May 13, 2021

cruciforme

travel, Always a step ahead

Arrivals may need negative Covid test to enter UK

31 min read

woman with suitcase - Getty
woman with suitcase – Getty

International arrivals may be required to produce evidence of a negative Covid-19 test before entering the UK under plans being considered by the Government.

“We are looking at further options to restrict international travel,” senior cabinet minister Michael Gove told BBC Breakfast on Tuesday, following the announcement of a new lockdown in England, which includes a ban on non-essential travel.

Mr Gove said the Government was considering how it can “make sure that our ports and airports are as safe as possible”.

He added that he had spoken to the first ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to ensure the nations have a “coordinated approach” on the issue.

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport told Telegraph Travel: “Protecting public health in the UK is of the utmost importance and we are looking at what additional measures could be taken with regards to international travel.”

As it stands, arrivals from countries not included on the UK’s list of travel corridors have to self-isolate for 10 days. However, under the test and release scheme introduced in December, this can be shortened to five days with a negative Covid test. 

Scroll down for the latest travel updates.

05:12 PM

What happened today?

The main headlines: 

  • Holidays banned until Spring under lockdown 3

  • Tui cancels all holidays until mid-February

  • Sandals’ founder Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart has died

  • Lockdown could ‘save Easter bookings,’  says UK tourism chiefs

  • Fresh lockdown a ‘devastating blow’ for Scottish ski resorts 

Catch-up with the rest below and join us again tomorrow.

05:07 PM

Two budget airlines saw 80 per cent slump in December

Ryanair and Wizz Air carried 80 per cent fewer passengers for the second consecutive month in December.

Traffic was down by 83 per cent on Ryanair flights. It flew just 1.9 million passengers last month. In 2020, it saw just over 52 million passengers, two-thirds fewer than in 2019.

Wizz carried 665,000 passengers last month, a fall of 80 per cent. The airline carried just 16 million passengers in 2020, a 58 per cent year-on-year fall.

05:02 PM

Saudi blockade ended and airspace to reopen to Qatar

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister said on Tuesday that diplomatic relations between Saudi, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Qatar will be restored, and all countries will reopen airspace to Qatar. This is following the Gulf crisis blockade that started in 2017.

04:55 PM

Lockdown led to cancellation of 80 per cent of business for travel firm

Agent and booking site Nemo Travel saw a spike in bookings for both staycations and longer haul trips following the November lockdown.

Some 80 per cent of these trips were booked for between January and March and customers have now had to cancel. Other booking insights from the travel firm, include:

  • Vaccine news increased enquiries for longer trips with (safari requests up five times on previous month)

  •  75 per cent of enquiries post-Christmas have been for long haul and adventure trips

04:42 PM

Lockdown 3.0: can I visit my second home any time soon?

Is visiting your Cotswolds cottage or chateau in Provence on the table? Francesca Syz explains what the restrictions mean for people with second homes in the UK and for those with properties overseas.

04:32 PM

‘Angry South Africans are facing up to vaccine delays, alcohol bans, and Matt Hancock’s hysteria’

There appears to be a lack of long-term strategy in the country, writes Pippa de Bruyn.

man wearing mask - Getty
man wearing mask – Getty

South Africa’s hospitals and healthcare workers are under immense pressure due to the highly infectious nature of 501.V2. In the last two weeks 12 friends have tested positive – and these are some the most vigilant people I know. South Africa’s coronavirus death toll has just breached the 30,000 mark, and we are not yet at the peak of our second wave, though there are hopes that this is just days away. On December 28, a visibly emotional President Cyril Ramaphosa moved us back to Level 3 lockdown; measures include the immediate closure all our beaches, rivers and parks; the banning of the sale or dispensing of all alcohol; the possibility of a six-month imprisonment for appearing in public without a mask; a new 9pm to 6am curfew.

The brief respite that domestic tourists offered our hammered hospitality and tourism industries has sputtered out. With severe restrictions on any travel to or from South Africa, tourism’s real lifeblood – international travellers – remains bone dry for the foreseeable future, not least as anger mounts at what appears to be a lack of long-term strategy.

Today Zapiro, our venerated cartoonist, posted a new sketch: “Our Government’s Covid Vaccine Roll Out Plan”. It contains nothing but an empty frame.

Read the full story.

04:21 PM

Are ski holidays off the cards until next winter?

Our ski expert, Lucy Aspden, has put together a comprehensive guide to skiing post-lockdown. 

Will you be able to go skiing by Easter? Should you book a late-season ski trip now? Lucy has the answers.

