Barcelona has been dragged back towards lockdown as Catalonian authorities urged people to stay home and not gather in groups of more than 10.
The region’s health chief Alba Verges stopped short of mandatory restrictions but instead warned Spain’s second largest city that residents should not “move around if it’s not absolutely necessary”.
“It is very important to respect these measures now, it’s the best way to avoid a lockdown,” he said.
Residents were urged to shop online and cultural and sports events will also be limited, Reuters reported. But museums will remain open in the Catalan capital, one of Europe’s most visited cities.
Barcelona has seen its number of coronavirus cases jump from last week. Spain reported the steepest daily jump in coronavirus infections in over two months on Thursday, with 580 new cases registered. Catalonia and neighbouring Aragon have led the increase.
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The top stories from today
If you’re just joining us, here’s a quick recap of the day’s top travel stories:
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Portugal’s beaches remain empty
Photos of popular beaches in the Algarve show how empty they remain without UK travellers this summer.
The country has been left off the list of those for which the UK is exempting quarantine rules and has also been excluded from another list exempting the nation from the Foreign Office ban on all but essential travel, apart from Madeira and the Azores.
Find all the latest travel advice for Portugal here.
Barcelona restrictions are not compulsory
The advice given by the Catalan authorities to Barcelona residents to stay at home and not gather in large groups is not compulsory.
Telegraph Travel’s local expert Sally Davies shares, “To be clear, the mayor has said there won’t be a lockdown. […] All that happened is [that] there were a few more cases in a suburb of BCN, so the regional government has recommended that people try and stay home this weekend if they can.”
She added that clubs are due to close, but as there was a ban on dancing already this doesn’t seem like a major move away from the current status quo.
Read the latest advice on travel to Spain here.
New York’s High Line park reopens with limited capacity
The Manhattan park, built on a former elevated railroad line, was one of few in the city to close during lockdown, in part because it was too narrow for allow for adequate social distancing.
It reopened on Thursday with bright green circles dotted on its walkway and spaced six feet apart to encourage social distancing. Other changes to the park include a one-way system that means you can only walk from the Gansevoort Street entrance in the north to the south end, and the fact that visitors must now make reservations to visit at a certain time.
The High Line is a normally a huge tourist attraction, with millions of visitors each year. Now locals are enjoying have the space all to themselves.
Cathay Pacific announces huge first-half loss
Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways expects to make a loss of HK$9.9 billion (£1 billion) from the first half of 2020. This will be the largest loss in its history and includes impairment charges, which mainly relate to 16 aircraft that are unlikely to re-enter meaningful economic service again before the 2021 summer season.
Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon carried a total of 27,106 passengers in June, a decrease of 99.1 per cent compared to June 2019.
Cathay Pacific Group Chief Customer and Customer and Commercial Officer Ronald Lam said in a statement:
The landscape of international aviation remains incredibly uncertain with border restrictions and quarantine measures still in place across the globe. Although we have begun to see some initial developments, notably a slight increase in the number of transit passengers following the easing of transit restrictions through Hong Kong International Airport, we are still yet to see any significant signs of immediate improvement.
Virgin, BA, EasyJet – which airlines have announced the resumption of flights?
Free coronavirus insurance for all customers, says Tui
Tui has announced that all its UK customers will receive free coronavirus insurance until the end of the year.
Tom Mulvihill reports:
The UK’s largest tour operator says its new Covid-19 Cover will protect travellers from the costs of testing for suspected cases, medical expenses for those who contract the virus, and food and accommodation for anyone required to go into quarantine while abroad.
It also covers the return flight for any customer forced to extend their stay after having to self-isolate, or in the extreme circumstance of those requiring repatriation for medical reasons.
The insurance is automatically added to all new and existing bookings between now and December 31 2020, although Tui has advised that Covid-19 Cover should be used alongside normal travel insurance to guarantee holidaymakers’ peace of mind.
Read the full story.
FCO confirms ban on UK cruises
British holidaymakers will not be allowed to go on cruises around the UK under the Government’s updated cruise ship travel advice, The Telegraph‘s Benjamin Parker has been told.
Although the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) clarified late on Wednesday night that river cruises are exempt from a warning to avoid cruise ship travel, there appeared to be a loophole that would also allow domestic sea cruising.
The guidance states that “cruise ship travel means staying overnight for at least one night on a sea-going cruise ship with people from multiple households” but is followed by “our advice against cruises applies to international travel” – seemingly giving the go-ahead for itineraries that don’t go abroad.
