Air bridges enabling holidaymakers to travel overseas without entering self-isolation when they return will be announced by the end of June, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has indicated.
The Government is “actively working” on introducing travel corridors, he told LBC Radio, amid widespread concerns the quarantine policy is crippling the travel and tourism industry.
“We won’t be in a position to announce which countries – where reciprocal arrangements go in place – until the 29th,” he said. “So don’t expect anything this week, I think I’m right in saying it’s only the end of next week.”
June 29 is the date for the Government’s first review of its controversial quarantine policy, which came into force last week, and requires most international arrivals into the UK to enter into self-isolation for 14 days.
It comes as much of Europe has this week reopened borders to allow travel within the EU Schengen Zone.
An EU-wide agreement to replace our quarantine laws is backed by key tourist destinations for Britons including Spain and Italy, who oppose individual bilateral deals and would prefer a pan-European system with agreed criteria for “low-risk” states and specific airport measures to combat Covid-19.
This would avoid concerns that travellers could fly to a “low-risk” country but then travel on to other countries.
There will be sunshine in the City of Rain today as the Hurtigruten ship Finnmarken sets off on a familiar 34-port journey from Bergen along the Norwegian coast to Kirkenes, reports Dave Monk.
The 12-day voyage, carrying 200 passengers, will be the first ocean-going cruise to sail since the coronavirus outbreak shut down the industry worldwide.
“We are thrilled to be restarting our operations,” said Hurtigruten spokesman Thomas Ege, who added that the line has maintained a basic service along the coast. Most of today’s passengers are Norwegian, with a handful of Danes and other travellers.
On Saturday, luxury line SeaDream will be following in Finnmarken’s wake, sailing from Oslo as far north as Tromsø. Such has been the demand that the company has added its other ship to the region the following week.
There are growing fears that the coronavirus pandemic has put the age-old tradition of flamenco at risk and threatens to force the nation’s tablaos out of business indefinitely.
In an effort to save the tradition, Spain’s tablaos, dedicated flamenco bars, are grouping together for the first time to help preserve the future of what has been a key part of the country’s culture for centuries.
The Spanish government has announced that it will open its borders to members of the EU’s Schengen Zone and the UK on June 21 – 10 days earlier than planned. It’s a move that many, including the tablaos, hope will save the country’s tourism economy from ruin this summer or risk the heritage of flamenco being the next casualty of the pandemic.
But the nature of new social distancing rules make traditional flamenco performances, which involve a minimum of five artists, including singers, guitarists and dancers interacting intimately, virtually impossible. So what can be done? Lucy Aspden has the story.
Britons take to social media in anger on arrival of new UK passports
‘Not even remotely blue.’ That’s been the feedback from some of those who have applied for a new passport in recent weeks and are beginning to receive the blue version promised off the back of Brexit.
“I just received my new passport and it’s not blue…it’s black!” said one Twitter user about a photo of his new passport, before adding that “Brexit has been for nothing!”. “It’s completely the wrong colour,” confirmed another Instagram user.
Whether you’re a fan of the new colour or not, receiving the new passport – blue or not – is still something of a lucky dip. In a social media post, one father described renewing both himself and his son’s passports recently: “They sent me a blue one and he got maroon.”
Read more about the new British passport here.
Air passengers face ban for flouting mask rules
Air passengers in the US who refuse to wear face coverings could be prevented from flying, the industry’s main lobby group has stated.
As carriers the world over double down on their enforcement policies, major airlines in the States with stricter policies on masks will stop customers from boarding unless they wear one, and even place rule-breakers on no-fly lists; among them Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines.
These companies will clearly inform passengers about their individual policies on face coverings before flying, followed by an announcement with specific details onboard, Airlines for America said in a statement. Carriers can offer certain exemptions, including when people are eating or drinking.
United’s Chief Customer Officer Toby Enqvist said that face masks will be compulsory for at least 60 days, stating: “Every reputable heath institution says wearing a mask is one of the most effective things people can do to protect others from contracting COVID-19, especially in places like an aircraft where social distancing is a challenge.”
