A handful of European countries could be removed from the UK’s shrinking quarantine-free list as new cases rise across the continent.
The Czech Republic reported 506 positive tests on Friday, its highest daily rise since the start of the pandemic, while Switzerland has seen new cases climb above 300 a day twice this week, a four-month record. Both countries, along with Iceland, are edging perilously close to the UK’s quarantine threshold of 20 per 100,000 residents over a one-week period (17.8, 19.8 and 16.5, respectively).
Three other countries, the Faroe Islands (88 per 100,000), Gibraltar (71.2) and Liechtenstein (21) have already crossed the threshold, so could also find themselves entering the quarantine conversation next week. The Government reviews the list every Thursday.
Italy, meanwhile, saw daily infections exceed 1,000 for the first time in three months yesterday, raising fears that another holiday summer favourite could be lost. However, its seven-day case rate still remains around half that of the UK.
Since the Government announced its first batch of travel corridors at the beginning of July, six countries have been added (Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania, St Vincent and the Grenadines) but 14 have been removed (Spain, France, Croatia, Austria, Malta, Belgium, Netherlands, Monaco, Luxembourg, Andorra, Aruba, Trinidad and Tobago, the Bahamas, and Turks and Caicos).
See below for the latest updates.
Can airport testing ending the quarantine?
It might not end it entirely, but it could certainly reduce the amount of time returning travellers are told to self-isolate.
Lucy Aspden explains:
New plans due to be discussed by ministers could see air passengers arriving in the UK tested for coronavirus. It’s hoped this will allow holidaymakers returning from high-risk destinations to shorten their 14-day quarantine.
It is reported that ministers will consider both a double and single testing approach. The first involves swabbing passengers on arrival, at the airport, and then again either five or eight days afterwards by the NHS. Only after two negative tests would they be free to end their self-isolation. The latter option would see just one test carried out five to 10 days after arrival.
Other nations already have such systems in place. We like the sound of the French method:
Passengers have two options, either take a coronavirus test in their country of origin before travelling and have certification to prove a negative result (the compulsory option for those travelling from the United Arab Emirates, US, Bahrain and Panama), or take a test upon arrival in France.
Unlike the proposed scheme at Heathrow, tests for those arriving in France are free of charge and results are emailed to the passengers within 48 hours, during which time people are advised to self-isolate.
Read the full story.
Croatia points to ‘Safe Travels’ stamp of approval
Following its ejection from the UK’s quarantine-free list, Croatia’s tourism minister is keen to prove how safe the country is for overseas visitors. Today she pointed to the verdict of the World Travel and Tourism Council, which recently awarded the country its ‘Safe Travels’ stamp, given to destinations that adopt certain health and hygiene standards.
Nikolina Brnjac said: “As a popular European and Mediterranean destination we have been trying to cope with all problems and secure stability and security for local population and all travellers who have decided to visit us this year despite the current situation. In order to enable ‘the new normal’, we have prepared the necessary safety protocols and measures to make the stay of tourists in our country as pleasant as possible and to protect their health.”
Other countries with the stamp include Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Slovenia and Montengro.
The old-fashioned seaside town that’s suddenly back in vogue
Who needs the Med when you’ve got Llandudno? Now just hear David Atkinson out and read the full story.
Greece is the word
Around a third of our Twitter followers have already been abroad this summer, and Greece seems to have been a popular choice.
We went to Corfu and had a wonderful time meeting up with the locals that we’ve known for 10 years. Travel out and back went like clockwork.
— Jon Browne (@jrgbrowne) August 23, 2020
Yes! Had a fab Covid safe week in Kos , Greece! 🏖🌞🏖
— Vicki Ward (@VB_Wardy) August 23, 2020
Yes! Had a fab Covid safe week in Kos , Greece! 🏖🌞🏖
— Vicki Ward (@VB_Wardy) August 23, 2020
How to get a Covid test for your holiday
Lots of countries, particularly islands in the Caribbean, are starting to reopen with a catch – you must present proof of a negative Covid test, usually taken within 72 hours of your arrival.
