Fresh calls for airport testing as UK approaches worldwide quarantine

iceland - Getty
iceland – Getty

Britons can now travel to just nine countries without restriction following the Government’s latest quarantine-list update, which has prompted renewed calls for airport testing.

“As the red list gets longer, it makes quarantine redundant because destinations abroad often have more infections than we do,” said Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency. 

“It makes the system pointless and you might as well resort to substantial testing at airports,” Mr Charles added. 

Four more countries were added to the UK’s quarantine list on Thursday: UK arrivals from Denmark, Iceland, Slovakia and the Caribbean island of Curacao will face 14 days of self-isolation from 4am Saturday. 

There is a resurgence of cases across Europe: Denmark’s seven-day infection was 65.2 per 100,000 residents on Thursday and Iceland’s was 80.4. 

The Telegraph is campaigning for affordable Covid-19 tests on arrival at all UK airports and ports, by Christmas.

Scroll down for the latest travel updates.

11:10 AM

Jersey opens ‘state-of-the-art’ Covid testing lab for travellers

Jersey has tested over 80,360 inbound travellers with results processed within at an average of 22 hours.  Some 58 active infections have been identified through inbound travel screening since 3 July, which is a rate of 0.07 per cent.

It launched a new testing lab on Friday, which, according to the island’s tourism board, would “reinforce Jersey’s credentials for its tight management of the COVID-19 pandemic”.

Amanda Burns, chief executive of Visit Jersey, said: “With so much uncertainty in the world right now, we’re determined to make sure anyone visiting the island can travel with peace of mind, so they can make the most of everything our beautiful island has to offer during their stay. Our comprehensive system ensures both locals and visitors feel safe and secure.”

11:00 AM

The best options for a family escape in 2020

Missed out on a family holiday this year? Now schools are back, so you have one last chance for a rewarding trip for all – the autumn half term. 

We’ve put together a guide to help you navigate the uncertainties and maximise your chances of getting away. The current options include Sicily:

sicily - Getty
sicily – Getty

The risk: After a nightmare start to the pandemic, Italy has managed its second wave more successfully and it remains on the green list. That could change, of course – the infection rate has risen from about four per 100,000 at the beginning of August to 18 at the end of September. But it does look like one of the most stable bets for October travel.

The reward: Sicily offers a wonderful combination of historical sights – from the ancient Greeks, to the Normans and the 18th-century baroque, a spectacular coastline, some lovely resorts and a warm autumn. At this time of year it’s a great destination either for the beach or some sightseeing, or a combination of both.

Getting there: BA has returns to Catania from about £200. The Thinking Traveller (thethinkingtraveller.com) has great villas.

Read the full guide

10:52 AM

EasyJet holidays extends refund policy in bid to restore consumer confidence 

EasyJet holidays has launched a Protection Promise for customers in an effort to win customer trust during ever-changing travel restrictions.

The new long-term policy has been introduced in addition to its short-term commitment to refund for customers whose bookings were impacted by Covid-19.

Under the policy, customers are guaranteed refunds, protection of deposits and free changes to bookings up to 28 days before travel.  Customers can also pay in installments and Easyjet holidays has issued a ‘best price guarantee’.

The company has previously committed to cancel holidays where there is a known quarantine requirement in the destination.

10:39 AM

Madrid extends partial lockdown affecting over 1 million people

Madrid’s regional government expanded the number of areas under partial lockdown on Friday, raising to over a million the total number affected by strict restrictions on mobility.

Antonio Zapatero, the region’s deputy health chief, said the restrictions would affect 167,000 people in eight new areas who will not be able to leave their neighbourhood except for work, school or medical reasons.

A resurgence in Covid-19 cases continues in Spain, with the country’s seven-day rate per 100,000 people sitting at 168.7, as of Thursday. 

Coronavirus Spain Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus Spain Spotlight Chart – Cases default

10:32 AM

Is Cardiff going into lockdown?

The leader of Cardiff council has warned that the Welsh capital city could go into a local lockdown following cases in the area rising “rapidly”.

Huw Thomas told an authority meeting last night that the area has seen 38.2 cases per 100,000 residents, and that it is on the precipice of entering the Welsh Government’s so-called ‘red zone’. Mr Thomas added that if this were to happen, he would “fully expect that we will be implementing further restrictions”.

