Australia will reopen when 80 per cent of population vaccinated

·38-min read
A quiet Sydney this week  - Shutterstock
A quiet Sydney this week - Shutterstock

Australia will reopen its borders and end lockdowns when 80 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said.

A year and a half since Australia cut itself off from the world, a vague timeline has finally been announced by Mr Morrison to end ‘Fortress Australia’.

He indicated that when 80 per cent of adults were fully vaccinated, border restrictions would ease for those in ‘safe countries’, and double-jabbed Australians would be able to travel again. He also hinted at the easing of mandatory hotel quarantine.

Australia’s vaccination rollout has been notably sluggish, with only 14 per cent of adults fully vaccinated and only a limited number of people currently eligible to receive a dose.

Mr Morrison said that he hoped 70 per cent of adults would be double jabbed "by the end of the year" and that the "timelines are now in the hands of all Australians.”

04:33 PM

What happened today?

A recap of the key developments:

  • Australian PM: borders will reopen when 80 per cent of population is vaccinated

  • Italy extends quarantine for UK travellers

  • Greece threatens more travel curbs

  • France to remain on 'amber plus' list until at least next week

  • Spain holidaymakers set to escape quarantine as beta variant cases fade

  • Germany tightens travel entry restrictions

  • Increased foreign travel this summer ‘of particular concern’, Covid scientists warn

Thanks for joining us, as ever.

04:31 PM

Which countries are open to UK travellers? Latest destinations with no quarantine or restrictions

Craving a holiday? Welcome to the club. Unsure of where to book? Join us.

Of the 169 countries on England’s green list and amber lists, the majority aren’t even open to British travellers (the US, Australia, New Zealand, and most of Asia among them), and many aren’t viable holiday destinations anyway (Yemen, North Korea, the South Sandwich Islands, to name a few).

Of the countries that are left, a good number of them are only open to fully vaccinated travellers (nearly half the UK population still don’t qualify) and plenty of them require visitors to quarantine upon arrival (Italy being a notable one, not exactly what most of us are looking for in a holiday).

With that in mind, we’ve broken down all the green and amber-listed holiday destinations into categories; from the easiest options (no quarantine either side, even if you’re not yet fully vaccinated) to the impossible (firmly closed to all British travellers). We’ve ignored the red list on the assumption that few would be prepared to wrap up a nice break in a foreign land with 10 days in a UK airport hotel as penance.

Read the guide here.

holiday
holiday

04:10 PM

In pictures: tourists around the world

Here's a quick look at what tourists are up to across the globe...

tunisia - Reuters
tunisia - Reuters
venice - Reuters
venice - Reuters
milan - AFP
milan - AFP

03:59 PM

The 10 most incredible places in England worth travelling for – and where to stay

It would be an insurmountable task to catalogue all that this little country has to offer, but here, we present the essentials – the 10 starting points that everybody really ought to visit in order to see England at its very best.

lake district
lake district

03:44 PM

WHO director-general: I wasn't wrong to travel to Tokyo

The head of the World Health Organisation has defended his decision to travel to Tokyo to address the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ahead of the opening of the Games.

Asked if it was a mistake to endorse the Olympics as cases in Tokyo surge, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he wanted to use the platform to communicate with the world.

He said:

I wanted to be in Tokyo, and to join the IOC and the Government of Japan in the Olympics, to use the platform to tell the world that we need to use the spirit of Olympics, the spirit of solidarity, the spirit of unity, to end the pandemic.

I said it in my speech earlier today, do you really accept 1.5 per cent vaccination in Africa, while in some countries it's already 70 per cent? Don't we need a platform like the Olympics to go and tell the truth: that the world is actually morally, epidemiologically and economically doing the wrong things?

Is it really wrong to go to the mountaintop of the Olympics to call for solidarity. Are you saying that's wrong. I hope not. So that's why I went.

Dr Tedros added that he took all the necessary safety checks, including regular PCR tests and use of face masks.

03:32 PM

Increased foreign travel this summer ‘of particular concern’, Covid scientists warn

An increase in foreign travel this summer is concerning, while autumn could prove to be a particularly “risky point” for the UK, scientists advising the Government have warned.

In documents given to ministers earlier this month, scientists from the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, Operational sub-group (SPI-M-O) raised concerns about the return of students to schools and universities for the autumn term - which could place “significant pressures” on the NHS.

The document, dated July 14, stated the importance of global surveillance of new variants and warned that September and October will be a “particularly risky point in the trajectory of the epidemic”.

It added: “Any increase in foreign travel over the summer and the return of international students to universities in the autumn is of particular concern.”

The Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab insisted earlier this week that the Government’s new rules on travel, which include allowing fully-vaccinated US and EU travellers to enter England without quarantine from Monday, are part of a “modest opening up”.

Head on over to our coronavirus live blog for more.

03:14 PM

Australia: Military summoned to help enforce Sydney lockdown

Australia may have announced that border restrictions will ease when it eventually vaccinates 80 per cent of its population, but for now the country is still mired in local lockdowns.

Sydney today reported a slight drop in locally acquired cases of Covid amid a further tightening of restrictions in the worst-affected suburbs, with the military summoned to help enforce lockdown rules.

Millions of people in the city today began one of the country's harshest lockdowns since the pandemic began, after nearly five weeks of increasingly tough restrictions failed to quell an outbreak of the delta variant.

Although cases dipped for the first time in nearly a week, state Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned cases could again rise due to the growing number of people positive with the delta strain moving around in the community.

New South Wales reported 170 new local cases, down from a record high of 239 set a day earlier.

Police have been given sweeping new powers to close businesses flouting rules, while the military will begin assisting police with ensuring compliance with restrictions from Monday.

02:57 PM

Which countries are on the green, amber and red lists?

A reminder of where different countries sit in the traffic light system. The next update is due on August 5.

02:40 PM

Holidays in jeopardy as Greece tightens rules and Italy extends quarantine

Hopes for hassle-free summer holidays have been dealt another blow, after Greece tightened the rules on its party islands and Italy extended restrictions on UK travellers.

Extra police have been deployed to popular Greek islands including Mykonos, over fears that tourist venues aren’t complying with Covid measures. A reported 186 officers have been sent to the island, almost four times the usual number stationed there.

The Greek deputy civil protection minister Nikos Hardalias said Mykonos, along with the island of Ios, was “one step” away from authorities imposing further restrictions, and signalled concern over rising Covid rates in Zakynthos, Tinos, Lefkada, Santorini, Paros and Rhodes.

Meanwhile, Italy has extended its quarantine rule for British tourists for another month, even after the UK government’s decision to drop entry restrictions for fully vaccinated arrivals from the EU and the US.

Anyone entering Italy from Britain will have to show a negative Covid test result, self-isolate for five days, and take another swab test at the end of the isolation period, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said in a decree that prolonged until August 30 measures that were due to expire on Friday.

02:21 PM

International cruise holidays are finally coming back – here's how they will work

Cruise ships are once more allowed to sail from England to destinations such as Ital - iStockphoto
Cruise ships are once more allowed to sail from England to destinations such as Ital - iStockphoto

The news that cruise customers and lines have been eagerly awaiting was finally delivered by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on Twitter this week, swiftly followed by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office replacing its year-long advice against sailing overseas with a long list of guidance which also covers fly cruises.

It’s clear that travel abroad won’t return to pre-pandemic normal overnight, and cruising will still face many challenges over the coming months. But here are answers to questions uppermost in the minds of holidaymakers keen to sail in international waters again.

02:08 PM

Sir Rocco Forte: 'No particular checks on UK travellers in Italy'

Rocco Forte Verdura Resort, Sicily  -  ©Hotel Photography
Rocco Forte Verdura Resort, Sicily - ©Hotel Photography

Renowned hotelier Sir Rocco Forte, who owns a string of luxury resorts in Italy, has blasted the "absurd" decision by the Italian government to extend the five-day quarantine on arrival requirement for British travellers. He also highlighted that there were "no particular checks" on UK holidaymakers in Italy.

He writes:

The summer season in Italy will be quite disastrous without British travellers. Normally during June, July and August alone, Italy has 2.1 million British visitors so the impact of the five-day quarantine and the lack of those travellers is massive. The UK normally makes up about 25 per cent of our summer business and most of them have either cancelled or have had to postpone their stays.

It must be kept in mind that Italy is open to everyone else and there are no particular checks on UK travellers. I have just returned from Italy and apart from still having to wear masks in indoor public areas everything is quite normal. Our properties are seeing a good amount of arrivals from the US and the whole of Europe and this UK ban is simply ridiculous.

As far as the future goes, we are confident that Italy will remain one of the UK's favourite destinations. Many of our UK guests just keep postponing rather than cancelling. We now see booking for the end of August and September when they hope the five day rule will no longer be in place. And in the wake of this latest extension, many are travelling now anyway, I mean what can be nicer than quarantining in a lovely seaside resort after the hellish year we've had? And who is going to check anyway?

It is absurd that the Italian government should have extended the quarantine, particularly as cases in the UK are plummeting and we have the highest vaccination ratio. Also why would they damage themselves unnecessarily?