So how can you get one? Emma Beaumont explains:
There are two options: Ordering a home test kit or booking an appointment at a clinic. Most home kits will arrive within 24 hours and should be sent back the same day. They will then be analysed in a lab and you should receive your results within 48 hours – various companies have different guarantees.
If your test is negative, you should then be sent a certificate declaring you Covid-free. However, concerns have been raised that, as there is no standardised certificate, they could be forged.
Furthermore, it is not always clear how much information is required in each country. As the free NHS test results are just a text message and short email, there is no guarantee that border officials would deem this acceptable. Some companies, such as C19 Testing (C19testing.co.uk), ease fears with a watermarked example of its certificates online, which include the name, address and telephone number of both the laboratory and company, plus the passport number and date of birth of the recipient. Crucially, the date the sample was taken and processed is also recorded. When ordering a kit, it is certainly worth clarifying what will be detailed on your certificate.
Tests at clinics tend to have a quicker turnaround. The Private Harley Street Clinic in London, which offers tests for £250, promises results within 24 hours and will issue a ‘fit-to-fly certificate’ at no extra charge.
Read the full story.
Will Portugal stay on the quarantine-free list?
Portugal was finally added to the quarantine-free list yesterday. However, given the Government’s trigger-happy approach, there’s every chance it will be removed again, pronto, if cases start to rise. Currently, the seven-day case rate in Portugal is 13.9 per 100,000 residents – well below the threshold of 20, and slowly falling.
London without tourism
Central London is a sorry sight right now. Without tourism, and with theatres still closed, how many businesses will close after the furlough scheme ends?
It’s Covent Garden, London’s biggest tourist restaurant district, it’s 1pm, it’s Friday, tables outside, it’s sunny and warm… where is everyone? pic.twitter.com/suszXa6Q6G
— James Lewis (@JLewisland) August 21, 2020
Even on the beach you can’t escape Covid…
Tourists look at an art installation resembling the structure of the Covid-19 virus on a beach in Ezerets, Bulgaria.
Travellers told to quarantine can’t leave home to walk the dog
The current rules for post-holiday quarantine (when daily Covid deaths are in single figures) are far stricter than the rules for the nationwide lockdown (when daily Covid deaths were in the hundreds).
Under lockdown, we were permitted to leave the house for a daily dose of exercise, and to buy food and other necessities. But returning travellers told to quarantine are not permitted to leave the house to shop unless they have run out of supplies and nobody else can go for them. They are not permitted to leave for exercise, even a quick jog around the block. They are not allowed to walk the dog. Furthermore, there is no “reasonable excuse” clause, which Dominic Cummings notoriously used to his advantage.
The only reasons those self-isolating can leave home are:
To leave England
To seek medical assistance
To fulfil a legal obligation (like a court hearing)
To avoid injury (eg. the house is on fire)
On compassionate grounds (eg. funeral)
To obtain necessities where no-one else can do so on their behalf
To access critical public services
To move to a new place of self-isolation, but this must be previously outlined in the Passenger Locator Form or for a very good reason (eg. the house has burnt down)
To leave England? Sounds like a second holiday to a quarantine-free destination might be the best bet for escaping quarantine.
‘No checks’ on holidaymakers returning from Croatia
Ian Ford, who returned to the UK from Croatia last night, has said things seem a little lax at the British border.
As of 4am on Saturday, all those arrival from the Balkan country, including returning holidaymakers, must self-isolate for two weeks.
So got off the flight from Croatia and it’s surprisingly impressive. Testing on arrival, lots of guidance on quarantining for 14 days, and they’ve ensured my details were taken to followup and ensure no rule-breaking…
Totally kidding; there was nothing
— Ian Ford (@ij_ford) August 22, 2020
Mask rules around Europe
Hate wearing a mask? Head to Sweden, Estonia or Belarus. Actually, you might want to give Belarus a miss right now.
Hotel finally opens after seven-year delay – and in the middle of a pandemic
The Points Guy reports that the Radisson Blu Maldives finally began welcoming guests this month, seven years after its planned opening. You have to admire its persistence, particularly given that global travel restrictions will probably mean it is rather empty right now.
The Maldives is actually one of the few long-haul destinations currently welcoming British travellers. However, they will still need to self-isolate for 14 days on their return to the UK.