04:11 PM

Views from Germany

A couple of somewhat eerie snapshots from Germany where lockdown restrictions are set to be extended. 

cordoned off beach ba - AP
cordoned off beach ba – AP
windows of department store - AP
windows of department store – AP

04:02 PM

Britons urged to book their summer holiday now to save the travel industry

A holiday might seem like a distant prospect right now, but travel industry leaders are urging Britons to book their summer trips during lockdown – in a bid to save the travel industry from a second disastrous year, reports Hazel Plush.

woman on beach - Getty
woman on beach – Getty

In many ways, there has never been a better time to book for future travel: prices are low, cancellation and rebooking policies are generous, and pent-up demand is rising. But booking a summer holiday – or indeed an autumn getaway, winter escape, or long-awaited 2022 trip – isn’t only an opportunity to secure a tremendous bargain. It’s a lifeline for businesses that, in many cases, have seen zero cash-flow for months. 

“Bookings are needed urgently, so that revenues flow in now to help protect jobs,” explains Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency. “Travel firms and airlines must boost confidence now and assure consumers that holidays will happen from May onwards. Otherwise, we will see more failures and many companies unable to stagger through to the summer.”

Read the full story.

03:54 PM

Denmark toughens Covid restrictions

Denmark is to tighten coronavirus restrictions and its Government urged people to avoid social contacts, seeking to protect its health system from a new variant that first emerged in Britain.

On top of a partial lockdown in place since mid-December, gatherings of more than five people will be barred (down from 10 previously) and people will be asked to remain two metres (six feet) apart, rather than one metre.

The new measures will come into force from Wednesday.

“Stay at home as much as you can, don’t meet people outside your household, those close to you,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said at a press conference.

“Everyone should be thinking twice before stepping out of their door,” national police chief Thorkild Fogde added.

03:46 PM

Why Pakistan should be your pick for a post-lockdown adventure

Under a new tourism drive, Pakistan is finally ready to take its place as one of the world’s premier trekking destinations, writes Peter Watson. 

Peter Watson at K2 base camp - Peter Watson
Peter Watson at K2 base camp – Peter Watson

As I turn to my left and gaze along the immense Godwin-Austen Glacier, K2 soars in splendid isolation above the neighbouring moraine, its towering bulk utterly overwhelming. Pakistan’s ‘Savage Mountain’ may be second in stature to Nepal’s Everest, but the mountain has poise and symmetry that, in my mind, makes it the most impressive of all of Earth’s great peaks. But, while Nepal attracts over a million annual visitors to its trails, Pakistan’s trekking industry has stagnated since 9/11. However, that may all be about to change.

Following his 2018 election victory, Imran Khan highlighted tourism and national security as main objectives in his first 100 days agenda. Initiatives have included increasing availability of tourist visas, developing an online e-visa system, receiving the Royal Family for a state visit and restarting direct flights to Islamabad. The drive has already seen a moderate increase in visitors, particularly adventurers. 

Read the full story.

03:30 PM

Holidaymakers continue to book trips for spring, says tour operator

Tighter restrictions and lockdowns may affect reservations in the short to medium term, but customers are booking in trips from spring onward, said John Telfer, managing director of Explore. 

Generally they are happy to commit as they know that, should we be unable to operate, they would get a full  refund.

We’ve made a special effort this year to have as many dates as possible on sale for 2022 to accommodate those people with pent up desire to travel and who want something to really look forward to. Additionally, our current sale on Europe trips is valid on departures until end of May 2022, giving people more time to travel when they feel comfortable to do so.

03:16 PM

Germany plans to extend lockdown measures, reports suggest

Germany is set to extend its nationwide lockdown until the end of the month and introduce new tougher restrictions in a bid to get control of surging coronavirus infections, sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

The new rules, which are currently being discussed by Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of Germany’s 16 federal states, will for the first time ban non-essential travel for residents of hard-hit areas all over Germany.

In towns and districts where the number of new coronavirus cases is above 200 per 100,000 residents over seven days, travel will be limited to a 15-kilometre (9.3 miles) radius, the sources said.

Also, members of any one household will be allowed to meet only one other person in public, one of the sources said. That compares with a current rule under which public gatherings are limited to five people from two households.

Coronavirus Germany Spotlight Chart - cases default
Coronavirus Germany Spotlight Chart – cases default

03:10 PM

UK travel boss pays tribute to Sandals founder

Karl Thompson, managing director of Unique Vacations UK (part of Sandals), has responded to the death of the Sandals founder Gordon “Butch” Stewart. He said:

On behalf of myself and my team in the UK and Europe, some of whom have worked for him for more than 25 years, we are deeply saddened by the death of our Chairman and Founder, Gordon “Butch” Stewart. Not only was Mr Stewart a true visionary for the travel industry but he was also like family to many of us. He had a fabulous sense of humour, was constantly there for support and always encouraged us to strive for excellence.

Those who knew him well will know him for his larger than life personality and his pioneering ideas. Nothing was ever impossible. His determination knew no bounds and he was always striving for bigger and better things. Echoing the sentiments of his son, Adam Stewart, he was an inspiration to all of us and I can say with certainty that there will never be anyone else like him. Mr Stewart was so proud of what we achieved over the years and his encouragement and support was always a real source of motivation for us. He allowed us to pursue our dreams and for that, as well as so many other things, we thank him. We will keep his legacy alive as best we can, and I hope that we can continue to do him proud.

