BP was hit by similar delivery disruption earlier this summer
BP insists it has plenty of fuel but too few delivery drivers to keep up with demand as petrol provision becomes the supply chain problems described as a “cocktail of chaos”.
Motorists have been urged by the government to “shop for fuel as usual” after BP said it had closed some of its petrol stations due to supply issues.
The energy giant said tens of forecourts in its 1,200-strong network were experiencing shortages – blamed on the nationwide lack of HGV drivers – while rival Esso said a few of its sites were affected.
Tesco said two of the 500 petrol stations it operates were currently affected, describing the impact as minimal and ensuring that supply is replenished whenever this happens.
It is the latest in a series of supply chain issues being grappled with by ministers – after the separate issue of surging gas prices created a crisis in the energy sector and knock-on damage to carbon dioxide production, which has threatened to disrupt food processing.
A spokesman for the prime minister said the government acknowledged that there were “issues facing many industries across the UK, and not just in terms of HGV drivers”.
He added that there was no shortage of fuel and that there was a “very resilient and robust supply chain”.
A Volvo electric car plugged into an Ubitricity lamppost EV charging point in central London. Picture date: Friday March 5, 2021.
The shortage of drivers is blamed on a confluence of issues including non-UK workers affected by Brexit, pandemic delays holding up HGV tests, and drivers being caught up in the “pingdemic” of COVID alerts earlier this year.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives at the Capitol Building in Washington DC before meeting the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi during his visit to the United States. Picture date: Wednesday September 22, 2021.
Rod McKenzie of the Road Haulage Association told Sky News: “This is a cocktail of chaos, and I’m afraid it’s getting worse because the attrition rate is against us.
“We have got more drivers leaving than joining, so as every week goes by there’s something new in the supply chain that’s creaking and crumbling.”
Jim McMahon, Labour’s shadow transport secretary, said: “This is a rapidly worsening crisis that the government has failed to heed the warnings of for a decade, never investing in or valuing working class jobs.”
BP, which previously experienced similar disruption in July, said it was “prioritising” the sites experiencing shortages to ensure they are re-stocked first.
In a statement, the company said: “We are experiencing fuel supply issues at some of our retail sites in the UK and unfortunately have therefore seen a handful of sites temporarily close due to a lack of both unleaded and diesel grades.
“These have been caused by delays in the supply chain, which has been impacted by industry-wide driver shortages across the UK and we are working hard to address this issue.
“We continue to work with our haulier supplier to minimise disruption and to ensure efficient and effective deliveries to serve our customers.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
HGV drivers have had ‘two or three pay rises without even asking’
Esso said a “small number” of its 200 Tesco Alliance retail sites – operated jointly with the supermarket chain and separate from the two mentioned by Tesco itself – were impacted.
“We are working closely with all parties in our distribution network to optimise supplies and minimise any inconvenience to customers,” Esso said.
“We apologise to our customers for any inconvenience.”
Tesco said: “We have good availability of fuel, with deliveries arriving at our petrol filling stations across the UK every day.”
Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons said they were not affected. Shell was also understood not to be affected.
Gordon Balmer, executive director of the Petrol Retailers’ Association – which represents independent forecourts across the UK, equating to 65% of the total – said some sites had confirmed delayed deliveries, but the issue appeared to be “confined to London and the South-East and appear temporary by nature”.
He said that with fuel demand still at only 92% of pre-pandemic levels, “we believe there should be ample stock available at refineries and delivery terminals throughout the UK”.
“The PRA recommends that motorists maintain sufficient fuel in the tank to enable them to get to an alternative filling station in the rare instance that fuel is not available,” Mr Balmer added.
Logistics UK, which represents the logistics industry, said: “Logistics UK is aware of reports that petrol supplies are currently being affected by the HGV driver shortage.
“The driver shortage is a very serious issue that needs urgent government and industry action to resolve, however, we urge people not to panic buy.
“The logistics industry is resilient and has proven capable of supporting shops, families and businesses during COVID-19, border closures and the first stages of Brexit, and will continue to serve the needs of the nation.”