Who needs the Grand Canyon when we’ve got Cheddar Gorge? Lovely video, but it’s even nicer if you cycle up it.
London to yourself
If you fancy a city break without the crowds, our own fair capital looks like a solid bet. Social distancing measures mean the museums are practically empty (be sure to book ahead), hotels are desperate for business (expect a free update), and it has some of the world’s best restaurants (just one more week of Eat Out to Help Out, folks).
Thailand considers reopening borders, but arrivals may need to wear tracking devices
Bloomberg reports that Thailand is cautiously looking at plans to reopen its borders as it struggles to survive an extended period without international visitors. Its economy is heavily reliant on tourism, to the tune of 20 per cent of its GDP, but its borders have been shut since March.
“The virus won’t go away soon and we have to think about the economy. But we can’t just reopen the borders. We have to be careful,” said Transport Minister Saksiam Chidchob.
Thailand may allow some foreign visitors in as early as October, but only from countries with limited infection rates. They will also probably be required to wear wristbands with GPS tracking systems and will need to be quarantined in a hotel for the first 14 days, Saksiam said.
Almost 40 million tourists visited Thailand in 2019. Quite how many will be willing to visit the country with such restrictions in force remains to be seen.
Read more: I’ve seen the grim reality of Thailand without tourists – and it isn’t pretty
The situation in Greece
Greece’s seven-day case rate rose from 2.5 per 100,000 in July to 14.5 earlier this week. It has since dipped to 14.2, however, and seems to be stabilising.
Have you been on holiday yet this summer?
Have you been on holiday this summer? (And please feel free to tell us how it went!)
— Telegraph Travel (@TelegraphTravel) August 23, 2020
The 19 countries you can visit without a quarantine
This week Norway quietly added Britain to the list of countries from which arrivals must self-isolate, meaning there are now just 19 countries you can visit right now without any form of quarantine.
Faroe Islands (Visitors required to take Covid-19 test at airport on arrival)
Iceland (Open to tourists, but all arrivals must pay to be tested for coronavirus. Children born in 2005 or later are exempt)
Jamaica (You must have authorisation to visit Jamaica, obtained through the Visit Jamaica website; all tourists will be tested for coronavirus at the airport on arrival, with those testing positive to be quarantined at their hotel or a government facility. British tourists must spend their time in Jamaica only within the Covid Resilient Zone along the northern coastline resort areas).
When will Spanish holidays be quarantine-free?
Don’t hold your breath. The Government has a quarantine threshold of 20 positive tests per 100,000 residents over a seven-day period. For Spain the figure is currently 92.1 and the case rate is still slowly rising:
Cases may be on the rise, but there has been no significant increase in deaths:
#Spain is not seeing a second wave of #COVID19. The increase in cases is due to testing of people who don’t die from COVID. These 2 graphs show that in Spain cases have been increasing to the past 2 months, but not deaths. Media and politicians are misrepresenting the truth! pic.twitter.com/g7kGYXBDVl
— Daniel Levitt (@daniellevitt22) August 22, 2020
Highlands ‘overwhelmed’ by rush of staycation tourists
Daniel Sanderson reports:
Remote communities in the Scottish Highlands and their public facilities have been overwhelmed by a rush of tourists thanks to “complete incompetence” by SNP ministers, it has been claimed.
As more tourists opted for staycations thanks to the risk of being forced to quarantine if they went abroad, businesses across the north of Scotland have reported an influx of visitors from other parts of the UK.
Accommodation is fully booked for weeks in parts of the region and facilities such as toilets remain closed, with trowels being left in laybys on the popular North Coast 500 route to help holidaymakers go to the toilet.
Recent visitors to Ben Nevis compared it to a rush hour trip on the London Underground and hoteliers have described having to turn families away due to a lack of space, leaving them to sleep in their cars.
Read the full story.
The Algarve woos Britons in search of a last-minute summer holiday
With Portugal finally getting a travel corridor (from today), tourism chiefs in the Algarve have launched a campaign to lure Britons for last-chance summer holidays.
