The Government is due to announce the latest updates to its list of countries with “travel corridors”.
Croatia is set to be dropped from the list of quarantine-free countries this afternoon, a move which could give 20,000 Britons a matter of hours to return to the UK. Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, is due to add the Balkan holiday hotspot to the UK’s “red list” of nations after a sharp rise in coronavirus cases. It is expected holidaymakers would be given until 4am on Saturday to return.
The number of cases in Croatia is now at a seven-day average of 27.4 cases per 100,000, considerably higher than the Government’s threshold of 20 cases per 100,000. This time last week, Croatia’s number was at 7.8 per 100,000.
Last week, more than 150,000 British holidaymakers had to race back from France by land, air and sea to beat the 4am deadline. The Netherlands and Malta were also added to the quarantine list last week.
This afternoon’s announcement could, however, bring good news for anyone hoping to travel to Portugal. The number of cases per 100,000 on a seven-day average is 14.9 – lower than the threshold of 20 set by the Government.
Exempting arrivals from Portugal from a UK quarantine, and giving the country the FCO ‘green light’, would bring an end to months of turmoil for the Portuguese tourist economy, which has suffered under the absence of British holidaymakers this summer.
Scroll for more updates below.
A worrying resurgence in Italy
There is growing alarm in Italy about a resurgence of the coronavirus, reports Nick Squires in Rome, with 642 new cases reported on Wednesday – the highest number since May 23. It was a big increase on Tuesday’s total of 403.
Saturday also saw a sharp spike in numbers, with 629 new cases reported nationwide.
In part, the figures reflect how many swabs were carried out – on Wednesday there was a particularly high number, more than 71,000 compared to 54,000 the day before.
But since Italy’s draconian three-month lockdown ended, people have become less vigilant and more relaxed, particularly in terms of mask-wearing and social distancing.
Young people are coming together in large gatherings in bars and at the beach, as the summer holidays hit their peak.
In response, the Government on Sunday ordered all nightclubs and discos to shut down, saying they had become the focus of new infections.
Many of the new cases are people returning from holiday, particularly from countries such as Greece, Spain and Croatia, but also places closer to home such as Sardinia, where an entire hotel has been placed in quarantine on the island of Santo Stefano in the La Maddalena archipelago.
In its decree on Sunday, the Government also made it obligatory to wear masks inside and outside nightspots and at gatherings in streets and piazzas from 6pm until 6am. Roberto Speranza, the health minister, said that if infections continue to grow, then the reopening of the country’s schools on September 14 could be placed in jeopardy.
Africa reports ‘hopeful’ daily drop in coronavirus cases
Average daily cases of Covid-19 in Africa fell last week, a “hopeful sign” for the continent’s fight against the disease, the head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said.
The continent-wide daily average was 10,300 last week, down from 11,000 the week before, Dr John Nkengasong said, adding that officials were greeting the news with “cautious optimism”.
“We have begun to bend the curve slowly,” he said.
“It is very, very early. We are dealing with a very delicate virus that spreads very quickly, but it’s important to recognise those slight tendencies that are positive.”
Africa had recorded 1,147,369 cases as of this morning, about half of which were in South Africa, which has the fifth-highest total globally.
South Africa has seen its number of daily confirmed cases fall from a peak of over 12,000 to an average of 5,000, driving the drop in the continent-wide average.
But Nkengasong noted that countries in West and Central Africa were showing “similar trends”.
Airbnb bans parties
Short-term home rental company Airbnb has imposed an indefinite global ban on all parties and events at places listed on its platform as it tries to enforce social-distancing norms due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Instituting a global ban on parties and events is in the best interest of public health,” Airbnb said in a statement, adding that the party ban applies to all future bookings.
The new rules include a cap on occupancy at 16.
Farewell to Gibraltar?
Gibraltar has also seen a significant spike in cases over the last month. The weekly average number of cases per 100,000 has gone up from 8.9 (between July 30 and August 30) to 62.3 (August 13–19). The threshold for cases, beyond which the UK government considers a quarantine, is 20.
Perhaps reflecting fears of an impending travel ban, prices are booming on return flights back to the UK tomorrow. British Airways has just two services to Heathrow, priced at £403 and £457. There is one flight back from Manchester with easyJet, going for £194.
Flights home from Croatia are sky-rocketing
It won’t be cheap to make a quick escape out of Croatia before an impending quarantine comes into action.
If, as all signs suggest, the country is indeed added to the UK’s quarantine list this afternoon, anyone in the country will likely have until 4am on Saturday to get home without needing to go into self isolation.
These are your only direct options right now, according to SkyScanner:
No direct flights available
British Airways: Split to Heathrow for £320 (departs 11.30am)
British Airways: Zagreb to Heathrow for £340 (departs 1.20pm)
Croatia Airlines: Zagreb to Heathrow for £496 (departs 5.45pm)
WizzAir: Split to Luton for £238 (departs 9.25pm)
Analysis: which countries could be next for quarantine?
