A leading World Health Organization figure has described the 14-day quarantine period as a “conservative estimate” of how long people may be infectious, reports Georgina Hayes.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Dr Hans Kluge, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, cautioned that “the concept of quarantine must be protected”, and urged countries to use scientific due process as they explore “safe reduction options”.
He said: “The 14-day quarantine period is a conservative estimate of the infectious period, which – despite some remaining uncertainty – covers the period, before and after symptoms are present, when people may be infectious.
“Knowing the immense individual and societal impact even a slight reduction in the length of quarantine can have, and given the figures I have just mentioned, I encourage countries of the region to make scientific due process with their experts and explore safe reduction options.
“The concept of quarantine must be protected, continuously adapted, clarified and well-communicated without any ambiguity to people.”
The news comes as some countries consider the possibility of lowering the number of days quarantine required. Meanwhile, Telegraph Travel has launched a campaign, Test4Travel, that would reduce quarantine through airport testing.
Scroll down for the latest travel updates.
Ireland, Denmark and Slovenia continue to await quarantine fate
Rising case rates in Ireland, Denmark and Slovenia could see the three countries removed from the UK’s quarantine-free travel list today.
The Government reviews its controversial policy every Thursday, with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announcing any changes to the list of approved travel corridors at 5pm on Twitter.
Denmark, where the seven-day Covid case rate has reached 38.4 per 100,000 residents (higher than the UK figure of 32.6), appears most at risk, but holidaymakers in Slovenia, where the rate is 31, should also be on high alert. Ireland, where it is 30.3, could also be removed, although it is already forcing any UK arrivals to self-isolate for two weeks so few British holidaymakers are likely to be in the country right now.
When a nation is removed from the travel corridors list, Britons are given until 4am the following Saturday to return to UK soil or face a 14-day quarantine.
As a rule of thumb, the Government gets nervous when a country’s seven-day case rate exceeds 20 per 100,000. However, with the UK rate rising above that in recent weeks, it appears to be showing a little more leniency.
Italy is one of the few key holiday destinations to have held onto its quarantine-free status. Its rate is currently 16.3, so it looks safe for another week.
South Africa Tourism responds to news that country will reopen to international travel
Kgomotso Ramothea, Acting Hub Head UK & Ireland, South African Tourism, said in a statement in response to the news:
We are very encouraged by President Ramaphosa’s announcement that South Africa will open its borders for international flights on 1st October. This is an extremely positive step in the right direction for tourism in South Africa. Whilst there is more detail to come in the next few days, this progress sends a really positive message to the world, that South Africa is on the road to tourism recovery. The UK is our number one international travel market – many of these are repeat visitors, who have an emotional connection to South Africa and we look forward to welcoming them back to experience our beautiful country once again, as well as first time travellers who have always had South Africa on their bucket list and who we hope will seize the opportunity to visit after a difficult year. With the announcement today that Virgin Atlantic plans to resume flights to the country from 18 October it demonstrates that consumer confidence is returning. We’re home to incredible natural landscapes, diverse vibrant culture, wide open spaces, an abundance of nature and wildlife, and warm, welcoming people who cannot wait to welcome visitors to South Africa once again.
Find the latest information on travel and from South Africa here.
G Adventures adds four new tours to its Travel with Confidence Plus collection
Following positive feedback from travellers and encouraging booking numbers for departures in 2020 and 2021, G Adventures has introduced four new itineraries to its new Travel with Confidence Plus Collection, which provides travellers with increased physical distancing measures while on tour.
Launched in June 2020 in response to coronavirus, the collection features smaller group sizes (maximum of 12), cheaper solo rooming options, ensuite bathrooms and private transportation, as well as increased sanitisation and hygiene protocols as part of G Adventures’ Travel with Confidence policy.
The new destinations include Cuba, Madagascar, Australia and New Zealand. G Adventures has also extended its Book with Confidence policy, which offers flexible rebooking for all bookings made up to 31 December 2020. Ask for details when booking.
The unexpected allure of a seaside holiday in Northern Ireland
Telegraph Travel’s Emma Cooke finds no crowds and a warm welcome in Northern Ireland.