When can I return to France?
France has reopened its borders to its EU neighbours but retains a quarantine policy for British travellers as part of a tit-for-tat arrangement with the UK.
But with President Macron visiting London on Thursday there is hope yet for a return to France this summer.
See here for all the latest information and advice.
Tui says a third of holidays will run this summer
Tui says it plans to run a third of its summer programme this year after the tour operator ran a successful pilot scheme of flying German holidaymakers to the Spanish island of Majorca.
Europe’s largest tour operator has a further 20 departures planned from Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands over the coming days but will not welcome back UK holidaymakers until July 10.
Tui said: “We currently anticipate our remaining markets such as UK and Nordic region to follow suit later in the summer. Together with our destination partners, TUI is well prepared for a responsible and safe re-launch of tourism activities.
“Based on our current restart dates, we are planning to operate around 30% of our original capacity in Q4 2020.”
When will other airlines and tour operators resume operations?
Europe’s most sensuous city in a time of social distancing
That would be Seville. For the moment at least, the beautiful Spanish spot is one of the clearest places on Earth, with a mere seven Covid-19 hospital patients in a city of over a million, and just two in intensive care, writes Alexander Fiske-Harrison.
In fact, in over 20 years of visits, he has never seen it look so striking:
We crisscross the city, from the taurine characters who prop up the Bodega San José next to the bullring, to Casa Cuesta over the river in old Triana, at each stop meeting with more and more people – although all distanced, all protected, all obeying the measures which finally brought the virus in Andalusia to its knees.
Read more about his explorations here.
A glimpse from Los Angeles at the future of gyms
If you are among those missing your gym fix of erratic showers and inexplicably loud commercial radio these will be cheering pictures, from California.
The Redondo Beach Fitness centre, just south of Los Angeles, has found a way to re-open and comply with social distancing rules, writes Thom Gibbs.
Its method is simple: private isolation chambers, made from poles and plastic sheeting. And they say American manufacturing is dead.
So when can we Britons join our friends across the pond? Unfortunately, there is little indication yet as to when the UK travel ban could be lifted. But it’s safe to say it won’t be soon. In an interview with the Telegraph, Dr Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said the ban could last until a vaccine is developed, and that lifting it would be ‘more likely months than weeks.’
Domestic tourism within the US, however, is returning. Read our state-by-state guide to find out how the country is easing out of lockdown.
Australians are dashing for the ski slopes
Lift passes for one of Australia’s most popular ski resorts have sold out in a record-breaking time as resorts in the southern hemisphere prepare to open for their winter ski season.
Thredbo in New South Wales will open on June 22, however the rush to secure lift passes has meant many who had already booked accommodation in the resort have been left disappointed and won’t be able to access the slopes.
In order to reopen and comply with new Covid-19 safety regulations Thredbo has had to bring in new restrictions, which include capping capacity at 50 per cent and requiring all lift passes to be bought online in advance, rather than from an onsite ticket office.
Over 35,000 people waited in an online queue to secure passes for June, July and August, which sold out within hours as the resort’s website struggled to cope with demand last week. Resort bosses are said to be overwhelmed by the demand to go skiing and snowboarding while the coronavirus pandemic continues.
Many European resorts are watching their southern hemisphere cousins this summer, taking notes as they develop blueprints for how ski resorts may operate and ski holidays in the popular destinations like the Alps might recommence later this year.
Cambodia launches a number of baffling new travel regulations
… including the introduction of a ‘death deposit’. Yes really. All visitors will from today be expected to pay a heavy coronavirus deposit of USD 3,000/£2,370 upon arrival.
The eye-popping service charge is being implemented to prevent a second wave of Covid-19 transmission in Cambodia, the Asian country said, and will cover laboratory testing, medical treatment, and accommodation. Also included in the fee is a US$1,500/£1,184 for cremation should you die of the disease.
