Greece extends ban on UK flights

Annabel Fenwick-Elliott
greece - getty

The Greek government is extending a ban on direct flights arriving from Britain, pushing it back to July 15. Direct flights from Sweden have also been banned until this date. 

There were high hopes that summer holidays to Greece would be given the green light this week, as the Government prepares to announce a list of 'air bridge' countries in the coming days. 

Air bridges will effectively mean people can travel abroad again; quarantine will be lifted for anyone arriving back into the UK from air bridge destinations, and the FCO travel ban will change – it has advised against all but essential travel since March.

The government is expected to introduce a traffic light system that will classify countries depending on the prevalence of coronavirus. ‘Green’ will mean they are safer than the UK, ‘amber’ meaning less safe, and ‘red’ will mean arrivals will still need to self isolate on return from that country.

There has been much speculation as to which countries would appear on the list. The Telegraph was last week told Mediterranean destinations including France, Italy, Greece and Spain would feature on the list. Others, including Portugal and Sweden, could miss out due to their rising rates of infection.

Keen British holidaymakers have been booking in their droves ahead of the Government's announcement, which was originally due today but could be pushed back as late as Wednesday. Tui said bookings were up 50 per cent week-on-week, while Hays Travel, which bought Thomas Cook after the operator collapsed last year, said the phones “had not stopped ringing”.

However, Greece's extended ban on flights arriving from the UK will now cause disruption to thousands of British holidaymakers, meaning they may need to fly in via another country, rather than direct from the UK, if arriving before July 15.

04:26 PM

What have we learnt today?

As Greece extends its ban on UK flights, and British holidaymakers eagerly anticipate the Government's announcement of 'air bridges', what have we learnt today?

  • Peak District could face lockdown extension
  • Spain's parador hotels have finally reopened 
  • Czech Republic to open borders to Britons 
  • Eurotunnel reports record number of bookings

And much more. Scroll down for all today's travel news.

04:23 PM

Holiday fears as Peak District could face lockdown extension

A sudden spike in coronavirus cases in the Peak District could see its hotels, pubs and restaurants remain closed until further notice.

Enjoy it while you can, kids

Two local authorities containing sections of the national park have seen significant rises in cases of Covid-19 in recent weeks, leading to speculation that the start of the summer tourist season could be further delayed.

Read the report from Tom Mulvihill.

04:12 PM

How to get travel insurance should you choose to ignore FCO advice 

Contrary to popular belief, you can visit a country to which the Foreign Office (FCO) advises against travel without invalidating your insurance – you just need to contact one of the few providers willing to offer cover. What’s more, it shouldn’t cost much more than an ordinary policy. 

How? Oliver Smith explains.

03:42 PM

What does Greece's flight ban mean for your holiday?

Greece was supposed to end a ban on all direct flights from the UK on Wednesday July 1. However, the Greek Government has today extended that by two weeks to July 15.

What does this mean for my holiday?

Contact your airline or holiday company immediately, but this means it is likely any direct flights arriving into Greece from the UK before July 15 will be cancelled. Tui, the UK’s biggest tour operator, was due to serve four Greek islands when it resumes holidays for UK customers on July 11.

Do I have to quarantine in Greece?

The FCO says: "Anyone arriving in Greece from abroad may be required to take a test for coronavirus (COVID-19), and to undergo a period of self-isolation/quarantine. The specific arrangements that apply depend on your point of departure."

What if there is an 'air bridge'?

The UK Government is set to announce air bridge agreements in the coming days. If an air bridge is agreed with Greece, this means UK residents will not need to quarantine on arrival back into the UK, and Foreign Office warnings will likely be lifted for those destinations.

03:10 PM

Bespoke Hotels announce £500,000 bookings spike

Bespoke Hotels announced that they took over £500,000 in future bookings last week after the UK Government announced that hotels could reopen from the 4th July.

That equated to almost 4,000 room nights of which 2,075 are in their Scottish properties.

The majority of bookings were for 2 people and the average length of stay in both England and Scotland was the same with an average of 2 nights.

Robin Sheppard, Chairman of Bespoke Hotels said:

"We never planned to put our foot on the proverbial hosepipe, but since the news that permission to start trading again broke, the foot has well and truly come off; and sales have exploded. Lots of new bookings to make our phones ring again is a very powerful medicine. Long may it last."

Wonder where else is opening in the UK this Saturday? Read our full article here.

