Travellers arriving back into the UK could have to pay thousands of pounds to stay in ‘quarantine hotels’, under new Government plans.
Boris Johnson is under pressure from ministers to toughen border controls, to prevent new variants of Covid-19 entering the UK.
Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, and the Health Secretary Matt Hancock are understood to be pushing for a mandatory quarantine in Government-approved accommodation for all arrivals.
The cost of 14 days in a quarantine hotel for an adult is £1,692 in Australia, £1,630 in New Zealand and £642 in Thailand – the three countries that have introduced the measure so far.
There are fears that quarantine hotels could create havoc for outbound and inbound tourism, and that tighter border restrictions may put summer holidays under threat.
Paul Charles, CEO of the PC Agency, said: “Such a move would destroy confidence to book and would lead to a collapse in booking revenues for airlines, tour operators and many other travel specialists. As well as a collapse in visitor numbers spending money inbound.
“Boris Johnson needs to give a timeline for when they will be removed and be upfront on the economic impact on the aviation and travel sector.”
Scroll down for more updates.
Russian influencer chucked out of Bali
A Russian social media star with millions of followers has been kicked out of Bali for holding a party on the Indonesian holiday island that broke virus rules, authorities said Monday.
Sergey Kosenko’s deportation comes days after Bali officials sent a gay American couple home after the women called the island “queer friendly” in tweets that went viral, and encouraged foreigners to come and stay there during the pandemic.
Kosenko, 33, was put on a plane bound for Moscow on Sunday and would be banned from returning for at least six months.
“We took administrative action against Sergey in the form of deportation,” said Bali justice official Jamaruli Manihuruk.
An eye-witness account of arriving in Heathrow
Heathrow was in the news over the weekend after photographs emerged of long queues. An anonymous reader got a first-hand look at the situation yesterday.
We arrived back at Heathrow on Sunday. Firstly we got held for 20-30 minutes on the plane (could have been the snow). Then we got to border control. I was in the international queue with my wife, who is a foreign national. Then a super-long British queue suddenly developed with probably four flights coming in at once.
For the next 45 minutes it looked like there was nobody working border control on international passports and very few officers on the UK lane. The police would stand around chatting, sometimes an officer would come and check one passport then leave again. Probably half of the few people who were checked in that time were sent to sit in a special group where they had to wait for further checks. Insofar as the police were doing anything it seemed to concern that group.
Then suddenly, after 45 minutes, the entire British queue just got let through the e-gates as normal. They were all out in 10 minutes and foreign checks went back to the speed you’d expect before Covid. They checked our Covid tests and the Passenger Locator Forms and it was very quick and friendly, which I thought made it even more strange they couldn’t do it earlier.
The rest of the airport was empty, the queue is literally just the border and all because the police chose to handle it that way for some reason. Not to speculate on why they did it like that during a pandemic but bloody strange. And then no other flights arrived afterwards.
Cruise cut-price offers and special promotions hailed as best ever
Cruise lines are steaming through January 2021 with a dynamic line-up of cut-price offers and special promotions that have been hailed as the best ever.
While some mass market players in the cruise world have cut prices – drastically in a few cases – others have incorporated extra value with cabin upgrades, complimentary drinks, free Wi-Fi and speciality dining. Several companies are also offering cut-price or free flights and overnight hotel stays.
In a bid to reassure customers who may be wary of booking amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, deals are offered with low deposits and flexible booking conditions permitting cancellations 30 days or less before departure.
Sara Macefield has more.
Why Istria should be your first family trip after lockdown
Some escapism for you, this lunchtime.
Chris Leadbeater’s six-year-old son let his imagination soar on an adventure-packed holiday to the Croatian peninsula of Istria.
Read the feature here.
Taiwan quarantines more than 5,000 people
Taiwan has quarantined more than 5,000 people as it tries to contain a rare domestic cluster of Covid-19 that began in a hospital treating infected patients recently arrived from overseas, reports Nicola Smith.