The fuel delivery woes mark another front in the fight against supply chain disruption caused by the nationwide shortage of qualified HGV and tanker drivers – estimated at more than 100,000 by an industry body.
It has formed part of the UK’s growing inflation problem as pay rises – to attract more drivers and retain them – add to surging bills from stiff competition for the swift delivery of goods.
Meanwhile, Tesco has warned the government that it was worried about the sight of empty shelves, caused by the driver shortage, prompting panic-buying ahead of Christmas.
BP sources stressed that there was no shortage of diesel and petrol and that therefore the situation should not be described as rationing.
However, a top BP manager was reported to have warned the government that the situation was getting worse.
The company is understood to have expressed concerns about the driver shortage issue at a meeting with government officials last week.
It warned then of a looming squeeze on the ability to get product from refineries to forecourts.
While this is certainly a crisis, it isn’t a crisis of fuel supply: there is plenty of the stuff, with demand still only at 92% of pre pandemic levels apparently.
Panic buying would certainly make the situation significantly worse and the petrol stations that are closed probably won’t be for that long – they’re being prioritised for refuelling. The manager of one who I spoke to today said he expected a delivery before the day is out.
There is a crisis of supply, but it’s the supply of lorry drivers that’s the problem.
While it’s been causing havoc in the supply chain for months, closed petrol stations brings it into critical focus.
The problem is multi-layered: it’s been partly caused by the pandemic, which has resulted in a huge backlog in driving tests; partly by Brexit, with some migrant workers opting to go home; and partly because there’s a shortage of younger workers coming up who find these jobs attractive.
The industry has been clamouring for short-term visas to bring drivers over from the continent but thus far that’s not been forthcoming.
The question is how many disruptions like this can consumer confidence cope with? At what stage does potential shortages of food and Christmas presents, coupled with the ongoing energy crisis, make people nervous enough to respond?
If panic buying takes hold, intervention from the government may be harder to resist. – skynews
IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati. The electoral commission is planning to extend voting rights to Kenyans living in six more countries.
The electoral commission is planning to extend voting rights to Kenyans living in six more countries as it prepares to roll out mass voter registration on October 4.
Kenyans living in the US could be part of the plan that will see eligible Kenyans in 11 countries, from the current five, vote for their presidential candidate without traveling back home.
The other countries under consideration are Canada, South Sudan, the UK, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
At a meeting with members of faith-based organisations, Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairman Wafula Chebukati said those who wish to register as voters will be required to produce their Kenyan national identity cards.
“We must be clear that the only document known in law is the ID for purposes of registration of voters and voting,” he said during the meeting held in Karen, Nairobi.
The commission estimates that there are nearly 3.5 million eligible Kenyans living abroad and the plan to include the six countries goes a long way in ensuring that many of those take part in the polls.
Fewer than 3,000 Kenyans in Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and South Africa were permitted to vote from abroad in the 2013 and 2017 presidential elections.
The commission will on October 4 kick-start mass voter registration in which it is targeting to bring to the fold 9.2 million new voters, including some 5.2 million youth who will have attained voting age by 2022.
The additional four million people are those who were eligible to vote in 2017 but who were not registered as voters, according to an analysis of the 2019 census and 2017 voter registration numbers.
Mr Chebukati told the gathering that the commission has adequately addressed the internal problems cited by the Supreme Court in its judgment when it annulled the 2017 presidential election on account that it was not conducted in line with the law.
He, however, admitted that some systemic challenges remain and continue to undermine the creation of a stable electoral management culture. – nation.africa.
Almond Estate Company CEO Mr. Crispus Wachira is currently visiting the US as from 21st September 2021 to 12th October 2021. He will be visiting several states in US including Oregon, Seattle and Spokane in Washington, Carlifonia and Dallas in Texas.
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Here are some of his projects in Kenya.
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Contact the owner Mr. Wachira currently visiting the USA but you can get him on WhatsApp on +254733874080 and email: email@example.com
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The use of bitcoin – the most popular digital currency – has risen sharply, notably in developing countries.
