Switzerland ‘certain’ to lose travel corridor, Greece holidays are safe for now
Switzerland is ‘certain’ to be removed from the UK’s travel corridors list this Thursday, according to a travel industry insider.
Paul Charles of the PC Agency and head of the Quash Quarantine movement Tweeted: “Switzerland certain to be added to quarantine list. Czech Republic possibly. Absolutely no justification for adding Greece, Turkey or Italy to the list in this Thursday’s review.”
This comes after Switzerland’s cases per 100,000 over seven days hit 21.7 – above the UK’s threshold of 20 cases, after which a quarantine comes under consideration.
When Croatia, Austria and Trinidad and Tobago surpassed the 20 threshold last week, they were all added to the UK’s quarantine list and the FCO now advises against all but essential travel to the countries. Spain and France have also lost their travel corridors, meaning all arrivals in the UK from these countries must quarantine for 14 days.
The UK Government is due to review its list of travel corridors this Thursday. Some countries, like Sweden and Serbia, have now dropped beneath the 20 threshold, marking them as potential destinations for a travel corridor. Portugal was last week given the green light, after a drop in cases.
As it stands, holiday favourites Italy, Turkey and Greece remain safely beneath the 20 threshold, despite a rise of Covid-19 cases in all three countries.
Last week (August 17-23), Greece recorded 1,523 new positive tests of Covid-19. This was a small increase on the previous week’s figure of 1,437 (August 10-16). With 14.6 cases per 100,000 it still sits below the UK’s threshold for imposing quarantine (20 per 100.000).
Scroll down for more updates.
What did we learn today?
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Approval for Virgin Atlantic $1.6 billion rescue plan
Virgin Atlantic’s creditors have today voted in favour of a $1.6 billion (£1.2 billion) rescue plan, giving hope that the airline can secure its future beyond the pandemic.
“Today, Virgin Atlantic has reached a significant milestone in safeguarding its future, securing the overwhelming support of all four creditor classes, including 99% support from trade creditors who voted in favour of the Plan,” a Virgin Atlantic spokeswoman said in a statement.
The London restaurants extending the Eat Out To Help Out discount into September
Restaurants are reporting soaring trade since the campaign launched, and many have chosen to foot the discount themselves in September.
Tomé Morrissy-Swan looks into where you can get a bargain into next month.
‘The Costa del Sol is practically empty’
Luis Callejón, president of Costa del Sol hotel association AEHCOS, said the crisis has affected Spanish hotel owners in three phases.
“Phase one: panic – the closures. Two: false optimism – we think something will happen to save us; we’re almost through August, it won’t. Phase three: the bank says listen, I allowed you to defer payments for a year and the year is up – and we haven’t earned enough to pay for the lights.
“The Costa del Sol is practically empty. International visitors make up 70 per cent of our tourism. The biggest market is Britain and quarantine has removed the central pillar of our industry.” The mass tourism resorts of Torremolinos, Fuengirola and Mijas averaged 25 per cent occupancy in July. “It’s not the end of an era, but we do need to change the model, the services offered, how we sell, look at converting part of the big 500-room hotels into serviced apartments. Right now though we are focused on how to save the furniture.
“After this summer, at least one in four hotels on the Costa del Sol will never open again.”
What is the timeline for a Switzerland quarantine?
Judging by how things have worked out over the past fortnight, we can expect the following on Thursday:
An announcement from Grant Shapps at 5pm BST on Thursday, made on his Twitter page, revealing the countries to be removed from or added to the travel corridors list
A deadline of 4am on Saturday for British holidaymakers to return
A spike in air fares on Friday, as Britons scramble to return home before the deadline
Following 4am on the Saturday, anyone arriving from the new ‘red list’ countries will need to quarantine for 14 days on arrival in the UK
These are the countries that could be removed from the green list next.
Spain prepared to send in troops to tackle Covid-19 resurgence
Spain’s PM, Pedro Sanchez, said today that troops have been made available to help regions fight against a resurgence of Covid-19.
