Thousands of British holidaymakers have until 4am on Saturday to return to the UK – or face a two-week quarantine – after the Government removed four more countries from its list of approved destinations.
Portugal, Hungary, French Polynesia and Reunion have all lost their travel corridors, with the Portuguese islands of Madeira and Azores exempt due to lower rates of infection.
Portugal is the biggest blow for British holidaymakers, having only been added to the green list three weeks ago. As has been the pattern for other countries that have been removed with less than a 48-hour window to return home before quarantine kicks in, the price of a flight back from Portugal has skyrocketed.
A direct one-way flight today from Faro to London with easyJet starts at £211; and Telegraph Travel has seen options as high as £399 with British Airways. From Lisbon and Porto, holidaymakers can also expect to pay between and £200 and £500 to get home today, or else face a long layover should they opt for a cheaper non-direct route.
World Travel and Tourism Council president and chief executive Gloria Guevara said: “Taking Portugal and Hungary off the exception list has left families in a race against time to find flights and get home to avoid going into 14 days of isolation or cancel their already made plans. This depressingly familiar situation is a major body blow to consumer confidence to travel.”
Sweden was the only country added to the travel corridor list yesterday.
Scroll down for more updates.
What happened today?
Britons left in tears – and out of pocket – by Portugal quarantine decision
Airlines and airports will go bust unless Test4Travel is introduced, warns Heathrow Boss
ICU nurses gifted £1.2 million worth of luxury hotel stays as ‘coronavirus thank you’
The Seychelles to reverse cruise ban ahead of 2021 season
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express delays return until March 2021
Scroll for all the latest updates. More on our live blog tomorrow from 9am.
How to get travel insurance should you choose to ignore Foreign Office 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.
Get all the details here.
The 16 countries you can visit right now, without any quarantine
The Government has given the green light to overseas holidays, but the list of options keeps changing. As of September 10, the FCDO no longer advises against trips to 65 destinations, while 63 places can now be visited by Britons without the need to self-isolate on their return.
Find out exactly where you can go here.
‘People who wear masks in Sweden get stared at, not the other way around’
Joanna Le Pluart offers some insight in what it has been like to ride out the pandemic in Sweden. She writes:
What will really surprise British visitors to Sweden, however, is the general lack of fear. I’ve heard from my English relatives about the fraught atmosphere over there – they say, particularly in London, that there’s a real tension in the air that makes it hard to relax or to even have fun. My daughter regularly visits friends in Germany and it is the same there, she says. But in my home city of Malmo, and the rest of the country, things just feel… normal.
Admittedly, some people, mainly non-Swedes and the elderly, are a little nervous – and are avoiding social contact – but they make up the overwhelming minority. The rest of us are either completely gung-ho, or have adopted a sort of ‘risk versus reward’ strategy: if we know something will be enjoyable – a holiday or a birthday party, perhaps – we will throw caution to the wind, but if the reward isn’t there – working in the office, for example, or an unnecessary meeting – then we will take the safer option. Most importantly we’re allowed to make our own risk-based choices, they are not dictated to us by politicians.
Read more here.
The top 10 winter sun destinations – and how strict are their entry requirements
We won’t lie, securing a spot of winter sun this year is no picnic. In terms of long-haul travel, much of the world is still closed to international visitors; Australia, the US, South America, India and most of Africa included. But there are more than a few countries in the Caribbean with their gates open to Britons, where you won’t have to quarantine for 14 days upon your return. And most recently, the Seychelles announced it would welcome UK holidaymakers again.
Entry requirements vary significantly, so Annabel Fenwick Elliott has rounded up the hoops you’ll have to jump through should you wish to visit one of these 10 following winter sun destinations.
How does airport testing actually work?
With support from MPs, industry leaders and polling of the general public, Telegraph Travel has launched a campaign, Test4Travel, urging the Government to introduce airport testing.
At least 30 countries offer or accept Covid-19 tests at airports, but what, exactly, does the testing process look like?
Telegraph writer Simon Parker, who has recently travelled to the Portuguese island of Madeira, said:
Within 15 minutes of touching down on the island of Madeira I had my luggage on a trolley and was stood in an air-conditioned queue, about 150 passengers deep.
Smartphones in hand, we were syphoned into two lines by tourist officials in surgical face masks and visors. There were those that had received a negative test at home within the past 72 hours – they could proceed to their hotels as usual. And those (like me) that needed testing.
