Following nearly six months of successfully managing coronavirus, resulting in just eight deaths in a city of 7.4 million, and virtually no local transmission for over two months, Hong Kong has seen a sudden surge of over 200 cases during the last week. Social distancing measures which had been carefully relaxed over May and June have been reimposed and include mandatory mask wearing on public transport, reducing group gatherings from 50 back down to four, and halting dine-in services at cafés and restaurants. Schools have also been closed, as have gyms and karaoke bars. Citizens have been asked to work from home where possible, although hotels and shopping malls remain open.
So according to today’s Telegraph, if we’ve got a waist of less than 88cm, we stand less chance of catching coronavirus. Which is great news if you’re naturally svelte, but if you’ve spent lockdown mainlining wine and cake, this news is likely to be sending you into a lardy tailspin.
In the latest episode of ‘Postcards’, Greg Dickinson catches up with actor Miriam Margolyes who shares tales of Australia, her time on the Real Marigold Hotel and village life in Tuscany.
As the Telegraph Travel team embraced our Great Escape, trying out the 'new normal' and travelling to hotels, guest houses and campsites in the furthest reaches of the UK, my own started a little closer to home.
Face coverings must be worn in all shops in England – but what are the protocols elsewhere in the UK? Planning a day trip or staycation in the UK this summer? Then you had better remember to pack your face mask. After months of dithering and debating their effectiveness, the Government has announced that face coverings will be mandatory in all shops in England from July 24. The news brings the country more in line with the policies of Spain, Italy and Germany, but raises further questions. A mask will soon be required if you want to buy a loaf of bread, but do you also need to wear one when going to the beach, or sitting in a pub garden? And how do the rules differ in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland? Here, we've compiled the rules and etiquette surrounding face masks throughout the four nations. England As noted above, face coverings will be mandatory in all shops from July 24. Anyone caught without a mask will face a fine of £100 (reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days). Children under 11 and those with certain medical conditions will be exempt from the rule. However, patrons at restaurants, pubs and cafés will not have to wear face masks. When discussing the new measures for shops, environment secretary George Eustice said that coverings are an "appropriate mitigation" against the risk of Covid-19, but that the rule would not work for hospitality businesses. Masks are not mandatory at hotels and campsites either. Going forward, it is worth checking with the establishment as they could introduce their own policy (though this would not be legally binding). Some hotels in Italy, for example, require coverings to be worn anytime you step outside your room. Face masks have been required on public transport (specifically buses, trains, ferries and planes) since June 15 and it is worth noting that many taxi firms, such as Uber and Addison Lee, have also put in place their own rules requiring passengers to wear masks. Unlike in parts of Spain, masks are not required to be worn in National Parks or on beaches, though they will no doubt be more commonplace in these settings as people become accustomed to wearing them while running errands and travelling to work. There is no doubt that there is an ambivalent attitude to face masks in the UK compared with other countries. A recent YouGov poll found that only 36 per cent of people in Britain wear face masks when in public whereas this figure is 83 per cent in Italy and 86 per cent in Spain. Many Asian countries, such as China and Vietnam, where there is much more familiarity with face masks, show similarly high levels of compliance. Scotland Up in Scotland, it has been a requirement to wear face masks in shops since July 10. Those who don’t comply can be fined £60 (reduced to £30 if paid within 28 days), though it has been reported that no fines were issued on the first weekend the rule came into action. When announcing the measure, Nicola Sturgeon told Scotland that wearing the coverings should become “as normal as putting on a seat belt.” As in England, coverings must be worn on public transport and the rule extends to taxis. No explicit rules have been issued for reopening restaurants and hotels, though it is understood that this remains under review. Wales Wales has been slower to introduce face masks than other parts of the UK, but they will be required on public transport and in taxis from July 27. First minister Martin Drakeford has also said that they should be worn in any situation where social distancing was not possible. He specified that the coverings should be three layers thick. However, the Welsh Government has stopped short of making masks mandatory in other public places. On this point, Mr Drakeford said: "The advice is that if places are crowded then face coverings are advisory. Where places are not crowded it is a matter for the individual citizen to make that decision." Northern Ireland Donning a face mask on public transport became mandatory in Northern Ireland on July 10. Those with certain medical conditions and children under 13 are exempt. Meanwhile, making masks mandatory in shops is apparently ‘under review’. No plans have been announced regarding hospitality businesses.
