Germans flock to Spain after Britons banned

Quiet streets in Mallorca
Quiet streets in Mallorca

Travel website Trivago has revealed some interesting booking trends after the FCO advised Britons against all but essential trips to Spain.

While enquiries and searches for trips to the Mediterranean country drastically dropped within the UK between July 25-27, as would be expected, our European friends seem to have had a very different reaction to the news. 

In comparison, over the same dates, enquiries from other European countries increased by 55 per cent, while searches increased by 28 per cent. It would appear that a destination is more appealing to our neighbours once they know that we will be absent. 

The most keen to avoid Brits abroad? The Germans, where enquiries increased by an impressive 50 per cent. The Portuguese followed at 37 per cent, the French at 29 per cent and the Dutch at 10 per cent. It’s good to feel loved. 

See below for more updates:

11:09 AM

Madeira latest to enforce face masks

Already today, Greece and Romania announced tougher measures on face masks. Now, Madeira has become the first Portuguese region to order they be worn in the street.

As of Saturday August 1, face coverings will be mandatory in all public spaces, even on the beach or in the mountains, reports local news outlet JM Madeira, this despite a large online petition and ‘threats of civil disobedience’.

Madeira has recorded just 105 cases of COVID-19 in total, 97 of which have been declared recovered.

10:54 AM

Heathrow sinks to record loss as passenger numbers plunge

Simon Foy reports that Heathrow has sunk to a record half-year loss after the pandemic sent passenger numbers plunging at Britain’s biggest airport.

The near-global aviation standstill in recent months resulted in a £1.06bn loss for the six months to June in the wake of a 96pc decline in passenger numbers in the last quarter.

The dire figures prompted chief executive John Holland-Kaye to push for a virus testing regime at airports that could reduce the time of the 14-day quarantine. 

Read the full story. 

10:47 AM

No second wave in France, says health minister

Holidaymakers hoping to visit France have been offered reassurance by the country’s health minister who insists it is not on the cusp of a second wave. 

Olivier Veran acknowledged “warnings signs”, but added these were partly due to increased testing.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had warned Tuesday of a “second wave” in Europe after a controversial decision to quarantine all travellers arriving from Spain, a move the Government has not ruled out applying to other countries.

“We are not in a second wave of the coronavirus, we are in the wake of an epidemic – more or less at a lower level –depending on the regions and cities concerned,” Veran told LCI television.

“Clusters are emerging, we have warning signs from certain hospitals that have seen a trend of increasing admission,” he said, adding: “We are testing a lot more.”

10:36 AM

Where did all the Brits go?

People enjoy an empty beach in Santa Cruz de Palma. The Canary Islands are the only areas in Spain where face masks are not yet mandatory.

It looks lovely
It looks lovely

10:28 AM

Airlines flog ‘all you can fly’ deals to fill empty seats

Tom Mulvihill reports that airlines in China are taking drastic steps to fill their deserted cabins. 

China’s biggest passenger airline has launched a new ‘all you can’ fly deal to lure customers back as it strives to recover from the financial impact of lockdown.

The ‘Fly Happily’ deal by China Southern Airlines – the country’s largest carrier by passenger numbers – lets customers purchase a one-off pass for 3,699 yuan (£408), which they can then use to take as many domestic flights as they like until January 6 2021.

Read the full story.

10:18 AM

More European countries impose mandatory face masks

More European countries are introducing strict rules on face masks amid growing concerns of a second wave.

Greece has made it compulsory for masks to be worn in all shops, offices and banks from today, having already introduced the requirement in supermarkets and public transport 10 days ago. Churches remain exempt.

It comes as the country, which has one of the lowest coronavirus infection rates in Europe, reported a “small flare-up” of Covid-19 infections in the second half of the month, according to Reuters. 

Romania has also announced that face masks will be mandatory outdoors at certain times and in places prone to overcrowding, as more than 1,000 new cases have been recorded daily over the past week.

Elsewhere, Spain’s laws mean that in some regions, face coverings must be worn in all public settings, inside and out, with €100 fines for those who breach the rules; Turkey has similar requirements. 

Scandinavian countries including Sweden and Norway are among the few in Europe where face masks are not compulsory in most situations.

10:11 AM

The curious case of Luxembourg

Spain is off the menu, as (still) is Portugal, with the Government claiming high infection rates are to blame. It sounds almost reasonable – until you consider the case of Luxembourg, which remains on the FCO “safe” list.  

The latest data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control show that the 14-day cumulative number of Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents is 15 in the UK, 33.9 in Portugal, and 47.2 in Spain. And Luxembourg? 222.4. So why is Spain being picked on? 

Other countries with higher rates of infection than the UK include France (16), Croatia (27.1), and Belgium (29.1). It is far lower in Italy (5.1) and Greece (3.7).