The ‘Test on Arrival’ queue was significantly longer – at least 100 strong. We were asked to wear masks, observe social distancing as much as possible, and submit details into an online form. Once complete, we waited for testing – the results of which would correspond to QR codes on our phones.
It took about an hour to reach the front of the queue – to a kind of portacabin broken into separate testing booths. I had my phone scanned, then a swab thrust into the back of my throat and deep inside my nose.
Find out more about the process here.
Switzerland adds Paris and Vienna to quarantine list
Britain isn’t the only country with an ever-changing quarantine list, and Reuters reports that Switzerland has added the regions around Paris and Vienna to its own no-go zone, requiring incoming travellers from those areas to enter quarantine for 10 days.
The Swiss government said it was adopting a regional approach for neighbouring countries for the measures which will come into force on September 14. As part of this, it named Ile de France and the Vienna region in its list of areas with a raised risk of infection
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express delays return until March 2021
The eagerly awaited return of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express has been postponed until March next year as a result of continuing fears about the coronavirus and the requirement of all travellers entering the UK from France to quarantine for two weeks.
The train had been due to come back into service yesterday with a journey from Venice to London, sending out a powerful signal that travel – and in particular the romance of travel – was far from dead. But the continuing quarantine requirements for travellers from France, Switzerland and Austria – three of the countries the train passes through – led the company to defer the return.
10 hotels in Britain that take you around the world
With much of the world off-limits, why not find a “foreign” holiday on UK soil? John O’Ceallaigh is your guide to British hotels that could be abroad.
Britons left in tears – and out of pocket – by Portugal quarantine decision
Mary Lussiana, our Portugal expert, reports:
General Manager Katharina Schlaipfer from Quinta da Lago’s sleek Conrad Algarve told me this morning that some guests were in tears at breakfast. Some for having to cut short their holiday, others distraught at facing quarantine when they get home as they had been unable to find a flight back to the UK. ‘Within minutes of the British Government’s announcement, cancellations started to come in for next week,’ Katharina said. ‘We have had high-end golf groups cancelling and individuals who are so sad at not being able to come for the holiday they have been waiting for. There is a lot of sadness around’.
Across the Algarve at Bela Vista, a tiny jewel of a hotel which sits above popular Praia da Rocha beach, GM Gonçalo told me they have two scenarios at the moment. ‘We have a lot of older guests who are retired and are happy to enjoy their time here and quarantine when home, but also quite a number of younger British guests who simply cannot afford to take two weeks off from their jobs. Most of these checked out already this morning, having managed – by paying triple the normal fare – to get on a flight back home tonight. We have had a lot of cancellations now for September and no pick-up for the forthcoming weeks. It is a terrible situation’.
‘I’ve lost £660 because of Caledonian Sleeper’s inflexible Flexipass’
In consumer expert Gill Charlton‘s latest column for Telegraph Travel she assists a reader left out of pocket by an inflexible Caledonian Sleeper Flexipass.
Ed Howden writes:
For more than 40 years, my family and I have regularly taken the overnight train from Inverness to London. The service is currently run by Caledonian Sleeper, which introduced a useful Flexipass carnet a few years ago. This costs £1,650 for 10 tickets, which must be used within a year.
During lockdown, my current Flexipass expired with four tickets unused. I had planned to use these over Easter to visit my parents in Sutherland, but Scotland had shut down by that point.
In July, once it was announced that travel to Scotland was to be allowed again, I contacted Caledonian Sleeper to make a reservation, under the assumption that – given the exceptional circumstances – it would extend the expiry date of my Flexipass.
However, the company has refused to honour the tickets, which puts us £660 out of pocket. Can you help?
Find out what Gill had to say here.
ICU nurses gifted £1.2 million worth of luxury hotel stays as ‘coronavirus thank you’
A non-profit campaign to thank hard-working intensive care nurses with luxury hotel stays has seen all 6,200 rooms on offer snapped up within six hours.
The founders of Nights On Us said they were “delighted” with the response, which has seen thousands of NHS staff members who worked tirelessly throughout the heights of the coronavirus pandemic redeem £1.2 million worth of two-night breaks at leading UK hotels, including Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, The Savoy, Grantley Hall and The Dorchester.
They were available from 10am on Wednesday and were claimed at a rate of eight stays a minute.