He added that new limits could include a ban on households mixing, as has been introduced throughout Scotland, or a ban on travelling elsewhere.

Meanwhile, people in Scotland and Wales who have booked holidays over October half term risk losing thousands of pounds, after the devolved governments warned against non-essential travel over the school holidays.

10:25 AM

Quarantine-free holidays: demand for Turkish lira up by 78 per cent

Turkey is one of just nine places Britons can travel to without restriction. This has brought a surge in demand for Turkish currency as holidaymakers seek some post-summer sun, minus the quarantine.

Ian Strafford-Taylor, chief executive of foreign exchange company FairFX, said:

“Holidaymakers heading to Turkey are not only escaping quarantine restrictions, but are also benefiting from the exchange rate working in their favour, meaning their money is going further when they’re away. Generally, the pound has been going from strength to strength against the Turkish lira over the last few years and today, for example, the pound is up 24 per cent against the currency compared to the start of the year.

“That means holidaymakers heading to Turkey would get an extra £195 worth of local currency for every £1,000 exchanged at the market rate. For comparison, the pound is currently down 8 per cent against the euro compared to the start of the year meaning holidaymakers would lose out on around £83 worth of euros for the same amount of money exchanged.”

10:18 AM

Watch: First hydrogen-powered plane takes flight

The world’s first flight of a commercial-grade aircraft powered by a hydrogen fuel cell has taken place, with UK-based ZeroAvia flying a six-seater Piper Malibu plane from Cranfield University’s airport.

Val Miftakhov, chief executive of the start-up, was one of the pilots on the eight-minute flight which saw the aircraft – registration G-HYZA in a nod to its fuel source – do two circuits of the Bedfordshire airfield, reaching 1,000ft and 100 knots.

The flight was used to demonstrate the viability of the ZeroAvia’s 800-volt emission-free powertrain, which turns hydrogen into electricity to drive the Piper’s propellor.

It was also the culmination of a two-and-a-half year, £5.5m programme funded jointly by Mr Miftakhov, private investors and the British government.

10:15 AM

Japan to permit entry to foreign long-term residents

Japan will allow long-term foreign residents and foreign students back into the country from October, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Friday.

The move will mean further easing of entry restrictions put in place earlier this year to contain the spread of Covid-19.

10:10 AM

Iceland Covid cluster linked back to French tourists

Around 100 Covid-19 cases in Iceland can be traced back to two French tourists who tested positive for the virus, but refused to follow all the control rules, an Icelandic newspaper reports.

They came to Iceland in mid August and were instructed to remain in isolation after testing positive for the coronavirus, the country’s chief epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason said.

“I have information that it was difficult to get them to follow instructions,” he stated. “I really cannot say more.

The epidemiologist said the tourists brought a “French strain” of Covid-19 that has been picked up in around 100 new infections traced back to two establishments: the Irishman pub and the Brewdog restaurant, both in Reykjavík.

10:01 AM

EU air safety head says in-flight Covid infection risks are marginal

The risks of air travellers catching Covid-19 on a passenger aircraft are “very marginal” provided health measures are applied, Europe’s top aviation safety regulator said today. 

Only seven out of three million passengers on flights in recent weeks showed symptoms of the virus while on board, according to the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said.

The risks are “highly controlled” by airline and airports, Executive Director Patrick Ky told French aerospace journalists in an online briefing

09:58 AM

A postcard from Colombia, home of the world’s longest (but most bungled) lockdown

Ben Davies,  the owner of El Rio Hostel in Colombia, a backpackers’ hostel and bar, gives his take on the country’s lockdown:

“Colombia, by its very nature, is a country where a lockdown will never work. Firstly, the vast majority of people live day to day, so earn and spend as they go. Therefore asking them to sit tight, order from Deliveroo and watch Netflix for a couple of months wasn’t ever going to fly. Secondly, the bureaucratic systems still in place in the country require face-to-face contact – endless notarising of documents, menial banking admin, even paying parking fines, can only be done in person. Consequently, the streets were as busy as ever, with the one difference being that everyone wore a mask.

