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Turkey and Poland have been removed from the UK’s quarantine-free list, leaving Britons with just six unrestricted holiday options. UK residents currently in the two countries now have until 4am on Saturday to return to British soil or face two weeks of self-isolation.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced the news on Twitter following the Government’s weekly review of the controversial quarantine policy. One other “travel corridor” – with the Caribbean island group of Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba – was also suspended.
Turkey’s removal follows the emergence of a leaked document suggesting coronavirus infections in the country are “20 times higher than official figures”.
Poland’s snub comes after its seven-day Covid infection rate rose to 24.4 per 100,000 residents – beyond the threshold of 20, after which the UK considers travel restrictions.
However, a clutch of other countries that have also crossed the 20 mark were handed a reprieve, including Italy (20), Greece (20.5) and Sweden (29.8). Along with Germany, Gibraltar and San Marino, they form the last six restriction-free options for British holidaymakers.
A further 10 destinations, including Barbados, St Lucia, Madeira and Cyprus, can be visited by taking a Covid test, and in some cases completing a short period of self-isolation.
See below for the latest news.
That's a wrap
Here's the key stories from today:
- Turkey and Poland have been added to the UK's quarantine list. We now have just six unrestricted holiday options
- The maximum fine for breaking quarantine rules has been raised to £10,000
- The Government is under increasing pressure to offer airport testing as an alternative to quarantine
- Madrid will lock down in the coming days, with all non-essential travel in and out of the city banned
- Florida, one of America's most tourism-reliant states, is facing a crisis after Disney announced 28,000 redundancies across its theme parks
Come back tomorrow morning for more on the fallout from the loss of Turkey as a quarantine-free travel option.
Removal of Turkey a 'huge blow' for the beleaguered travel industry
An spokesperson for Abta, the travel association, has said the loss of another winter sun favourite will pile the pressure on a struggling sector:
Many travel businesses are in precarious position and will find it difficult to survive unless the Government acts now with tailored support to assist the travel industry. The proposed Job Support Scheme simply doesn’t go far enough for most travel businesses, so we urge the Government to review this as a matter of urgency to save jobs that would otherwise be viable, but for current measures to control the pandemic. Without tailored support people face losing the businesses and livelihoods they worked so hard to build. We also need the Government to focus on those measures that will aid travel’s recovery, which includes the introduction of a fully regionalised approach to quarantine and foreign office advice, as well as introducing a testing regime. Those measures are vital to enable businesses to salvage something from a terrible year for travel.
Should I risk booking a winter holiday?
Our consumer guru Nick Trend offers his verdict after this evening's news:
As the evenings draw in, the traveller’s map is shrinking fast. And, lurking in the shadows, are two worrying developments which threaten our general prospects of a winter escape and, most immediately, our last chance for a family break this year – the October half-term week.
The first increasing threat to our travelling freedom is the way that the quarantine rules and other restrictions on travellers are being applied both in this country and abroad. Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, has imposed quarantine rules on arrivals from Turkey and Poland, and there are anxieties that Greece and Italy – two of the major remaining countries on the minister’s green list – will also soon be shown a red card. Both, as of October 1, have broken the threshold of a weekly average of 20 cases per 100,000 population, which the Government uses as a guide to its policy.
However, our own rate has now soared past 60 cases per 100,000 population, and it seems faintly ridiculous for the minister to be ruling on the danger – both to ourselves and others – of travelling in places where you stand less risk of contracting coronavirus than you do in Britain.
Fine for breaking quarantine increased
On top of the bad news about Turkey and Poland (and, of course, Bonaire), Shapps also announced that the fine for breaking quarantine rules (which are extremely strict: no shopping, no outdoor exercise) has been raised to a maximum of £10,000:
You MUST self-isolate if you enter the UK from a non-exempt country - from tomorrow, we’re increasing the penalties for people who refuse to do so to a maximum of £10,000 for repeat offenders.— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) October 1, 2020
Coronavirus infections in Turkey '20 times higher than official figures'
This is the story that seemed to trigger Turkey's removal (as reported by The Telegraph's James Rothwell):
Turkey is suspected of suppressing the true scale of its coronavirus outbreak, after an opposition MP produced documents that suggested the number of infections was twenty times higher than official figures.
Murat Emir, a member of the Republican People’s Party, said he had obtained a Turkish health ministry document which stated there were more than 29,000 positive coronavirus tests on September 10, while the public figure was only 1,512.“If this document is true, it is time to explain the truth to our people,” Mr Ermir told Fox Turkey.