The number of Covid-19 cases has been kept below 1,000 since the start of the pandemic through a combination of early intervention, contact tracing and strict border controls and mandatory quarantine for arrivals from abroad.
However, an outbreak that began in the northern city of Taoyuan on January 12 and has now spread to 15 medical staff and their families has put the authorities on edge, prompting the government to cancel multiple mass events in the run-up to Lunar New Year.
Chen Shih-chung, the health minister, announced on Sunday that quarantine at home measures would be expanded to a wider range of people who may have had contact with infected patients at the hospital.
PM: Government ‘looking at potential of relaxing some measures’ before mid-February
The Prime Minister said the Government will be “looking at the potential of relaxing some measures” before mid-February.
But he could not give a guarantee schools would be back before Easter.
He went on: “I do think now this massive achievement has been made of rolling out this vaccination programme, I think people want to see us making sure we don’t throw that away by having a premature relaxation and then another big surge of infection.
“I totally understand the frustrations of parents, I really thank teachers for what they’re doing, the immense efforts they’re going to to teach kids online, and the Government has provided a lot of laptops… I know that’s no substitute for direct face-to-face learning.
“Believe me there’s nothing I want to do more than reopen schools, I’ve fought to keep schools open for as long as I possibly could.
“We want to see schools back as fast as possible, we want to do that in a way that is consistent with fighting the epidemic and keeping the infection rate down.”
PM wants tougher border control due to risk of ‘vaccine-busting’ new variants
Boris Johnson has said he is looking at the possibility of toughening the United Kingdom’s border controls because of the risk of “vaccine-busting” new variants of the coronavirus.
“We want to make sure that we protect our population, protect this country against reinfection from abroad,” Mr Johnson said. “We need a solution.”
“We have to realise there is at least the theoretical risk of a new variant that is a vaccine busting variant coming in,” he said.
Johnson said the United Kingdom was on target to reach its vaccination targets for vulnerable groups by Feb. 15.
Everyone seems to have an opinion on quarantine hotels…
… this is what former England cricketer Kevin Pieterson has to say on the matter.
Covid hotels for ALL travellers arriving into the UK is just stupid.
Should only be for people arriving from high risk countries or foreigners who don’t own their own property to isolate at.
Then cops need to check people isolating at their own homes properly. @BorisJohnson
— Kevin Pietersen🦏 (@KP24) January 24, 2021
Will cruise holidays make a comeback in 2021?
After a lost year, cruising is coming back, writes Dave Monk.
Most of the big lines were forced to write off the rest of 2020 after coronavirus struck but a brave few operators did dip their toe in the waters to resume some sailings – both at sea and on rivers.
This wasn’t much help to Britons, sadly, who were advised against ocean cruising by the Foreign Office, and faced closed borders and frequently changing quarantine restrictions when trying to travel abroad.
However, news of vaccines, and the implementation of strict health and safety measures on ships, means that 2021 is looking much brighter for large numbers to return to their favourite holidays afloat.
Some cruise lines are still only welcoming their domestic customers while others are cautious about the dates and details of their restart plans.
But, with hopes rising of a return to more normal service by the summer, where in the world will we soon be able to cruise?
Here’s where our cruise expert Dave Monk thinks we’ll be cruising in 2021.
Ryanair forced to pull controversial ‘Jab and Go’ advert
Low-cost airline Ryanair has been forced to remove its controversial “jab and go” advertising campaign, after a ruling from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
The airline called the ruling “baseless” and said it “disagrees” with the ASA’s ruling, although it said it will comply and retract the ads.
The carrier’s Boxing Day promotion attracted thousands of complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority. In the adverts, the airline said: “Covid vaccines are coming so book your Easter and summer holidays today with Ryanair.”
It added that with a number of destinations on offer, customers “could jab and go”.
Those complaining about the advert claimed it was misleading to suggest that a vaccine will be rolled out across the population by spring and summer and that there will be no travel restrictions.
Travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand suspended for 72 hours
The New Zealand/Australia travel bubble has been suspended for 72 hours, amid concerns around a single case of community transmission in New Zealand – feared to be the South African variant.