He also said that regional administrations could make independent decisions on how to manage the fight against Covid-19, rather than the central government taking charge.
Sanchez confirmed he would support any requests made by regional leaders to declare localized states of emergency.
“The pandemic data curve is worrying and has to be contained. We have to be calm and vigilant,” Sanchez said after the first cabinet meeting following the summer recess.
“Regions that do not have enough tracers can count on the support of our country’s armed forces.”
“The army’s specific training in early detection and epidemiological tracking includes procedures for identifying risk factors and contact tracing,” he added.
No new coronavirus deaths in Wales
There have been no further recorded deaths of people who tested positive for coronavirus in Wales, health officials have said today.
The total number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic remains at 1,593. Public Health Wales said the total number of Covid-19 cases in the country had increased by 28, bringing the revised confirmed cases to 17,774.
Backlash against ‘ignorant’ tourists in Cornwall and Wales
Residents of the UK’s favourite beauty spots have spoken out against misbehaving tourists, as British holidaymakers take their summer escapes closer to home due to restrictions on foreign travel.
A security company has been recruited to patrol a village in Snowdonia, Llanberis, after reports of poor behaviour, littering and illegal camping, the Times reports.
“We have never seen anything like it,” one female resident said. “The crowds have been unbelievable, and some completely antisocial and who would be better suited in Magaluf.”
In Cornwall, one holiday park receptionist, Beth Richards, wrote an open letter to rude staycationers after she was branded “stupid, idiotic or a b****” for advising them to wear a mask in the shop.
Another resident told MailOnline: “When I recently asked staycationers (who were strung out across the road and path blocking my way) to kindly give way – I have shielded since March – I was told: ‘Oh shut up, we’ve come down here to get away from all that b******* – we’re on holiday'”.
Domestic travel has boomed this summer, as European holiday favourites like Spain, France and Croatia have been removed from the FCO’s travel corridor list due to rising cases of Covid-19.
What is the picture in Turkey?
Yesterday, Turkey reported 1,443 cases of Covid-19 – the highest number in two months. As you can see in the graph below, cases are slowly on the rise again after slump of recorded cases through July.
However, Turkey’s number of cases currently stands at 10.6 per 100,000 (based on the last week’s results) – far below the UK’s threshold of 20 cases per 100,000, after which a travel quarantine comes under consideration.
So, for now, any upcoming holidays in Turkey should be safe.
An escape to England’s least crowded county, anyone?
If there’s a word that has become synonymous with British beaches this summer, it’s ‘overcrowded’. Scenes of packed streets in Salcombe, a broiling mass of sticky bodies in Botany Bay, and rubbish-strewn Brighton have almost been enough to put any sane person off paying our glorious British shores a visit this summer.
But head north instead of south, and the scenes are rather different.
In this piece, Penny Walker sings Northumberland’s praises.
Anguilla joins destinations offering remote working incentives
Barbados, Estonia and Bermuda are among the destinations seeking to attract remote workers and plug the gap of tourism losses with ‘digital nomad’ visas – now Anguilla has joined the list.
The British Overseas Territory is accepting online applications for visitors who would like to spend from three months to a year on Anguilla, arriving on the island by October 31. Anguilla is included on the UK’s quarantine-free list.
Slovenia sees domestic tourism surge
Slovenia saw the number of overnight stays by domestic tourists jump by 154.5 per cent year-on-year in July while the number of foreign tourists’ overnight stays fell by 66 per cent, according to the country’s statistics office.
“Domestic tourists accounted for 68 per cent of all tourist overnight stays in July … while most foreign tourists overnight stays were made by tourists from Germany, Netherlands, Austria, the Czech Republic and Hungary,” the office said.
Slovenia is currently included on the UK’s quarantine free-list with 10 Covid cases per 100,000 between August 17-23.