“The knock-on effect was that the mask completely overruled most other distancing measures, and in such a social country life largely continued as normal, albeit minus bars and restaurants in cities.In more rural areas, local plastic chair “menu corriente” eateries continued without interruption. Some other, slightly strange measures were introduced, including spraying car tyres and the soles of your shoes before entering a neighbourhood or shop (the first time I entered a shop after a lengthy period avoiding going to the city I was actually physically manhandled by the spray man, so eager was he to clean my shoes of their potential coating of Covid). 

“So Colombia’s cases crept up, spiking in mid August, just after I’d made my escape back to Europe and after most of Europe had opened back up for business. Locally to El Rio most residents refused to feel intimidated by the virus; sicknesses with very similar symptoms as Covid-19 are common, simply known as “la gripa” (the flu), so talk of the virus was mostly that it was an outside problem and wouldn’t be affecting the area. In contrast to the UK, where most people had been prepared to sit tight and wait for the green light, Colombians simply invested in a face mask and started behaving as normal. In the rural village of Buritaca, close to El Rio, the police, other than fining one foreigner one million pesos for being out without a mask (that’s just over £200, more than one month’s minimum salary in Colombia), seemed unable to control the population at all, whereby leaving everyone to their own devices. One sign outside a local shop simply read: ‘If I don’t work, I don’t eat’. “

Read the full story.

09:35 AM

Marseille bars protest against coronavirus shutdown

Hundreds of restaurant owners and bar staff protested outside Marseille’s commercial court against a government order to shut from Saturday to curb the surge in new coronavirus cases in France’s second biggest city.

The government ordered bars and restaurants in the city to close for two weeks after placing the city on the maximum alert level for the spread of the virus.

But Marseille residents and local officials say the move is disproportionate to the risks and will devastate the local economy.

Read more: Marseille and Paris fury over French government Covid clampdown

09:31 AM

Poland reports record daily increase in coronavirus cases

Poland reported a record daily rise in coronavirus cases for the second consecutive day on Friday, with the biggest spike in the central region of the country, the health ministry said.

It reported 1,587 new Covid-19 infections, the biggest daily number since the start of the pandemic in March. In total the nation of 38 million people has registered 84,396 infections, including 2,392 deaths.

Polish residents have begun to disregard recommendations to wear face masks since the removal in May of most restrictions on movement to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Poland is one of the few destinations that has looked to hold a safe spot on the UK’s travel green list.

Coronavirus Poland Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus Poland Spotlight Chart – Cases default

09:22 AM

Should you book a ski holiday this winter?

The holiday map is rapidly shrinking, including for winter sun destinations, but how about ski trips? My colleague Lucy Aspden has answered the top queries from our readers regarding booking their future ski holidays; from alternatives to flying to which operators are offering Covid-19 guarantees and when is the best time to book. 

skiing - VAL GARDENA
skiing – VAL GARDENA

09:07 AM

Barbados to introduce fresh restrictions for British visitors

So much for a winter sun holiday in Barbados. From October 1, the island nation will consider UK at its highest risk level, alongside countries such as Spain, France and the United States.

This means that as well as having a negative Covid-19 test dated from within 72 of arrival, British travellers will now have to have to quarantine for up to seven days at a “designated holding hotel or approved villa” at their own expense, or free of charge at a government facility. A second test is required four or five days after the initial negative test, and if this is negative then no further quarantine is required.

See the details in full.

09:05 AM

Covid-19 sniffer dogs screen passengers at airport

A team of Covid-19 sniffer dogs has begun work at Helsinki airport, to screen passengers for infection.

Volunteers are training a team of 15 dogs and 10 instructors for the trial at part of a trial at Finland’s Helsinki-Vantaa airport.

sniffer dogs - Reuters
sniffer dogs – Reuters

The dogs can detect the coronavirus five days before humans develop symptoms, researchers say, and detect close to 100 per cent of cases.

Passengers wipe their neck with a cloth that is then placed before a detector dog. While the trial is still ongoing, passengers are also being given a swab test to confirm any results.

08:51 AM

Comment: After a summer of freedom, Denmark is braced for a bleak winter

Denmark was among the four countries to be added to the UK’s quarantine list yesterday.

Justine Gosling, a writer based in Denmark, feels fortunate that the country was quick to open up following lockdown, allowing Danes to enjoy the summer months. 