Initially, governments hoped to stop people travelling abroad in order to help their economy but they totally overdid it with these ridiculous restrictions and are now simply killing the hospitality world. It is vital that vaccine systems are coordinated, borders are opened and travel encouraged immediately

The only way out of this stop/start situation is to look at the facts and stop listening to the nonsense governments feed us because they are too scared of taking responsibility. They must open borders to all vaccinated people. They must stop these absurd restrictions and allow people to get back to a normal way of life.

01:52 PM

Comment: 'I refuse to be imprisoned by an incompetent Government invoking bogus science'

Nothing quite so illustrates the bureaucratic incoherence of Britain’s post-vaccination policy as the amber plus quarantine rule for travellers, writes Ambrose Evans-Pritchard.

Forgive me for breaching the rule that journalists should never write about a subject where they have an axe to grind. I happen to be in France, waiting to return, and increasingly vexed by the utterings of British ministers.

I refuse to be incarcerated for 10 days for no purpose on the basis of false science and bureaucratic incompetence when I am fully vaccinated, especially since this same Government tells us it is sufficiently safe to eliminate masks on public transport and in supermarkets - which is to err in the other direction.

Nor do I wish to be pinged when I get there, as will inevitably happen after travelling on unmasked trains and tubes returning to Kent from Stansted airport. The chief infection risk will be on that leg of the journey.

So I will stay put until good government returns and my civil liberties are restored. The Perigord in summer is not exactly a hardship fate, and I can work from anywhere, up to a point. Others who travelled to France on what turned out to be false assurances from skittish panic-prone leaders are not so lucky.

Read the full story here.

01:40 PM

Ministers 'tying themselves in knots' over France's amber-plus rating

Ministers are "tying themselves in knots" trying to explain why additional restrictions were imposed on travellers from France, Labour has said.

This morning, Grant Shapps sought to explain Dominic Raab's suggestion that the amber-plus rating was because of concerns about the beta variant on the island of Reunion, several thousand miles away from the mainland.

Reunion Island - Istock
Reunion Island - Istock

Jim McMahon, shadow transport secretary, said:

"If they misinterpreted the data over cases in mainland France they need to come clean and apologise.

"It's completely unfair that holidaymakers who booked in good faith in line with the Government’s own advice, have had to fork out extra for early flights, or lost income through having to isolate when they came home.

"This is why Labour has been calling for the country-by-country data informing the traffic light system to be published. The Government must do that without delay."

01:28 PM

The 33 newest Unesco sites – and how to visit

Baden Baden, Nice and North Wales have all made this year's list
Baden Baden, Nice and North Wales have all made this year's list

A clutch of European towns that coax visitors with restorative thermal waters, a tropical garden filled with some 3,500 plant species, and a pockmarked landscape of slate quarries are among the 33 sites freshly voted onto the Unesco World Heritage List.

Unable to meet last year, this year’s committee session considered nominations from both 2020 and 2021, delivering a bumper batch of accolades.

International travel remains confusing at best for now. So we’ve picked out a selection of sites to consider for a future trip, along with some details from the full list to further whet your appetite. After all, the more adventurous will be itching for new corners of the world to explore when the effects of the pandemic eventually subside. Some European sites, however, are already on offer to history-seeking Britons with a negative Covid test, or proof of full vaccination (and don't forget the hassle-free option of a weekend in Wales).

Find the full list here.

01:13 PM

Italy quarantine extension 'disappointing', but tour operator remains hopeful for autumn trips

More tour operators have been reacting to the news that Italy has extended its quarantine requirement for UK travellers until August 30. Italy travel specialist Citalia described the decision as "frustrating", but highlighted Italy's strength as a year-round destination.

Erin Johnson, marketing director for Citalia, said:

"Just as tourism has started to open up to many popular European destinations, with those who are double-vaccinated being exempt from quarantine on their return to the UK, it’s really disappointing that Italy has extended their self-isolation rule for all British tourists until the end of August. We understand their desire to be cautious, and of course we also want to ensure that travel resumes safely, it is nonetheless frustrating and does nothing to aid consumer confidence.

"Unlike other European destinations, Italy has a year-round offering, so while summer is out of the question now, we remain hopeful for autumn and winter bookings. Tuscany is beautiful in the autumn, with warm days and spectacular displays of colours, and the ever-popular cities such as Venice, Rome and Florence are ideal to be visited in the winter months. Sicily and the Aeolian islands remain warm through the autumn months, making for an ideal place to head for some late sunshine.

"All of our bookings are backed by our Book with Confidence policy, which gives free cancellations up to three weeks prior to departure and free amendments up to three times. We want our customers to be able to dream and look forward to travelling again whilst knowing their money is safe and refundable and that they have the ability to change plans."