Heather McCarthy, who works in an intensive care unit (ICU) in Romford, said “I was lucky enough to book a place at the Shangri-La, At The Shard, London, and I honestly can’t believe it. When you think back at what has happened over the past few months, it doesn’t seem real, but this has given me something to really look forward to.”
The drive behind Night on Us, which was established by four travel industry professionals, was an appreciation and respect for the nurses who worked on the frontline to save lives during the past six months, in the belief that they are deserving of rest and relaxation after the emotional strain of the pandemic, with many separated for long periods from their loved ones. The Telegraph partnered with the cause at the end of May.
One of London’s grandest hotels reopens after six months
Mayfair’s Claridge’s is back in business and Hannah Betts was one of the first people through the doors for its grand post-lockdown reopening party.
David Downton gives a speech about this “cautious trip out to the world’s greatest hotel”, noting: “Claridge’s is Claridge’s and everywhere else is everywhere else.” After six months’ lockdown, Mayfair’s cathedral to art-deco elegance has never felt so vital to morale, the ultimate symbol of London’s post-pandemic revival.
In fact, the coronavirus crisis was the first time Brook Street’s finest had been closed since its four-year rebuilding in 1894 (having originally opened as Mivart’s – a venue where the Prince Regent and his cronies could pursue their intrigues – back in 1812). It remained open during Oswald Milne’s deco makeover in 1929, and throughout both wars, even during the Blitz. Indeed, the hotel played a crucial part in the Second World War, not merely socially or via its state-of-the-art air-raid shelter, but strategically. Grosvenor Square was known as “Little America”, Claridge’s “Little Europe”, acting as the capital of half a dozen countries, whose exiled leaders took up residence.
Claridge’s was a hotbed of intrigue, with an entire floor deployed as a base for intelligence agencies, suites regularly searched for hidden devices. The hotel was said to house more spies than sommeliers.
Read more here.
Exclusive: The Seychelles to reverse cruise ban ahead of 2021 season
The Seychelles looks set to reverse its strict cruise ban in the new year, in an astonishing but welcome U-turn for cruise lovers.
Speaking exclusively to The Telegraph, Sherin Francis, the chief executive of Seychelles Tourism, said: “We are working on protocols to reopen the [cruise] sector – of course it will probably reopen in a very different manner. There will still be some level of restriction but there are protocols being worked on to reopen the sector much earlier [than announced].”
She added: “We won’t be ready for this season – the season normally starts in October – but certainly for the next one.”
The Seychelles planned reversal of its cruise ship ban follows hot on the heels of its announcement that it will allow Britons to visit from October 1– along with holidaymakers from France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Austria and the United Arab Emirates.
Get all the details here.
Heathrow Airport passenger numbers fall 81.5% in August
August passenger demand at Heathrow is down 81.5% compared to previous year, with just 1.4m people travelling via Heathrow – less than a fifth of what is usually seen in the summer getaway period.
A statement released by the airport says
Long haul markets, which are critical for UK exporters and a main source of inbound tourism, students and investment, remain closed by Government’s 14 day quarantine policy.
North American passenger numbers are down by more than 95% compared to last year.
More than 30 airports are already using testing as a safe alternative to 14 day quarantine and getting their economies moving – Frankfurt airport has overtaken Heathrow, an early warning that Britain’s economy will fall behind if we don’t protect our global trading network.
Read about The Telegraph’s Test4Travel campaign, which urges the Government to scrap quarantine through airport testing, here.
15 reasons to visit Sweden
Sweden has been added to the UK’s quarantine-free list. Chris Leadbeater offers 15 fine reasons to go.
1. There is room to breathe.
Sweden may be vast of geographical size, but it is small of head-count. It is home to around 10 million people – and, indeed, has only breached eight figures in the last decade. With a fifth of that number – just over two million people – living in Stockholm, that leaves an awful lot of the rest of the country where you are likely to encounter little more than the occasional hiker, a couple of local farmsteads – and the feel of Scandinavian breezes in your hair.
2. You can walk and walk and walk
With space comes opportunities for strolling. Not least, perhaps, along the Kungsleden – the “King’s Trail”, which cuts a path across 270 miles of glorious scenery far removed from city life. Specifically, it starts at Hemavan – which sits a full 570 miles above Stockholm, close to the Norwegian border – and heads (roughly) north to Abisko in the Arctic Circle. It would be a brave holidaymaker who would attempt the entirety of it, but you can tackle a decent chunk of the trail (the most northerly segment, including Abisko National Park) via the self-guided “Kungsleden” walking holiday sold by Macs Adventure (0141 530 3738; macsadventure.com) – eight days covering 65 miles, from £565 per person (including accommodation – but not flights).