Covid-19 infections on the rise
Covid-19 infections on the rise

09:59 AM

‘We should lament the loss of spontaneity in our lives’

Unplanned moments are what makes holidays – and, indeed, life – worth living, writes Rob Crossan

I won’t embarrass the owner of the bed and breakfast where I stayed by naming them as they were clearly trying their best. But being told that I had a ‘strict 25-minute window’ to eat breakfast which I needed to ‘book in’ the night before hardly conspires to create a freewheeling, ‘all hands off deck’ vacation vibe.

All the local pubs and restaurants, naturally, required a couple of phone calls and, in one case, a reassurance that I wasn’t ill, before I could get a table for a simple drink or meal. Day trips were also devoid of the impulse gene. My lifelong breezy assurances that ‘they’ll just let us in’, which have served me remarkably well over the years when it comes to gaining entry to everything from theme parks to National Trust properties no longer applies. These days, even just finding somewhere that’s open for business at all is a victory of sorts.

Read the full story. 

09:52 AM

Feeling the heat in Bucharest

A couple kiss as they cool off in a mist cloud generated by a public fountain in Bucharest, Romania. The country has just announced plans to make face mask mandatory in some outdoor settings. 

Eastern Europe is experiencing a heatwave
Eastern Europe is experiencing a heatwave

09:48 AM

‘The infection rate in the Canaries is tiny – so why can’t we fly there?’

The CEO of EasyJet Holidays has joined calls for the UK government to overhaul its quarantine rules. 

Garry Wilson said:

After months of uncertainty as travel restrictions were lifted we saw encouraging signs of growing demand for holidays. Unfortunately the recent unstructured re-imposition of quarantine for Spain is creating renewed uncertainty and unpredictability for consumers.

We encourage the Government to work collaboratively with the industry to deliver a more targeted and structured approach. We need targeted quarantine requirements for regions where spikes have occurred rather than applied at a national level. In the case of Spain its islands are hundreds of miles from the mainland and have very low infection rates with the Canaries, for example, as low as 2 per 100,000 in the past seven days which is significantly lower than the UK.

We want to work with the government to find a way forward which can help customers plan their next break with confidence. The recent situation with Spain has again demonstrated how difficult it is for both the industry and holidaymakers to plan along with hotel and destinations partners needing to make challenging decisions about their businesses and employees where they so heavily rely on tourism. 

For these reasons I urge the government to have an open dialogue with the industry and quickly move to targeted and regional measures so that we can all stay safe and enjoy a much-deserved summer holiday.

09:37 AM

Hong Kong shuts restaurants over new outbreak

Hong Kong is on the verge of a “large-scale” coronavirus outbreak that could overwhelm hospitals, its leader warned today as authorities implemented their toughest social distancing measures yet.

From July 29 all residents in the densely packed city of 7.5 million must wear masks when they leave their homes while restaurants can only serve takeaway meals.

No more than two people from different households can gather in public with fines of up to HK$5,000 ($625) for those who breach the new emergency rules.

Read the full story here and follow our coronavirus live blog for the latest updates.

09:34 AM

Westminster Abbey to yourself

As we reported earlier this month, London has never been less crowded. It means a city break in our capital is a far more enticing prospect than usual: no queues, spare tables in the top restaurants, and a warm welcome from hotels desperate for custom. 

Now Westminster Abbey is calling on people who have never been inside the church to seize the chance to see it minus the crowds. 

Scott Craddock, head of the Abbey’s visitor experience, said: “We are a nation which loves to travel and enjoys sightseeing in Europe’s great cities, but many of us have never seen the historic attractions on our doorstep.

“It’s a brilliant time at the moment to visit places closer to home because there are fewer crowds and queues – you really will have the place to yourself.”

Our report Teresa Machan visited the Abbey a few weeks ago; read her report here

Capacity has been cut at Westminster Abbey
Capacity has been cut at Westminster Abbey

09:26 AM

Are you going away this summer?

Tell us about your plans, please:

09:24 AM

Films under the stars

The Telegraph’s Susannah Goldsbrough has unearthed the best outdoor and drive-in cinemas around the UK. Take a peek. 

Grease is the word
Grease is the word

09:15 AM

Tui extends Spain cancellations

Europe’s biggest tour operator has cancelled all holidays to the Spanish islands until August 4, and all holidays to mainland Spain until August 10, following the FCO’s warning against trips. Previously only departures up to July 31 and August 9, respectively, had been scrapped.

It has instead added additional flights from August 1-3 to popular destinations in Greece and Turkey, so Brits wishing to travel can still enjoy a summer holiday overseas.

Andrew Flintham of TUI UK and Ireland said: “Following the change in travel advice to Spain our customer feedback is clear, they still want to travel aboard this summer, with over 70% of customers with cancelled holidays moving to another destination over the same period or in the coming weeks. We’ve therefore added seven new flights for this weekend to Crete, Rhodes, Zante and Corfu in Greece and Dalaman and Antalya in Turkey and have changed some flights from the 737 aircraft to 787 Dreamliners to help with the additional demand.