It came as the mayors of Turkey’s two largest cities expressed similar concerns about the government’s official coronavirus figures, which they said did not tally with their local estimates.
Ekrem Imamoglu, the mayor of Istanbul, and Mansur Yavas, the mayor of Ankara, said the death rates in their cities were on a similar scale to the number of deaths nationwide.“These contradictory numbers are really bothering us. I’ve written to the health ministry four or five times,” Mr Imamoglu said.
Mr Yavas pointed out that last Tuesday there were 17 deaths in Ankara alone, whereas “across Turkey there are 20, 21 or 22 people” who died on the same day.
Thousands will be hit by Turkey news
They've threatened to cancel Christmas, now the Government is cancelling Turkey.
Britons in the country now have until 4am on Saturday to return to British soil or face a two-week quarantine, while many more will be forced to cancel their upcoming holidays. Going by the number of angry people on Twitter, this is going to affect many people.
Hi @British_Airways can you tell me how to refund flights i can no longer use due to new quarantine restrictions? I was meant to be flying to Turkey tomorrow.— Adam Booth (@adamelbooth) October 1, 2020
My mam needs to stop booking holidays cos every time she does something happens😂 Booked to go to turkey in two weeks now it’s been added onto the quarantine list, what a shame🤣— cara (@caraaaL) October 1, 2020
@jet2tweets my mum and dad are currently in Turkey. They can’t quarantine when home, they are due to fly back Sunday. Can someone contact me for some assistance. The phone lines are closed when I ring.— Lauren Garlick (@Laurengarlick) October 1, 2020
@TUIUK literally just changed a cancelled holiday a few days ago to Turkey, now they’ve been added to the quarantine list! I’m happy to self isolate on return please don’t cancel it! It will be the third one if you do 😩— Dale Peters (@D_Peters458) October 1, 2020
10 other feasible holiday options
If you don't mind taking a test and/or a short quarantine, there are a few others countries still welcoming Britons:
- Faroe Islands
- Antigua and Barbuda
- St Lucia
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
The six unrestricted holiday options left for Britons
Germany recently added Wales and Northern Ireland to its list of high-risk destinations. Arrivals from high-risk countries must take a test on arrival, something offered by most major German airports. If they test negative they are free to continue their holiday.
Travellers must report to the authorities if they have been in a “relevant area” in the 14 days before their arrival in Gibraltar. Failure to do so constitutes an offence punishable with a fine of up to £1,000. A relevant area means a country, area or territory outside the European Union but does not include the United Kingdom, Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man.
3. Greece (Partially open)
Travellers returning to Scotland from the whole of Greece must self-isolate.
For England and Northern Ireland, those returning from Lesvos, Tinos, Serifos, Mykonos, Crete, Santorini and Zakynthos must quarantine; for Wales, the exclusions are Mykonos, Zakynthos (Zante), Lesvos, Paros and Antiparos, Crete, Santorini, Serifos and Tinos.
You must complete an online Passenger Locator Form (PLF) at least 24 hours before your arrival in Greece. Failure to do so in advance may result in your carrier not allowing you to travel, a fine on arrival, or the Greek authorities not allowing you to enter the country.
4. Italy (including Vatican City)
You should download and complete a self-declaration from the Interior Ministry before you travel.
5. San Marino
You must travel through Italy to reach San Marino. See “Italy”, above.
The other corridor to go is Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba
That's a trio of Dutch Caribbean islands, FYI.
Poland is out
Grant Shapps has shed a bit more light on Poland's omission:
Data from Poland shows that test positivity has nearly doubled increasing from 3.9% to 5.8% alongside a rapid increase in weekly cases, causing the Joint Biosecurity Centre to update their recommendation.— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) October 1, 2020
Turkey loses travel corridor
That's a surprise, but it comes after a leaked document suggested its government is downplaying the severity of Covid in the country. Poland also out.
TRAVEL CORRIDOR UPDATE: The latest data indicates we need to remove Turkey, Poland, and Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba from the #TravelCorridor list this week.— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) October 1, 2020
This means if you arrive from these destinations from 4am Saturday 3 October, you will need to self-isolate.
'The UK is shamefully behind France and Germany on airport testing'
This whole Thursday quarantine fandango wouldn't be happening if our country offering testing as an alternative.