She writes: 

“Looking back now, I feel very lucky and am grateful for the wonderful summer we had, so much of which was spent having fun outdoors. We had a blissful summer of BBQs with friends, almost daily swims in the canals, Friday night dinners and boozy picnics in the parks. Like many Danes, I holidayed within the borders and spent a sunny week exploring the little Danish isle of Bornholm, enjoying long walks on sandy beaches and sunrise swims, not to mention the gluttonous hotel breakfast buffets, seemingly a thing of the past everywhere else. Every Saturday at midnight, depending on where I was in the city, I could hear or see the Tivoli theme park fireworks.

“Come mid-August, like most other countries in Europe, case numbers were rising – and this blissful normality departed. First, Danes were asked to wear masks on public transport (from August 22) – not an issue for many, with around a third of journeys in Copenhagen made by bike. On September 17 tougher measures were implemented and it was recommended that masks be worn in bars, coffee shops and restaurants when not sat down, while all social venues were ordered to close by 10pm.”

Read the article in full.

08:45 AM

Portugal extends measures to fight coronavirus until mid-October

Portugal extended measures to curb the coronavirus pandemic until at least mid-October, the government announced on Thursday.

The country was put under a state of contingency on September 15 and it will remain under it until October 14, meaning gatherings continue to be limited to 10 people and commercial establishments must close between 8pm and 11pm.

“Numbers (of cases) have been growing for around five weeks,” Cabinet Affairs Minister Mariana Vieira da Silva told a news conference, adding the government would re-evaluate the situation in two weeks.

The government also decided on Thursday to extend the ban on festivals and similar events until the end of the year.

Coronavirus Portugal Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus Portugal Spotlight Chart – Cases default

08:39 AM

Israel plans to tighten lockdown

Stricter rules are due to come into effect as Israel enters its second week of lockdown. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Thursday that the country was at “the edge of the abyss”.

The new rules are still being finalised by parliament but are due to come into force from 14:00 local time and will include closing non-essential private businesses and further restrictions on movement.

Synagogues are expected to only open for small groups on Sunday for Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day, and the size of protests would be limited.

Read more: Anger and defiance in Israel reveals the problem with second lockdowns

08:31 AM

Prince Harry and Meghan’s final royal tour cost public £246,000, accounts reveal

The Duke and Duchess’s tour to South Africa, Angola, Malawi and Botswana cost the taxpayer nearly £245,643, accounts have disclosed, making it the most expensive journey for the Royal Family in 2019-2020, reports Hannah Furness.

A senior royal source insisted the couple are under no obligation to pay money back for the trip, saying it was a key visit approved by the Foreign Office and successful in helping to highlight the work of numerous charities.

The Sovereign Grant report for the last financial year also included other costly overseas trips by members of the royal family.

A charter flight for the Duke of York to attend the Royal Portrush Golf Club’s Open championship in Northern Ireland cost £15,848.

Read the full story.

08:20 AM

Customer protections breaking down under Foreign Office advice, says Which?

The consumer champion Which? has issued a statement following the latest quarantine update, and a summer that has left thousands of holidaymakers awaiting refunds for cancelled trips.

Rory Boland, Which? Travel Editor, said:

“Consumer protections are breaking down over the FCDO’s advice. Package holiday customers should be offered a refund when the FCDO changes its advice to warn against non-essential travel, however some of the largest online travel agents are now refusing refunds for customers.

“These companies are taking their lead from airlines who have faced no consequences for doing the same for months. Consumers have been left footing the bill, dragging confidence in the travel industry even lower.”

08:12 AM

South Korea to tighten restrictions during holiday weeks

South Korea said today that it would impose tighter restrictions during the Chuseok autumn holiday weeks when people traditionally reunite with families.

The new curbs apply to at least 11 high-risk facilities in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, including nightclubs and bars.

Those restrictions are on top of the current so-called phase two social distancing, which limits indoor gatherings to 50 people and outdoor gatherings to 100, and bans spectators from sporting events.

The new measures will be in place from September 28 to October 11. Korea’s Hangul holiday, which memorialises when King Sejong introduced the language’s unique characters, is on October 9.