Nigeria and Ghana are racing to adopt a central bank digital currency as they look to ride the wave of popularity of cryptocurrencies in West Africa’s two largest economies.
Central banks in both countries have partnered with foreign financial tech companies to create digital versions of their currencies, joining the global train of countries exploring the initiative.
Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, will launch its eNaira digital currency on October 1, while Ghana will trial e-Cedi from this month.
Nigeria has seen a boom of cryptocurrencies, despite a ban on banks making the transactions, as people look for ways to escape the weakening naira currency and offset high cost of living and unemployment in Africa’s most populous country.
“Nigerians are investing in cryptocurrency as a means of store value and to carry their funds outside the shores of the country,” said Ayodeji Ebo, head of retail investment at Lagos-based investment firm Chapel Hill Denham.
“eNaira will be for transactionary purposes.”
Central banks across the world are exploring ways to create virtual money as legal tender following the growth in digital payments, cryptocurrency and privately issued stablecoins.
Both so-called central bank-backed CBDCs and cryptocurrency are virtual money: CBDCs are issued and regulated by the central bank while the other is out of government control.
China became the first major economy to pilot a digital currency last year. Since then, five countries have launched digitised currencies, according to a CBDC tracker by American think-tank Atlantic Council.
Although some African countries such as Kenya, South Africa and Rwanda are exploring CBDCs, Nigeria and Ghana have already reached advanced stages.
Step by step
The Bank of Ghana is partnering with German firm Giesecke+Devrient (G+D) to pilot the e-Cedi. The scheme is part of a broader plan to digitise the country and its government.
G+D will provide the technology that will be tested in a trial phase with local banks, payment service providers, consumers and others.
Nigeria selected global financial technology company Bitt Inc. for its CBDC launch known as “Project Giant” after more than three years of research into the digital currency.
“The CBN will rely on the company’s tested and proven digital currency experience, which is already in circulation in several eastern Caribbean countries,” the Central Bank of Nigeria said.
The new eNaira will be issued by the CBN as legal tender like the current naira currency and will operate on the Hyperledger Fabric Blockchain. It will also follow the official exchange rate.
Starting from October 1, customers will be able to download the eNaira app and fund their mobile wallets using their existing bank accounts, according to CBN governor Godwin Emefiele.
Boom and concerns
Nigeria’s central bank has long worried about the impact of cryptocurrencies and stablecoins that are fast becoming popular among young and tech-savvy residents.
Young Nigerians continue to explore new ways to make money and store value in the face of double-digit joblessness and inflation as well as the collapse in value of the local naira.
Nigeria’s central bank earlier this year ordered lenders to stop facilitating cryptocurrency transactions over allegations they were being used for money laundering and terrorism financing.
In spite of the central bank ban, many Nigerians still skirt traditional sectors to use cryptocurrency for overseas transactions.
Emefiele says eNaira will benefit Nigeria’s economy in many ways, from cross-border trade to making remittance inflows more efficient.
Remittances fell to $17.2 billion last year, the lowest level since 2007.
Some of that was due to Covid-19 pandemic fallout, but observers say Nigerians abroad are moving away from official channels to cryptocurrency transactions seen as faster and more efficient.
Nigeria climbed two steps this year to rank sixth globally in crypto adoption, according to blockchain data platform Chainalysis.
Already, some analysts question the eNaira’s operating model with Nigeria already using a host of existing electronic payment channels, including internet banking and mobile apps.
“Digital currency is heavily dependent on smart devices,” said Joel Ogunsola, CEO of UK-based technology solutions company Prunedge.
“If you look at the number of people who have these devices in Nigeria, it almost looks like you are gunning for the same market.”
But the chief economist for Nigeria at PwC, Andrew Nevin, said the eNaira comes with the benefit of easier and lower transaction costs.
“The eNaira helps to reduce the cost of payment,” Nevin said. “That’s the point of deploying a larger technology, which is the basis for the central bank digital currency.” – nation.africa
If Lands Cabinet Secretary Farida Karoney decided to sack all corrupt workers at her ministry, then she would have almost no one left to serve Kenyans.