The following countries have an existing travel corridor but now have weekly cases above the UK’s threshold of 20 cases per 100,000:
At risk of a new quarantine
The following countries have a travel corridor and have seen notable increases in cases over the last fortnight:
Cases on the rise
The following countries have fewer cases than 20 per 100,000 based on the last seven days, and are therefore in the running for a possible travel corridor today:
Possible travel corridors
Which countries have been placed back on the naughty step?
Back in early July the UK relaxed its blanket restriction on all travel, introducing travel corridors to a number of countries. However, since then the Government has moved to reintroduce quarantine measures and FCO advisories for eleven destinations, due to rising rates of Covid-19.
July 27: Spain
July 31: Luxembourg
August 8: Belgium, Andorra, the Bahamas
August 15: France, Malta, the Netherlands, Monaco, Turks & Caicos, Aruba
August 20: An announcement is due later today.
This is the full list of countries exempt from a UK quarantine.
Family barred from rejoining cruise ship after breaking Covid rules
A family in Italy has discovered exactly how seriously a cruise line is taking its Covid-19 health and safety measures – a lesson that has cost them their place on the rest of the voyage, writes Benjamin Parker.
During an onshore excursion in Naples, the passengers of the MSC Grandiosa broke from their tour group and breached “social bubble” rules. They were subsequently denied boarding when they returned to the ship, which was sailing its first itinerary since March.
A spokesman for MSC Cruises told The Telegraph that action was taken “in line with our health and safety protocol, developed to ensure the health and wellbeing of our guests, crew and the communities we visit.”
Read the full report here.
Italian village overwhelmed by tourist interest after free holiday competition goes viral
A remote Italian village has been overwhelmed by holiday requests after it offered free lodging in a bid to attract tourists, writes Tom Mulvihill.
The residents of San Giovanni in Galdo, a medieval hilltop hamlet in the Molise region, launched the initiative in June, promising travellers a one-week stay “without financial contribution”, with the hope of boosting the tourism industry in their oft-overlooked portion of southern Italy.
Their online campaign, dubbed ‘Regalati a Molise’ (Give yourself to Molise), quickly went viral, and its organisers are now fielding more than 8,000 applications from around the world, although San Giovanni’s small size means it is only able to accept 12 visitors each week.
Read the full story here.
Life goes on in Croatia…
…in the form of a binman tricycle race, of course.
The spectacle was part of street festival organised in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital, despite concerns about rising numbers of coronavirus cases in the country.
‘You must recognise her, that’s Princess Diana’
Heather Buttivant loves rock pools.
She has written about passing on her fascination to her children, combining a UK holiday with a week of homeschooling, and a curious encounter with Princess Dianna.
On the last morning, sporting both red wellies and red tights, I climbed granite boulders with the other children, the cannons of the Garrison providing the perfect backdrop to our games. Running full tilt down the bouncy grass towards the defensive walls, the wind flapping at my sleeves, I pictured myself soaring over the waves with the kittiwakes and fulmars.
The realisation that I was being watched made me pull up mid-flight. A woman was sitting on the wall and she was smiling. She seemed like the kind of person who might like to hear about cowries and see my treasure haul. Smiling back, I skipped over to her.
We never made it much past hello. My parents were shouting and gesturing at me as though I were about to plunge off a cliff.
I trotted back, realising I wasn’t meant to bother this stranger.
“You know who that is, don’t you?” said my dad.
This was clearly a trick question. I began to explain that she couldn’t be a real stranger because of that smile.
“You must recognise her,” Dad cut in. “That’s Princess Diana.”
Read the full story.
Germany warns against travel to parts of Croatia
As the UK awaits a decision on Croatia’s place on the quarantine list, Germany has issued a warning against travel to parts of the country.
Reuters has the details:
Germany issued a warning against travel to parts of Croatia on Thursday as Europe’s largest economy battles to contain a rising number of coronavirus cases during the summer season.
The German foreign ministry advised against travel to the regions of Sibenik-Knin and Split Dalmatia, which are popular with tourists, after the public health agency declared them coronavirus risk regions, making tests for returnees mandatory.
The number of new cases in Germany has been rising steadily since early July and has accelerated in recent weeks. On Thursday, the number of confirmed cases climbed by 1,707 to 228,621, marking their biggest daily increase since April 26.
Imported cases of the coronavirus have risen to 39% of overall new infections in Germany this week, up from around 30% last week.
Croatia is the source of the third-highest number of infections among people returning to Germany, after Kosovo and Turkey, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases.
Concern is growing that people may be getting infected while visiting family members in those countries.