“We had English friends over to stay a little while ago”, said Sharon, one of the owners of Shola’s Coach House, a beautiful B&B just outside the centre of Portrush. “We warned them things get busy here on the beaches. Come evening, they turned to us and said, ‘so, when does it get busy?’ They didn’t realise this is busy for us.” Myself and my partner, Alex, were midway through a tour of Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast, and midway through a welcome drink in the property’s plush living room. Rather than the hesitant formality of being presented a fruit cocktail or glass of champagne abroad, chat over hot tea and whisky-infused fruit cakes at Shola’s quickly felt more like a catch up with an old friend. Sharing where we’d been – “Oh, The French Rooms in Bushmills, yes the owner there is lovely” – and where we were going, Sharon gave us recommendations for places to eat and what to see. In the same way that Londoners frequently profess to having never stepped foot on the London Eye, it’s to my shame that I’ve never done a proper tour of the north coast, despite having grown up between Britain and Northern Ireland. And it is a shame – Antrim is Northern Ireland’s most visited county, and holds the majority of the region’s most recognisable sights, including the Giant’s Causeway and a glut of Game of Thrones sights.
New York Magazine’s Jerry Saltz thinks the rules don’t apply to him
A senior art critic at New York Magazine has tweeted his frustration at not being able to enter a New York museum without pre-booking.
Museums are strict about enforcing their Covid rules. I visited the @newmuseum today and they would not let me in because I had not pre-booked. My bad. There wasn’t a soul in the lobby. Wanted to say “Do you know who I am?” but thought it sounded dickish. pic.twitter.com/uIhUXGvFgW
— Jerry Saltz (@jerrysaltz) September 17, 2020
P&O cancels all cruises until 2021
P&O cruises has cancelled all sailings until early next year, the line’s president Paul Ludlow confirmed today.
Caribbean cruises are on hold until the end of January 2021 and all cruises to and from Southampton are cancelled until the end of February 2021 – world cruises on Arcadia and Aurora had previously been cancelled until the end of Spring 2021.
“With evolving restrictions on travel from the UK, unfortunately it is necessary to cancel these itineraries,” said Mr Ludlow.
He added: “These further cancellations vary according to ship as well as complexity and length of itineraries, advice and guidance regarding ports of call and current air availability for fly/cruises.”
P&O customers booked onto a cancelled cruise will be notified and will receive 125 per cent credit for a future cruise or can opt for a full refund by filling out an online form on the cruise line’s website.
Emma Featherstone has the full story here.
Is lockdown-free Sweden winning in Scandinavia?
“We’re playing the long game.” That’s what Malmo resident Joanna Le Pluart told Telegraph Travel back in April as Sweden faced a barrage of international criticism for its lockdown-free strategy.
Back then, the country was seeing more coronavirus cases and Covid-related deaths per capita than most other European countries – and far more than its Scandinavian neighbour Denmark.
Fast forward five months and Sweden’s “long game” looks to be paying dividends. While Denmark is at risk of being added to the UK’s quarantine naughty step, with a seven-day case rate of 38.4 per 100,000 residents (the figure for the UK is 32.6), Sweden sits pretty on the green list with a rate of just 16.1.
Furthermore, where Denmark is responding to a rise in cases with fresh rules, the government in Stockholm is easing the few restrictions it imposed to tackle the pandemic.
So which of the two nations “won” the Covid battle? It’s still far too early to say. “Judge me in a year,” said Sweden’s state epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, back in July. But having been written off by many, the benefits of Sweden’s laissez-faire policy are becoming increasingly apparent.
Find out more about how the lockdown strategies compare here.
Tourist hotspots press EU for tougher laws on Airbnb rentals
An alliance of 22 European cities urged the EU to enact tougher rules on Airbnb and other short-term holiday rental platforms, accusing them of driving up property prices and squeezing out locals, reports AFP.
Representatives from Amsterdam, Barcelona, Florence and other tourist hotspots met with EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager in Paris today to denounce an “outdated” legal framework that prevents officials from cracking down on the web platforms.
Airbnb, which dominates the home-sharing market, has increasingly clashed with municipalities trying to balance much-wanted tourism revenue against growing resentment from residents.
Several cities have imposed restrictions, in particular to combat illicit rentals that they say are siphoning off homes from the affordable housing market.
Quarantine should remain at 14 days, says WHO
The WHO has reiterated that the 14-day quarantine period for anyone exposed to coronavirus should remain as it is.