08:11 AM

The 11 places you can visit, with testing or quarantine on arrival

If you are willing to take a test or quarantine for a short period, there are a few other options: 

1. Azores

2. Cyprus

3. Faroe Islands

4. Jersey

5. Madeira

6. Anguilla

7. Antigua and Barbuda

8. Barbados

9. Bermuda

10. St Lucia

11. St Vincent and the Grenadines

Read our full guide to the latest travel restrictions.

08:07 AM

The nine destinations you can visit without restriction

In all, there are now nine places on the travel corridor list that have no restrictions on UK arrivals. They are:

1. Germany

2. Gibraltar

Travellers must report to the authorities if they have been in a “relevant area” in the 14 days before their arrival in Gibraltar. Failure to do so constitutes an offence punishable with a fine of up to £1,000. A relevant area means a country, area or territory outside the European Union but does not include the United Kingdom, Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man.

3. Greece (Partially open)

Travellers returning to Scotland from the whole of Greece must self-isolate. 

For England and Northern Ireland, those returning from Lesvos, Tinos, Serifos, Mykonos, Crete, Santorini and Zakynthos must quarantine; for Wales, the exclusions are Mykonos, Zakynthos (Zante), Lesvos, Paros and Antiparos, Crete, Santorini, Serifos and Tinos. 

You must complete an online Passenger Locator Form (PLF) at least 24 hours before your arrival in Greece. Failure to do so in advance may result in your carrier not allowing you to travel, a fine on arrival, or the Greek authorities not allowing you to enter the country.

4. Italy (including Vatican City)

You should download and complete a self-declaration from the Interior Ministry before you travel. 

5. Liechtenstein

While Liechtenstein is on travel corridors list, it has no airport and its only land borders are with Austria and Switzerland – both of which are not. To reach it without needing to self-isolate on your return to Britain you will need to fly to a travel corridor country (such as Germany) and drive to Liechtenstein without leaving your vehicle to mix with anyone in a “red list” country. 

6. Poland

7. San Marino

You must travel through Italy to reach San Marino. See “Italy”, above. 

8. Sweden

9. Turkey

All arrivals into Turkey will be subject to a medical evaluation for symptoms of coronavirus, including temperature checks. Any passengers showing symptoms will be required to undergo a PCR test.

08:04 AM

Rio’s Carnival parade plans suspended 

Rio de Janeiro delayed its annual Carnival parade on Thursday, saying the global spectacle cannot go ahead in February because of Brazil’s continued vulnerability to the pandemic.

Jorge Castanheira, president of Rio’s League of Samba Schools, announced that the continued spread of the coronavirus has made it impossible to safely hold the traditional parades that are a cultural mainstay and, for many, a source of livelihood. No new date has been set, he said.

Rio’s City Hall has yet to announce a decision about the Carnival street parties that take place across the city. But its tourism promotion agency said in a statement on Sept. 17 that without a vaccine, it is uncertain when large public events can resume. 

08:03 AM

Sweden’s ‘consistent approach to restrictions’ saved it from second wave, expert says

Sweden’s state epidemiologist has claimed that the consistency of his country’s coronavirus restrictions is what has so far saved it from the surges in cases seen elsewhere in Europe, reports Richard Orange.

Asked what had prevented Sweden from so far suffering a second wave like Spain’s, Anders Tegnell downplayed the importance of immunity, stressing that achieving ‘herd immunity’ had never been a goal of Sweden’s strategy.  

“I’m not sure that the level of immunity in Sweden and in Spain differs very much,” he said.  “I think the main difference between Sweden and many other countries is that we have had the same kind of restrictions and recommendations in place the whole time.

“And we have a really big adherence from the population to those recommendations. And that makes a difference, that makes us hopefully less susceptible to a second wave.”

Read the full story.

08:01 AM

What happened yesterday?

Here’s a reminder of Thursday’s key stories:

  • Four countries have been removed from the list of travel corridors: Denmark, Iceland, Slovakia and Curacao

  • No new countries have been added

  • Tourism bosses have said new measures announced by Rishi Sunak will not be enough to save the industry, with some saying airport testing is the only solution

  • Families risk losing thousands on half-term holidays if they heed the pleas from the Welsh and Scottish governments not to travel

  • Ryanair has launched the first buy-one-get-one-free sale in its history to tempt reticent fliers

​Now onto today’s news.

Source Article