Air travellers warned to wear face masks or risk fines
Plane passengers who refuse to wear face masks risk being kicked off flights and fined, said the airline body IATA as some airlines tighten rules for people who can’t wear masks for medical reasons.
Travel Mole reports that from September Lufthansa Group airlines will insist that passengers who don’t wear a mask present a negative Covid-19 test and a medical certificate stating why they can’t wear a face covering.
The IATA appealed to all travellers to wear masks ‘for the safety of all passengers and crew’ following reports of passengers refusing to do so.
“While this is confined to a very small number of individuals, some on-board incidents have become violent, resulting in costly and extremely inconvenient diversions to offload these passengers,” said IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac.
Stag dos should be ‘things of the past,’ says Welsh health minister
The Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething has said that stag dos and hen parties “should be things of the past” following an upward trend in cases in Cardiff. Mr Gethin told BBC Radio Wales:
We’ve seen a spike in cases in Cardiff, it’s still relatively low.
It’s another warning sign for us that the relatively low rates of coronavirus should not lead to people taking risks and ignoring the guidance and the rules that we’ve provided […]
Traditional stag and hen parties, for example, should be things of the past still, because that’s lots of people mixing, going out together […]
Cardiff has been a popular choice for stag and hen dos, with many of the city centre’s bars within a short walking distance from each other.
In numbers: how worrying is Greece’s surge in Covid-19 cases?
Fears are growing that Greece could be dropped from the UK’s quarantine-exempt list, as it announced a record 284 new cases on Sunday, August 23, and two more deaths. But how worried should you really be about your holiday? Hazel Plush has taken a look at the latest figures.
The top line? Last week (August 17-23), Greece recorded 1,523 new positive tests of Covid-19. This was a small increase on the previous week’s figure of 1,437 (August 10-16). With 14.6 cases per 100,000 it still sits below the UK’s threshold for imposing quarantine (20 per 100.000).
Read the full story.
Switzerland ‘certain’ to be added to quarantine list
Paul Charles, chief executive of the travel consultancy The PC Agency and former spokesperson for the Quash Quarantine campaign group, offers an update on the latest countries that could join the UK’s travel ‘red list’.
Cornwall receptionist speaks out against ‘abusive’ tourists
New restrictions on Lesvos
The Greek island of Lesvos has had restrictions imposed as of yesterday (24 Aug) which are in place until September 1.
The FCO now advises that the “operation of all food/catering sector-related shops, services and facilities” is now prohibited between the hours of midnight and 7am the next day. No more than 50 people are allowed at “all public and social events, except those to which special rules apply, such as restaurants, theatres and cinemas.”
Meanwhile, in America: California firefighters show what it’s like driving through a wildfire
Bali to remain shut to tourists until 2021
Bali has put the brakes on its plan to reopen to international tourism on September 11 with an announcement that the border will likely remain closed until 2021.
“The situation in Bali is not conducive to allow foreign tourists to visit,” said Bali governor Wayan Koster. He noted that a return to international tourism, “was not to be rushed, and requires careful preparation.”
After a devastating peak season, the Island of the Gods reopened to domestic tourists on July 1 as Covid cases continued to accelerate across the rest of the country. And while Bali is currently thought to have the virus under control, figures continue to increase in other provinces.
Following the Philippines, Indonesia has been reported as the second worst-hit region in Asia, with over 155,000 cases and 6,759 deaths (figures which are thought to be vastly under-representative due to poor testing). As a result, the tourism industry has been hit hard, with hotel occupancies in single digits and over 70,000 people out of work on the island of Bali alone.
Read the full report here
Hong Kong announces easing of some coronavirus measures
Hong Kong has today announced it will ease some lockdown measures from August 28, according to Arab News, as the government cautioned against complacency despite a steady fall in the number of new cases.
Hong Kong saw a resurgence of locally transmitted cases in early July, but the daily number has now dropped from triple digits to low double digits. Yesterday’s daily rate of 9 new cases was the lowest in two months.