Our own Greg Dickinson is getting fed up with the lack of action. He writes:
In France, a score of international airports – not just Charles de Gaulle – have rolled out testing facilities for arrivals from high-risk countries. It is the same story at international airports in Germany and Italy. Each of these countries introduced airport tests in early August. We are now in October, and a UK-wide airport testing scheme still feels far in the distance.If the UK’s tourism industry is to survive, it won’t be through testing at just Heathrow, but rather at all of the UK’s international airports. We can only hope for clarity on the Government’s nationwide airport testing plans in the coming weeks, not months.
The countries that haven't embraced mandatory face masks
Sweden doesn't stand completely alone. There's also Belarus and Estonia.
Grant Shapps has tweeted
Shappsy has got into the habit of teasing us with a tweet about something completely unrelated to quarantine just before the key announcement. He's at it again:
Our #HammersmithBridge Taskforce has agreed a ferry service across the river is the fastest way to get a temporary route running for Londoners – this is yet another step forward as we deliver progress for the community. More here: https://t.co/8cyDSyO07L— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) October 1, 2020
Here's when he did it last week:
Pleased to see the first phase of the new £80m sea wall 🌊at Dawlish completed by @networkrail. Part of our ambitious plan to deliver reliable, punctual journeys🚉 across Devon & Cornwall, it will help the South West build back better, boosting the local economy and tourism.— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) September 24, 2020
And a couple of weeks before:
The fantastic Sparks Cafe, which helps to support the great work of @ResolveCharity, is reopening on Saturday 12th September from 9.30am. If you can, please do visit and help this important community hub https://t.co/dynEQNsG6C— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) September 10, 2020
Given that he's not the most frequent tweeter, we can only assume it is deliberate.
America's answer to Sweden
In case you missed it yesterday, this postcard from South Dakota, whose leader is vehemently opposed to lockdowns, is worth a read.
Madrid to close to non-essential travel
Reuters reports that Madrid will become the first European capital to go back into lockdown in the coming days after the region's leader reluctantly agreed to obey a central government order to ban non-essential travel to and from the Spanish capital.
In order to fight a steep surge in Covid-19 cases, Madrid and nine nearby municipalities will see borders closed to outsiders for non-essential visits, with only travel for work, school, doctors' visits or shopping allowed. A curfew for bars and restaurants moved to 11 p.m. from 1 a.m.
However, regional chief Isabel Diaz Aysuo said she will appeal against the lockdown in the courts, meaning the uncertainty and fierce political squabbling that has exasperated the residents of Madrid is far from over.
Glorious UK breaks to get you through the next six months
Low season breaks are also the best way to avoid the crowds, which has never been more appealing. So, gather your bubble, rip up your regular holiday thinking and make the most of what’s on the doorstep every month. Here are some ideas to keep you going until the so-called normal summer comes round.
Meanwhile, in China...
Tourists flock to the West Lake park in Hangzhou, in east China's Zhejiang province on the first day of the eight-day National Day holidays.
Thailand without tourists
A woman cycles past a closed seafood restaurant along Patong beach in Phuket, which has seen a lack of tourists due to ongoing travel restrictions.
One hour until Grant Shapps sends his dreaded tweet
It's Thursday afternoon, which means the eyes of British travellers are glued to the Twitter account of the Right Honourable Grant Shapps, master of quarantine. At 5pm he will send a tweet outlining any changes to the UK red list. Britons currently on holiday in new additions to the list will have until 4am on Saturday to return home or face two weeks of house arrest.
Exeter Airport had just nine passengers in May
Exeter Airport has been rescued after a calamitous fall in passenger numbers, with just nine people passing through its doors in May.
Almost 100,000 people used the airport in the same month last year and one million passengers used it in a 12-month period for first time in 2019.
Passenger numbers by July were still 99.5pc lower than last year and the airport faces a £620,000 bill for business rates.
However, East Devon Council has voted in favour of a support package, allowing £180,000 of the bill to be paid over the next three years – and maximum allowed under EU state aid rules.
Instagram scammers 'cost Cornish holiday resort thousands of pounds'
Emma Beaumont reports that an Instagram ‘scam account’ has allegedly conned a luxury holiday resort out of thousands of pounds in one week.
Landal Gwel an Mor, a collection of plush eco and Scandinavian-style lodges near Redruth in Cornwall, has told how the ploy, which reportedly uses cloned credit cards and pockets guests’ cash, has deeply affected it business.
The account the resort accuses, which users need to request to follow, promises discounted luxury accommodation around the country. In its bio, it describes itself as an independent travel broker and has followers numbered in five figures. Prospective guests are encouraged to ‘DM [Direct Message] for enquiries.’