The Lands CS is bang in the middle of converting millions of dusty, worn out papers that Kenyans treasure as title deeds into credible digital documents that can be used as evidence of property ownership and underwrite billions of shillings worth of transactions across the country.
Ms Karoney, therefore, needs the honest input of each and every worker at Ardhi House, the Lands ministry headquarters in Nairobi, but the corruption cartels are out to sabotage her efforts.
“We have looked at this reform, looked at the mess we have created at the ministry over the years, the gaps in data, the gaps in management… all these things, and we came to the conclusion that if we take the punitive approach, this reform will not go through.
“If you were to look for people to punish for the mistakes that have happened in the ministry, then I’m afraid you might be left with no one to do the reforms. Because in one way or another we have all committed errors of omission or commission,” she said in an interview with the Nation on Monday.
After about three years of painstaking design and development of the new National Land Management Information System (NLMIS), a system meant to capture, update and relay live land-related data, land transactions in Nairobi went digital, and the CS’s problems with the cartels started.
Conveyancing lawyers who for years made a living from charging fees on manual land transactions were the first to complain that the digital system could not handle transactions. Bankers then complained that the new system had delayed billions of shillings worth of transactions.
For over four months, CS Karoney has been overseeing implementation of NLMIS, also called Ardhisasa, and she is not about to give up. She says digitisation of land records has exposed the dirt that lay inside the walls of Ardhi House for decades.
Cartels that have made a killing from frustrating efforts of Kenyans seeking services at the Lands offices for decades, working in cahoots with rogue ministry officials are putting up a vicious fight.
The CS has no doubt that NLMIS is the silver bullet for the land problems in Kenya, despite initial hitches that even she admits will need to be addressed. Ms Karoney disclosed that the old land information system, whose application was stopped on June 4, was being hacked and people corrupting records.
“This (NLMIS) is one of the most secure systems in the government. Remember we are coming from a space where people were altering and destroying records, people were actually stealing files and documents out of government premises. So based on that history we built a system to address these challenges,” CS Karoney said.
Explaining the rot at the Lands headquarters in Nairobi, the CS also said servers for the management of all land records in the country have been relocated to the National Geospatial Data Centre at the Survey of Kenya to ensure data security.
Land management in the country had gotten so bad that it had become possible for hackers to illegally access the ministry’s systems, alter records – such as transferring ownership of land – and go to the ministry to print a title deed, without detection.
Cartels working in cahoots with rogue ministry officials have also been taking vulnerable Kenyans through unnecessary bureaucracies, creating a corruption hub that would see Kenyans conned millions on a daily basis. A ministry official estimated that some Ardhi House workers make up to Sh100,000 daily just from corruption deals, such as illegally charging people for “search” service which ought to be free.
“We are building strong systems so that we free ourselves of the burden to look for people to punish. Let us just build the systems. Because if we look for people to punish, I guarantee you, three quarters will be punished,” she said, revealing that records of corrupt officials would be handed over to investigating agencies.
The CS says among the people opposing implementation of the new system are professionals who fear losing money since the new system allows users to perform self-service.
“One of the things this system was built to do is to guarantee certainty of land ownership. That if in the morning you searched and the land records read Farida, unless Farida has transferred that land, in the afternoon it should still read Farida,” Ms Karoney said.
Since April 27 when the NLMIS was officially launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta, the Nairobi Lands Registry has been operating fully on the digital platform.
But the CS noted that due to the corruption that has messed up records over the years. “Many data sets in our platform lack integrity – parcels of land that encroach on public assets,” she said.
Of the 87,000 parcels within the Nairobi registry, Ms Karoney said, only a third meet the criteria to uploaded to the digital land records. This means that about two-thirds of parcels of land in Nairobi cannot be sold, used to secure loans or any other formal transaction.
Ms Karoney admitted that with the integrity of majority of the ministry officials being questionable, the solution was to establish a system whose checks and balances leave nothing to chance, and which will expose anyone who commits an irregularity.