Emirates and Etihad airlines ask crew to take unpaid leave
The Middle East airlines Emirates and Etihad Airways have asked cabin crew to take unpaid leave, according to internal memos.
In one memo, Emirates crew were told they could take unpaid leave for between one and three months from September 1 to November 30, due to expected staffing requirements.
This comes as the global aviation industry continues to struggle, with demand down as countries across the world introduce new lockdowns and quarantine measures amid second spikes of the virus.
In pictures: A farewell to the 747
Hugh Morris bids a fond farewell to the world’s first jumbo jet, the Boeing 747.
Read our interactive feature.
53% of over-50s won’t travel until Covid-19 is over
Some 53% of Britons over the age of 50 say they won’t travel again until the Covid-19 situation is resolved, according to research by Pettitts Travel.
28% said they are currently planning a trip, and 19% say they hope to travel soon. Many respondents said that they would not feel safe taking a long haul flight before a vaccine was available.
On the topic of a Covid-19 vaccine – an Oxford vaccine could be put before regulators this year, a leading scientist has said.
There’s another storm brewing…
Storm Francis has brought gusts of more than 50mph overnight ahead of the wet and windy weather impacting vast swathes of the country on Tuesday.
The heaviest of the rain is expected to fall across Northern Ireland and south-west Scotland with the Met Office warning of the potential for flooding and issuing a yellow warning.
It said up to 90 mm of rain could fall while a yellow warning for wind is in place in Wales and most of England with gusts of up to 70mph predicted.
Read the full article here.
Singapore to reopen to tourism in September
Singapore has today reported just 31 new coronavirus cases, marking its lowest daily caseload in more than five months.
Mass outbreaks earlier in the year in the city-state were concentrated in migrant worker dormitories, but cases have steadily declined amid Singapore’s deepest ever recession.
The Southeast Asian island nation has now said that it will begin to gradually reopen its borders from September onwards in order to try to stimulate its economy, which is heavily dependent on tourism and trade.
The Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat has already announced additional support measures of S$8 billion ($5.8 billion) in the hope of cushioning the blow from the pandemic, with wage subsidies extended in the hope of shoring up the aviation and hospitality sectors.
Cunard extends pause until spring 2021
Cunard has extended its pause in operations from November 2020 until the spring of 2021.
Operations have been paused until March 25 2021 for the ship Queen Elizabeth, until April 18 2021 for the Queen Mary 2, and until May 16 2021 for Queen Victoria.
Cunard’s president, Simon Palethorpe, said:
“We are so sorry to all those guests who were due to sail on any of the cancelled voyages and for the disappointment this news will cause. After very careful consideration and reviewing the latest guidance, we simply do not feel it would be sensible to start sailing again with our current schedule so we have reviewed future itineraries.”
When will cruise ships start sailing again? Read our article here.
Will a Spain holiday be back on the cards soon?
In a word, no.
On Saturday, Spain recorded 6,900 cases of Covid-19, the highest since late March. The number of deaths, however, remain lower than during the peak of the virus. Yesterday, there were 12 deaths, compared to a high of 961 daily deaths of April 2.
The number of cases per 100,000 residents, based on a weekly average, is currently around 92.5. The threshold for a country to be considered for a travel corridor is 20 cases per 100,000. So Spain will need to see a significant drop in cases before the FCO reassesses its travel policy.
North Wales Police issues a plea
North Wales Police has Tweeted to request tourists take their litter with them.
😢 Seeing photos such as these makes us sad. Please don’t leave litter (or camping equipment!) behind when you’re out enjoying the beautiful region
🚯 Dispose of it appropriately or take it home with you
— North Wales Police #KeepWalesSafe (@NWPolice) August 24, 2020
British holidaymakers are shunning flights
Over 80% of British holidaymakers are driving to their holiday destination, rather than flying, according to research by comparethemarket.com.