01:03 PM

Italy quarantine extension reaction: Move could be the 'final nail in the coffin for some hotels'

More tour operators are reacting to the news that Italy has extended its quarantine requirement for UK travellers.

Emily Fitzroy, founder of Italy travel specialist, Bellini Travel, said:

I’m just incredibly shocked and sad that Italy has extended the quarantine until the end of August for Brits. Clients have fortunately planned much longer holidays this year and for those in a private villa then the five days is no hardship. But our Italian hotelier friends are suffering badly and my concern is that it could be the final nail in the coffin for some.

Meanwhile, Scott Dunn warns travellers could move away Italy, opting for other amber list destinations instead.

Simon Lynch, global sales and product director of Scott Dunn:

It’s very disappointing to see the news today that Italy has extended its quarantine rules for UK citizens on arrival until 30 August, especially as the summer season is now well underway. We’re already seeing double vaccinated UK-based travellers moving well beyond the current green list of countries in their last-minute planning and with destinations across Europe eagerly welcoming vaccinated travellers, we will inevitably see some travellers switch away from Italy, which will come as a real disappointment to hoteliers and economies from Tuscany to Sicily.

Sadly also, with FCDO still advising against all but essential travel to Italy, there has been less demand from our UK guests to travel to Italy this summer, compared to a typical year. Whilst the quarantine period is shorter than in many other destinations, it will continue to be a deterrent for many travellers who, with only a seven-day holiday, will have wanted to explore more than just their hotel.

12:50 PM

Comment: What’s really behind these absurd and restrictive foreign travel rules?

Following the money seems as good an explanation as any for the traffic light system, reckons Jeremy Warner:

Time was when international travel was largely the preserve of the rich and particularly intrepid, but that all changed from the 1960s onwards when the age of mass tourism arrived and an overseas holiday started to become accessible to all. Today, Brits are more likely to holiday overseas than almost any other nation, if they could, that is. As a country we take almost as many trips abroad as the whole of the US, which has five times as many people.

The upshot is that we run a huge trade deficit in tourism. In 2019, British nationals made 93.1 million trips abroad, spending an astonishing £62.3 billion. There were on the other hand only 40.9 million trips to the UK, with spending of £28.5 billion. If the money we spend abroad were instead disgorged in the UK, it would theoretically be a huge net boost to the economy, even if we lost all those tourist pounds from overseas.

That in essence has been the effect of the pandemic and the travel restrictions policymakers have deemed necessary to counter it. Small wonder that Spain, Portugal and Greece are so keen to welcome us back. By the month, they bleed billions of British euros. Small wonder too that the Treasury would much rather we spent its furlough largesse here in the UK than a Benidorm or Mykonos nightclub.

Read the full piece here.

12:33 PM

Cyprus to vaccinate 12-15-year-olds against Covid

Cyprus announced that children aged 12 to 15 would be included in a mass vaccination programme to curb the spread of Covid-19, as it tightened restrictions for access to public spaces.

"The only way we can stop the emergence of new aggressive strains (of coronavirus) is vaccination," Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas said in a statement.

Children will be eligible for the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, though only with parental consent. The measure will come into effect on August 2.

12:15 PM

Comment: Unlike last year, the holiday misery is now out of our hands

The UK’s border policies are stabilising – but the chaos has just moved elsewhere, warns Greg Dickinson.

For the first time in a while, the Government has presented us with a fairly extensive menu of countries we can visit. This doesn’t mean our holidays will be plain sailing this summer, of course. The main difference is that any holiday chaos or misery is increasingly down to the whims of your destination.

Today, Italy announced it will be extending its travel restrictions on British arrivals. Until August 30, anyone arriving in Italy will be subject to a mandatory five-day quarantine, with a test before arrival and a test at the end of the quarantine period.

This is a one-way situation, as double-jabbed Britons returning from Italy can do so without quarantine, and Italians will soon be able to do the same, from August 2. It is also a situation that does not appear to be down to rates of Covid-19. Italy’s doors are open to all corners of the EU, so long as those arrivals present an EU Covid Digital Passport.

Read the rest here.

12:00 PM

Lunchtime read: 'Race against lockdown – a tale of escape and close calls in Australia'

Anna's lockdown-dodging travels have taken her the length of Australia
Anna's lockdown-dodging travels have taken her the length of Australia

It reads like the blurb of a far-fetched sci-fi movie. As the delta variant swept across Australia, one Kiwi traveller travelled from place to place to avoid getting caught up in the state lockdowns.

Anna Cullins escaped them by the skin of her teeth, joining a fleet of “grey nomads and hippy travellers” who fled the southern states in camper vans that have since packed out caravan parks across northern Australia.