The recommendation is based on a scientific understanding of the virus’s incubation period and tranmission, the WHO Europe senior emergency officer Catherine Smallwood said today.
Self-isolation periods for people who have been exposed to the virus vary between countries. In France it is seven days’; in Ireland and the UK it is 10. The UK’s quarantine period for those arriving from countries not on its travel “green list” remains at two-weeks, however.
Travel boss: Singapore ‘should be exempt’ from quarantine
Travel expert, and chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, Paul Charles offers his daily update on infection rates and the travel “green list” ahead of the weekly Government review.
‘Flights to nowhere’ taking off in Asia and Australia
Qantas Airways said on Thursday it would operate a seven-hour scenic flight over Australia next month, adding to a growing trend in Asia of “flights to nowhere” that take off and land at the same airport.
Tough border restrictions to keep coronavirus under control have led to a 97.5 per cent plunge in international travel in the region, according to the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines.
Many frequent flyers miss getting on planes. Airlines including Taiwan’s EVA Airways Corp and Japan’s ANA Holdings, desperate for revenue and to keep their pilots’ licences current, have offered special sightseeing flights.
EVA used one of its iconic Hello Kitty livery planes for a special Father’s Day flight last month, while ANA used an Airbus SE A380 that usually flies to Honolulu for a 90-minute flight with a Hawaiian experience on board.
Read the full story.
No further Covid restrictions in London, for now
A law banning gatherings of more than six people was introduced by the UK Government on Monday, while Birmingham, Greater Manchester and Bolton are among the areas under local lockdown. Meanwhile, from tomorrow, in residents in Northumberland, north Tyneside, south Tyneside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham will not be allowed to socialise with other people outside of their household or support bubble
There have been suggestions that London could also face additional restrictions. However, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister said today that there are no plans for further rules in the capital at the moment, when asked whether a curfew might be brought in.
Cruise boss backs testing to save industry from ‘impossible situation’
The “start-stop” approach to quarantine and travel restrictions is “completely unacceptable” and testing should be introduced, says the managing director of Fred Olsen Cruise Lines.
After voluntarily pausing all cruising in March as the world was grappling with the spread of coronavirus, the UK-based operator has now been forced to cancel all sailings until at least March 2021, hindered by the UK’s quarantine policy leading to a sputtering recovery of travel and government advice against all sea-going cruise travel.
Peter Deer, who has been in his role for just over a year, told The Telegraph that the “start-stop process” of travel corridors has put Fred Olsen in an “impossible situation”.
“Having a situation which is so fluid, where one moment you can actually go to a destination and the next you can’t is completely unacceptable on a number of levels. A company can’t operate like that, and a travel business can’t due to the nature of what we’re doing.”
Benjamin Parker has the full story. You can also find out more about Test4Travel: The Telegraph campaign to scrap quarantine through airport testing, here.
The empty Greek island you should visit right now
Mary Novakovich reveals why Paxos is one of her favourite islands.
In this dreamy place, it was easy to pretend that summer wasn’t in any hurry to give way to autumn. In fact, it’s hard to hurry at all on this laid-back, languid island that measures only seven miles by three. I was based in the second largest of the three villages, Lakka, whose deep horseshoe-shaped harbour is a magnet for sailboats of all shapes and sizes. Watching launches pull up to the quayside, their occupants trying to get out gracefully and often failing, became an entertaining sunset ritual at Fanis Bar right by the water’s edge. As the sky began to glow in various shades of pink, I nursed my ice-cold glass of my favourite Greek liqueur, tsipouro, and found myself sinking into a mellowness that had more to do with the atmosphere than the alcohol.They say you cannot leave without watching the sunset from the western side of Paxos, whose wild coastline is indented with remote beaches mostly accessed by boat. I had done all that the first time round, five years ago, when I scootered up to the lighthouse by Plani beach near Lakka to watch the dramatic spectacle. Same with the incomparably beautiful Erimitis cliffs further to the south. This time, though, I was content to slow down and savour everything thoroughly, more appreciative of what I was seeing and tasting, knowing how quickly it could all change.
South Africa lifts ban on international travel as coronavirus cases plummet
South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, has announced that the country will reopen its borders as it eases its Covid-19 measures.