Of the respondents:
22% drove out of fears of flights being cancelled
40% drove because it is cheaper than other forms of transport
44% said health reasons are their biggest concern
Dan Hutson, head of motor insurance at comparethemarket.com, said:
“The pandemic has forced everyone to rethink their holiday plans. While most holidays have been cancelled so far this year, we are clearly seeing a resurgence of people keen to get behind the wheel and drive to their holiday. It is clear that coronavirus is the top concern for people given the obvious issues with taking public transport. However, more indirect concerns such as quarantining and potential cancellations are forcing more and more people to abandon planes and hop in the car. It’s also crucial that you carry out the necessary checks on your car before setting off for a long journey, and making sure that you car insurance policy covers you for driving overseas.
“It is encouraging to see that a large number of destinations in Europe remain popular but England has stood out as, by far, the most popular destination. If you are considering driving abroad, remember that quarantine restrictions will still apply on your return.”
I’m in quarantine after visiting Croatia – I won’t regret a minute of it
Chris Leadbeater has just returned from holiday Croatia. Here’s his take on the quarantine:
“There is no nuance to the UK’s travel policy, or knowledge – merely a blank gawping at broad statistics. Just as the Canary and Balearic Islands have been damned by a rise in cases in Catalonia, so Istria has been put to the sword by an infection spike in Zagreb. Where we were staying was directly below the border with Slovenia (we could see Portoroz on the shore from the top of the hill) – a country that is currently exempt from FCO concerns. Had we picked a villa five or so miles to the north, we wouldn’t have been “in danger”. Had we left the villa we did pick 24 hours earlier, we wouldn’t now be deemed a danger to others. What nonsense.”
Read his full report.
Australian woman sentenced to six months in jail after sneaking across border
An Australian woman has been sentenced to six months in prison after sneaking across Western Australia’s state border hidden in a car on the back of a truck, writes Giovanni Torre.
Asher Vander Sanden, 28, was a Perth resident returning home after one month in Victoria.
The court heard she had been granted an exemption to fly into Western Australia but had been advised she would need to be quarantined in a hotel for two weeks at her own expense.
Ms Vander Sanden, who had been staying in the regional town of Mildura, asked a truck driver for a lift to Perth, then concealed herself in a car being carried by the truck to cross the South Australian border with WA.
Prosecutor Ian McDowall said after crossing the border, Ms Vander Sanden called her partner from a petrol station in Perth’s eastern suburbs and asked him to collect her. Ten days later, she was arrested at her partner’s home and then spent two weeks in quarantine while in custody.
Magistrate Andrew Matthews described her actions as “a very serious offence” that undermined what the state had done to prevent the spread of “this hideous virus”.
Western Australia has not had a case of community transmission of Covid-19 for months. The state has recorded a total of 653 cases, of which 566 have been from ships, overseas travel, or interstate travel. Only 72 known cases of community transmission have been recorded.
What is the picture in Greece?
Greece has seen its biggest spike of Covid-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic: yesterday, it reported 283 cases. The previous high on April 21 was 156.
The UK Government uses the number of cases per 100,000, on a weekly rolling average, as its benchmark for whether a country should be removed from the ‘travel corridor’ list. If a country surpasses 20, it could be removed.
Greece is currently at 14.6 cases (Aug 17–23), up from 13.8 (Aug 10–16) and 8.0 (Aug 3–9). By comparison Spain is at 92.5, France is at 34.4 and Portugal is at 12.1.
What did we learn yesterday?
Greece records record number of new cases
New Zealand lockdown extended
Sweden not expecting big second wave, says country’s chief epidemiologist
Catalonia caps all social gatherings at 10 people
MSC Cruises postpones the relaunch of Magnifica sailings
Bali bans foreign tourists for rest of 2020
Eurostar confirms long-awaited non-stop service from Amsterdam to London
South Korea latest to make face masks mandatory
Now, on with today’s travel news