3. It has the European Union’s largest lake
Not only is Sweden the EU’s third biggest country (France and Spain are larger, if you are interested in such matters), but it can claim the Union’s most sizeable body of fresh water. This is Lake Vanern – the south-west corner of which sits a wholly accessible 50 miles north-east of the second city Gothenburg (more on which below). It is a majestic affair, opening its arms to 2,180 square miles in surface area – a statistical enormity which makes it bigger than Trinidad and Tobago (yes, the entire country; both islands combined). And you can, of course, take a holiday on its banks.
Find plenty more reasons, including incredible remote hotels, white sand beaches, and carpets of snow in winter, here.
Which other countries should get a travel corridor?
The UK finally deigned to allow travellers to visit Sweden this week without the need for quarantine. Its seven-day Covid case rate of 13.2 per 100,000 is significantly lower than the UK’s 24.9. So which other countries deserve to be considered?
The following have a lower case rate than the UK, are open to tourists, but don’t have a travel corridor:
Has the UK’s seven-day quarantine threshold risen to 25 cases per 100,000 people?
Having previously placed countries on the quarantine list if their seven-day case rates rose above 20 per 100,000, the UK has been a little more lenient this week. Denmark survived the weekly quarantine shuffle, despite its figure of 24.4. Portugal’s 28.3, however, was deemed too much.
The old threshold may well have been abandoned because the UK’s own case rate is now 24.9, so perhaps in future we will only enforce quarantine on those returning from countries with higher infection rates than ourselves (so, currently, 25 and above). The Government, of course, claims to use a whole raft of factors when deciding its quarantine policy:
An estimate of the proportion of the population that is currently infectious in each country
Virus incidence rates and rates of change
Trends in incidence, deaths and hospitalisations
Imported infections identified through UK contact tracing
Transmission status and international epidemic intelligence
Information on a country’s testing capacity, testing regime and test positivity rate
An assessment of the quality of the data available and public health systems
Extent and effectiveness of measures being deployed by a country
Volume of passengers coming into the UK from that country
Population size of the country
Find out exactly which 16 countries you can actually travel to right now without quarantine here.
Airlines and airports will go bust unless Test4Travel is introduced, warns Heathrow Boss
The chief executive of Heathrow John Holland-Kaye has said that airlines and airports will go bust unless the Government intervenes and tests travellers.
He told Sky News: “August is normally the busiest time of year in aviation a lot of that is outbound tourists going from all over the UK around Europe.
“For Heathrow we have some of that but we also have a lot of inbound tourists coming in to spend their money and students coming to study that just hasn’t been happening this summer.
“There’s a great appetite to fly, but there’s nowhere you can fly to because of the blanket quarantine and with only 17 per cent of normal traffic now the busiest time of year aviation just is not viable.
“So, unless something changes, we are going to see airports and airlines going bust over the coming months, and the Government can fix this by changing the rules so that if you test negative for Covid you can come out to quarantine early.”
Test4Travel: Join The Telegraph campaign to scrap quarantine through airport testing.
Quarantine is ‘unfair’, says Portugal’s president
Portugal’s president says the UK’s decision to require quarantines for people traveling from the southern European country is unfair and punishes tourism-dependent regions.
Portugal, which is seeing a steady increase in coronavirus infections, was put back on Britain’s quarantine list on Thursday, three weeks after it had been taken off it.
British transport secretary Grant Shapps said the 14-day self-isolation rule only applies to those arriving from mainland Portugal, excluding the Azores or Madeira.
“We have a certain feeling of unfairness because we don’t close our doors to entries,” Portugal President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said late Thursday, according to public broadcaster RTP. “There are other countries that have much more difficult and complicated situations.”
He said the decision punished regions like Algarve, in the south, which is a magnet for tourists from Britain and where the spread of the virus is lower than in big cities.
Tourism, which accounts for 15 per cent of Portugal’s gross domestic product and roughly 9 per cent of its jobs, has taken a big hit from border restrictions.