Ms Karoney said since the launch of the new system, the ministry has processed close to 4,000 title deeds and leases. Within Nairobi, 538 title deeds and 1,500 leases have been processed while 1,000 were pending as at Thursday last week, while 300 leases had been processed across the country, she said.
“To claim that there is no title that has been printed in the last four months is to mislead the country,” she said, stating that processing of the documents was only halted between April 27 and June 4, after which a temporary system for processing was procured. She also added that since August, the ministry has processed over 4,700 documents relating to various transactions, with an average of 150 requests per day.
“This is an extremely difficult change programme for everybody. For government officers, professionals and land owners, but for me this is the one reform that is needed badly by our country. So however painful or slow it may be, we have to bite the bullet and be patient for the reform to stabilise because the benefits we will reap will far outweigh the pain we are feeling right now,” the CS said. – nation.africa.
The US will let fully vaccinated travellers from the UK – and many other countries – visit from November.
A ban on foreign travellers began in March 2020, at the start of the pandemic.
Can I visit the US?
From November, passengers can travel to the US from the UK and EU if they are fully vaccinated.
Dr Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, told the BBC that this should include people who’ve had the AstraZeneca jab.
The US regulator doesn’t currently recommend the vaccine, but Dr Fauci said he didn’t think it would be a “problem”, although the final decision rests with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Vaccinated visitors will also need to take part in testing and contact tracing.
At present, only US citizens, residents and foreigners with special visas can enter from most European countries.
How are the green and amber lists changing?
From 0400 BST on Monday 4 October, the amber and green lists for travel to England, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be merged (Wales has not yet said whether it will follow).
Fully vaccinated travellers will no longer have to take a PCR test before returning from countries listed – including all of Europe.
Travellers will still have to take a PCR test two days after arrival, but this will be replaced by a cheaper and simpler lateral flow test later in October. The government hopes this will be in place “for when people return from half-term breaks”.
How is the red list changing?
Eight countries are being removed from 22 September, including Turkey, Pakistan and the Maldives.
If you visit a red list country you must spend 11 nights in a quarantine hotel – at a cost of £2,285 for solo travellers.
What if I’ve not been vaccinated?
If you haven’t been double-jabbed you will still need a pre-departure test.
You will also need a PCR test on days two and eight after arriving, and to self-isolate for 10 days on returning from a non-red list country.
Anyone who tests positive will need to isolate and take a PCR test. This would be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants.
Test to Release will remain an option for unvaccinated passengers who want to shorten quarantine.
Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have not yet decided whether to ease testing requirements.
What are the current rules?
Going on holiday abroad means taking Covid tests:
Your destination may require one – each country has its own rules
In the three days before returning to the UK, you will need to take a PCR or lateral flow/antigen test (not the free NHS tests)
Tests after you arrive in the UK must be PCR tests, booked before travel
The government advises passengers returning from Spain to use a PCR test.
Most private providers charge above £60 for PCR tests and £30 for lateral flow devices.
Amber list banner
What are the rules for amber list countries?
The vast majority of countries are on the amber list, including popular tourist destinations such as Spain, France, Greece and Italy.
Adults fully vaccinated in the UK, the US and most European countries don’t have to self-isolate upon arrival in the UK.
Those who are not fully vaccinated must self-isolate for 10 days.
A Covid test is needed three days before returning from an amber country, and a PCR test two days after arriving. Adults who are not fully vaccinated need an additional PCR test on or after day eight.
Under-18s do not have to self-isolate. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, under-11s don’t have to test before travel, but do need to take one two days after arrival. Under-5s don’t need to test.
In Scotland, children over 12 have to take tests before returning home, and on day two.
What are the rules for green-list countries?
Nobody has to self-isolate after visiting countries on the green list, unless they test positive or develop symptoms.
Returning you must:
Take a Covid-19 test before departure
Book a test for day two after your return (under-5s do not need to take these)
Complete a passenger locator form
Red list banner
What are the rules for red-list countries?
Red-list countries are those the UK government says should not be visited “except in the most extreme of circumstances”.
