Italians block motorway in French rail link demo

Protesters in northern Italy held rallies and staged sit-ins on Wednesday against land seizures for the construction of a controversial high-speed rail link between Lyon and Turin.

Around 100 students blocked a motorway close to Turin, forcing police to re-route traffic. Another group surrounded the area where work on the rail link is expected to start in the Val di Susa region in the Alps.

Workers are preparing to dig an exploratory tunnel in a four-year project.  

Authorities have taken over a total of seven hectares (17 acres) under a scheme in which the owners of the land are paid rent during the duration of the project and will then be returned their property at the end.

The total cost of the planned link is €20 billion and would shorten the journey from Paris to Milan to just four hours compared to seven hours now.

It has sparked opposition among some local residents who say it is too costly and could damage the environment, while supporters say it is a strategic project for Europe that will reduce road traffic by 700,000 trucks a year.

The rail link is currently expected to be completed in 2023.

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Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

The UK is set to scrap all Covid-19 travel restrictions in what the government described as a "landmark moment".

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

Testing is no longer required for vaccinated travellers, but the UK government has announced that it will scrap all Covid-19 travel rules on Friday, March 18th.

“As one of the first major economies to remove all its remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions, this is a landmark moment for passengers and the travel and aviation sector,” said the Government in a press release. 

From 4am on March 18th:

  • Passengers going to the UK will no longer be required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before travel;
  • Passengers who are not vaccinated will not be required to take a pre-departure Covid test, or a Day 2 test following arrival. Fully vaccinated travellers are already exempt from having to do this;
  • Hotel quarantine for travellers coming from ‘red list’ countries, of which there are currently none, will also be scrapped by the end of the month. 

“We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants, and keep a reserve of measures which can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe,” said UK Health Minister Sajid Javid. 

The UK has lifted all Covid-related rules including mask rules and mandatory self-isolation if you test positive for Covid.

Some European countries still have Covid restrictions in place for unvaccinated people coming from the UK. 

Until March 18th

Until the new rules come into effect, all travellers are required to fill out a passenger locator form. 

Unvaccinated travellers are also required to take pre-departure test and a test on or before Day 2 following their arrival. 

The UK border officers will recognise proof of vaccination provided with an EU Covid Certificate.

For the UK “fully vaccinated” means 14 days after your final dose of a EMA/FDA or Swiss approved vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson). 

After a period of confusion, the UK government says that it will accept mixed doses administered in the EU (eg one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer).

However people who have only had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – which is standard practice in some European countries – are not accepted as vaccinated by the UK.