The country closed its borders on March 27, and has been one of the world’s hardest-hit countries since the beginning of the pandemic, recording more than 650,000 cases and over 15,000 deaths.
However, case numbers have dropped and levelled out in recent weeks, allowing the South African Government to ease lockdown and travel restrictions.
“We will gradually and cautiously ease restrictions on international travel, allowing travel into and out of South Africa for business, leisure and other travel with effect from the 1st of October 2020,” Ramaphosa said in an address to the country.
“Travel may be restricted to and from certain countries that have high infection rates.”
So does this mean you will soon be able to travel to South Africa? Find out here.
Health Secretary announces new restrictions for north east England
From tomorrow residents in Northumberland, north Tyneside, south Tyneside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, Sunderland and country Durham will not be allowed to socialise with other people outside of their household or support bubble, Matt Hancock has announced.
Hospitality for food and drink will be restricted to table service only and late night restrictions of operating hours will have a 10pm curfew.
This means that holidaymakers will not be allowed to visit the named areas with those outside of their household or support bubble.
Read more on The Telegraph’s coronavirus live blog.
What is the situation in Slovenia?
On September 16, Slovenia recorded 123 new cases – the highest number throughout the entire pandemic thus far. The trend of the outbreak is that it is growing and its seven-day case rate is now 31 per 100,000, which is more than double what it was in the previous week at 14. It looks likely that it may be taken off the quarantine-free list today. More details as we have them.
Singaporeans to get vouchers to boost domestic tourism
The Singapore Tourism Board has announced that from December, all Singaporeans over the age of 18 will receive S$100 worth of vouchers to spend on domestic tourism. The vouchers can be used for a variety of things, including local hotel stays, attractions and tours.
S$320 million has been set aside for the scheme, and the vouchers (found on the SingPass government portal) will be valid for 7 months. More details will be released on how to redeem the vouchers and where they can be used in November.
“This is not social assistance, this is an economic scheme to help our tourist attractions preserve their capabilities that have been built up over the years, while they consolidate capacity in the interim,” said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing on Wednesday.
Six UK islands for a perfect autumn escape
Visits to paradises such as the Maldives and the Seychelles might not be an option right now, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of fantastic alternatives closer to home. Tamara Hinson rounds up six UK islands perfect for an autumnal adventure.
Fancy a trip to Devon but keen to avoid the crowds in destinations like Torquay, Dartmouth and Salcombe? This tiny wildflower-covered lump of granite (it’s just three miles long and less than a mile wide) is owned by the National Trust. It’s a popular puffin-watching spot during the summer months, which is why we suggest avoiding the tripod-toting twitchers and heading there in autumn, when blubbery seals replace seagulls and shags as the most sought-after sightings. The island is surrounded by the UK’s first marine conservation zone, so it’s a brilliant diving spot too – head beneath the waves (the sea temperature remains surprisingly warm in autumn) to explore dozens of shipwrecks and 2,500 species of marine life.
Isle of Wight
In early 2020, the Isle of Wight hit the headlines when it emerged that bones found here in 2019 belong to a new species of dinosaur. This prehistoric paradise has more dinosaur remains than anywhere else in Northern Europe, although there are plenty of other treasures to find: sculpture-like ammonites, shark teeth and fossilised chunks of wood with seams of fools’ gold. Autumn (due to the windier sand and soil-blasting weather) is the best time for a fossil hunt, ideally with the brilliant Wight Coast Fossils. You’ll gain an unbeatable insight into the island’s prehistoric past, discovering why there’s such an abundance of dinosaur remains here, and how to find and identify the most significant reminders of their presence.
Experts offer their verdict on when holidays will return to normal
The travel industry is going through its darkest hour. Planes are grounded, countries have closed their borders, the notion of a quarantine after a holiday has become normalised.
So different is the landscape of ‘the holiday’ that it is hard to fathom that, this time last year, you could book a break without a care in the world.
There are some elements of our holidays that have changed forever. Hand sanitizers will likely remain in airports, our travel insurance policies now have pandemic clauses carved into the smallprint, while some holiday behemoths like STA Travel and Flybe have sadly disappeared.
But one day we will be able to book a holiday without fear of cancellations, worries of a quarantine on return, or having to go through tedious social distancing measures on arrival. When will this be?