Dozens of countries are currently red, including Brazil and South Africa. If you have been in one in the last 10 days, you can only enter the UK if you are a UK or Irish national, or UK resident.
Returning from a red-list country, whatever your vaccination status, you must:
Take a Covid-19 test before departure and have proof of a negative result
Complete a passenger locator form
Self-isolate for 10 days in a quarantine hotel, booked and paid for in advance
10 days (11 nights) for one adult – £2,285
Additional adult (12 and over) – £1,430
Children aged five to 11 – £325.
A trader counting money.
The Kenyan shilling has hit a nine month low of Sh110.2 units against the dollar on higher import bill due to costly oil prices and global strengthening of the greenback.
The rise in crude oil from $42.35 a year ago to $72.34 a barrel this month means Kenyans need more units of the local currency to buy dollars pushing up demand for the greenback.
Oil imports accounted for 16.3 percent of the import bill at Sh190 billion in the seven months to July and its movement affects demand for dollars.
The Kenyan currency has been under continued pressure since June when it stood at Sh107.8 against the dollar due to the increase demand against reduced dollar inflow from key export earning sectors such as agriculture and tourism.
The dollar has also been bullish against global currencies as market rushes for safety amid fears the US Federal reserves will start cutting its bailout programme.
“The US dollar is having a bit of a rebound. Everyone is eying the Fed, waiting for a tapering signal,” Reuters said.
Decline of the shilling is likely to lead to imported inflation where the prices of goods may rise as traders need more local currency to buy imports.
It piles reassure on fuel prices especially as petrol and diesel costs jumped the highest level in Kenya’s history after the State discontinued a subsidy scheme introduced in April to ease public outrage over the high cost of living.
The costs of energy and transport have a significant weighting in the basket of goods and services that is used to measure inflation in the country. – businessdailyafrica.com
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris meets with Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, U.S., September 21, 2021. REUTERS
Boris Johnson has hailed “real progress” on US-UK trade – despite his earlier refusal to commit to securing a free trade deal between the two countries by the time of the next general election.
Speaking as he met US Vice President Kamala Harris in Washington DC, the prime minister spoke of British and American collaboration on issues such as climate change and Afghanistan.
Mr Johnson said it was a “great honour and privilege” to meet Ms Harris for the first time, adding: “I’ve heard a lot about you but it’s fantastic to be here.
“And I want to thank the US government, your government, for the many ways in which we are co-operating now I think at a higher and more intense level than at any time I can remember.”
Stood at a podium alongside Ms Harris in the vice-president’s office in the White House complex, Mr Johnson also praised the “brave” US military for their “amazing work” in helping with the air evacuation from Kabul – even though he had earlier suggested America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan could have been done “a bit differently”.
“On trade we are seeing real progress,” Mr Johnson added, as he welcomed the end of a “curious ban” on imports of British beef.
However, the prime minister’s positivity came just hours after he failed to commit to securing a post-Brexit trade agreement between the US and UK by 2024.
And Mr Johnson has acknoledged this week that US President Joe Biden has “a lot of fish to fry” when it comes to prioritising negotiations on a US-UK deal.
At his meeting with Ms Harris, the prime minister also thanked the US for the “great improvement on the previous arrangement” for allowing full vaccinated Britons to visit America again.
And he welcomed the doubling of funding by the US to help developing countries respond to climate change, which had been announced by Mr Biden at the United Nations General Assembly earlier on Tuesday.
“On climate change I think that today was a really good day for the world,” Mr Johnson said,
“And I thank the US government and President Biden for the steps you’ve taken to reassure the world that America is committed to helping to tackle climate change.”
“As you will discuss with the president, the relationship between our two countries is a long and enduring one, one that we value based on shared priorities and based on as we know, what is increasingly evident about partnerships and alliances around the world,” she added.
“We are indeed interconnected and interdependent in so many ways and in many ways, more than before.
“And of course we must work and continue to work together to uphold and protect democratic principles and values around the globe. And we look forward to that continuing relationship, and our relationship as partners.”