02:53 PM

Spain's parador hotels have finally reopened 

In a sure sign that the Spanish tourist industry is finally back in business after its three-month shutdown, all 95 of the Paradores Nacionales have reopened their doors, Paul Richardson reports.

A Parador with a fine view in Ronda - Getty

Occupancy rates across the state-run chain of hotels, often located in buildings of historic interest or at sites of outstanding natural beauty, are said (by the company) to average 76 per cent since the reopening last Friday. Additionally, a brand new Parador has just opened in the Galician coastal town of Muxia and is fully booked for the rest of the summer.  

Read the full report here.

02:43 PM

Italy to ban hand luggage on all flights

Italy will be banning hand luggage on national and international flights into the country as of July 26. 

This new ban on carry-on baggage was announced on June 11 as part of the country’s latest emergency decree. At the time it seemed that only "large" trolley cases would be prohibited, with no mention of the use of overhead lockers.

The rule change was later clarified, however, by the National Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC), and Italian daily newspaper, Il Corriere della Sera, reported that the use of all overhead lockers for any type of luggage would be banned, in order to ensure the “health” of passengers. 

Read the full report.

02:10 PM

A holiday in Gibraltar, anyone?

There are whispers that Gibraltar could feature as one of the destinations with an 'air bridge', due to be announced at some point this week.

Describing the British Overseas Territory, Annie Bennett writes:

Arriving in Gibraltar, you feel you are somewhere exotic but strangely familiar at the same time. 

On the southern tip of the Iberian peninsula, with the Atlantic on one side and the Mediterranean on the other and just 15 miles from Morocco, it is dominated by the dramatic limestone Rock and covers an area of just over two and a half square miles.

There is a lot packed into that small space though and it is really worth staying longer than a day, whether you’re interested in history, anthropology, geology, nature or marine life. Not to mention the shopping.

Gibraltar

Read the full article here.

01:51 PM

Campsites in England prepare to reopen on July 4

Dan Yates, founder of Pitchup.com, spoke to the Telegraph ahead of this Saturday:

“We are over the moon. It’s the shot in the arm domestic tourism badly needed. With only 60 days of trading between July 4 and the August bank holiday, time was running out fast.

“Spending will still be nowhere near previous years, but this move goes some way to mitigating what was promising to be a very dark winter for the countless parts of the UK that rely on tourism. No other accommodation sector has the capacity to help rescue the summer like ours does.”

Read the full article here.

01:20 PM

Flight bookings to London plummet

London has fallen to the bottom of the top 10 most booked European cities, according to research by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and ForwardKeys.

In the first half of June 2019, London was the most heavily booked city in Europe, followed by Paris and Rome.

However, as the UK continues to enforce a strict quarantine on all arrivals, London has slumped to tenth in the list as demand for other European cities has risen.

Lisbon soared to the top of the list of most booked European cities during the first half of June – it was ninth in the list in 2019.  

2019

  1. London
  2. Paris
  3. Rome
  4. Amsterdam
  5. Barcelona
  6. Madrid
  7. Frankfurt
  8. Vienna
  9. Lisbon
  10. Munich

2020

  1. Lisbon
  2. Paris
  3. Amsterdam
  4. Athens
  5. Rome 
  6. Madrid
  7. Frankfurt
  8. Vienna
  9. Barcelona
  10. London

12:31 PM

Cash-strapped Fiji invites the world's billionaires to come and 'escape the pandemic in paradise'

The Fijian prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, announced on Twitter that his government is targeting ‘VIP’ visitors as the country starts to reopen to tourism, with the hope that big spenders will arrive to help save the country’s struggling economy.

“So, say you’re a billionaire looking to fly your own jet, rent your own island, and invest millions of dollars in Fiji in the process – if you’ve taken all the necessary health precautions and borne all associated costs, you may have a new home to escape the pandemic in paradise,” he said.

All arrivals are still required to spend 14 days in quarantine, but Fijian ministers are hopeful that the mega-rich, able to travel in style and considerable luxury, will not be deterred by this.

Tom Mulvihill has the full story.

fiji - getty

12:27 PM

Your lunchtime listen

In ‘Postcards’, a brand new travel podcast hosted by Greg Dickinson of the Telegraph’s travel desk, we speak to some of the world’s leading travellers, adventurers and storytellers about their formative travel experiences.