The messages of condolences from industry friends has been truly humbling and I know he would be wishing everybody all the very best whilst we pull together to beat this pandemic.

02:52 PM

Snow goes to waste in French ski resort

The Villard-de-Lans ski resort near Grenoble in the Vercors range lies almost empty as the French Government’s decision to allow the resorts to open for the winter season on January 7 remains in doubt. 

Empty slopes near Grenoble - Getty
Empty slopes near Grenoble – Getty
ski lifts - Getty
ski lifts – Getty

02:43 PM

Trump golf trip would break Scotland’s travel rules, says Sturgeon

Donald Trump would not be allowed to visit Scotland to play golf during Joe Biden’s inauguration, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The US President, who was overwhelmingly defeated in November’s election, is reportedly considering travelling to his Turnberry golf resort to avoid Mr Biden being sworn into office.

But Scotland’s First Minister stressed it is illegal to travel in or out of the country without a valid reason and said: “Coming to play golf is not what I would consider to be an essential purpose.”

The White House has repeatedly refused to say what the outgoing president will do when Mr Biden is inaugurated on January 20, prompting speculation about whether Mr Trump will attend the ceremony.

But Prestwick Airport has been told to expect the arrival of a US military Boeing 757 aircraft previously used by Mr Trump on January 19, according to the Sunday Post.

02:36 PM

Vietnam suspends inbound flights from UK

Vietnam has suspended inbound flights from countries with new Covid-19 variants, starting with Britain and South Africa. 

“The risk for the disease to penetrate and spread in Vietnam is very high, especially from people entering from infected countries,” the country’s health ministry said in a statement.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has told authorities to put together a list of other countries that should be covered by the suspension, Reuters reports. 

He has also ordered them to tighten control of quarantine facilities.

02:19 PM

Will cruise holidays make a comeback in 2021?

Dave Monk is feeling optimistic. He writes: 

After a lost year, cruising is coming back. Most of the big lines were forced to write off the rest of 2020 after coronavirus struck but a brave few operators did dip their toe in the waters to resume some sailings – both at sea and on rivers.

 This wasn’t much help to Britons, sadly, who were advised against ocean cruising by the Foreign Office, and faced closed borders and frequently changing quarantine restrictions when trying to travel abroad. 

 However, news of vaccines, and the implementation of strict health and safety measures on ships, means that 2021 is looking much brighter for large numbers to return to their favourite holidays afloat.

Read the full story. 

02:13 PM

Do Britons support Lockdown 3? It depends who you ask

02:08 PM

Our reporter arrives to a deserted Heathrow

Are hordes of Britons fleeing the country to escape lockdown? Not exactly. Lottie Gross will be filing a report from Britain’s (normally) busiest airport later. 

02:06 PM

Japan considers state of emergency for Tokyo

Authorities in Japan will decide this week whether to impose a state of emergency in the Tokyo area as daily Covid infections reach record levels. 

The government’s top spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said a decision would likely come on Thursday, after local media said a state of emergency, the second since the pandemic began, would take effect by Friday and last about a month.

New cases in Tokyo rose to 1,278 on Tuesday, the second highest daily total since the pandemic began, with the national daily tally reaching a record 4,670.

Tokyo and the three surrounding prefectures, which have requested an emergency declaration, asked residents to refrain from non-essential, non-urgent outings after 8pm from Friday until at least the end of the month, and said restaurants must close by that time.

But measures are likely to be far less sweeping than they were during last year’s roughly month-long state of emergency, during which schools and none-essential businesses shut down, as the government seeks to keep economic damage to a minimum.

Coronavirus Japan Spotlight Chart - cases default
Coronavirus Japan Spotlight Chart – cases default

01:58 PM

‘Pilots have a little-known ace up their sleeve when passengers fall seriously ill at 35,000ft’

Let’s forget about Covid and lockdowns for a moment. This week our Secret Pilot explains what happens during a medical emergency.

Read the full story. 

What happens when things go wrong on board? - Getty
What happens when things go wrong on board? – Getty

01:49 PM

Covid cases on the rise in several ‘travel corridor’ countries

With holidays on the brink of being banned, it is of little relevance to ordinary travellers. However, a number of countries on the quarantine-free travel corridor list have seen their Covid infection rates creep up in recent weeks. The seven-day per 100,000 figure for the UAE is now 123.2, for the Seychelles it is 111.6, and for Barbados it is 84.1. The UK usually considers removing a country when its infection rate crosses the 100 barrier. 

Coronavirus Quarantine Tracker Extended
Coronavirus Quarantine Tracker Extended

01:42 PM

More airlines scrap flights ahead of third national lockdown

EasyJet, Britain’s biggest low-cost carrier, has pared back its flying program to prioritise essential connections between key UK cities and “a small number of international routes.”

British Airways said it will also keep crucial links open, while TUI has halted all package holidays from the UK through mid-February, the earliest that the new lockdown is set to end.