Telegraph View: A travel ban would be a serious, possibly irrevocable, step for Britain
The UK death toll from Covid-19 may pass the 100,000 mark this week, a depressing milestone in the progress of the pandemic. As a proportion of the population this represents one of the worst fatality rates in the world.
This time a year ago the virus was confined to the Chinese city of Wuhan and its environs.
If there was a time to close the borders, it was then, and certainly once the pandemic had been declared by the World Health Organisation.
But it would have taken a government blessed with extraordinary foresight to have done so. In any case, the main vector for the disease appears to have been the many thousands of British tourists returning from Alpine ski resorts in February and March. Should they all have been quarantined at a time when there were few known cases?
With hindsight that might well have have made a difference to the spread of the contagion and it is evident that some ministers were proposing the closure of all borders at the time. But it was politically inconceivable. Moreover, once imposed such controls cannot be lifted. This is the dilemma facing ministers this week as they contemplate a raft of new measures principally designed to stop new variants of the virus entering the country.
The irony of the arrival of a vaccine is that the prospect of a return to normality appears to have receded rather than advanced, with schools now unlikely to reopen until after Easter. Without a vaccine the Government would have no choice but to contemplate scaling back restrictions once cases began to subside.
But ministers now fear that mutations will enter the country and render the various vaccines ineffective. Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, disclosed yesterday that 77 cases of a virulent South African variant have been identified from travellers into the UK. A small number carrying a Brazilian mutation have also entered the country.
Clearly, stopping all travel not subject to strict quarantine regulations will reduce this risk. But the Government must also acknowledge that, as has been seen with Australia and New Zealand, these are not stopgap measures but semi-permanent controls. The logic of this policy is that for as long as mutations threaten to undermine the vaccine programme then normal travel to and from the UK will be impossible. For a country that relies so heavily on its international connections this is a serious, possibly irrevocable, step.
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— Telegraph Travel (@TelegraphTravel) January 25, 2021
Where do your daydreams take you?
The Government is threatening to consign holidays to history
We cannot keep ruining everyone’s quality of life over a disease which is harmless to the vast majority of us, writes Oliver Smith.
“Now, it appears that the vaccine, far from unlocking our horizons, will actually tether us tighter to our shores. What was supposed to make things better, is – for travellers at least – actually being used to make things worse. To protect us against “unidentified new variants”, the Government is on the verge of announcing strict new border controls, with a mandatory hotel quarantine for all overseas arrivals (including returning holidaymakers) looking increasingly likely. “
Read his comment piece here.
Cases are down across the UK
As the Government contemplates stricter border measures, three weeks into the third lockdown, let’s take a look at how case and death numbers are looking in the UK.
A look back over the weekend
A look at what happened around the world over the weekend, in pictures.
Wuhan one year on: The city that appears safe from coronavirus
One year after the Covid-19 pandemic erupted, The Telegraph’s China Correspondent returns to Wuhan and asks whether all is really as it seems.
Meet the ‘extreme pandemic relocators’
Most of us spent last year staring at the same four walls, working from home and socialising locally – when lockdown restrictions allowed. We nested, driving a huge spike in renovations, home furnishings and landscaping, while travel plans were shelved.
But there was a small tranche of the population who, faced with a pandemic, changed their lives dramatically, making the move of a lifetime.
This is how they got on.
‘This is completely insane’
Footage from Heathrow Airport shows packed queues in close proximity.
UK’s leading ski operator cancels future holidays
Crystal Ski Holiday has cancelled all ski holidays until March 6 as the pandemic continues to force travellers to rearrange their upcoming plans.
Trips departing to all destinations, including Austria, France, Italy, Switzerland, Finland and Norway, have been called off up to and including March 5. The operator continues to make rolling decisions on whether to cancel trips, inline with Government guidance.
“We’re aware of recent announcements regarding restrictions to some of our destinations. We’ll be proactively contacting any customers whose holidays are impacted as soon as possible to discuss their options, prioritising those due to travel in the coming weeks. We are continuing to monitor the situation,” reads a statement. All customers are entitled to a full refund or are able to amend their trip to a future date, free of charge, as part of Crystal’s Holiday Promise.