Lee Cobaj has the details.
‘Air curtain’ technology on planes could protect passengers from coronavirus
Design and innovation firm Teague says its AirShield can clip over the dials of the air conditioning units above seats to “adapt aircraft cabin airflow to prevent the spread of viruses”.
It claims to keep coughs and sneezes within the confines of a single passenger before removing them via the plane’s air filtration system.
The Seattle-based company says the AirShield can be 3D-printed, retrofitted to existing aircraft and will help restore consumer confidence in air travel as airlines begin to resume flights for the first time since the pandemic lockdown.
How would these actually work? Hugh Morris has the story.
Machu Picchu to place strict limit on visitor numbers after July reopening
Peru’s most famous sight, Machu Picchu, will be slicing the number of people who can visit when it reopens from its imposed closure in July, reports Emma Cooke.
Prior to the pandemic, the Inca citadel, a Unesco World Heritage Site, saw average visitor numbers of 2,000 to 3,000 a day. This number could climb up to 5,000 during peak times. Now, only 675 visitors will be allowed in each day to ensure social distancing is maintained.
The new rules were announced by Jean Paul Benavente, governor of the Cusco region. Alongside the restrictions on visitor numbers, he added that guides will only lead tour groups of seven or fewer, while visitors will be required to wear masks at all times.
Peru has been under strict lockdown since March 16, but has still seen the second highest number of cases in Latin America – 225,000 – and around 6,500 deaths. Read on here.
What I learnt about fear and loneliness after a day riding Britain’s railways
Telegraph Travel’s Teresa Machan was well prepared, with masks and hand sanitiser, but not so ready for the empty trains, deserted stations and, by the time she reached York, overwhelming sense that she had walked onto the set of a post-apocalyptic drama. She writes:
The reality of post-pandemic life finally caught up with me. Outside of my Brighton bubble the eerie quiet of usually busy public places coupled with ubiquitous Covid-related notices and constant safety announcements felt unnervingly dystopian. There may as well have been a huge banner draped across the station saying: “You Might Die.”
Read her full account here.
Listen to our brand new travel podcast
In episode two of ‘Postcards’, a brand new podcast from the Telegraph, we chat to comedian turned TV presenter Griff Rhys Jones about three photographs from his life in travel.
In each episode of ‘Postcards’, host Greg Dickinson flicks through the guest’s archive of travel photographs and picks out the three that pique his interest.
These photographs, of precarious moments at sea, ill-advised student adventures, poignant moments looking out the window of a taxi in India, each have an untold story attached.
In our conversation with Griff Rhys Jones, we begin with a photograph of a stark landscape in Iceland. His second shot shows Griff in a precarious moment at sea. And the third is a photograph all travel writers dream of – standing atop a train, in the middle of the desert, like a modern day Jack Kerouac.
Stream the episode below, or subscribe on Apple/Android, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or wherever you listen to your podcasts.
‘Travel bubble’ road trips could provide the way forward
As the aviation industry bends over backwards to adjust for a post-Covid world, travel agents are turning their attention to road trips as a simpler alternative.
Original Travel, for one, is launching a series of ways to create ‘travel bubbles’ to protect British travellers when they start holidaying again, starting with a new collection of road trips departing from the UK.
The collection launches with a portfolio of self-drive itineraries from the UK to France, using Eurotunnel and covering, among others, Brittany and Normandy in the north, the French Riviera in the South and Provence and Bordeaux in between. There will also be options to add extensions to offer onward trips into Switzerland, Italy, Spain and Portugal.
Tom Barber, Co-Founder of Original Travel, says: “Given that – at least in the short-term – long-haul travel looks unlikely, and airports will be difficult places to navigate, we predict that for the first time in a generation European road trips from the UK are going to be the hottest ticket in town this summer.”
Elsewhere, Iceland‘s new driving route offers a good chance for scenic isolation, according to Telegraph Travel’s Emma Thomson, who writes: “The new Arctic Coast Way is the perfect antidote to Iceland’s overcrowded south.”