An educational facilitator, Cullins has worked with health and education initiatives in Africa and South Asia. Before the delta variant arrived in Australia, she planned to find teaching work in a remote indigenous community in the far north of Australia, but interstate border closures complicated that ambition.

Read Anna's full story here.

11:45 AM

Spotlight on France: Will the country be promoted from the 'amber plus' list?

Covid cases in France are up 45.34 per cent in a week, with the seven-day rate standing at 224.01 per 100k. This remains lower than the UK's current seven-day rate of 305.11 per 100k.

However, the decision to upgrade France to the amber list will likely rest on the levels of the beta variant recorded in the country. This is the key metric Government advisers will be looking at ahead of the traffic light update next week.

11:31 AM

Germany tightens entry restrictions on land passengers

From August 1, all travellers arriving in Germany must take a Covid test unless they provide proof of vaccination or recent recovery from the virus.

This is a tightening of the current rules, which require any unvaccinated person arriving in the country by plane to take a test, but not those entering by land, unless they are travelling from a high risk area.

Health minister Jens Spahn said:“All unvaccinated people entering Germany will have to be tested in future - regardless of whether they come by plane, car or train.”

The new rules, due to be signed off by the cabinet today, will apply to all arrivals over 12 years old. Only cross-border commuters and those transiting through the country will be exempt, reports AFP.

11:17 AM

States of emergency proposed for Japan

Japan's government today proposed states of emergency until August 31 in three prefectures near Olympic host Tokyo and the western prefecture of Osaka, as Covid cases spike to records, overshadowing the Games.

Existing states of emergency for Tokyo – its fourth since the pandemic began – and southern Okinawa island should also be extended to August 31, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who is spearheading Japan's pandemic response, told a panel of experts in announcing the proposed expansion.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is expected to formally announce the move later today after the experts approved it.

Japan has avoided a devastating outbreak, but is now struggling to contain the highly transmissible delta variant, with daily cases nationwide topping 10,000 for the first time on Thursday, media reported.

UK travellers are not currently permitted entry to Japan.

11:03 AM

Turkey's coastal resorts under threat as wildfires rage

Popular coastal resorts in Turkey are under threat as wildfires continue to sweep the south of the country.

Videos shared online showed fires burning near the resort city of Marmaris, which is popular with British holidaymakers. There have been reports of hotels in the region being evacuated.

A heat wave is scorching southeast Europe, with temperatures rising above 40C in parts of Greece and across much of the region.

Weather experts in Athens said they expected the heat wave to extend into next week, making it one of the most severe recorded in the country since the mid-1980s.

Turkey is currently on the UK’s red list, though recent data from analytics firm Cirium suggested that flights were operating at 65 per cent of 2019 levels.

10:47 AM

Air France-KLM six-month losses close to €3 billion

The aviation giant posted a €1.5 billion loss in the three months to June, taking its total losses for the first half of 2021 to almost €3 billion.

Despite the staggering figures, the group said there were positive signs of recovery ahead and is expecting to operate at around 60 to 70 per cent of its 2019 flight levels between July and September.

Chief executive Ben Smith said: “The second quarter of 2021 saw the first signs of the long-awaited recovery. Travellers were able to take the skies again.

“Reciprocity of borders reopening and acceleration of the vaccination roll-out worldwide will play a key role in maintaining this momentum.”

10:32 AM

Can I cancel my holiday to Italy?

It depends on your booking. Generally, disinclination to travel is not a good enough excuse and seeing as Italy is allowing entry to Britons, trips may not be cancelled.

However, most airlines and tour operators are generous with their flexibility options at the moment, meaning you will most likely have the chance to rebook, at least.

Tui’s website suggests it is still running trips to Italy for August but its quarantine promise means it will not run trips to anywhere that requires arrivals to self-isolate. It is likely to offer a refund or chance to rebook.

Contact your airline, tour operator and insurer to see what your options are.

Here's everything you need to know about travel to Italy this summer.

10:23 AM

Canary Islands Covid passport plan for hospitality halted by judges

The Canary Islands' Covid passport plan for hospitality has been halted by judges, who say "restaurateurs are not public health controllers", writes James Badcock.

The proposals to introduce a requirement for a Covid certificate to enter bars and restaurants has been struck down by the archipelago's top court after an appeal by the hospitality sector.

The court said that the law makes bar owners and restaurateurs "public health controllers, obliged to invade the legal area of the right to privacy."

A full consideration and ruling will come in next few days, but for now it appears to have been provisionally shelved.

Read more on our coronavirus live blog.