According to the resort, after clients decided to book, the people behind the account paid the full price of the reservations with cloned credit card details, while telling guests that they simply have to transfer the cut-price rate directly to them after they arrived at their lodge.
Greece still welcoming British travellers
Quarantine watcher @BenkersBen also points out that Greece has just updated its travel restriction list and Britons are still welcome.
Brits 🇬🇧 travelling to Greece 🇬🇷 ARE NOT subject to entry restrictions...— Ben McCluskey (@BenkersBen) October 1, 2020
The list of countries has been updated TODAY & valid until October 12th 👇
🇲🇰 North Macedonia
🇨🇿 Czech Republic
Wales and Northern Ireland added to Germany's high-risk list
We missed this yesterday but it seems Germany quietly added Wales and Northern Ireland to its list of high-risk destinations. Arrivals from high-risk countries must take a test on arrival, something offered by most major German airports. Kudos to @BenkersBen for the spot.
Germany 🇩🇪 has added Wales and Northern Ireland to its list of "risk areas".— Ben McCluskey (@BenkersBen) October 1, 2020
On entry, those who have been in the above UK 🇬🇧 nations in the last 14 days are subject to a COVID-19 test on arrival, and may have to quarantine depending on the rules of the specific federal state.
October half-term holiday tracker: The best options for a family escape in 2020
Missed out on a family holiday this year? You couldn’t make the most of the lockdown sunshine; your summer trip to the Med was cancelled; your staycation break was blown away by the August gales. Now schools are back, so you have one last chance for a rewarding trip for all – the autumn half term.
At the best of times you have to be selective about your destination – late October is a tricky time weather-wise. And the current Covid world of quarantine and cancellations and the unpredictability of the “air corridor” arrangements is going to make things even more complicated. You are going to have to tread very carefully and be prepared for last-minute changes. But don’t give up.
We’ve put together a guide to help you navigate the uncertainties and maximise your chances of getting away – whether you’re determined to find sunshine or just want a good dose of culture on a city break.
Poland and Estonia destined for quarantine list – but reprieves for Italy, Greece and Sweden?
That's the view from Paul Charles, CEO of travel PR consultancy The PC Agency. He has form when it comes to these predictions.
Thurs update: #Poland highly likely to be added to the quarantine list, as over 20/100k and high test positivity rates. #Estonia also possible due to growing infection levels. #Sweden #Italy and mainland #Greece should stay off the quarantine list. #coronavirus @ThePCAgency pic.twitter.com/BrqoLyFE6b— Paul Charles (@PPaulCharles) October 1, 2020
That said, the Government also has form when it comes to Quarantine Day announcements that baffle absolutely everybody, so don't book your flight to Stockholm just yet.
Despair as South Africa bans tourists from US, Britain and most of Europe – but not Spain
After months of intense speculation, swirling rumours and industry lobbying, the South African government finally announced the nationalities of international tourists who would be welcome in the country from today, writes Graham Boynton.
Much of the world, including the US, the UK and most of Europe – but not, curiously, Spain – has been placed on a new high-risk list, with tourists still banned.
The announcement was met with astonishment and derision by major players in the South African tourism industry, which is the most sophisticated on the continent. Before Covid the industry was bringing in 10 per cent of the country’s GDP and one in seven South Africans depended on tourism to put food on the table.
The majority of big spenders – those who stay in Cape Town’s internationally famous luxury hotels, take expensive wildlife safaris in the country’s remote wilderness areas and lash out at five-star restaurants and bucolic wine estates – are Europeans and Americans. The British are the biggest of those – more than 400,000 holiday in South Africa annually.
The 19 countries you can (feasibly) visit right now
Right now there are 19 countries and territories that Britons can travel to without the need to quarantine on arrival or return. Just eight of those are completely hassle-free:
3. Greece (Partially open)
4. Italy (including Vatican City)
6. San Marino
A further 11 destinations are feasible holiday options, albeit with some additional entry requirements:
9. Azores: Test on arrival
10. Cyprus: Test before departure
11. Faroe Islands: Test on arrival
12. Jersey: Test on arrival
13. Madeira: Test on arrival
14. Anguilla: Test before departure
15. Antigua and Barbuda: Test before departure
16. Barbados: Test before departure
17. Bermuda: Test before departure
18. St Lucia: Test before departure
19. St Vincent and the Grenadines: Test before departure
Health visas and 'mask aware' cameras – how Covid is transforming airports
The pandemic has changed the airport experience forever, sparking ground-breaking innovation in security and biometrics, says the president of the world's leading specialist in air transport technology, writes Hazel Plush.