The region is working together with major airlines including BA, Ryanair and EasyJet to promote itself as a “perfectly safe destination” which “will welcome last-minute bookings with open arms”.
“We want these campaigns to lead to last-minute bookings, a tendency which has been growing significantly due to the current context,” said Algarve tourism boss João Fernandes. “Many people cancelled or postponed their holidays because of the pandemic and they are the ones we are trying to reach out to by showing that there’s still time to enjoy a holiday in a destination that is totally prepared to welcome tourists with safety, quality and flexibility.”
On Friday, Telegraph Travel expert Mary Lussiana reported that hotels in Portugal saw a flurry of bookings from British holidaymakers after quarantine restrictions were lifted.
Donate to the African rangers left unemployed by the lockdowns
As we reported earlier this month, the outlook is bleak for the guardians of Africa’s wildlife. So, to support the rangers normally funded by the safari holiday industry, a new initiative, Ride4Rangers, is aiming to soften the blow.
How to get travel insurance if you ignore FCO 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.
Staysure claims to be the first major UK insurance brand to introduce policies “specifically designed to support those who choose to travel to European destinations where the FCO has advised against all but essential trips due to Covid-19”. Which means it won’t offer cover for, say, Yemen, but it will for Tenerife.
Customers won’t be covered for Covid-related issues, but they will be protected in the event of other medical problems, delays, lost luggage, and all the other standard travel setbacks.
As for cost, a spokesperson said a basic two-week policy would be around £20 for a 50-year-old visiting Spain.
Read the full story.
France opts against tit-for-tat quarantine
A week ago the UK said all arrivals from France, including returning holidaymakers, would need to self-isolate for a fortnight, and it was suggested that the French might respond with their own tit-for-tat quarantine. This has not yet materialised. However, UK visitors do need to declare that they are free from Covid symptoms.
The Foreign Office website states: “Travellers arriving in France from the UK, European Area, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay are no longer required to self-isolate, or to demonstrate their travel is essential. Arrivals by sea and air routes will need to complete a ‘sworn statement’ (déclaration sur l’honneur) form self-certifying they are not suffering from symptoms associated with Covid-19 and have not been in contact with confirmed cases in the preceding fortnight.”
A ‘divide and conquer holiday’ will change the way you feel about family travel
Ever thought about taking one of your children on holiday and leaving the others behind? It’s a perfect way to bond, says Abigail Blasi.
I love to divide and conquer, taking away one child at a time (I have three). That precious thing: parent-child time in a less stressful, concentrated shot. Plus, no bickering, no trying to please everyone and pleasing nobody. I’m in good company: Susan Sarandon, in the Telegraph’s Ultratravel magazine, confided that she took each of her three children away on their own after their eighth birthdays.
Read the full story.
New travel restrictions in Austria cause 12-hour traffic jams
Traffic was backed up for as much as 12 hours on Austria’s southern border after new coronavirus safety measures were imposed on all travellers entering the country.
Police told the Austria Press Agency that the worst jams were seen at the Karawanks Tunnel, while tourists returning from Croatia and Slovenia were forced to wait for up to seven hours at the Loibl Pass.
Amid a rise in coronavirus cases, partly blamed on returning tourists, Austria imposed new rules this weekend requiring that the personal details of all travellers be recorded at the border, even if just passing through Austria.
Comment: Quarantine musical chairs is leaving holidaymakers with zero confidence
Telegraph Travel’s Greg Dickinson writes:
The metric used to include, or exclude, countries from the UK’s travel corridor [20 new cases per 100,000 residents over a one-week period] should come under some serious scrutiny – there’s responsive, and then there’s knee-jerk. Let’s take Belgium, which was added to the UK’s ‘red list’ after cases went up to 35.3 per 100,000. That number is now below 19. Since quarantine was last week introduced on all arrivals from the Netherlands, its number is close to ‘safe’ again – 22 cases per 100,000.
Portugal’s number is currently at 14.5 but, as we can see from Austria, which is now banned having just moved its toe past 20 cases per 100,000 (it was at 10, last week), that could all change.