In the latest episode, Marcel Theroux lets us delve into his photo album of unconventional holidays.  Listen to the episode on the audio player below, or subscribe on Apple/AndroidSpotifyPocket Casts, or wherever you stream your podcasts. And tune in tomorrow for our next installment.

Postcards podcast - always pulls through latest episode

12:11 PM

Czech Republic to open borders to Britons 

The Czech Health Minister has said today that his country would open borders for travellers from Britain and Poland from this week, despite a recent spike in Covid-19 cases at home.

"Poland's Silesia region has moved up to the green zone so travellers won't need negative tests or to undergo quarantine," Adam Vojtech told reporters. "The same goes for Great Britain."

Czech authorities expect to further ease the measures they adopted in March to combat the virus outbreak, though they will leave them in place in certain problem spots.

prague - getty

From July 1, Czechs will no longer have to wear face masks except in hospitals, retirement homes, the Prague underground and two northeastern districts where the virus is spreading among miners and their relatives.

People in Prague will also have to wear face masks at indoor events with more than 100 people.

The country registered 305 new cases on Sunday, the fastest daily increase since April 3. More than 11,600 Czechs have so far tested positive for the virus and 348 have died. Between mid-April and mid-June, daily increases never exceeded 100 cases.

12:03 PM

Visitors use Balmoral estate as an outdoor toilet

Rangers at the Balmoral Estate have found discarded waste and wipes near trails as people have used the grounds as a wild toilet.

Staff at the 50,000 acre site, which houses Balmoral Castle and is the Scottish home of the Royal Family, posted pictures of fouling over the weekend next to paths on the Aberdeenshire estate.

The estate said the toilets near Loch Muick, managed by Aberdeenshire Council, have been closed but that people had been "breaking into them".

Read the full story here.

12:00 PM

Will fashion’s status luggage brands pack up for good...

... or can air bridges come to the rescue?

Demand for holiday fashion - swimwear, beachwear and luggage- has crashed in the UK, in a season which usually would provide brands with an annual sales peak.

“The coronavirus pandemic has brought travel to a standstill,” said Stephanie Korey and Jennifer Rubio, co-founders of the hugely successful start up brand Away, in a blog post at the start of April. “Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen sales of our products decrease by more than 90%.”

Caroline Leaper addresses this and other suitcase brands' chances of survival going forward.

11:55 AM

Australia considers re-imposing restrictions after biggest rise in months

Australia's second most populous state said on Monday it is considering reimposing social distancing restrictions after the country reported its biggest one-day rise in new coronavirus infections in more than two months.

Propelled by Victoria state reporting 75 cases, Australia recorded 85 new Covid-19 infections in the past 24 hours, its biggest daily outbreak since April 11.

Australia has fared better than many countries in the coronavirus pandemic, with around 7,800 cases and 104 deaths, but the recent surge has stoked fears of a second wave after several weeks of fewer than 20 new cases a day.

melbourne - shutterstock

As new coronavirus cases have mounted, Victoria has embarked on a massive testing regime and the state's chief health officer said the state may need to re-introduce social distancing restrictions.

"Changing the law is something we have to consider because we have to do whatever is required to turn this around," Brett Sutton told reporters in Melbourne, referring to questions about enforcing localised lockdowns.

11:50 AM

Portugal denies it is high Covid risk as it fights for UK air bridge

Britain is embroiled in a diplomatic row with Portugal over quarantine, as its home affairs minister denied it is high risk, and claimed the UK was in a worse position in its response to Covid-19.  

With Portugal facing the threat of exclusion from the UK’s “air bridge” plan, Eduardo Cabrita said his country was  “manifestly not where the risk is,” and people should “just compare the data” to verify that, report Jorge Branco and Charles Hymas.

“We are, namely with the United Kingdom, highlighting that which is obvious: Portugal has better public health indicators and better pandemic response indicators than the United Kingdom,” he said.  

“So there’s no reason, according to all the comparative criteria, for the existence of any application of quarantine rules on return to the United Kingdom.” 

algarve - luca da ros

Read the full report here.

11:43 AM

California orders some bars to close as US posts record number of coronavirus cases

As Europe continues to emerge from lockdown, the situation across the pond is looking shaky. 

California on Sunday ordered some bars to close as that state and a dozen others face the worst surge in coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic.