In an exclusive interview with Telegraph Travel, Sergio Colella, the boss of tech giant SITA – whose clients include airports, airlines and ground operations all over the world – revealed how Covid-19 has forced airports to rethink the passenger journey entirely, and required an overhaul of security controls at a rate “not seen since 9/11”.
“Right now, you see that countries are putting in quarantines, restricting travel – but we can’t afford to keep doing this,” says Colella. “If you shut everything down again, we might be in good health, but the economy will be dead. Instead, what we need is more safety protocols in the airport experience, more touch-free technology for passengers, and an integrated approach to border checks – such as a ‘health visa’, which would permit you to travel when the necessary PCR tests or vaccines have been completed.
“And this isn’t a pilot idea or future technology,” he adds. "This is something that is already happening in airports globally.”
What's the situation in Turkey?
Daily cases have been steady over the last month, after some fears that the country was facing a second wave.
Its case rate is well below the UK’s, making it a decent last-minute travel option. Note that a leaked document recently suggested that the Turkish government may be downplaying its Covid statistics to a significant extent.
Florida in crisis as Disney announces 28,000 job losses
The Walt Disney company has sent America’s tourism industry into panic mode after announcing it is cutting 28,000 jobs across its US theme parks as the Covid crisis continues to ravage the travel business, report Simon and Susan Veness.
Disney had been seen as the great hope for reviving Florida when it re-opened its Orlando theme parks with reduced attendance of around 30 per cent in July.
But, with the company not even filling its lower-level capacity – and with its California parks unable even to convince the state government it is safe to reopen – it has resorted to permanently axing a quarter of its staff.
Air Canada to order 25,000 Covid-19 test kits
Air Canada has confirmed that it is ordering thousands of Covid-19 rapid response tests as part of an ongoing study of arriving travellers.
In the last month, the airline has conducted tests on 13,000 travellers, in partnership with McMaster Health Labs (MHL) and the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA).
It found that 99 per cent of participants tested negative for the virus; of the one per cent who tested postive, more than 80 per cent were identified as such during the initial test. The remaining 20 per cent were found to be positive after seven days, and no infections were detected after 14 days.
"Understanding that we will need to live alongside this virus for the short- to medium-term, we have been pursuing relationships and a layered approach as a way to keep our employees and our customers safe," said Dr. Jim Chung, Air Canada's Chief Medical Officer.
"We believe testing will be key to protecting employees and customers until such time as a COVID-19 vaccine is available. Rapid testing is also a means to enable governments to relax current blanket travel restrictions and quarantines in a measured way while still safeguarding the health and safety of the public."
'UK could lead the world on airport testing'
The Government must prioritise airport testing if it is to save the outbound tourism industry, a leading tour operator has warned.
Geoffrey Kent, founder and co-chairman of Abercrombie & Kent, said:
The UK government could be world-leading in their approach to testing on arrival and allowing the movement of people. However, we don’t even have routine temperature testing at our airports and anecdotal feedback is that follow up to check that quarantine rules are being followed is at best inconsistent.
This isn’t only about testing on arrival, but more accessible testing across the board, allowing people to move more freely and provide evidence that they are Covid-free.
The existing protocols were the right move for a short-term problem, however it is clear that this is not a temporary problem and without sensible changes, every aspect of the travel industry, from tour operators to airlines, will be devastated.
The Government has a lot on its plate right now and has rightly prioritised our healthcare system. However, I do believe that given the importance of the economic outlook and given that the outbound travel industry is worth £10bn, it hasn’t had the airtime it deserves.
Madrid politicians give way in local lockdown feud
Madrid politicians have backed down in a spat with the Spanish national government over new city-wide lockdown measures.
Cases in the capital have risen to 722 per 100,000 people in the past two weeks, triggering an order for the city to implement a total ban against anyone travelling in or out.
There are additional restrictions on social gatherings of more than six people, and on hospitality business' operating times and capacities.
The conservative local government initially refused to comply with the directive, issued earlier today, claiming the plan would "destroy" Madrid.
However, Madrid officials have now decided to impose lockdown restrictions while they challenge the order in court.
Where are the safest options for a holiday abroad?