A spokeswoman for Wizz Air, which has been adding UK bases in an effort to emerge stronger from the pandemic, said it will review capacity to ensure that it remains appropriate to demand.

EasyJet had already reduced its schedule for next week by one-third and Ryanair by two-thirds, said John Grant, senior analyst at travel data provider OAG.

“Last night’s news will see those numbers go down further,” Grant told Bloomberg in an email. “Whilst the news is no surprise and most airlines and airports had been expecting this to happen, it is nevertheless another setback to the recovery.”

01:31 PM

UK has third highest infection rate in the world

And it’s closed in on San Marino. The Czech Republic was widely praised last year for dodging the pandemic, but has been hit hard by a winter wave. 

The countries with the highest Covid infection rate
The countries with the highest Covid infection rate

01:28 PM

Britons planning holidays for summer and festive season, says tour operator

Sonia Davies, chief executive of tour operator Scott Dunn, said the business was seeing resilience in customer interest following the positive vaccine news.

We’re seeing strong enquiry levels at the moment with bookings for both the medium and long-term coming through this week.

Summer and festive season 2021 are particularly strong as customers who have missed out in 2020 look to secure what could be a very busy 2021 for holidays.

01:24 PM

Half of rail services set to be slashed

Rail services will be cut by up to half under radical proposals to slash costs after Britain was plunged into a third coronavirus lockdown, reports Oliver Gill.

Plans are being finalised to introduce an emergency timetable that cuts service levels to between 50 and 60pc of pre-pandemic levels for up to three months, The Telegraph understands.

The changes are expected to mirror a so-called “Sunday-plus” service introduced in March last year as the first wave of the virus struck.

At that time, the Government effectively nationalised the railways by guaranteeing operators made a profit in return for keeping services running for key workers.

Although timetables were restored over the summer, rail franchising has been permanently cancelled and replaced with an outsourced model that shifts the burden of funding services onto taxpayers.

Read the full story.

01:18 PM

The best walks in the Peak District

Whether you live close by and can enjoy one of these walks right away, or if you’d like to plan a trip for when lockdown is over, these views are sure to whet your travel appetite.

Kinder Reservoir  - Getty
Kinder Reservoir – Getty

The UK’s first national park, which will turn 70 this year, offers picturesque walking routes ranging from Kinder Scout to Dovedale Valley.

01:05 PM

Sandals’ founder Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart has died

Founder and Chairman of Sandals Resorts, Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, has died, it was announced in The Jamaica Observer.

Mr Stewart established Sandals, Beaches Resorts, and parent company Sandals Resorts International, as well as The ATL Group and The Jamaica Observer. He died in the US following an illness.

His son, Adam, writes in The Jamaica Observer: “It is with great sadness that I share with you today the passing of our Founder and Chairman, and my father, Gordon “Butch” Stewart.

“This news seems almost unbelievable, since our Chairman was as involved and forward thinking as ever. He chose to keep a very recent health diagnosis private and we respected that wish.

“The Hon Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart OJ, a distinction he was so proud of, was a gifted entrepreneur. He was a marketing genius and talented showman […].”

12:58 PM

Ban on takeaway pints the ‘death knell for many pubs’

A ban on takeaway pints during lockdown could be the “death knell for many pubs”, the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) has warned.

Camra chairman Nik Antona’s words come after the new coronavirus restrictions banned alcohol from being sold with any other takeaway services offered by pubs and restaurants.

Mr Antona said the Chancellor’s one-off grant support of up to £9,000 for hospitality businesses was “welcome” but added: “It is nowhere near enough to cover the haemorrhaging costs for pubs and breweries.”

Responding to the latest restrictions, he said: “The national lockdown is yet another devastating blow for an already struggling industry, which follows hot on the heels of nearly a year of restrictions, curfews and forced closures.

12:49 PM

Exclusive first look inside the new £350m Emirates A380 superjumbo

The Dubai-based airline is upgrading its jets – John Arlidge took an exclusive peek inside for Telegraph Travel:

The bar on board - Emirates
The bar on board – Emirates

The first change you notice as you walk in on to the lower deck is the premium economy cabin. The new class between economy and business is the best innovation in air travel in the past two decades but it has become rather tired and “samey”, with most airlines doing little more than installing slightly bigger seats than at the back of the bus and chucking in a glass of cheap fizz. Someone needed to raise the bar and Clark has – in style. 

Putting the new cabin in the nose of the aircraft downstairs – unlike rival carriers that prefer to sandwich it between economy and business upstairs – is smart because the lower deck has high ceilings, which creates a sense of space and luxury. Plus, being by the front door makes getting on and off quick and easy. 

There are 56 seats in a 2-4-2 layout. Each seat has a cream quilted leather cover with a headrest that adjusted any way I wanted, removing the need for a bulky travel pillow. Thanks to the colour scheme, the cabin feels lighter and brighter than on other airlines. The wood veneer on the tray tables and walls echoes Emirates’ business class, making it feel even more luxurious.   

Read the full story.