“The summer holiday period is the most important time of year for travel operators and we are therefore doing everything we can to help customers get their well-deserved holiday.  The health and safety of our customers and colleagues is always our highest priority and welcome travel advice that protects those that holiday with us and we have worked hard to provide safe and enjoyable holidays this summer.  

“Importantly, we also call upon the UK Government to work closely with the travel industry and remove the ‘blunt tool’ approach to quarantine and consider the rapid introduction of regional Travel Corridors. The level of uncertainty and confusion created this week is damaging for business and customer confidence in travel.”

09:08 AM

Air travel won’t recover ‘until 2024’

Global air travel is not expected to recover to pre-Covid levels until 2024 – a year longer than previously expected.

In an update on the pandemic’s crippling impact on air travel, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) cited slow virus containment in the United States and developing countries, and a weaker outlook for corporate travel.

Lingering travel barriers and new restrictions in some markets are also weighing on nearer-term prospects, IATA said, cutting its 2020 passenger numbers forecast to a 55% decline – sharper than the 46% drop predicted in April.

“The second half of this year will see a slower recovery than we’d hoped,” chief economist Brian Pearce said. June passenger numbers were down 86.5% year-on-year, the organisation reported, after a 91% contraction in May.

A surprise move by Britain to quarantine arrivals from Spain has created lot of uncertainty, Pearce said. “That is clearly going to be an issue with the recovery.”

09:02 AM

A Hajj like no other

Muslim pilgrims wearing face masks and moving in small groups after days in isolation have begun arriving to Islam’s holiest site in Mecca for the start of a unique and scaled-down Hajj experience reshaped by the coronavirus pandemic.

The usual Hajj crowds have gone
The usual Hajj crowds have gone

08:54 AM

British holidaymakers ditch Spain for Greece

Following last Saturday’s shock announcement that Spain was off the FCO “safe” list, British holidaymakers scrambled to seek other destinations.

The day following the news (Sunday July 26), data from flight comparison site Skyscanner showed an uptick in searches for the Greek islands, replacing popular Spanish destinations such as Malaga, Alicante and Palma de Mallorca. Nice and Malta have also entered the top 10, but searches for domestic UK cities top the charts.

The top 10 searches for departures from the UK were as follows:

  1. London

  2. Manchester

  3. Edinburgh

  4. Corfu

  5. Amsterdam

  6. Luqa (Malta)

  7. Islamabad

  8. Crete

  9. Birmingham

  10. Nice

08:41 AM

WTTC urges governments to hurry up with airport testing

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) is calling upon governments to introduce comprehensive testing at airports in an urgent bid to get the travel industry back on its feet again.

The organisation’s president Gloria Guevara stated it was imperative for all international airports to implement “globally recognised testing standards for both inbound and outbound passengers” and threw scorn at the UK’s decision to remove Spain from its list of quarantine-exempt countries.

“It risks causing irreparable damage to the Travel & Tourism sector,” she said. “It also makes no sense; while Spain as a whole, and Catalonia in particular, has a higher rate of coronavirus cases than then UK, the rate in Andalucía, the Balearics and Canaries is actually lower than the UK.”

It comes as minister Oliver Dowden today confirmed that the Government is not ready for testing to replace quarantine ‘yet’.

Read more: The statistics that show why Spain’s islands should be quarantine-free

08:29 AM

Flights to Europe offered for as little as £1

Ryanair, EasyJet and British Airways are among the airlines now offering cut-price deals in a bid to encourage consumers to keep flying. 

BA is flogging seats for as little as £1 under its loyalty scheme, to destinations including Nice, Amsterdam and Vienna. Ryanair has cut its prices on one-way flights from London to Bilbao, Pisa and Valencia to £9.99 on certain dates.

David Skillicorn, commercial director of Prestige Holidays, said such price-cutting was necessary to rebuild confidence:

“It is completely about building up confidence in their customers. They don’t want to be selling cheap seats. There is no way anyone on this planet, even Michael O’Leary can’t argue that it is good business practice to charge eight quid for a passenger to go, it doesn’t go anywhere near the cost.”

Charles Hymas and Max Stephens have the full story.

07:57 AM

Yesterday: What we learnt

  • Nicola Sturgeon tells Scots the ‘safest way’ to go on holiday is to stay local

  • Quarantine to be cut to 10 days for people arriving from Spain 

  • Torquay B&B named best in the world by Tripadvisor 

  • Cayman Islands makes arrivals wear a “BioButton” to avoid quarantine 

  • Half of Brits going to Spain say they won’t quarantine on return

  • South-east Asia likely to remain closed until at least autumn 

  • Europe seeing ‘signs of second wave’, warns Boris Johnson 

Read yesterday’s blog here.

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