We are assured there are many variables that come into the Government’s thinking, when it comes to the quarantine decision, but that 20 threshold is clearly the key factor. Would it not make sense to base a travel ban on more substantial rises in cases, like we’ve seen in Spain (71 cases per 100,000) and Malta (63 per 100,000) rather than teetering around this arbitrary and frankly low benchmark of 20?
Read the full story.
The two sides of Italy
The beaches of Italy have been busy in recent weeks, with domestic tourists and overseas travellers flocking to popular coastal spots such as the Amalfi, the Cilento, and Puglia.
In Venice, however, things look grim for local businesses. Hotels are reporting occupancy levels as low as 15 per cent.
Singapore to welcome travellers from New Zealand
The city state of Singapore will allow travellers from Brunei and New Zealand to visit from September, in a “small, cautious step” by the aviation hub to restart air travel, officials said on Friday. The country closed its borders to tourists in March.
Arrivals from Brunei and New Zealand will be subject to a virus test in lieu of a 14-day quarantine. Those from New Zealand will still have to quarantine on their return home, at their own cost. The isolation stays cost NZ$3,100 ($2,050) for the first adult in each hotel room, $950 for each additional adult and $475 for each child. It essentially makes overseas trips unaffordable for all but the wealthiest residents.
Read more: Has the world gone mad? 10 bizarre Covid rules
‘No Covid vaccine before winter of 2021’
In what could prove a blow for those countries, like New Zealand and Australia, adopting a zero Covid strategy, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty says it could take another year before a safe vaccine is developed and ready for widespread distribution. Read the full story.
Where’s safe for a last-minute holiday?
Despite a rise in new cases, Italy still looks like a solid bet for a last-minute dash to the sun. Its seven-day case rate is 7.8 per 100,000 residents putting it firmly in the quarantine green zone. Greece, Portugal and Turkey also look safe for now.
How the Pig hotels revolutionised British countryside stays
Looking for a special staycation to cap off the summer? Look no further than the Pig, says Fiona Duncan. Read the full story.
Italy rules out second lockdown
Italy recorded 1,071 cases on Saturday, the most since mid-May but still well below the new peaks seen in Spain and France. Bloomberg reports:
Despite the increase in cases, the situation doesn’t justify imposing further restrictions such as a new lockdown or travel ban between provinces, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said in an interview with Rai. Regional heads will meet on Sunday to discuss the spread, he added.
“The situation is different than the first phase,” he said, noting that both France and Germany have refrained from taking new steps despite higher infection rates. “The schools will reopen, full stop.”
Almost a third of Italian new cases in the week to Aug 16 were imported from abroad… especially arrivals from Croatia, Malta, Spain and Greece.
In recent days, Italy has stepped up testing and tracing. Daily tests are now at levels last seen in early June, while the positivity rate remains low – less than 1.5%, compared with more than 3% for France and Spain.
Seventeen travel companies have failed since March
Global travel restrictions have so far forced 17 Atol-protected UK travel companies to fold. Many more are sure to follow.
Christopher Pollard Tours
South Quay Travel & Leisure
David Urquhart Sky Travel
Pan Express Business Travel
On Tour Travel
Paragon Sports Management
Can Be Done
Farewell, STA Travel
Lottie Gross laments the loss of STA Travel, the latest victim of the global travel shutdown. Read the full story.
Hundreds of Britons ignore FCO advice and fly to Croatia
As of 4am on Saturday, the Foreign Office advises against all but essential travel to Croatia, while those who do visit must self-isolate for two weeks on their return to the UK.
Nevertheless, 352 Britons arrived in Dubrovnik on Saturday, aviation website data shows, with BA, Jet2 and EasyJet flights from several airports still going ahead.
Croatia has been at pains to tell the world it is safe to visit. Croatia’s Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Sport, Frano Matušić, said:
We think that this decision was not fair. Because we think that Croatia is really safe destination. Croatia is on the list for many European countries as a safe destination still. It is true that we have some several hotspots in Croatia, but we didn’t register until now, any infection in hotels and other accommodation facilities.
We appeal to UK government to replace this 14-day quarantine measure by reliable tests.