12:36 PM

TUI cancels all holidays until mid-February

TUI, the UK’s biggest tour operator, has cancelled all holidays until the middle of February.

In a statement, the firm said: “As a result of the latest national lockdown measures announced on January 4 2021, all TUI holidays will be cancelled in line with international travel restrictions. 

“Customers due to travel from an English airport before mid-February will be contacted in departure date order to discuss their options, which will include amending to another holiday with an incentive, receiving an ATOL-protected refund credit note with incentive, or cancelling and receiving a full refund. 

“All holidays from Scotland and Wales have been cancelled until 31 January. We will constantly review holiday cancellations in line with updated travel advice.

“Customers currently overseas can continue to enjoy their holidays as planned and we will update them directly if there are any changes to their holidays.”

12:24 PM

Holidays banned until Spring under lockdown 3

Britons will be banned from non-essential travel from Wednesday after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a third nationwide lockdown. 

“You must not leave your home unless you have a reasonable excuse (for example, for work or education purposes),” states the Government guidance. The full legislation will be revealed tomorrow and restrictions are expected to be in place until March or April. 

Wales and Northern Ireland already had lockdown rules in place, and Scotland joined England in issuing a stay at home order. Airlines are expected to begin cancelling flights due to depart in January and February.

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy the PC Agency, predicted that overseas holidays will be limited until the start of May. 

“Travel will still be highly restricted in March as the vaccine programme will still be very much in progress,” he said.

He added that travel companies and airlines need to focus on taking bookings in the coming weeks, traditionally the busiest booking period of the year, so that crucial revenues come in, well before people actually travel. 

Both Abta, the travel association, and Airlines UK pointed to the need for financial backing for the beleaguered travel industry. An Abta spokesperson said: “Support is long overdue from Westminster, and we urge Ministers to address this gap urgently.”

12:06 PM

Skiing continues in St. Corona am Wechsel

The unfortunately (or aptly) named Austrian town continues to welcome visitors looking for seasonal escape. 

Hotels and restaurants have closed, but ski lifts can remain open.

skiing - Shutterstock
skiing – Shutterstock
skiers - Shutterstock
skiers – Shutterstock

11:49 AM

Cost-effective testing vital to restore travel post-lockdown, says industry boss

Emma Coulthurst, from holiday price comparison site, TravelSupermarket, said that “vaccinations and testing the way forward to fight this deadly virus, cost effective or free testing is key.”

She added: 

Testing is too expensive at the moment. However, to protect people at home and abroad,  it is essential.  While tests before travel are now required before UK travellers go to most countries, also having to take them on return would help to protect people. When people can travel again, free or extremely low-priced testing before or after travel needs to be made accessible in the community, rather than having to reply on, in what feels like, in many cases, overpriced private testing solutions.

With only a small number of testing services on the test to release programme, which reduces the length of quarantine, many of the services were overwhelmed when the scheme launched at the beginning of December. Access to testing needs to be increased and be free or no more than £30 each, a much more affordable price […]

It is positive to hear from the Government that it hopes the most vulnerable including people over 70 will have received the vaccination by mid-February. This gives more hope to people being able to safely travel in future. People want to escape and have new, sunny experiences when they can – we see that, with price comparison searches and bookings via TravelSupermarket for package holidays from April onwards and being most popular for June and July at the moment.

11:44 AM

Why laid-back (and restriction-free) Costa Rica should be your first post-lockdown holiday

Simon Parker squeezed in a trip to the country between lockdowns. He describes how it felt to visit and why it has become a haven for British backpackers.

According to the Costa Rican tourist board, 23,468 Britons arrived between January and November last year – down from 78,562 in 201 - Getty
According to the Costa Rican tourist board, 23,468 Britons arrived between January and November last year – down from 78,562 in 201 – Getty

For the most part, travelling in Costa Rica felt wonderfully normal. And while hotel common areas must operate at half capacity, restaurants and bars felt safe to be in, without detracting from their atmosphere. “This time last year we were running at 95 per cent,” said Erick Lizano – the General Manager of Amor Arenal, a brand new five-star rainforest resort in the foothills of the Arenal Volcano. “We then had to close in March. Covid has quickly become our normality. We should soon be back to 45 per cent.”

A bad year for tourism has, paradoxically, made it a vintage year to be a tourist. And as someone who loves to travel, but simultaneously despises being surrounded by other blundering idiots, I’d seldom felt quite so at ease. 

Coffee tours and cooking classes have become private by default. Roadside viewpoints aren’t quite deserted, but there’s now hardly an irksome selfie stick in sight. Better still, the country’s already wildlife-rich national parks and private reserves have had an unexpected year to rest – free of chatter, footprints and deodorants.

“Covid has been both positive and negative,” said my guide, Marvin Araya, at Mistico Park in that shadow of Arenal – as a toucan jerked and jived on a lichen-bearded branch above us. “Positive in the sense of seeing more unusual species of animals. Just five days ago we recorded our first jaguar in ten years. We are starting to see the big predators come back.