The following countries have a seven-day case rate below 16 per 100,000, are not on the quarantine list, and are feasible holiday options for UK travellers:
- Germany (15.7)
- Turkey (13.3)
- San Marino (11.8)
- Cyprus (8)
- Antigua (5.2)
- St Lucia (0.5)
- Barbados (0.3)
'Cruise is safe to return, but Covid won’t just go away', says Royal Caribbean boss
The boss of the world’s second largest cruise line has told Telegraph Travel that an independent report has shown it is safe to resume sailing if strict protocols are followed – but that the world must learn to live with coronavirus.
In an exclusive interview, Richard Fain, the chairman and chief executive of Royal Caribbean Group, discusses the findings of the operator’s Healthy Sail Panel, and explains that although viruses such as Covid-19 “don’t just go away”, he expects that scientific advancement “will bring Covid strongly under control”.
“We have made it clear consistently that we won’t go back [to sea] until we have the right protocols, and a greatly expanded knowledge of the disease, and the technology that can be used to deal with it.
“We asked if it was safe to resume sailing in the current circumstances. [The panel] came back and said ‘yes, if you do these things we believe you can safely return into operation’.”
All at sea in Antigua, one of the last winter sun options for Britons
Ruaridh Nicoll travelled to Antigua, one of the few quarantine-free destinations still open to Britons, to learn how to be a ‘competent crew’ on a liveaboard sailing break.
With a steady breeze carrying us onwards, the Blue Moon, a 43ft Grand Soleil yacht, slices the western seas off Antigua. At the helm is Edoardo “Edo” Monti. He’s a trainee day skipper and he’s ready to gybe.
“So,” he says to his novice crew. “We’ll pass the wind with our stern.”
I start laughing, and soon I am joined by the others. Edo attempts to maintain the dignity of his office by looking put out. I can see I’m going to be coiling ropes – sorry, sheets – for some time.
Replace quarantine with 'health visas', says airline CEO
Travellers who have tested negative for Covid-19 should be issued with 'health visas', thus allowing them to circumvent off-putting quarantine rules, the CEO of Etihad Airways has said.
Tony Douglas pointed out that such worldwide system could be adopted relatively quickly, pointing to the international collaboration that has led to common airport security protocols.
“Universal international standards on testing passengers for Covid-19 could help travellers feel confident to return to the skies in greater numbers. There has to be something now that regulates the way in which your wellness can be assured.
“If you get over the fact that the threat is not going to go away you then have to actively decide to mitigate the risk.” Douglas says, pointing to how quickly common standards for airport security have been adopted over the past 20 years."
Etihad already operates a rigorous testing programme for its passengers, stipulating a negative PCR test taken within 96 hours before departure.
Mr Douglas is currently in conversation with several governments, including the UK, to explore the possibility of a health certification scheme to replace the travel corridor system.
Britain's top indoor snow centres and dry slopes for a ski staycation
Keen skiers and snowboarders in England have had their first taste of the slopes post-lockdown as the UK’s indoor real-snow and dry ski slopes reopen.
The reopening of UK centres has provided some light relief for the thousands of British skiers and snowboarders who saw their ski holidays cancelled last winter, plus a great day out for those opting for a staycation this year. With much of Europe currently on the Government's 'red list' it's uncertain when holidaymakers will be able to return to the mountains of Europe, so for now the UK's ski slopes are the best next thing.
Aside from being a fun day activity for the entire family, the UK’s vast array of dry ski slopes and indoor snow centres provide the perfect opportunity for a pre-season warm up or to sample skiing or snowboarding for the first time.
With slopes across the country, from Glasgow to Hemel Hempstead, it's never been easier to visit your local centre, get fit and have heaps of fun, without the hefty price tag of travelling abroad.
What's the situation in Greece?
Greece recorded 453 new cases on September 21, its highest daily figure since May, and was removed from Scotland's travel "green list" recently. Furthermore, several islands, including Crete and Mykonos, have been removed from the quarantine-free lists of England and Wales.
However, deaths remain low. Despite the country's seven-day case rate creeping above 20 per 100,000, it could well be the case that the rest of Greece escapes a UK-wide quarantine this time around.
How you can help save Africa's wildlife
The aftershock of Sir David Attenborough’s devastating Extinction: The Facts on BBC One last weekend is still being felt by many, writes Richard Madden. One in eight species on Earth is threatened with extinction, while the world’s vertebrate population (mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles) has plunged 60 per cent since 1970.
And now Covid-19 has thrown another grenade into the conflagration. Before the pandemic struck, the African safari industry was booming. In financial terms it was estimated to be worth £9.6 billion a year. In human terms it employed around 3.6 million people, directly and indirectly. In conservation terms it was priceless.