However a source at the Department of Transport (DfT) confirmed that the advice applies to all sea-going cruises, including those operating in UK waters. The decision was based on Public Health England’s (PHE) risk assessment of the cruise environment, rather than only considering the ship’s location, they added.
There has been no official announcement yet but Telegraph Travel has approached DfT for comment, questioning why they and PHE consider river cruise ships a safer environment than round-Britain cruises.
‘Europe needs to align rules to boost tourism’
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has warned Europe risks delaying its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic by confusing travellers with a patchwork of differing rules and restrictions.
“Anyone travelling from one European country to the next faces a bewildering difference in travel advice, covering masks, testing and contact tracing which could seriously hinder the return of the travel and tourism sector,” said Gloria Guevara, president of the WTTC.
“This climate of uncertainty for travellers and holidaymakers is the last thing they need at a time when the sector is crying out for consistency. The restoration of consumer confidence, during the most important season of the year in one of the world’s largest regions for travel and tourism cannot be understated.
“The time to work together is now.”
Where will Boris Johnson enjoy his staycation this summer?
It is the question that literally no-one is asking, or thinking about, or pondering over a nice cup of milky tea: Where will the Prime Minister be going on holiday this summer?
It is a big question though, because Boris Johnson hasn’t been away since he flitted off to Mustique over the New Year. Which is more than six months ago. And a lot has happened since then. Brexit. A devastating pandemic.
The answer is… we don’t know. Security issues and all that. But wait. We do know that it will be somewhere in the UK. Because the PM has said so. He was quoted just this week, urging Britons to take a holiday on home shores, declaring that he will be leading by example. And because the PM is absolutely a man of his word, we can take this as read.
Chris Leadbeater rounds up the likely contenders here.
What if Covid-19 spoils my holiday?
So, finally we can travel again – but beware, it may not be a straightforward process. The complications of local lockdowns, quarantine and isolation measures, and the potential for last-minute cancellations are raising some important questions for holidaymakers.
Consumer expert Nick Trend has all the latest advice on common questions including:
What if there is a resurgence of the pandemic in the destination I have booked?
What happens if my flight is cancelled at short notice?
What if I am exposed to Covid-19 while I’m in a destination?
Will my insurance cover Covid-19?
My holiday is on, but I really don’t want to go. What can I do?
Get the answers here.
UK ‘very unlikely’ to be on Ireland’s green list for quarantine-free travel
The UK is “very unlikely” to be included on Ireland’s green list of countries exempt from quarantine, Dublin’s foreign minister has said.
Simon Coveney said the list, which is due to be published on Monday, will not be particularly long.
Currently people arriving in Ireland from overseas – with limited exceptions such as essential supply chain workers – are required to fill in a passenger locator form and self-quarantine for 14 days. People crossing the border from Northern Ireland are not subject to restrictions on their movement.
Mr Coveney said:
I think there’s no question that the US will be on the green list, it won’t be. And I think it’s very unlikely our closest neighbour either will be under that threshold that we set.
And that’s really unfortunate because the two countries that we would like to be opening up to, in terms of international travel, are the UK and the US, given the integration between our economy of those two countries and of course the number of visitors that would like to come here to spend money in hotels and have holidays here and so on.
So, I think it’s very unlikely that either the UK or the US will be on that green list.
It’s not going to be a particularly long list.”
‘Crete is a ghost town’ – even though it has now reopened to tourism
Telegraph Travel’s Heidi Fuller-Love is reporting from Crete, now that the islands are open again to holidaymakers. Greece is on the list of ‘air bridge’ countries where English travellers can visit without having to isolate upon return, and direct flights from Britain resumed on July 15.
Find all the latest advice on travel to Greece here.
USA announces borders with Mexico and Canada will stay closed until at least August 20
Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf has announced that US borders will remain closed to neighbouring countries for another month.
Based on the success of the existing restrictions and close collaboration with Mexico and Canada, @DHSgov will continue to limit non-essential travel at our land ports of entry with Canada and Mexico until Aug 20.
— Acting Secretary Chad Wolf (@DHS_Wolf) July 16, 2020
The US Centers for Disease Control is due to review the situation in all three countries every 30 days to decide if the borders can reopen.
Find all the latest advice about travelling to the USA here.