This news is the final blow to February half term ski holidays, as Crystal is one of the last to confirm trips won’t run during this peak period. Hotelplan, which operates Inghams, Ski Total and Flexiski has already cancelled all trips until March, at the earliest.
This leaves roughly six remaining weeks of the ski season for operators to salvage any remaining trips. Some of Europe’s high-altitude resorts, such as Val Thorens, Tignes and Val d’Isere remain open until the end of April and some into May. But with lifts still shut in France, borders closed across Europe to Britons and travel banned under the UK’s own lockdown it’s looking increasingly unlikely that the majority British skiers will get their moment on the slope this winter.
‘Most Republicans shun masks’
Tom Lawrence sends a postcard from South Dakota, America’s lockdown-free outlier.
‘Lockdowns and border closures have repeatedly failed – it’s time we let them go’
“We modern humans have now spent the best part of a year operating under the conditions of a large-scale global experiment with a noble aim: to stamp out a virus that has become endemic,” writes Annabel Fenwick Elliott.
“Thank goodness this particular plague isn’t very dangerous to the vast majority of the people it meets because the results are in, and they’re not good.
“No amount of shutting borders, banning flights, bankrupting businesses, cancelling surgeries, denying children a decent education or wrecking havoc on people’s mental health has delivered us to the promised land of a Covid-free existence.
“In the UK, ten months on from our first three-week experimental lockdown, the one enacted to ‘protect’ our health system, we are a nation still under house arrest, a good deal poorer and more miserable, and the NHS is still, we are repeatedly warned, at ‘breaking point’.”
So has it really all been worth it? Read Annabel’s comment piece here.
Britain faces three-month ‘halfway house’ lockdown after Easter as over-50s wait for second vaccine
Britain faces a three-month lockdown “halfway house” after Easter, with a full reopening delayed until all over-50s have had their second dose of the vaccine, The Telegraph understands.
Ministers are considering proposals to begin reopening swathes of the economy in April under similar restrictions to those in place over the summer, with “rule of six” and social distancing measures in force in pubs and restaurants.
A return to full normality will be delayed for at least 12 to 14 weeks to allow for all over-50s to have their second dose of the vaccine, according to a source familiar with the discussions.
Ministers are keen to reopen hospitality venues in some capacity before the G7 summit in the second week of June, when the UK will host world leaders in Carbis Bay, Cornwall.
National measures will be eased in advance of the summit, allowing pubs, restaurants and tourism to begin to trade again.
Airline shares tumble as tighter restrictions loom
The FTSE 100 and 250 both narrowly in the red, and it’s airlines that are proving the day’s worst performers amid concerns about new restrictions.
British Airways owner IAG is leading fallers on the FTSE 100, down about 7pc, while aerospace engineer Rolls-Royce has also fallen sharply.
On the FTSE 250, easyJet has dropped hardest, although TUI and Wizz Air are not far behind.
The UK is mulling tighter border controls, France is expected to enter a new lockdown in the coming days, and new US President Joe Biden will continue to restriction travel from much of Europe.
Follow all the updates on our Business Blog.
How have other countries handled their border measures?
Cabinet row as ministers consider plans to bus arrivals to hotels for quarantine
Travellers to the UK face being bussed from the airport to hotels around the country amid a Cabinet row over whether compulsory quarantine should be enforced at the border.
Boris Johnson is under pressure from ministers to toughen border controls to prevent new variants of coronavirus from reaching the UK.
On Sunday, Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, revealed that authorities have already identified 77 cases of the South African variant in the UK, and have placed the patients under “very close” observation.
Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, and Mr Hancock are understood to be pushing for a mandatory quarantine in Government-approved accommodation for all arrivals.
But limited hotel capacity near major airports could mean passengers must be transported by bus to rooms elsewhere in the UK to wait out a 10-day quarantine period.
Read the full report here.