Read the full story.

11:31 AM

Chancellor’s business support package ‘not enough’

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a package, which will allow around 600,000 businesses to access a one-off grant of up to £9,000, in a move which is expected to cost about £4.6 billion. He also announced a further £594 million for local authorities and devolved administrations to support businesses not eligible for the grants.

However, he stopped short of extending the business rates holiday and cuts to VAT, which are two of the key demands from industry pressure groups.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade group UKHospitality, warned the new measures are “only a sticking plaster” for immediate issues, and called on the Chancellor to announce a longer-term economic plan.

“This is obviously a very positive step to keep businesses afloat in the immediate term and, for that reason, must be welcomed,” Ms Nicholls said.

“However, while this announcement is most welcome, make no mistake that this is only a sticking plaster for immediate ills – it is not enough to even cover the costs of many businesses and certainly will not underpin longer-term business viability for our sector. To address the inevitable and existential challenges that hospitality faces, we need confirmation of extensions to the business rates holiday and of the five per cent VAT rate. On its own, today’s support is not enough.”

11:19 AM

Tests before flying would boost traveller confidence, says airport boss

Glyn Jones, chief executive of London Southend Airport, said:

Just as we did during the previous lockdown, London Southend Airport will continue its commitment to safety and coordinate with airline partners and maintain cargo operations.

The aviation industry continues to navigate serious challenges. A fast and efficient vaccination roll and clear and consistent guidance across Europe will be key to supporting our industry.

Efficient testing before take-off remains key in order to provide confidence when travelling. The quarantine reduction is welcome news. However our priority is to protect all employees and passengers when travelling. Testing prior to travel would offer confidence whilst adhering to many European arrival requirements such as Spain.

11:08 AM

Moroccan tourist town has tackled virus but stands deserted

The picturesque town of Chefchaouen, northern Morocco shut its small population off from the world, and kept the virus out for months.

Now, as the country cautiously reopens and tries to resuscitate its struggling economy, Chefchaouen stands subdued, deserted by the tourists that have long been its lifeblood.

Shop owners selling souvenirs wait for customers in an alleyway in Chefchaouen - AP
Shop owners selling souvenirs wait for customers in an alleyway in Chefchaouen – AP

11:04 AM

Driving in Brexit Europe: bad news for tourists – and even worse for pets

As of  1 January, the rules on Britons driving to Europe have changed as a result of the Brexit transition period coming to an end.

At the moment, the precise ins and outs of these rules are yet to be confirmed; many will rely in large part on the outcome of trade deal talks that are still continuing.

However, we’ve answered most of the major issues facing British drivers headed for Europe in Europe in 2021 – and we will update the information when clarifications or amendments occur. 

Read our guide.

11:00 AM

UK nations must have ‘coordinated approach’ on international travel, says Gove

As we reported here earlier this morning, Micheal Gove has said the Government is considering further curbs on international travel.

“We are looking at further options to restrict international travel,” he told BBC Breakfast.

He said he had spoken to the first ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to ensure the nations have a “co-ordinated approach” on the issue.

He said there are some “vital” reasons for international travel, including for food and fuel deliveries.

“But we are looking very hard to see how we can make sure that our ports and airports are as safe as possible.”

10:52 AM

UK must offer financial support for travel businesses

Abta, the travel association, said many travel firms have faced 10 months without being able to generate income. 

A spokesperson said:

It’s right, of course, that the Government takes steps to control the spread of the virus. But this needs to come with the right measures to support travel businesses which have little or no means of operating. For ten months now, many travel businesses have been unable to generate income – putting jobs and businesses at risk – and the latest Government measures mean this is unlikely to change soon.

Yet, unlike other sectors such as hospitality, there hasn’t been any tailored financial support from the UK Government to get travel businesses through the crisis. Other countries, including France and Italy, have established targeted schemes in recognition of the unique challenges facing travel. 

10:45 AM

Covid has ‘absolutely decimated’ festival and music industry

Sacha Lord, co-founder of Manchester’s Parklife festival, said coronavirus had “absolutely decimated” the festival and music events industry.

Speaking to MPs during a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee inquiry, he said: “It decimated not just us as a business but also all the suppliers, all the freelancers during the actual weekend it takes place.”

10:43 AM

Britons with German residency turned away from flights to country

Britons who are resident in Germany have been stopped from boarding flights back home.

Since January 1, when the transition period came to an end, many EU states are barred British arrivals, except for residents or those who are travelling for an essential reasons. 

However, British people who live in Germany have reported difficulties with boarding flights.

10:29 AM

Spanish ski resort attracts crowds

Navacerrada in Madrid, Spain is hosting large numbers of visitors who are still on Christmas holidays and making the most of the snow.

The country’s health authorities have said people must avoid crowded places due to the coronavirus.