10:15 AM

'How I organised a multi-generational holiday for 10 people to Mallorca'

After completing Operation Balearics, the BBC’s Home Editor Mark Easton and his family group were able to enjoy a proper summer holiday.

Mark Easton and his family group on holiday in Palma - where they spent their summer holiday - Mark Easton 
Mark Easton and his family group on holiday in Palma - where they spent their summer holiday - Mark Easton

The mission was ambitious: to transport myself, my wife, our four children, three partners and a baby, to a villa in Mallorca, without breaking rules, ignoring guidance or needing to quarantine. The missing partner, a captain in the British army, had been due to come until duties in Iraq intervened. We could have done with his logistical expertise. The success of Operation Balearics depended upon completing a bureaucratic assault course.

I can best describe the exercise as a cross between a fiendish sudoku and a cryptic crossword. One wrong number, one letter out of place, and the entire venture would fail. Apps needed downloading, vaccine certificates needed uploading, negative PCR tests needed registering, QR codes needed generating, a matrix of data for each member of the party had to be assembled and inserted. Even baby Ben, not yet old enough to know a world without social distancing, required two Spanish residency forms for our week in Palma. To add to the jeopardy, everything had to be completed and verified within a fixed time window ahead of departure.

There was, I must admit, a pang of pride as all 10 of us successfully crossed the Spanish border to the happy sound of a Mallorcan stamp being banged into our passports. A young family ahead of us were not so fortunate, escorted to the back of the terminal after an error was spotted in their homework.

Find the full story here.

10:01 AM

'Fridge-stocking and meal deliveries' – The travel industry reacts to Italy's quarantine extension

Travel industry insiders have been reacting to the news that Italy has extended its five-day quarantine requirement for British holidaymakers. And it looks like some travellers will be forging ahead with their holidays, arranging shopping deliveries so they are able to self-isolate.

Ravi Sabharwal, founder of Oliver’s Travels, said:

This morning's news is a disappointing blow considering customer confidence in this territory had just started to grow and as a result, our bookings to Italy in the past week have been strong – up 19 per cent week on week.

We have 139 passengers due to travel this weekend. However, due to the nature of our villas with private pools and large grounds we expect many will still travel and with extra services such as fridge-stocking, meal delivery services able to be arranged through our concierge service and on the ground villa managers. We have already had clients contacting us this morning to arrange this.

We expect the news will take a hit on forthcoming Italian bookings, we’ve already seen a 45 per cent decrease in Portugal bookings week on the week following the quarantine news there. However, British travellers are resilient and we predict our bookers will now focus on France and staycations.

A spokesperson for Simpson Travel:

At Simpson Travel, we have become used to adapting to changing travel advice so while it is hugely disappointing, our priority is to ensure clients are happy. We have already begun the process of contacting those affected and some are determined to go ahead and enjoy their long-awaited holiday as planned.

We will offer overseas support to enable these clients to adhere to the five-day quarantine in the comfort of their villa, including a shopping service for groceries, drinks and other essential items. For those who would prefer not to travel, we are offering deferrals, refunds or a switch to an alternative destination.

09:52 AM

BA ramps up flights, after reopening announcement

British Airways parent company IAG is planning on dramatically increasing its flight schedules, in the wake of Britain’s easing of restrictions for US and EU travellers.

The company, which also owns Iberia and Aer Lingus, will operate at around 45 per cent of its pre-pandemic flight levels between July and September, up 21.3 per cent on the previous three months. It is hoping to increase this figure to 75 per cent by the end of the year.

IAG Chief executive Luis Gallego said British Airways saw a 95 per cent increase in the number of bookings for flights from the US to the UK, after Wednesday’s announcement easing restrictions.

09:32 AM

The red list countries that could move to amber in time for summer holidays

There is plenty of discussion about next week's traffic light update, with many hoping France will be promoted from the 'amber plus' list.

All eyes are also on certain ‘red listed’ countries which could be in the running for an ‘amber promotion’ in time for the summer holiday rush, judging by the latest data, meaning an end to the expensive mandatory hotel quarantine that passengers returning from the 60 red-listed countries face.

The Maldives - EXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER
The Maldives - EXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER

Maldives

7-day case rate: 140.85

Second dose: 61.52%

Letting Britons in? Yes, with pre-departure tests 96 hours prior to arrival. More information here.

It is not the Maldives' vaccination rate holding it back from amber promotion. Some 61.52% of the population has received a second dose of the vaccine, and 75.59% have had a first jab. It is its case rate that keeps it on the red list. The tropical island idyll reported 762 new cases of Covid-19 in the last seven days, which equates to 140 cases per 100,000 over seven days. With a small population, however, that case rate can grow and shrink fast (it is down 17.8% week on week), so it is not impossible that the Maldives could go amber before the end of the summer.