Following the pair’s talks, the prime minister was due to hold a meeting with Mr Biden later on Tuesday. – skynews
The shift in rules will end an 18-month patchwork of travel restrictions imposed by former president Donald Trump.
Vaccinated passengers will be able to enter the US from the UK and EU from November, ending almost two years of coronavirus travel restrictions.
The new rules are part of broader policy changes for international travel and will apply to fully jabbed people – meaning those who have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
All foreign travellers heading to the US will need to demonstrate proof of vaccination before boarding a flight, as well as proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken during the three days ahead of the flight.
It ends an 18-month patchwork of travel restrictions imposed by former president Donald Trump at the start of the pandemic.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he is delighted that President Joe Biden is “reinstating transatlantic travel”.
He added: “It’s a fantastic boost for business and trade, and great that family and friends on both sides of the pond can be reunited once again.”
Speaking in New York, Boris Johnson was questioned by Sky’s political editor Beth Rigby over his previous comments that we shouldn’t ‘hold our breath’ on the lifting of US travel ban – suggesting he wasn’t expecting the announcement.
When asked whether he had been caught out by the US president acting unilaterally, Mr Johnson insisted: “We’ve done it faster than we expected.”
And back in the UK addressing the House of Commons, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “In 2020 the only weapon we had to fight the spread of COVID was simply to keep people apart.”
But as one “of the world’s most vaccinated countries”, with more than eight out of 10 people now jabbed, he said: “We must use that to our advantage to restore freedoms that were by necessity lost over the past 18 months.”
He continued: “Vaccinated Britons will be able to travel into the US from early November, reciprocating the policy that we introduced this summer and this is a testament to the hard work and progress of the expert working group set up at the G7 to restart transatlantic travel.”
Vaccines, he said, “mean the emphasis can now shift to an individual’s status instead”.
Newly appointed Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tweeted: “Excellent news for travellers from the UK to the US. Important for our economic recovery, families and trade.”
British ambassador to the United States, Karen Pierce, said: “We are grateful the US has recognised the progress the UK has made against COVID-19, including high vaccination rates and declining cases.
“This decision means that more Brits can reunite with loved ones in the United States, more British holidaymakers can spend their hard-earned pounds in the American tourism sector, and more business activity can boost both of our economies.”
In contrast, however, President Biden is tightening rules for unvaccinated American citizens, who now need to be tested within a day of their departure from the US as well as on their return.
Those fully vaccinated will not need to quarantine.
Airlines will be required to collect contact-tracing information – including phone numbers and email addresses – from international travellers.
And Mr Biden also extended restrictions along its land borders with Canada and Mexico that stop nonessential travel by foreigners. The rules will continue for another month, despite Canada allowing fully vaccinated US visitors since early August.
Following the announcements, internet searches for flights between the UK and the US from November have rocketed, with British Airways Holidays saying they saw an increase of nearly 700% for searches to key destinations, including New York, Orlando, Las Vegas, Miami, Los Angeles and Boston.
Companies reliant on international travel have been watching their shares rise. Aeroplane engine maker Rolls-Royce saw shares climb by 5%, while SSP, whose brands such as Upper Crust and Ritazza operate at transport hubs, rose 6%.
In Europe, Air-France, KLM and Lufthansa also enjoyed a share price bounce.
And easyJet, despite not being a transatlantic aviation player, nonetheless saw sharp gains, jumping by 9%.
British Airways CEO Sean Doyle said it was a “historic moment”.
“Our customers should now feel that the world is reopening to them and they can book their trips with confidence,” he added.
The changes only affect air travel, with the order restricting overland travel from Canada and Mexico still in place and reviewed on a monthly basis.
Announcing the new US policy on travel, White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said: “This is based on individuals rather than a country-based approach, so it’s a stronger system.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will decide which vaccines are acceptable under the US system and whether those unapproved in America could be used, he added.
Under the previous policy, only American citizens, their immediate families, or green card holders could enter the US from the UK or EU.
However, the American government had the power to grant national interest exemptions to allow people to travel.
The US also banned travel for anyone who had been in China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, or India, 14 days prior to arriving in the country. – skynews