The story today is very different. Bookings have declined by around 75 per cent, with calamitous impacts on humans and wildlife. Even as lockdown eases across parts of Africa, most lodges are empty of guests and poaching is on the rise.
Tokyo residents given green light to travel again
A local travel ban on Tokyo has been lifted, opening up a large chunk of Japan's domestic travel trade.
The capital has now signed up to the nationwide Go To Travel campaign, which sees the national government subsidise up to 50 per cent of any Japanese 'staycation'.
With Tokyo containing around 10 per cent of Japan's population, the domestic tourism industry is expecting a significant business boost.
"[The city] takes a large share in the national travel market, with trips from Tokyo taking about 20 per cent and those to Tokyo about 10 per cent," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato.
Tokyo spent much of the summer under strict lockdown, hitting a peak of 472 daily new infections in early August.
Cases have dropped significantly since then, although there are concerns in some quarters that lifting travel restrictions on Tokyoites could lead to rising infection rates in other parts of the country.
'Let business travellers skip quarantine altogether' says travel agency chief
Business travellers should be exempt from UK quarantine rules to allow international trade to resume, the CEO of Flight Centre UK, Chris Galanty, has declared.
Speaking in response to the Government's decision to support Covid-19 testing at Heathrow Airport, he said:
In order to get the travel industry and the economy moving, we believe that the government needs to listen to calls from airports and airlines to introduce testing on arrival – a model that is working successfully at many airports around the globe, such as Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Dubai. As a result, we welcome the news that airport testing could be trialled at London Heathrow by the end of October, which, if successful, will effectively halve the current 14-day quarantine period.
However, even a seven-day quarantine period is going to be an inhibitor especially for business travel which is vital for the UK economy. What we would also like to see is business travellers being exempt from quarantine completely. Business travellers get the deals done and build relationships which drive global trade. That’s going to be even more critical not only in rebuilding the British economy post-pandemic, but also post-Brexit.
What's the situation in Germany?
As things stand, the infection rate in Germany is still well below 20 per 100,000, and is thus extremely unlikely to be hit with new quarantine restrictions when the Government gives its travel corridors update later today.
That said, cases are on the rise, and as of this morning have climbed up to 15.7 per 100,000 – enough to set alarm bells ringing. The German federal government has implemented stricter lockdown rules in response, and is shutting down travel connections with a number of 'high-risk' regions throughout Europe.
When will cruise ships start sailing again?
Prior to the pandemic, the cruise industry had been enjoying a new ‘golden era’. Passenger numbers from the UK and Ireland topped two million in 2017, and accounted for the largest market in Europe after Germany, and this year 19 new ships, including Richard Branson’s $710 million (£563 million) Scarlet Lady, were due to launch.
Then Covid-19 hit. Amid the challenges of getting passengers and crew home, ships have been left to float empty when they should have been full of people enjoying holidays at sea.
While many countries are beginning to open up to tourism – and Europe is seeing a slow resumption of cruising – many lines continue to delay their returns. Updated guidance from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in July dealt a major blow to Britons hoping to sail, advising against all cruise ship travel.
On July 16, the FCO revised its advice once again and gave the green light to river cruises, which are considered lower risk than their ocean counterparts, due to shorter itineraries and fewer passengers on board, meaning new health and safety protocols are easier to manage.
Heathrow tests a 'real step forward' for post-Covid holidays
It’s the good news that the travel industry has been waiting for, writes Hazel Plush. Finally, Britain could be a step closer to introducing testing at airports – with Heathrow hoping to start trials within the next few weeks.
John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow, revealed on Wednesday that talks with Downing Street had progressed: “We’ve heard from the Prime Minister that he hopes to go to a trial in the second half of October. It would take a couple of weeks to put into practice.”
Unsurprisingly, the travel industry has reacted with relief and support for the plans – and widespread hope that testing could finally quash quarantine.
Which country will be removed from the 'green list' next?
Ireland (47.3), Sweden (29.7), Lithuania (26.1), Poland (24.4), Greece (20.5) and Italy (20) are the countries on the green list with the highest case rates, so appear the most likely to face the chop.
However, other factors come into play such as a country's population size, the number of Britons who visit, and other measures introduced to stop the spread of the virus.
'Heathrow airport testing is welcome news, but the Government must loosen the purse strings too'
Derek Jones, CEO of luxury travel operator Kuoni, has expressed his relief at the Government's decision to back a programme of Covid-19 testing at Heathrow Airport.