Read about all the contenders here.

09:23 AM

France to remain on 'amber plus' list until at least next week

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said a decision on France's place in the international travel traffic-light system is not expected until next week.

France is currently on the 'amber plus' list, with even fully vaccinated holidaymakers returning from the country being required to self-isolate for up to 10 days.

Mr Shapps said a decision on its status will be taken "by this time next week" as part of the regular travel list update every three weeks.

Asked if the decision could be taken before then, the minister told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "No, it's only six days away actually, so I wouldn't expect anything in advance of that, but it is the moment at which this will be looked at."

09:11 AM

Comment: 'The cautious forays of these pandemic times may prove to be the best trips you have ever had'

As a new parent during Covid, going to a nearby town felt like visiting Thailand and a commute was like crossing the Atlantic, writes Hugh Morris.

Hugh looked upon the bridge in St Ives as if it were the Ponte Vecchio in Florence - istock
Hugh looked upon the bridge in St Ives as if it were the Ponte Vecchio in Florence - istock

Last week I ventured out twice. First, to the nearby market town of St Ives for my wife’s birthday. We had lunch in a restaurant on the banks of the Great Ouse, with a view of the town’s 15th-century bridge. It is beautiful, no doubt, but starved as I am of travel I looked upon it as if it were the Ponte Vecchio. I was momentarily transported to the buzz and hum of Florence in a hot summer.

Next day I went into the office and enjoyed my commute as if it were the Trans-Siberian Express; a journey typically of little note suddenly felt other-worldly. When the train entered north London, I gazed upon Alexandra Palace with wonder. It is remarkable, but years ago I used to do cycling laps on its hills and barely glanced at it. Context is all – and this is what travel has become through the lens of the pandemic.

Find the full story here.

09:06 AM

Italy quarantine reaction: ‘I’ve had to cancel my 40th birthday celebration’

Holidaymakers have been left reeling from the news that Italy won’t waive its quarantine requirements for UK travellers until at least August 30. Many are now having to decide whether to put off trips or submit to five days isolation and multiple tests.

Julia Perowne, founder and CEO of travel PR firm Perowne International, is one of many forced to cancel their upcoming holidays. She says:

I booked a holiday to Italy in July. We were forced to postpone it due to travel restrictions on both sides until August. The latest news is just another confusing wave of restrictions that make it simply impossible for us to travel. I have just had a baby, we are only going for three days for my 40th birthday to my favourite hotel on the Amalfi Coast, Monastero Santa Rosa, and we have childcare arranged.

It’s maddening and upsetting. Governments aren’t talking and advice constantly contradicts both science and reason. My partner and I are both double jabbed. If we were staying in a villa or for longer, of course we would have continued with the trip and quarantined for the mandatory five days but unfortunately due to our circumstances, we have had to cancel.

The fabulous Monastero Santa Rosa Amalfi
The fabulous Monastero Santa Rosa Amalfi

Are you having to cancel a holiday to Italy? Let us know in the comments below.

08:48 AM

Eurostar chief demands airline tax to help save rail link to France

The boss of Eurostar is calling for an airline tax to subsidise rail services to the Continent in a move that would help Boris Johnson meet his climate change commitments.

Jacques Damas urged the Prime Minister to encourage more Britons to use Eurostar instead of flying to northern Europe.

“If the UK Government wants to commit to its objective for carbon emissions reduction … then they have to activate the right levers," he said. “This high speed [railway] in the world has a lot of remaining capacity.”

Jacques Damas - Eddie Mulholland
Jacques Damas - Eddie Mulholland

The French President, Emmanuel Macron, is cracking down on domestic flights with a ban on services that can be travelled by direct train in less than two-and-a-half hours.

Mr Damas added: “If you do not want to ban, but give an incentive, it is very easy. If you just work with the taxation system. If you take just £1. Take £1 more in taxing fuel for aircraft, and take that £1 as a reduction in access charges on the railway.”

Read the full interview here.

08:38 AM

Grant Shapps defends France's 'amber plus' rating

Asked why France remains on the 'amber plus' list, the Transport Secretary said advisers were "sufficiently concerned about the Beta variant in France.”

This is despite Dominic Raab yesterday implying that France's inclusion on the list was due to cases on the island of Reunion, thousands of miles away from the mainland.

Mr Shapps told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It was actually the cases the [JCB] were picking from France – there has been some discussion about whether those cases where from Reunion, they may have started there but they were measured in France."

Asked if beta variant cases are high in France, he said: "It looks like it has been trending downwards... the Joint Biosecurity Centre will be looking at France and providing fresh advice on where that should sit in the system."