‘Foreign trips are empty without strangers to befriend’
In her latest column, Anna Hart explains why until international travel becomes sociable again, she’ll stay close to home:
Sometimes we travel to hide from other people: bosses, commuters, noisy neighbours, our own children. But for the most part, I travel to hurl myself into the throng. And until I can meet new people without worrying that I’ll accidentally kill them or their grandmother, I’m not planning any major international excursions.
Am I really the only one who is a bit bored of my bubble? Don’t get me wrong: I love my bubble, a mix of 30-something friends in Margate, where I live. We swim in the sea, have barbecues, help each other with ill-advised DIY jobs and eat each other’s banana bread. It’s all been a very pleasant latter-stage lockdown. But when I travel, I do so to step out of my bubble, not to remain in it.
Read more here and share your opinion here.
Spain’s most popular beaches empty despite easing restrictions
Spain’s most popular beach destinations, including Majorca, Ibiza and the Costa del Sol, remain empty despite the country reopening to European tourists, with resorts that would normally be packed at this time of year eerily quiet.
English holidaymakers are now able to visit Spain and its islands without the need to quarantine on return, and yet so far very few tourists have returned, suggesting an expected rush to the Continent has not materialised.
Spain this week enforced additional measures to help control the spread of coronavirus, including the mandatory wearing of masks at pools and beaches in the Costa del Sol, while other cities have seen localised lockdowns in response to spikes in infections.
On Wednesday, regional authorities concerned about a resurgence of the virus ordered the closure of bars on three streets in the party resort of Magaluf in Majorca due to the behaviour of tourists in the area. The precautions have led to empty beaches, shuttered bars, and stacked up chairs in Magaluf.
Nearly 200,000 locals depend on tourism for their jobs in the Balearic islands alone.
Coronavirus cases rise in Melbourne despite second lockdown
More than 5 million Melbourne residents have been enduring a second lockdown for a week now, and yet the local government has reported more than 400 new coronavirus cases today.
This total is higher than any single daily increase in coronavirus cases in Australia since the beginning of the first lockdown in March.
Cristian Bonetto share what the announcement of a second lockdown felt like here.
Comparethemarket.com reports highest volumes in travel insurance sales since UK travel restrictions lifted
Since the Government gave the green light to overseas holidays, with the lifting of UK travel restrictions to a number of other countries on July 10, comparethemarket.com saw a 72 per cent week on week increase in travel insurance sales.
Patrick Ikhena, Head of Travel at comparethemarket.com added:
For travel insurance covering destinations outside the UK, we saw a jump of 73 per cent week-on-week – a higher increase than those looking to ‘staycation’ at home as purchases of UK-only policies grew by over two-fifths over the same period.
Mapped: The 26 countries you can actually visit right now
A postcard from Athens, where tourism is yet to bounce back
Greek resident and writer Helen Iatrou visited Athens as the country reopened to English holidaymakers and found the streets far quieter than normal.
July is a peak month for tourism in Athens, so it was strange to hear few languages other than Greek spoken on the cobblestoned pedestrian walkway that links some of the capital’s most significant ancient sites. The country, meanwhile, has earned global praise for its exceptional handling of the pandemic so far, however, it is clear that many UK travellers, who can fly direct to Greece as of July 15, are still hesitant to book.
Earlier, on central Syntagma Square, the picture I encountered when I briefly popped into Hotel Grande Bretagne, a neoclassical city landmark, on its first day of reopening was disheartening. Staff were patiently awaiting their loyal, smartly dressed clientele, who would normally be milling in the art-filled foyer. Across the road, at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of Parliament, the 7pm Changing of the Guard drew some two dozen observers, a fraction of the usual crowds who usually jostle for a clear shot of the ceremonious spectacle.
Read Helen Iatrou’s full report here.
Ryanair extends the removal of its flight change fee to all new September bookings
Today, Ryanair announced it will extend the waiving of its flight change fee for all customers who book to travel in September. The zero change fee will apply to flights moved to a new date up until December 31, 2020. The policy was already in place for new July and August bookings.
Ryanair’s Director of Marketing & Digital, Dara Brady said:
In order to provide as much flexibility and confidence as possible for our customers this summer, we have extended the waiving of our flight change fee to new Sept bookings.
As the holiday season will be prolonged this year, customers can now plan a well-deserved break knowing that flights in July, Aug and now Sept can be moved without any flight change fee if their travel plans change.
Virgin, BA, EasyJet – which airlines have announced the resumption of flights?