Portugal’s tourism board responds to quarantine announcement
With the exception of Madeira and the Azores, all British holidaymakers returning from Portugal after 4am on Saturday September 12 must now quarantine for 14 days. Luis Araujo, President of Portugal’s Tourism Board responds:
Despite this decision, we remain confident in the infrastructure and safety measures implemented and established through the close collaboration between the Portuguese government and tourism sector to ensure the effective and efficient containment of the virus. Throughout this period, the safety of people staying in Portugal has remained the absolute priority. From our side, we can say that we have welcomed visitors from the United Kingdom both before and after Portugal was added to the air bridge list by the UK government, in a safe and controlled manner. The tourism and hospitality industry in Portugal has adapted remarkably quickly to keep visitors safe whilst also maintaining the essence of our culture which has seen Portugal awarded as Europe’s Best Tourism Destination three years in a row. The behaviour and compliance of both international visitors and Portuguese residents must also be commended.
Testing continues to rise in Portugal in order to trace cases and as such new data emerges on a daily basis pertained to infection rates and active cases. This is something we monitor in every possible detail from every possible angle. What is clear to see, across Europe, is the fluctuating numbers and localised outbreaks in regional pockets of several countries.
It is important that all decisions are made with regional data in mind. For example, the Azores Islands and Madeira do not have a quantifiable value of transmissibility rate (R rate) due to the small numbers of cases reported. We are encouraged that this data outlining the safety of the islands has been taken into account this time as the islands are in complete control of the virus and remain safe destinations for overseas guests.
To receive this decision on mainland Portugal just three weeks after being added to the air bridge list is disappointing and disruptive, though we maintain respect for the UK government and their choices. We will continue to implement our safety measures and strategies to ensure Portugal is a safe destination for all and will continue close communication with the UK government.
‘Shambolic’, ‘baffling’ and ‘crazy’ – views from around Europe on the UK’s Covid rules
We may be a nation of keen queuers, obsessed with class and enamoured by tradition, but Britons are also supposed to be proponents of common sense and personal freedoms.
Yet the country’s handling of the coronavirus crisis has been fraught with convoluted rules, draconian measures and haphazard quarantine decisions that have forced holidaymakers to rush back from countries where infection rates were, in some cases, barely higher than our own.
How does this appear from elsewhere? Have we scuppered relationships with our favourite holiday destinations and tarnished our reputation for practicality? Telegraph Travel’s destination experts from around Europe take the temperature in their respective countries.
‘We’re footing the bill for the UK’s crazy quarantine laws’
‘The Dutch see the British response as fumbled and over-the-top’
‘Unlike Britons, the Portuguese were never promised normality by Christmas’
Get the full story here.
The quarantine-free Portuguese island that’s perfect for a tranquil autumn break
Portugal may be back on the UK’s quarantine naughty step, but its islands – Madeira and the Azores – are exempt, meaning no 14-day quarantine for Britons on their return home.
Telegraph Travel’s Chris Leadbeater writes why Madeira should be next on your list:
It seems strange – amusing, even – for the island to have recently been deemed a trouble-spot. Some might say it has the world’s least problematic image problem. It has often been damned with faint praise – soft-soaped as a hub for genteel weekends in pleasingly pretty Funchal; for afternoon tea at Reid’s Palace hotel; for the aroma of orchids at the Quinta da Boa Vista estate.
Not that this is an unfair portrait, but it misses a wider point. That this outcrop off the west edge of Africa – 450 miles beyond Morocco and its Saharan sands – is a beast, born of lava and tectonic seabed pressure. It rears and it rises, all serrated shards and raw basalt, braced against the ocean’s anger. Is it unknown? No. Misunderstood? Absolutely.
Costa Cruises to open up some of its winter 2020/21 itineraries to UK and Irish nationals
There’s good news and bad news for Brits dreaming of a Mediterranean cruise holiday, reports Benjamin Parker. Costa Cruises, which resumed sailing this month after a six-month pause due to coronavirus, will welcome passengers from the UK and Ireland on a number of its winter itineraries from late September.
This marks a big shift in the slow return of cruise, given that its first departures since March were exclusively for those who live in Italy – and Costa is primarily aimed at the Italian market. Exact details are expected to be unveiled in the next few weeks but will likely include the debut of Costa Firenze, as well as week-long Italy to Greece cruises on Costa Deliziosa.
However, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office continues to advise British nationals against all travel on sea-going cruise ships, which means that travel insurance is going to be incredibly tricky to find.
Can I visit Sweden?
You certainly can. It has finally been added to the UK’s travel corridor list after its seven-day case rate dropped to just 13.2 per 100,000.