The Dominican Republic is one of the most popular Caribbean destinations for British holidaymakers, with 160,000 visitors from the UK last year. By regional standards the country has been hard hit by Covid-19, with nearly 42,000 confirmed cases and 864 deaths according to the latest figures. But in proportion to the country's population of around 10.8 million, the number of cases and fatalities per capita are far lower than in the UK.
I might as well come clean and say that my experience of the lockdown has not been all that onerous. I haven’t been shielding a vulnerable loved one, as many have – my sister among them – and I haven’t been cooped up in a flat.
Addressing the nation on Sunday July 12, as Covid-19 infections in South Africa surged, President Cyril Ramaphosa left no time for frantic stockpiling: “In order to conserve hospital capacity... we’ve now decided that the sale, the dispensing and the distribution of alcohol will be suspended with immediate effect.” Even as South African Twitter went into meltdown, there was – amongst the sensible, anyway – an understanding of why this measure is necessary.
I managed to get to the age of 60 without strapping on a pair of skis. For most of my life, I suffered the ignominy of having to bail out of conversations when someone mentioned their ski trip, leaving me feeling rather inadequate. Skiing just seemed like a completely different world – one far out of my comfort zone with my rubbish balance and dodgy knees. More to the point, I’m a complete coward when it comes to doing things I think I’m going to fail at, so I have always managed to find a way to avoid the slopes. But in April 2018, a month after my 60th birthday, some friends booked a chalet in Champagny-en-Vanoise, France, and invited us along. There were four other families going with their kids, and my wife, a keen skier, persuaded me to go. I was dragged along, kicking and screaming, placated with the promise of being able to hang out by the pool while they skied. I thought it would be a good chance to hang out with the kids, play some games, and read a book. It didn’t quite work out that way though. As a surprise, my wife booked me two skiing lessons. I was totally dreading them because I’m a bit of a control freak and get very nervous when I don’t know what I’m doing. Of course, I’d never so much as been in a ski shop before, and I remember wrangling my feet into uncomfortable boots and thinking, “This is just awful”. Then there was the gondola to go up the hill: I didn’t know you were supposed to leave your skis on the outside, so I crammed in with them, earning me some funny looks. Things got worse when I arrived at the lesson to find that the other guy learning with me was a fit-looking 30-year-old from Portugal. I thought he was going to be amazing, flying about all over the place while I spent the whole time on my backside. But within half an hour, I had both skis on and I hadn’t fallen over for a few minutes. I had a sudden moment where I thought, “OK, I can do this.” It was exhilarating, and the rest of the two-hour lesson flew by. From that moment, I was hooked and couldn’t believe I’d wasted so many years avoiding skiing. When it’s going well, there’s no feeling like it – it’s almost like flying. By the end of the week, we hadn’t seen much of my 10-year-old son, Theo, except for his ski school snaking its way down the mountain. On the last day, we had the chance to ski together, and I was a bit full of it after a week on the slopes. At the top of the mountain, I said: ‘“Theo, when we get to the top, you follow Daddy, and Mummy will be right behind you.” I just remember seeing a blur as he shot past me, completely fearless. He went straight down, with no turns at all and I knew there was no way I could catch up with him without breaking my neck. Since then, we’ve been skiing every February to Zauchensee in Austria. Theo has become an amazing little skier, zooming around the mountain like a maniac. I’ve gone from strength to strength – I’m doing blues, reds and the occasional accidental black, though never very speedily. But I feel like I’ve discovered a world I didn’t know existed. I find my stress just melts away on the slopes. I’ve tried mindfulness before but I get too easily distracted. With skiing, it takes you out of yourself and you forget the other stuff. I’m not on the phone, I’m not thinking about the trials and tribulations of what’s going on at home, or my next gig. All there really is to think about is being in the moment, getting down this little bit of slope or around the next bend. Next year we have three ski trips planned, virus permitting. It’s good for me to get outdoors because I spend far too much time in front of a computer or sitting in a room on my own and thinking of a rhyme for “banana”. It’s not the standard thing to learn to ski at 60, and I’m quite proud of myself. It’s corny, but it’s true: apparently you can teach an old dog new tricks after all. I obviously didn’t know what I was missing and I really do wish that I’d started this about 40 years ago. Learning to ski has improved my confidence enormously and made me think about the things I used to say no to. Previously, I was a glass-half-empty kind of guy, but that’s changed now. I used to shy away from things that looked too hard and avoid taking on anything with too many obstacles in the way. But now I just get stuck in, and often I discover that things look harder from the outside than they actually are. Next on my list? It might even be a skydive. As told to Rosie Hopegood: These Little Things by Nik Kershaw is out now
France’s national day, July 14, celebrates the 1789 seizing of the Bastille, which kicked off the French revolution. Or not. The story isn’t quite as clear as that suggests. Here are 21 things you might not have known about the turning point in French history.