Holland America Line sells four ships as cruise industry strains under pandemic
Seattle-based cruise company Holland America Line (HAL) has announced that four of its 14 ships have been sold and will leave its fleet in the coming months, as the cruise industry continues to struggle through the rough waters of the coronavirus crisis.
All four ships – Amsterdam, Maasdam, Rotterdam and Veendam – have sailed for HAL since the nineties and are celebrated for their small size.
“It is always difficult to see a ship leaving the fleet, especially those that have a long and storied history with our company,” said Steve Cruse, chief executive of HAL.
Mr Cruse insisted that: “Holland America Line has a bright future ahead that includes recent Pinnacle-Class additions, with a third sister ship next year that will continue to maintain our overall capacity in the marketplace.”
The vessels have been sold in pairs. Maasdam and Veendam, which are the last of HAL’s S-Class ships, will depart first in August 2020 to an undisclosed buyer.
While Amsterdam and Rotterdam, part of the line’s R-Class series, will join Fred Olsen’s fleet in the autumn where they will be renamed Bolette and Borealis.
Find Kaye Holland’s full report here.
ABTA launches new travel insurance product
ABTA – The Travel Association has launched ABTA Travel Sure. The new travel insurance offering is based on extensive research into what consumers want from their policy.
It includes a number of benefits as standard that other insurance providers don’t include, or will charge an optional extra premium for, including missed connections, airline and supplier failures, and gadget cover. There are three different levels of cover across both Single Trip and Annual Multi Trip options. All cover levels are 5-star Defaqto rated and there is no upper age limit for single trip cover.
Ian Hall, Head of Travel Insurance at ABTA says,
Insurance has an important role to play in giving people the confidence to book a holiday now travel is restarting, and ABTA Travel Sure will appeal to people who require cover for COVID-19 medical expenses.
What about if you are visiting a country to which the Foreign Office (FCO) advises against travel? Here’s how to get travel insurance should you choose to ignore Foreign Office advice
Can I travel to Italy? Latest travel advice as country lifts ban on hand luggage
Italy reopened its borders to the EU on June 3 – as well as arrivals from the UK, Schengen area, Andorra, and Monaco – and has been welcoming tourists with open arms ever since. It has also lifted its ban on hand baggage on flights.
The measure was introduced on June 11, and prohibited the use of overhead lockers for any type of luggage. Italian authorities said at the time that the new rule was was for ‘health reasons’, and necessary to prevent aisles becoming blocked by people stowing their bags. But Italy’s undersecretary for health, Sandra Zampa, confirmed that the move would be rolled back from July 15.
Get the latest advice on travel to Italy here.
Coronavirus forces British Airways to retire entire fleet of Boeing 747 jumbo jets
British Airways is to retire its fleet of Boeing 747s with immediate effect, reports Jamie Johnson.
Britain’s flag carrier has announced this morning that its 31 Boeing 747s are to be retired due to falling demand in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
The company said:
It is with great sadness that we can confirm we are proposing to retire our entire 747 fleet with immediate effect.
It is unlikely our magnificent ‘queen of the skies’ will ever operate commercial services for British Airways again due to the downturn in travel caused by the Covid-19 global pandemic.
It also marks another chapter in the slow death of the model, arguably the most iconic aircraft of all time.
Find the full story here.
US cruise ship ban extended until at least October
Cruise ships won’t be sailing passengers in US waters until at least October after authorities extended their no-sail order by more than two months.
The news comes as states across America are experiencing surges in cases of coronavirus, including Florida, home to the world’s three busiest cruise ports and headquarters of the world’s major cruise operators.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) ban had been due to expire on July 24 but will now be in place until September 30 – unless withdrawn or altered by the public agency’s director, or the America’s Secretary of Health and Human Services announces Covid-19 is no longer a public health emergency.
According to CDC reports, between March 1 and July 10, data showed 2,973 cases of Covid-19 or “Covid-like” illnesses emerged on cruise ships, with 34 deaths.
Nine ships within US jurisdiction are still dealing with Covid-19 outbreaks on board, the agency revealed.
This decision is unlikely to be a surprise to many cruise lines, with the majority of them pausing operations until autumn.
Read Benjamin Parker’s full report here.
Spain’s empty resorts: in pictures
Photos of Spain’s empty resorts paint a picture of a far quieter summer season that normal.
What happened yesterday?
Good morning. Here’s a quick recap on yesterday’s travel news headlines.