We are really disappointed by this. This will adversely affect the continuation of the season. From August 1 until August 20 we had around the 62,000 arrivals from United Kingdom and more than 350,000 overnight stays. So this decision will definitely negatively affect the continuation of the tourist season in Croatia.
When will quarantine-free holidays to France return?
Not for while yet. France reported 3,602 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, down on the 4,586 seen on Friday but still higher than the levels seen a couple of months ago. Its seven-day infection rate is now 28.6 per 100,000, comfortable above the UK’s quarantine threshold.
Despite the rising case numbers, fatalities remain well below those earlier this year. Covid-related deaths increased by just nine yesterday. For perspective, 1.660 French people die on a typical day.
Meanwhile, in England’s least crowded county…
Telegraph Travel’s Penny Walker has found plenty of empty beaches in Northumberland:
If you think Britain’s best beaches are all crowded at the moment, think again. I popped up to #Northumberland for a few days and there are huge swathes of sand with barely a soul in sight. Here are just a couple of snaps taken at Cheswick and North Sunderland Beach. #uktravel pic.twitter.com/9mGkWl8r4W
— Penny Walker (@pennyswalker) August 23, 2020
Why Lake Zurich’s newest hotel is the place to be right now
The famous Eden au Lac Hotel, bordering Lake Zurich, has been reinvented. Mary Lussiana has the story.
Comment: New Zealand’s lust for lockdown is the latest example of vapid political virtue-signalling
With all but the wealthiest citizens unable to leave, tourists unable to visit, and the world cheering them on, Madeline Grant takes aim at New Zealand:
Last week, the whole of Auckland was sent into lockdown after the government announced a grand total of four new cases in the capital. GDP has taken its biggest slide in three decades. A total ban on foreign arrivals has endured for months, with catastrophic results for tourism, directly employing 8.4 per cent of the workforce. New Zealanders returning from abroad must pay for the privilege of isolating in military-guarded facilities, to the tune of more than £1,500 per head. One man recently received a six-week jail sentence for hugging a friend quarantining in a detention centre.
The implications of New Zealand’s autarchy go beyond its shores as well. Tourism accounts for a third of jobs in Fiji, Palau and Vanuatu; and two thirds of their visitors come from Australia and New Zealand. Yet amid mounting poverty and unemployment, island leaders’ pleadings for air bridges seem barely to have registered with an administration myopically focused on elimination. In seeking to be kind, the Ardern administration has ended up being very cruel indeed.
The situation in Italy
Italy saw daily infections exceed 1,000 for the first time in three months yesterday, raising fears that another holiday summer favourite could be lost. However, its seven-day case rate still remains around half that of the UK, so it looks relatively safe for now.
Why 20 per 100,000?
It may seem rather arbitrary, but when a country’s seven-day case rate hits 20 per 100,000 residents it becomes a contender for losing its travel corridor. Last week Austria was removed from the quarantine-free list just hours after crossing the threshold.
Paul Charles, spokesperson for Quash Quarantine, explains:
While some other criteria are measured and monitored by Professor Chris Whitty and his team, and Cabinet ministers including Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, such as health infrastructure in a country and the track record of the medical authorities on the ground, it is the case number per 100,000 that now matters.
I know from senior government sources that anything above 20 per 100,000 for a period of seven days or more is likely to lead to that country being added to the quarantine list.
There’s a small problem with the threshold, however. The UK’s own seven-day case rate has climbed from 5.6 per 100,000 at the end of July to around 11 today. What happens if it reaches 20? Will we be banned from holidays in Britain?
Which countries are at risk of quarantine next week?
Of most concern to British holidaymakers will be Switzerland, Iceland and the Czech Republic. They are relatively off-beat options for summer, but fairly popular nonetheless. New cases have risen in all three countries and they are inching towards the UK’s quarantine threshold of 20 per 100,000 over a one-week period.
What happened on Saturday?
Before we dive into today’s updates, here’s what we learnt yesterday:
STA Travel has become the latest travel company to fold – it won’t be the last
Croatia has dismissed the logic behind the country being removed from the UK’s quarantine-free list
Security fears have forced Boris Johnson to cut short his holiday in Scotland
A third of staff at Bletchley Park are facing redundancy
It occasionally snows in Australia