Governor Gavin Newsom's order for bars to close in seven counties, including Los Angeles, is the first major rollback of efforts to reopen the economy in the most populous US state. On Friday, Texas and Florida ordered all bars to close.

The surge in Covid-19 cases has been most pronounced in several Southern and Western states that did not follow health officials' recommendations to wait for a steady decline in cases before reopening their economies.

For a third consecutive day on Saturday, the number of confirmed US cases leapt by more than 40,000, one of the largest surges in the world. Read more here.

Coronavirus USA Spotlight Chart - deaths default

11:35 AM

Dream trips to forgotten corners of Italy

With Italy about to reopen its borders to tourists, Britons will be itching for a taste of la dolce vita. Whether we can visit this summer remains to be seen, but here are a few lesser-known gems to whet your appetite...

citta della pieve - getty

11:30 AM

The Newt in Somerset to reopen from July 15

The idyllic country estate has announced it will fling open its doors once more from July 15. While The Newt's gardens have remained open throughout the pandemic, guests will again be able to book rooms and dine at the Somerset bolthole.

The numbers of tables have been reduced indoors and dining hours have been extended during times of higher occupancy. Outdoor dining spaces have been expanded, while The Newt’s signature breakfast table will now be enjoyed as a personal breakfast tray. In addition, the hotel will be offering guests a range of ‘to-go’ options, including an extended room service menu, picnic hampers and pre-mixed cocktails inspired by the Somerset setting.  The gym, swimming pool, treatment rooms and changing rooms will remain closed for the time being.

newt

In May, the acclaimed hotel, which only opened in August 2019, launched a root-and-stem grocery business, called the Mobile Newt; producing fresh food and delivering it throughout the surrounding region and more recently to London.

The service continues to make use of the hotel’s workforce, as well as its 800-acre estate, to supply customers across Somerset – opening up a much-needed line of revenue in the process.

11:09 AM

YHA to open hostels for exclusive hire for the first time

Youth hotels are set to reopen around England and Wales from July 17, for private rooms with sole-use bathrooms only, starting at £29 per night. The YHA will also offer pods and cabins, with pitch up camping to follow soon. 

For family and friends groups meeting Government guidance, the association will in addition make 63 of its youth hostels available for exclusive hire for the first time, with prices starting at £299 per night.  The YHA 's Chief Executive James Blake said: "For once in our 90-year history we are encouraging people not to be overly social when in our hostels, however I do hope that people will make use of the fabulous outdoor space surrounding our properties to connect with nature, heritage, family and friends."

10:46 AM

Ferry service primed to re-welcome visitors to the Isle of Wight

Wightlink, the leading provider of cross-Solent travel, is ready to help kick-start tourism to the Isle of Wight from July 4.

“While our ferries have continued to operate throughout the pandemic, providing travel for key workers to and from the Isle of Wight, as well as facilitating the flow of essential goods and services, we are well and truly ready and are launching a campaign to welcome more passengers back on board,” said Keith Greenfield, Wightlink CEO. “With hotels, B&Bs and campsites on the island also eager to accommodate guests, we’re incredibly keen to receive visitors looking to relax and enjoy a long-wanted break post-lockdown”.  

This time last year, the island earned itself Unesco-status as a biosphere reserve; not only for its diverse range of landscapes, from cliffs and coastal flood plains to heathlands, but the way in which the population interacts with it.

Check out our guide to get planning your holiday there.

10:34 AM

Nearly half tested in Austrian ski resort are immune to coronavirus

A study of residents in the Austrian ski resort of Ischgl, the site of Austria’s biggest coronavirus outbreak, has found 42 per cent have antibodies for the virus, reports Lucy Aspden.

The resort has been widely recognised as the epicentre of the spread of the virus in Europe, with thousands of people reportedly catching coronavirus while in the resort on ski holidays last winter – its popular, often crowded, après ski bars bearing the brunt of the blame.

The Medical University of Innsbruck tested 1,473 people who live in Ischgl (79 per cent of the population) – almost half now show signs that they have had the virus and are now immune with antibodies, the highest rate found in the study.

Ischgl - shutterstock

“Even though at that rate herd immunity cannot be assumed, Ischgl’s population should be protected (from the virus) to a large extent,” said Dorothee von Laer, who led the study, 

The resort, which went into quarantine in early March, is now facing legal action from the foreign visitors who believe they caught the virus whilst on holiday there, many accusing it of knowingly exposing them to coronavirus.