However, he adds that the cost – believed to be £150 per test – should not be borne solely by travel firms and their customers, and that Boris Johnson must pledge financial support to help the revive the struggling industry.
Boris Johnson putting his weight behind airport testing has to be good news. The sooner trials begin the quicker we can move to wide-scale testing, providing millions of people with the ability to travel freely again. Whilst any progress is welcome, affordability will be key. Once the system is proven, some of the burden of cost should be shouldered by the Government, providing the travel and tourism sector with much needed, targeted support.
Germany to relax travel restrictions with rest of the world
Germany has lifted its blanket warning against all travel outside of the EU, potentially allowing visitors to enter the country without going into quarantine provided they supply proof of a negative Covid-19 test.
The German government will assess infection rates in each country before deciding whether to lift travel restrictions.
It has also issued new warnings for a number of regions within Europe: Germans are now advised against travelling to some areas of the UK (including Wales and Northern Ireland), the whole of both Belgium and Iceland, all of France except the Grand Est region, and parts of Ireland, Lithuania, Estonia, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary and Romania.
'Two coupons to paradise'
The Maldives is set to become the first country in the world to roll out a traveller loyalty programme for visitors.
Tourists who book holidays in the Indian Ocean archipelago, famous for its tropical islands and luxury resorts, will earn points through the Maldives Border Miles scheme based on how often they visit and how long they stay for. Additional points will be awarded to those celebrating special occasions.
The programme, which is expected to commence in December, will divided into three tiers: Abaarana (Gold), Antara (Silver) and Aida (Bronze), although the Maldivian government has not yet revealed how travellers will be able to spend their points.
Maldives Border Miles is a three-tiered loyalty program for tourists. Tourists will earn points based on the number of visits and duration of stay. Additional points will be awarded for visits to celebrate special occasions. #MaldivesBorderMiles #VisitMaldives pic.twitter.com/68AK2BUxQo— Maldives Immigration (@ImmigrationMV) September 27, 2020
Airport testing to be launched within weeks, Heathrow signals
As we reported yesterday, the Prime Minister has indicated that Heathrow will be able to commence airport testing later this month, potentially paving the way to quarantine being ditched.
Travellers would have to pay the £150 fee for the test, and would have to take another five days after arrival to confirm any negative result.
But this would cut the self-isolation period down from 14 days to less than a week, and could lead to the reopening of flight routes to the United States.
John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow, told Travel Weekly: “We’ve heard from the Prime Minister that he hopes to go to a trial in the second half of October. It would take a couple of weeks to put into practice.”
What's the situation in Italy?
Although it was the European country to initially bear the brunt of the pandemic, Italy appeared to have recovered quite early on. It was among the first countries to open a travel corridor with the UK, and has remained one of the few destinations that Britons have been able to holiday in over the summer.
But cases have climbed in recent weeks, and with the national case rate at 20 per 100,000, the country is right on the cusp of the UK's quarantine cut-off point (which is also 20).
There is some hope that a new method of analysing regional infection rates (so long as they're island regions) could save Italian holidays. Sardinia is currently a Covid-19 hotspot, and if it is deemed to be skewing the national case rate, we could see a regional quarantine put in place instead.
‘Getting cruise ships sailing again would be a rallying cry to the whole of travel’
Restarting sailing is critical not just for the cruise sector, but for the travel industry as a whole, said the chairman and chief executive of Virtuoso travel network.
In a letter circulated in response to the Healthy Sail Panel recommendations – as the cruise industry waits with bated breath to find out whether the US Centers for Disease Control ban on cruise ships will expire at the end of September or be extended – Matthew Upchurch said: “If you want to restore consumer confidence, get cruise ships sailing again. That needs to be the rallying cry of the travel industry, whether you sell cruises or not – whether you’re a hotelier, tour operator or destination management company."
“People who cruise don’t just sail. They fly to and from the ship, they stay in hotels before and after, they take tours, dine at restaurants, shop in ports and visit cultural sites. This is a case where a rising tide truly floats all boats. When the cruise lines successfully sail again – and I’m confident they will – it will bolster trust in traveller safety.”
Here's a quick re-cap on what happened yesterday:
Disney cut 28,000 jobs across its theme parks
It emerged that holidays are being lost due to Covid testing delays
Tour operators said quarantine measures have 'shattered confidence in travelling abroad'
Heathrow signalled that airport testing will be launched within weeks
A Spanish hotel chain announced free Covid-19 tests for all guests
It emerged that Britons will remain barred from South Africa as it prepares to reopen its borders