08:16 AM

Grant Shapps: No change to US travel ban, despite UK reopening

The US has still not signalled any change to the travel ban on visitors from the UK, Grant Shapps has said.

The UK lifted its travel ban for US visitors, along with those from the EU, as long as they have proof that they are fully vaccinated with an FDA or EMA-approved jab.

"The US have an executive order, which... bans visitors from the UK and several other countries," the Transport Secretary told Radio 4's Today programme. "I should add, it didn't help the US in their battle with coronavirus – they have had a pretty torrid time.

"It is the case they are yet to release that executive order," he added. "We look forward to hearing news once they have."

08:03 AM

In detail: Italy extends quarantine for UK travellers

The disappointing news that UK travellers to Italy will continue to have to quarantine, has dimmed hopes of holidays to one of the Britain's favourite destinations.

Here are the key points you need to know about travel to Italy this summer

  • Anyone entering Italy from the UK will still need to show a negative Covid test, self-isolate for five days, and then take another test until August 30.

  • However, Italy will recognise UK vaccination certificates locally, making it easier for any Briton who completes quarantine to then comply with Covid passport regulations, which will from Aug 6 apply to indoor bars, restaurants, museums, cinemas and other venues.

  • The FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the whole of Italy based on the current assessment of Covid-19 risks, meaning travel insurance can be hard to secure.

07:46 AM

UK Marriott hotels see 80 per cent rise in interest from American travellers, following reopening announcement

The news that Britain is reopening to fully vaccinated travellers from America and the EU from August 2 is the small step back to normality that the travel industry so desperately needed. And already hotels and airlines are reporting increases in interest and bookings from international travellers.

Neal Jones, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, EMEA, Marriott International:

"Following the excellent news that fully vaccinated US citizens can now travel to the UK without having to quarantine, we're optimistic that we'll see an increase in US bookings to the UK this summer.

"Immediately following the UK Government's announcement, we saw an 80 per cent increase in traffic to our website from Americans searching for UK hotels. It's abundantly clear that after over a year of restrictions, people are itching to travel again.

"We have already seen some encouraging trends from mainland Europe over recent weeks, and booking activity into Europe has improved by 40pts since early May as restrictions and quarantine requirements have loosened, especially in leisure-driven destinations like Greece, Spain, and Italy. We are seeing that our members and guests from the US are eager to come back to immerse themselves in the incredible culture and beauty of our key destinations once again.

07:37 AM

Spotlight on Greece, as restrictions tighten on party islands

Covid cases are on the rise again in Greece. The seven-day average of new infections at the start of July was 468. This figure has now risen to 2,667. However, rates still remain lower than much of Europe.

07:29 AM

French vent fury at 'excessive and discriminatory' UK quarantine rules

France - AFP
France - AFP

France has slammed Britain's decision to single it out as the only European country for which 10-day quarantine will be required for fully vaccinated travellers, branding the move as “excessive”, “discriminatory” and “scientifically unfounded”.

The decision, which the UK Government has blamed on the supposed prevalence of the beta variant in France, has infuriated British and French expatriates, along with Britons hoping to holiday in France.

Clément Beaune, France's Europe minister, suggested one reason behind the move could be that other EU countries, which had been waived quarantine, enjoyed “more tourist flows with the UK than us”.

He said he was personally examining the possibility of imposing “reciprocal” measures, even if they would not be implemented immediately.

Read the full story.

07:15 AM

Spain holidaymakers set to escape quarantine as beta variant cases disappear

British holidaymakers in Spain are poised to escape quarantine next week after ministers received data showing there are no beta variant cases in the country's main tourist areas.

The analysis, seen by The Telegraph, shows there are no beta cases in the Balearics – the most popular destination for Britons – and none in a huge expanse of the south, from Seville in the west to Granada on the southern coast and Malaga and Murcia in the east.

The variant, which originated in South Africa, is instead concentrated in one region in the north west, but even there it has fallen to below 10 per cent of cases as the delta strain – the dominant variant in the UK – squeezes out the others.

Overall, beta variant cases have fallen to 2.9 per cent of Covid cases in Spain, down from nine per cent.

Read the full story.

07:02 AM

What happened yesterday?

A recap of the key headlines:

  • Government is ‘increasingly confident' that green and amber lists will grow

  • UK faces anxious wait to see if US travel reopens

  • Raab: France is 'amber plus' due to cases on island 6,000 miles from Paris

  • Germany tightens entry restrictions in face of Delta variant

  • NI to follow England's rule change on international travellers

  • Bookings from New York to London surge, says Virgin Atlantic

  • EU warns against travel to Greece’s south Aegean islands

Now, on with today's travel news.

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