People queue up at the ski resort at the Navacerrada mountain pass in Madrid - Shutterstock
People queue up at the ski resort at the Navacerrada mountain pass in Madrid – Shutterstock
Vehicles wait to access the Navacerrada mountain pass  - Shutterstock
Vehicles wait to access the Navacerrada mountain pass – Shutterstock

10:20 AM

Hospitality and leisure businesses to be given one-off grants

Grants of up to £9,000 per property will be offered to businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, the Treasury has said.

The payments are expected to cost £4 billion and support 600,000 business properties across the UK. Another £594 million will be made available to councils and devolved nations to support businesses not covered by the new grants.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “The new strain of the virus presents us all with a huge challenge – and, whilst the vaccine is being rolled out, we have needed to tighten restrictions further.

“Throughout the pandemic we’ve taken swift action to protect lives and livelihoods and today we’re announcing a further cash injection to support businesses and jobs until the spring.

“This will help businesses to get through the months ahead – and crucially it will help sustain jobs, so workers can be ready to return when they are able to reopen.”

10:12 AM

Fresh lockdown a ‘devastating blow’ for Scottish ski resorts

At the stroke of midnight last night Scotland entered yet another national lockdown and with it the nation’s ski resorts have been dealt a “devastating blow” as they’re ordered to close, reports Lucy Aspden.

Ski slopes in Scotland will now stand empty as the country enters lockdown - Steven McKenna
Ski slopes in Scotland will now stand empty as the country enters lockdown – Steven McKenna

Yesterday first minister Nicola Sturgeon ordered all residents in Scotland to stay at home for the rest of January in an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19. The announcement was swiftly followed by a similar message from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has ordered a national lockdown in England.

The order to stay at home in Scotland is a legal requirement, with Scots only allowed to venture further than their front doors for essential purposes – exercise is permitted but trips to the country’s ski resorts do not count. It has been illegal for people in England to travel to Scotland for some time now; the new lockdown only cements this ban further.

The lockdown news comes less than a month since Scotland’s ski resorts began to open and as the Highlands boasted some of the most impressive early-season snow conditions seen in recent years.

Read the full story.

10:01 AM

BA offers refunds for cancelled flights

The new national lockdown is expected to prompt flight cancellations in January and February. British Airways said it is reviewing its flight schedule following the announcement of new restrictions. 

BA said in a statement:

Our focus is on keeping crucial air links open – transporting vital goods and ensuring people who are permitted to travel can continue to do so safely. ​

As always, if a customer’s flight is cancelled we offer a range of options including a full refund.​

We advise customers to check the latest UK Government travel advice at Gov.uk and their latest flight information at ba.com. 

BA customers whose flights remain operating can opt to take a voucher for future travel or re-book to a later date, according to the airline’s guidance.

09:55 AM

What a new national lockdown means for travel

Boris Johnson has announced strict new coronavirus measures – plunging England into an immediate lockdown.Only essential trips are permitted, including travelling abroad.

But what might happen next? Could the UK close its borders? And what about the borders of its devolved nations?

Hazel Plush explains the new restrictions – and what they mean for travel.

09:50 AM

Italy imposes post-Christmas Covid restrictions

Italian ministers decided to keep nationwide restrictions in place this weekend to slow coronavirus infections, but agreed to relax curbs on weekdays.

Italians spent much of Christmas and New Year at home, with people allowed to leave their houses only for work, health and emergencies, or for brief trips to see a limited number of friends or relatives.

These rules are set to expire on Thursday and ministers agreed at a late Monday night cabinet meeting to return to the old, three-tier system, which allows for different measures to be applied to different regions.

But all bars and restaurants across the country will have to close this weekend, with travel between towns and cities kept to a minimum.

Coronavirus Italy Spotlight Chart - cases default
Coronavirus Italy Spotlight Chart – cases default

09:40 AM

Suited-up passengers take no chances at Thai airport

Passengers at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Thailand were pictured in hazmat suits today. 

people in hazmat suits - Shutterstock
people in hazmat suits – Shutterstock

The Thai government has ordered a nationwide partial business shutdowns for 28 ‘red zone’ provinces including Bangkok as part of stricter measures to curb the new wave of the infectious disease.

Travellers flying between Thai provinces could face additional health screening, and international flights from the UK have been put on hold. 

 Suvarnabhumi International Airport - Shutterstock
Suvarnabhumi International Airport – Shutterstock

09:32 AM

Qantas hopes to restart international flights in July

Qantas has reopened ticket sales across its international network from July 1, suggesting that bosses expect that Covid-19 vaccines will be rolled out widely enough over the next six months to restart overseas travel.

The airline had suspended bookings from Australia to London and the United States until October, but has now scheduled flights to both from July.

A Qantas spokeswoman said the carrier had “aligned the selling of our international services to reflect our expectation that international travel will begin to restart from July 2021”.

“We continue to review and update our international schedule in response to the developing COVID-19 situation,” she said.

Qantas boss Alan Joyce has said that a vaccine would be required for quarantine-free travel to resume to destinations like the US and UK.