Davor Bozinovic, Croatia’s interior minister, said a ban on nightclubs staying open beyond midnight would likely be extended and added: “Less than 1% of tourists got infected (in Croatia).”
Looking to take a gap year, after the A Levels results mayhem?
Why not look closer to home, says Emma Cooke.
Here she rounds up five options.
Enough travel refund chaos, it’s time to create a holiday ombudsman
Among the thousands of emails we have received from readers about the problems they have had over the last five months, one particular issue stands out, writes Nick Trend.
It’s the sheer frustration at the difficulty of getting a response from their travel company about issues such as cancellations and refunds. Phones aren’t answered, or the line is dead or cut off. Emails and messages are ignored and even registered letters get no reply.
It’s time, Nick argues, for a holiday ombudsman. Read his article here.
Germany records highest daily infection toll since April
Germany has recorded 1,707 new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, the highest daily toll since April.
The country has fared better than many European neighbours in suppressing the virus so far, but the number of infections has jumped significantly over the summer holidays.
The latest figures, from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases, bring to 228,621 the number of infections in the country since the start of the pandemic.
It takes the daily toll back to a level not seen since late April, when the pandemic was considered to be at its peak.
Could travel to Iceland be banned?
Cases have been rising in Iceland, prompting the Iceland Tourist Board to cancel press trips for journalists to the country, as reported by Telegraph Travel’s reporter Tamara Hinson.
Perhaps unsurprisingly Iceland seems to be heading in the wrong way re case numbers – tourist board PR just told me all press trips are off due to increase in cases.
— Tamara Hinson (@TamaraHinson) August 20, 2020
The number of cases in Iceland is currently at 17.3 per 100,000 people, based on seven-day figures. The threshold for a UK quarantine is 20 cases per 100,000. A Government announcement on which countries will be added to the quarantine list is expected this afternoon.
A storm is brewing…
Storm Ellen has become the first named storm during the summer holidays, as the country braces for 75mph winds and flooding.
The storm is set to be the worst for six months since Storm Dennis battered the country and left many homes and businesses destroyed.
The fifth named storm of the 2019-2020 season is due to strike Ireland on Wednesday evening before moving north towards Scotland.
The deepening low pressure system has led the Met Office to issue a series of yellow weather warnings until Friday, with travel disruption expected.
Find out more about the impending storm, here.
New Norway coastal cruise can ‘sail for four hours with zero emissions’
A new cruise service which says it will operate the most environmentally friendly ships along the Norwegian coast is now available to book.
Originally planned for March, the launch was put on hold due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Each ship will carry 640 passengers (468 berths plus up to 172 day/foot passengers). Using the world’s largest battery pack, the vessels will be able to sail for four hours with zero emissions.
Read the full report, here.
Qantas says international flights ‘unlikely’ to resume until July 2021
The Australian airline Qantas Airways has said today that it is “unlikely” it will resume international flights before July 2021.
The carrier reported a AUS$2.7 billion loss for the financial year ending June, and a 91% year-on-year drop in profit.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the second half of the fiscal year 2020 was the “toughest set of conditions the national carrier had faced in its 100 years” but that the company had the “resilience to deal with them.”
“We’ve had to make some very tough decisions in the past few months to guarantee our future. At least 6,000 of our people will leave the business through no fault of their own, and thousands more will be stood down for a long time,” he said. “Recovery will take time and it will be choppy.”
Could Spain have a travel corridor re-introduced?
In a word, no.
Cases in Spain continue to rise. In the last week there were 34,412 new cases, meaning there are 73.6 cases per 100,000 residents. The UK’s threshold for a quarantine is 20 cases per 100,000.
So you will need to wait a bit longer before jetting off to the UK’s favourite holiday destination.
Skiers go off piste to avoid the crowds
Ski resorts are being forced to reinvent their winter activities as the pandemic threatens to change the traditional ski holiday experience dramatically, Lucy Aspden reports.
Bosses at the American resort of Breckenridge in Colorado held crisis talks yesterday to discuss how they can still entice visitors this winter if skiing and snowboarding is limited.
Under new Covid restrictions resorts look set to have to limit the number of people allowed on the slopes and on lifts at one time, in order to maintain social distancing.
Using information gathered from visitor surveys, focus groups and local committees bosses in Breckenridge discussed other outdoor winter activities that might appeal to people wanting to escape to the mountains, such as fat biking, snowshoeing, snow tubing and ice skating.
There was also discussion around ways of making the backcountry (parts of the ski area that aren’t patrolled by mountain rescue teams) safer for beginners, as many predict inexperienced skiers may flock to the off-piste areas in search of turns, away from the crowds – a trend that took off back in March when resorts were forced to close their lifts and pistes.
The view from New York
Here’s a look at what’s going on in New York City, which continues Phase 4 of its reopening. New York State was the epicenter of cases in the USA – to date, it has recorded 431,924 cases and 32,451 deaths.