10:24 AM

15 perfect post-lockdown holidays (whatever kind of traveller you are)

With the British hospitality sector throwing open its doors next Saturday, and other nations similarly dusting off their hotels and restaurants in eager anticipation of guests, travel is the word on everyone’s lips. 

Some would-be travellers are primed to pounce on a cut-price safari this summer, while others have embraced the slower pace of lockdown life and simply crave a family reunion at a nearby campsite. 

Whatever your calling, Anna Hart has picked a great selection of post-lockdown holidays to inspire you.

bermuda - getty

10:17 AM

Happy birthday, Airplane!

It's been 40 years since the release of the 1980 parody, which centers around a pilot who is afraid of flying.

Here are our 25 favourite quotes from the movie.

10:09 AM

English tourist towns shut roads to help social distancing

As hotspots in Cornwall and beyond prepare for an influx of tourists from July 4, visitors can expect a markedly different feel from before lockdown.

Last week, St Ives Town Council published plans for its coronavirus recovery, which includes proposals to remove all but the “most essential vehicles from the busiest streets” between 11am and 4pm from today, reports Callum Adams.

It is hoped that pedestrianisation will help visitors stay apart in a town centre where, according to the guidance, “even in a normal year, pedestrians are in conflict with vehicles, crushing onto the pavements to allow them to pass”.

st ives - istock

Meanwhile in East Anglia, Norfolk County Council has given local authorities permission to implement road restrictions in 13 towns until December next year, including Hunstanton, King’s Lynn and the popular coastal town of Cromer, according to the Eastern Daily Press.

In Oxford, a one-way pedestrian flow system has been implemented on the city centre's busiest streets and the council is planning to widen cycle lanes and footpaths.  Similarly, Cambridge has widened footways and enforced pedestrian areas and one-way access to narrow passageways in the city centre. Read the full story here.

10:01 AM

Bookings to Spain surge

Since news broke last week that air bridges will soon be announced by the Government, holidaymakers have been racing to secure their spot on the sun. Bookings on Skyscanner jumped by nearly 40 per cent compared to the week prior.

So where are Britons headed? Spain, unsurprisingly, leads the way, but in at third is Islamabad, capital of Pakistan, where half of the UK's imported cases of Covid-19 came from, as The Telegraph exclusively revealed last week.

Here are the top 10 most popular destinations, according to the flight comparison site:

  1. Alicante
  2. Malaga
  3. Islamabad
  4. Tenerife
  5. Palma
  6. Faro
  7. Orlando
  8. Bangkok
  9. Amsterdam
  10. Barcelona
alicante

09:27 AM

Small island destinations in need of critical help, urges UNWTO 

The United Nations has warned that without urgent support, islands that rely heavily on tourism, including the Bahamas, Jamaica, Fiji, Maldives and the Seychelles, will suffer devastating economic hardship. 

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)  has highlighted the severe impact the pandemic on the economies of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), which has affected millions of jobs and businesses, with women and informal workers the most vulnerable.

Tourism accounts for more than 30 per cent of total exports in the majority of the 38 SIDS. In some countries, this proportion is as high as 90 per cent.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “International tourist arrivals have fallen dramatically, and destinations that rely on the sector for jobs and economic wellbeing such as small islands will be hit the hardest. As such, measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on these states and to stimulate the recovery of tourism are now more critical than ever.”

maldives - Predrag Vuckovic

09:02 AM

Eurotunnel reports record number of bookings

It's the only way to cross the Channel from the UK to France without getting out of your car, and bookings for the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle surged again over the weekend.

John Keefe, director of public affairs at the service stated: “Since Friday, we have had more customers accessing our online booking system this weekend than ever before.  Travel with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle is proving very popular as you can go from home to holiday without leaving your car: no crowds, no contacts, 35 minutes to cross from Folkestone to Calais and you are on your way.  Eurotunnel Le Shuttle is also offering refundable tickets to give that little extra bit of reassurance for holiday plans. We urge anyone who is planning to travel this summer to book sooner rather than later.”

08:50 AM

Yesterday's key stories

A recap:

  • US travellers likely to be banned from Europe
  • Switzerland locks down 300 people in Zurich
  • 737 MAX to enter new round of testing
  • Priti Patel says UK air bridge negotiations are ongoing
  • Greece welcomes German doctors for free holidays