If the words ‘room service’ summon up memories of limp Caesar salads and 30 per cent delivery charges added to your bill, you might be pleased to learn that in this Covid-19 era of travel, hotels are having to rethink.
Forget a warm Pimm's in a cold beer garden or the acquisition of a clematis from a garden centre, what I, and many of my friends have missed most during the lockdown is spas and treatments.
Europe’s most popular party islands and towns are preparing for an onslaught of alcohol-fuelled tourists now that UK quarantine rules have been lifted.
Take a look at the map of countries that Britons can visit without isolating either on arrival or return (below), and you will see a wash of restrictions in the east of the Continent and a tide of green in the west.
The place was purring once again to the rhythms of the rich. It had been doing so for 150 years. It had form. This was the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, for heaven’s sake – the most exclusive hotel in Europe, top five most expensive. Everyone you have ever heard of, from George Bernard Shaw to Nicole Kidman, has been embraced by this Riviera outpost of opulence – Kidman, it must be said, looking a great deal more suitable than the skinny, bearded and be-trunked Shaw.
Annual school ski trips have long been the most hotly anticipated event in many a pupil’s calendar – a thrilling chance to go on holiday with your friends, without your parents, and to learn a new skill that looks insanely cool on YouTube.
How Ben Aitken came to spend lockdown in Australia with no brown sauce and a book deadline to hit
The world’s largest cruise operator, Carnival Corporation, has confirmed that it will be shedding 13 ships from across its fleet as it prepares for a staggered “destination by destination” restart from August.
Russian holidaymakers seeking to beat one of the world’s strictest travel bans have found a circuitous route to the Mediterranean’s beach resorts thanks to an unlikely loophole. Travel to and from Russia is almost entirely halted, with all commercial flights grounded while the country grapples with the fourth highest coronavirus infection rate on the planet. But a soft border with Belarus has opened up a route to the rest of the world for those desperate to holiday abroad, and many are now driving hundreds of miles in order to exploit it, with some from as far away as Moscow making the 14-hour trip to the Belarusian capital, Minsk. Belarus has a far lower infection rate than its neighbour to the east, and flights from its Minsk National Airport to holiday hotspots in southern Europe and North Africa have largely resumed after several months of lockdown. Despite being subject to much harsher travel restrictions, anyone living in Russia is currently allowed to cross into Belarusian territory, to study, care for sick and elderly relatives, or for health reasons, and local travel agents have been quick to latch onto the latter. Many are now offering holiday packages that begin with a trip to a Belarusian health spa, after which Russian travellers are theoretically free to fly anywhere in the world without fear of reprimand from the authorities on their return. Yury Surkov, commercial director at Travel House, has welcomed the surge in business, much needed after months of hardship, and estimates that Russians will soon account for 40 per cent of flight sales made by Belarusian travel agents. “The demand is huge – all the flights to Egypt and Turkey are booked solid beyond mid-July. We’re adding flights from regional airports,” he told Bloomberg. The Russian government has announced that it might allow international flights to resume on July 15, two weeks ahead of its initial schedule for easing travel restrictions. Its transport ministry is currently considering the possibility of reopening its borders with 13 other countries, including the UK, Germany, Italy and China, but reportedly not Russian holiday favourites such as Turkey or Spain, meaning would-be tourists could be compelled to travel via Belarus for the coming weeks and months. “We can’t forbid people from using this opportunity,” said Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs. “Of course people should be careful and use common sense when taking such decisions.”
An opening party for the construction of a holiday village on a pristine plot of 500 acres of forested land to the north of Corfu was attended by the Greek Prime Minister last week.
When it came to my first journey abroad after lockdown there was really only once choice: the ferry from Dover to Calais.
Birka Cruises, which has been sailing for almost half a century, has announced that it is ceasing operation, citing “the financial impact of Covid-19” along with uncertainty facing the industry.
Oh we do like to be beside the seaside. And while only a few weeks ago, the prospect of any sort of family travel this summer – let alone to a suitably sandy beach – looked decidedly remote, suddenly, borders are reopening, and a great escape is on. Race you to the airport.