What’s the situation in Greece?
As it stands, holidaymakers can carry on with their trips to Greece. The FCO does not warn against travel to Greece, and you will not need to go into quarantine on your return.
However, Covid-19 cases are on the rise in the country and local lockdown restrictions have been introduced in certain areas, including Mykonos, in the last fortnight.
However, because Greece’s cases are at 14.7 per 100,000, lower than the threshold of 20 set by the Government, it is unlikely Greece will be stripped of its travel corridor. An announcement is due later today.
Aberdeen lockdown is extended
A local lockdown in Aberdeen will be extended for another week, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced.
After a spike in Covid-19 cases, pubs and restaurants were forced to close their doors and restrictions were placed on travel and visits to other households.
Ms Sturgeon said it was “not yet safe” to lift the restrictions. However, Aberdeen City Council has spoken out to say it does not support continuing the lockdown, which is having a devastating effect on the local economy.
Heathrow testing is ‘step in right direction’
Yesterday, we reported that Heathrow is ready to test international arrivals as ministers discuss ditching the 14-day quarantine.
In response, Julia Lo Bue-Said, CEO at Advantage Travel Partnership tells Telegraph Travel:
“The announcement that Heathrow plans to create a new corona testing facility is a positive step in the right direction towards redressing the damage done to the travel industry by blanket quarantine procedures. Scientific advice supports the process of double testing, one on arrival and one at the travellers home two days later. This could be a very real opportunity to significantly cut down the quarantine time and at the same time help prevent transmission of the virus.
“Since a number of key destinations have been removed from the Government’s ‘safe list’, consumer confidence to book a holiday is at an all-time low. We urge the Government to consider this potential compromise as a priority. A solution such as this would surely boost confidence for many Britons who simply cannot afford to take 14-days additional leave after their holiday as a result of the quarantine rules.
“We’re hoping the plan will move forward quickly, be endorsed and supported by Government and rolled-out by other airports. For leisure travellers it would help ease the panic caused by sudden quarantine announcements, as happened in France and make people less fearful to book future holidays. For business travellers it would certainly be a real boost and provide kick-start needed to get the sector operating again.”
Which other countries could be given (or stripped of) a travel corridor?
Wondering if your holiday destination could be given (or stripped of) a travel corridor?
The Government will be basing its decision today on the number of cases per 100,000 based on seven-day figures. If the number is higher than 20, that puts it at risk of an FCO travel advisory and quarantine rule. The UK is currently at 11.
Here’s a look at the average number of cases per 100,000, across Britain’s favourite holiday destinations:
When can we expect an announcement?
Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, is due to make an announcement this afternoon.
Last week, when France, Malta and the Netherlands were added to the list, the announcement came late – at 10pm – giving holidaymakers just 30 hours to return home before the deadline of 4am on Saturday.
EasyJet inundated with queries
EasyJet has been swamped with Tweets from worried customers.
@easyJet due to fly croatia on Sunday. Regardless of it gets added to the list today, will your flights still go ahead?
— Ads (@MrKopNova92) August 20, 2020
@easyJet if Croatia is taken off the UK ‘safe list’ are there going to be any additional flights out of Pula please?
— Tim A (@The5lim) August 20, 2020
@easyJet if Croatia gets put on the red list for the U.K. will you be offering flight vouchers? Thanks!
— jody marshall (@jodyymarshall) August 19, 2020
Our Consumer Expert, Nick Trend, explains what will happen if your holiday is affected by a quarantine announcement today.
What about Portugal?
Here’s the view of daily cases in Portugal:
How rapidly are cases rising in Croatia?
Here’s a look at the Covid-19 situation in Croatia.
Croatia ‘still a very safe place’, says tourist board
Darija Reic, the Director of the Croatian National Tourist Office in London, said:
“We would be very disappointed if that were to happen. We are confident that Croatia is still a very safe place for tourists, with the majority of the coast having low numbers of infections. Croatian authorities are continuously monitoring and adjusting Covid related safety measures to ensure we are controlling the virus at all times.
“There are currently over 700.000 tourists enjoying their time on our shores – and that is the greatest testament of travellers’ trust in Croatia’s image as a safe destination. Following the latest statements by the spokesman of the government of the Republic of Slovenia, Jelko Kacin, regarding the coronavirus, we reject his allegations that the situation in Croatia is dramatic.”
What happened yesterday?
Slovenia adds Croatia to its quarantine list
Portugal faces wait for its first travel corridor
Romania is the last EU country to allow indoor dining again
UK prepares to launch airport testing with Heathrow primed
Insurer offers cover against FCO advice in first for major firm
Greece tightens restrictions on Mykonos to control cases rise
Now, on with today’s news as we await Grant Shapps’ big announcement, expected this afternoon.