Flight options are relatively limited right now, but that could change in the coming weeks if demand picks up and airlines shift their capacity.
You can fly from London to Stockholm this weekend with BA, SAS or Finnair (prices from £193 one-way), or else Ryanair offers a service to Gothenburg (with fares starting from just £22). Another option would be to fly via Copenhagen and drive across the famous Øresund Bridge (BA and SAS have direct flights). However, Denmark remains close to being added to the UK’s quarantine list, so approach with caution.
Naturally, tour operators have been quick to tout their Swedish itineraries. Discover the World has flagged up two options: Autumn Nights in Swedish Lapland (six nights from £2,412pp; departures in September and October) and a West Sweden Self Drive (seven nights from £851pp; departures in September).
Northern Lights hunters might be interested in Lights Over Lapland’s four-night Private Aurora Escape. With departures from November 2020 to April 2021, it costs £1,220pp, excluding flights.
Find all the countries you can currently travel to without the need for quarantine here.
Which? Travel responds to latest air bridge announcement
Portugal is once again off the cards for British holidaymakers, and those already in the country have been given less than 48 hours to return home or else face quarantine. In response to the news, Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel, said:
While holidaymakers may be more acutely aware of any risks involved with travelling abroad, this sudden U-turn adds further confusion as to how these decisions are made. The last-minute approach continues to ruin holiday plans, with often little prospect of getting any money back as airlines won’t issue refunds or offer vouchers, and in some cases aren’t even offering free rebooking. Travellers already abroad are also likely to be extorted for additional airfares as they rush to get home before the restrictions come into effect.
It’s obvious that the current travel corridor system is not working for passengers, and becoming completely detrimental to the already dwindling trust in the sector. A major reassessment of the UK government’s approach is needed to ensure holidaymakers don’t continue to lose money, and tour operators and airlines have a better opportunity to get back on their feet financially.
The British Isles are waiting – these are the best UK cruises in 2021
While thousands of cruise passengers set sail for warmer climes every year, the British Isles quietly lie in wait for those who know just how special these islands are. You might not be guaranteed great weather here, but there’s a rugged allure to these islands that makes even the most miserable day an exciting adventure.
British Isles cruises offer an opportunity to explore places that are, put simply, a pain in the backside to reach. There’s no need to spend hours in the car schlepping down to Cornwall when a cruise ship can drop you off just a few miles from the county’s most beautiful beaches on the Isles of Scilly. And there’s no need to pay extortionate train fares up to Scotland either, as you can explore the islands and Highlands of our northernmost nation from the comfort of vessels large and small
Here’s what to book for 2021.
How much will a flight home from Portugal cost?
Coming back from Faro to London today? Here are your options:
1205, Jet2 to Stansted: £274
1130, easyJet to Gatwick: £300
1110, BA to London City: £292
1945, Jet2 to Stansted: £371
1445, BA to Heathrow: £412
1210, BA to Heathrow: £483
Flying from Lisbon to London?
1105, BA to Heathrow: £350
1500, TAP to Heathrow: £420
1745, BA to Heathrow: £498
1845, BA to Heathrow: £574
Porto to London?
1920, TAP to Heathrow: £385
1930, BA to Heathrow: £207
1730, BA to Heathrow: £544
There are no options from Faro to Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, East Midlands or Newcastle.
What do the new rules on gatherings mean for UK holidays?
The UK has taken a step back into lockdown, with England outlawing gatherings of more than six people from Monday.
But what does that mean for your staycation? And who exactly will police your holiday, if it is now illegal?
If you have booked a holiday rental property or Airbnb in England for a group of six people (or more), then you may be in breach of the law. Social gatherings such as parties and family get-togethers are now illegal for groups of more than six people, unless they live within one household.
For those who have booked group holidays for half term, the news is devastating. Hannah Marshall is just one of the estimated thousands of people who may now need to cancel their holiday. “We have booked a family trip for 12 of us, to the Lake District in November,” she tells Telegraph Travel. “I’m trying to get hold of the rental company now, to see if we can get our money back – but I haven’t been able to get through yet.
“I’m so disappointed. We’d worked so hard to find a date and place to get everyone together – it’s looking like a very grim winter indeed.”
Find out more here.