09:20 AM

Lockdown measures are ‘crippling the travel industry’

Craig Ashford, a spokesperson for travel agency TravelUp, said the Prime Minister’s announcement of additional lockdown measures without proposed solutions is “crippling the travel industry”.

He added:

The outbound travel sector alone sustains approximately 220,000 jobs in the UK and is worth over £37bn, but the government continues to reject the vital role it plays in the economy and the need to sustain public assurance in the industry.

There has already been mass cancellation of flights to and from countries around the globe. The most recent ban of travel from South Africa continues to erode consumer confidence and deplete the lifeline of bookings for airlines and travel agents.

The UK Government must do more to implement solutions alongside the restrictions. Our leaders need to urgently consider the beneficial practicalities of cheap and efficient pre-departure testing policy, and provide the necessary support for testing firms in order to meet the demand.  The travel industry is desperate for clearer warnings and guidance on quarantine rules in order to properly facilitate consumer rights. If the government remains unwilling to consider solutions, while announcing further restrictions, the travel sector will cease to exist and many more companies that rely on travel will be bound to fail.

09:11 AM

EasyJet ‘contacting customers whose flights are cancelled’

The low-cost airline said following the latest lockdown announcement it is “reviewing its flying programme with the view to maintaining essential connectivity between key cities in the UK alongside a small number of international routes”.

A spokesperson added:

We are contacting customers whose flights are cancelled with their options and all customers unable to travel as a result of the lockdown restrictions, whether their flights are cancelled or scheduled to operate, can transfer their flights to a later date for free, receive a voucher or a refund.

Given the ongoing impact of the pandemic on travel, we continue to call for sector specific support such as has been provided to hospitality, where decisions have directly affected the ability to trade.  The same principle should be applied to aviation.

09:05 AM

Lockdown now could ‘save Easter holiday bookings’

Tourism bosses in the UK expressed support for a lockdown in the hope that it could help save business over the Easter holiday. 

cornwall - Getty
cornwall – Getty

Chief executive of Visit Cornwall, Malcolm Bell, told The Guardian: “Our view is we’d rather hit [the virus] quick and hit it hard now to be able to operate at Easter. The worse thing would be to limp on and lose Easter.”

The head of the self-catering association PASC, said: “The whole hospitality community has got everything based on enough people having the vaccines that Easter will bring meaningful revenue.”

08:56 AM

Thomas Cook customers offered refunds

Thomas Cook, the relaunched online only travel agent, is offering customers refunds for holidays during the lockdown period. 

Alan French,  chief executive of Thomas Cook, said:

Following the announcement of the latest lockdown, we are calling our customers to offer refunds or move their holidays to a later date.

We’ve seen over the festive period that customers are looking ahead to the summer and beginning to book in earnest for those important summer weeks in the sun. I am sure that after many more weeks spent at home – and with the progress of the vaccine rollout – we will see an even bigger demand for people to escape to the beach this summer. We’re all desperate for a holiday and right now there are great deals to be had for early booking. 

08:52 AM

Further restrictions on international travel being considered, says Gove

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said today that the country was in for a “very difficult” few weeks and could give no firm date for lifting the lockdown.

He added that the Government is looking at further options to restrict international travel. Reports suggest this could include pre-flight PCR tests for anyone entering the country.

08:46 AM

‘If we cannot re-open travel the future of UK aviation will be bleak’

The trade body for UK airlines is among those calling for Government support. A spokesperson said:

It’s vital that any lockdown is accompanied by measures to support our aviation sector, through grants and further liquidity measures such as APD relief, together with an acceleration of the roll-out of pre-departure testing and the vaccine.

If we cannot re-open travel the future of UK aviation will be bleak indeed but we’re hopeful Government will step in and recognise its importance and contribution to UK plc, so we can continue delivering for passengers.

08:40 AM

EasyJet Holidays offers refunds for trips affected by lockdown

UK holidaymakers with trips booked in January and February will be concerned what the latest lockdown means for them. 

Tour operator easyJet Holidays has confirmed that its customers whose holiday cannot now go ahead will be offered refunds. A spokesperson said:

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement […] and the implications for international travel from the UK, we are reviewing all holiday bookings. We will be contacting customers whose holidays can no longer go ahead with the option of cancelling for easyJet holidays credit which can be used to rebook an alternative holiday, or customers can choose a full refund back to their original payment method.

[…] We will also be in touch with customers with later departure dates to remind them of our easyJet holidays Protection Promise which offers ultimate flexibility and reassurance.

08:34 AM

What happened yesterday?

The main stories from Monday:

  • England enters third national lockdown

  • Britons living in EU countries barred from returning

  • Denmark extends travel ban on UK arrivals

  • Aer Lingus plans Manchester to New York route

  • Runway freezes over at Edinburgh Airport

  • Slovakia ski resorts close slopes, just weeks after reopening

  • Cornwall airport shuts until mid-February

  • Scotland to enter full lockdown from midnight tonight

  • Pope condemns people travelling to escape lockdowns

​Now onto today’s news.

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