “We hope that the UK ‘ultimate escape’ staycation option will have wide appeal and we will do our utmost to make it a very special time.

“There really will be something for everyone and the opportunity to spend precious and much-longed-for time with family and friends.

“In order to offer these UK breaks it does mean that unfortunately, we need to cancel some of our current published programme of holidays this summer.”

Ludlow explained that ships would be setting sail when travel restrictions were lifted and that P&O is closely monitoring the situation.

“Cruises on Arcadia, Aurora, Azura and Ventura have been cancelled until the end of August and on Britannia and Iona until the end of September,” he said.

“We remain in very close contact with the UK Government and associated bodies as we monitor the latest situation and guidance on travel.

“From the moment we see travel restrictions lifting we will begin the significant logistical task to re-start our operations.

“It will take some time for the first ship to return to service, followed by the phased return of the remaining fleet.

“We cannot wait to welcome everyone back on board with the protection of effective protocols to safeguard the health and wellbeing of all crew and guests.

“I really am so sorry for the disappointment these cancellations will cause but hope that the new UK cruises will enable everyone to enjoy a wonderful holiday this summer.”