The European countries you can visit – without major restrictions or a quarantine
Here’s your new list of short-haul holiday options:
Faroe Islands (Visitors required to take Covid-19 test at airport on arrival)
Greece (Not including Lesvos, Tinos, Serifos, Mykonos, Crete, Santorini and Zakynthos)
Iceland (Open to tourists, but all arrivals must pay to be tested twice for coronavirus or self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival. Children born in 2005 or later are exempt)
Portugal (Only the Azores and Madeira. Visitors must show proof of a negative Covid-19 test, carried out no more than 72 hours before arrival, or take a test on arrival and await the results within 12 hours at their accommodation)
You can visit the Azores, but only on a direct flight
Julia Hartley-Brewer of talkRadio has raised a good point:
The answer is yes. “You will need to self-isolate if you visited or made a transit stop in a country or territory that is not on the travel corridor list in the 14 days before you arrive in England. This applies to all travel to England, by train, ferry, coach, air or any other route.”
Get all the answers to your questions about travel to Portugal and its islands here.
Holiday quarantine: Which country will be removed from the ‘green list’ next?
Normally, a destination is removed from the travel corridor list when it crosses the threshold of more than 20 cases per 100k. The UK Government reviews its policy every Thursday, with destinations usually removed from 4am on a Saturday morning, so booking your flight home on a Friday – just in case – could be wise.
Take a look at the numbers below to see which country could be removed next.
Find out more about the likely contenders here.
Advantage Travel Partnership join Telegraph Travel’s call for airport testing
Last week, The Telegraph launched Test4Travel, a campagin that urges the Government to roll out affordable Covid-19 tests on arrivals at all UK airports and ports, by Christmas, in order to minimise the need for quarantine. Many in the industry have already pledged their support.
Most recently, Julia Lo Bue-Said, CEO at Advantage Travel Partnership said:
With Portugal now being removed from the UK Government’s ‘safe list’ of travel corridors, it does raise a question over what criteria the UK Government is using to remove destinations given the country’s rates of infection being over the threshold this time last week. This week alone we have seen further announcements of redundancies in the sector and travel businesses failing and we cannot continue with this stop/start approach to destinations being added and removed from the list.
We are looking at 39,000 jobs lost or at risk and that is before the majority of businesses have entered redundancy consultation. We urgently need sector-specific support and must secure the Government’s backing on testing at ports of entry. Testing on arrival and then again five days later would help to reduce the length of quarantine which is causing so much anxiety for consumers and ultimately cancellations of bookings and loss of revenue for travel agents.
Find out more about the campaign here.
Bargain flights available for destinations now on the travel corridor list
A holiday to Sweden, the Azores and Madeira will likely surge in appeal thanks to yesterday’s announcement. Sweden is on the travel corridor list for the first time this summer and though the mainland of Portugal is now off limits, holidaymakers can still visit two of its best islands as long as they travel on a direct flight. What’s more, prices are significantly lower than they were this time last year according to Skyscanner.net.
For example, a return flight to Stockholm from the UK will set you back just £36pp, compared to the usual September average of £138. You can also buy a return flight to Madeira for £155pp; the September average for this route is £210.
Jo McClintock, Brand Director for Skyscanner commented:
We are seeing a highly responsive travel community at present, rapidly adapting to the news agenda and changing travel landscape. When new restrictions were announced for British travellers from France and Spain, we saw travellers adapt their booking preferences, opting for countries which were on the travel corridors list. As well as destination preferences, we’re increasingly seeing travellers waiting until the last minute to book and opting for flexible ticket options in order to continue to travel in the current climate. With Sweden, Madeira and the Azores restriction free destinations for Brits, we expect to see interest in searches and bookings rise for these destinations on Skyscanner.net in the coming days.
Exclusive: Anguilla becomes latest Caribbean island to reopen to tourists
With arguably the world’s most rigorous – and costly – safety measures against importing coronavirus, Anguilla has just announced it is ready to open its doors to international arrivals from September 14.
This small Caribbean island features on the Government’s travel corridors list so visitors will not have to quarantine for 14 days upon their return to the UK.
They will, however, have to jump through lots of hoops during their holiday.
Mark Stratton has the full story.
What happened yesterday?
Mainland Portugal has been dumped from the quarantine-free list. Britons there have until 4am on Saturday to return home or face a two-week quarantine.
The Azores and Madeira are exempt
Hungary, French Polynesia and Reunion have also lost their “travel corridors”
Sweden, however, is now on the “safe” list
MPs have joined calls for airport testing to replace the quarantine policy
The Seychelles to reopen to British holidaymakers (with provisos)
More updates to follow.