The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa in Bath to re-open on July 10
The five-star hotel in Bath has announced it will swing open its doors again on July 10, with new social distancing measures in place.
According to our hotel experts, this luxurious hotel encompasses two townhouses in Bath’s showpiece Georgian crescent –the best possible location in town. The biggest draw is the elegant spa – which will be operating. The inviting main communal area includes a 12m indoor relaxation pool, a vitality pool with massage jets, plus a sauna and steam room.
On the dining front, The Royal Crescent is best known for its very indulgent afternoon teas with sweet and savoury choices. The hotel will also be offering all NHS staff 2-4-1 afternoon teas for the first four weeks after they re-open.
Read our expert review here.
Cruises around Britain could be the best answer for UK travellers in need of an escape
There’s a flutter of confidence in a surge of holidaymakers looking to take to the waves around Britain, as current restrictions on travel abroad continue to hold stubborn, reports Ben Parker.
Scotland and its islands, in particular, have been earmarked by cruise insiders as somewhere to watch, with one operator telling The Telegraph that despite such trips being domestic travel they “will be very attractive for those wishing for a real escape”.
Anticipation was raised further when Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism, Fergus Ewing, set July 15 as a provisional reopening date for some businesses across the country as long as there are “appropriate safety guidelines in place”.
The managing director of Saga Cruises, Nigel Blanks, said he expects “a spike in interest for round-Britain cruises” and that once they have the go-ahead from authorities they would be able to resume “within three to four weeks”.
Discover more on the story here.
Coronavirus returns to New Zealand – thanks to arrivals from Britain
New Zealand reported its first new cases of coronavirus in almost a month today when two recent arrivals from Britain tested positive after being released early from quarantine to visit a dying relative.
New Zealand, whose prime minister Jacinda Ardern has been praised for her aggressive strategy of ‘eliminating’ the virus, had zero active cases before the two women, one in her 30s and one in her 40s, arrived on June 7, reports Giovanni Torre.
Arrivals need to have spent at least one week in isolation and test negative for Covid-19. But the women were released under new compassionate leave rules that came into effect on June 9. The rules have now been suspended.
Read the full story here.
Travel restrictions return to China amid concerns over second wave
Beijing today banned high-risk people from leaving the city and halted some transportation services to stop the spread of a fresh coronavirus outbreak to other regions, as 27 new cases took the capital’s current outbreak to 106 since Thursday.
“Beijing will take the most resolute, decisive, and strict measures to contain the outbreak,” government spokesman Xu Hejian said at a press conference this morning. The outbreak has been traced to the sprawling Xinfadi wholesale food centre in the southwest of Beijing where thousands of tonnes of produce change hands each day.
In addition, Shanghai required certain travellers from Beijing to be quarantined for two weeks. This marks China’s most significant spike since February, stoking fears of a second wave of the respiratory disease which emerged in the central city of Wuhan late last year and has now infected more than 8 million people worldwide.
Spain considers quarantine for UK visitors unless Britain drops 14-day policy
Spain is considering imposing a quarantine on visitors from the UK when it opens its borders next week in reciprocity to a similar measure imposed here, Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said on the BBC.
“We will be checking what the UK will be doing and we will be in a dialogue with the UK to see whether or not we should be introducing reciprocity as they have different measures than the rest of the European Union,” Gonzalez Laya said in an interview.
As it stands, Spain will open its borders to members of the EU’s Schengen Zone on June 21. The border was originally due to remain closed until July 1.
Yesterday’s top stories
Travel resumed on the day of Europe’s grand reopening, as many countries on the Continent lifted their border restrictions.
See here for full information on which countries have reopened their borders – and which still have to.
Other major stories yesterday included:
- Face masks mandatory in France as Paris eased lockdown further
- Switzerland to impose additional checks on Swedish arrivals
- EasyJet resumed flights for first time since March
- Zoos reopened across the UK
- Global travel body urged UK to reconsider quarantine