Paul Nuki, Telegraph Global Health Security Editor, shares:
If you plan your holidays in advance, booking not just a time slot but a country, flights and accommodation in advance, things are unlikely to get back to normal until the end of 2022, and perhaps not even then. It will be a story of anxiety, disappointment and cancellations.But for those happy to travel independently and who are willing to be flexible, there has not been a better time to holiday since Laurie Lee set out one midsummer’s morning, or Kerouac hit the road. Prices for flights and accommodation have never been cheaper. Mountains, beaches, cathedrals, forests and oceans are blissfully quiet. And restaurants, boutiques and patisseries have never been more attentive or grateful for your custom and company. You can wait with the herd for the old normal to return or you can embrace the new one today. The choice is yours.
Find out what other experts in the field have to say here.
Can I visit Scotland? A guide to travel rules north of the border
Coronavirus measures continue to dictate daily life in Britain and the four nations have set out different rules and timelines for relaxing – or reintroducing – restrictions, which can be difficult to unpick.
Scotland remains in the third phase of its coronavirus approach, which offers significant freedoms, although there are still local lockdowns to contend with. On September 10, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a “tightening and extension” of current measures, meaning more face masks and more limitations on social gatherings.
Find out what the new rules mean for trips north of the border.
Not a single country in Africa has an air bridge despite many with low case rates
Paul Charles, CEO of the travel consultancy, The PC Agency, has taken to Twitter to highlight the fact that despite many countries in Africa maintaining low infection rates, not a single one has been given an air bridge.
Find out which countries do have an air bridge here.
Yotel London launches new ‘Commuter Rate’ with rooms for £30
Slick budget hotel Yotel London is attempting to lure commuters back to their jobs in the city with its new ‘Commuter Rate’. The cost of an overnight in Clerkenwell from Monday to Friday at the hotel will now be just £30 until October 9, subject to availability.
The rate was decided based on the cost of a daily peak return rail ticket from 15 of the top commuter towns into London. On average, commuters from these towns spend £32.83 per day on travel fares, with an average daily journey time of 2 hours and 10 minutes.
Guillermo Gomez, General Manager of YOTEL London, said:
Now that summer is almost over and kids are back at school, we are starting to see London businesses reopen offices, albeit on a more flexible basis. However, despite the Government’s efforts to encourage people to return to work, commuters are still wary about using public transport, especially in light of Boris Johnson’s announcement.Recognising the importance of face time in the office and people wanting to show willingness amidst job insecurity, our aim is to help commuters return safely by significantly reducing their commuting time.” Reducing the need to travel on public transport decreases people’s chances of being exposed to Coronavirus and helps address anxiety around public transport. What’s more, our guests will get more time to sleep in!
Richard E. Grant weighs in on airport testing
Earlier this week, actor Richard E. Grant flew into Italy and was impressed with the airport testing system in place.
Please can someone explain to me why, when you land in Rome, there is a swift and well organised COVID test, with the result given 30 minutes later, yet we don’t have this in the UK? pic.twitter.com/RVexl9gVeW
— Richard E. Grant (@RichardEGrant) September 15, 2020
The post was widely shared, though not everyone agreed with his stance. Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, argued that Italy’s system is far from perfect.
As much as I love Richard E Grant, and this picture, there is no single test, at the airport or otherwise, that can tell you in 30mins that you definitively don’t have COVID.
You need two tests, spaced a few days apart with quarantine in between. https://t.co/9XH7k4L5dJ
— Rory Boland (@roryboland) September 15, 2020
The Telegraph has launched its own campaign for airport testing: Test4Travel. Find out more here.
The 17 countries you can visit right now, without any quarantine
There are currently 17 countries with air bridges and no major restrictions for UK travellers upon arrival. That could be set to change this evening though, so if you’re looking to book you may want to hold off for the latest announcement.
Faroe Islands (Visitors required to take Covid-19 test at airport on arrival)
Greece (Not including Lesvos, Tinos, Serifos, Mykonos, Crete, Santorini and Zakynthos)
Iceland (Open to tourists, but all arrivals must pay to be tested twice for coronavirus or self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival. Children born in 2005 or later are exempt)
Portugal (only Azores and Madeira, and visitors must show proof of a negative Covid-19 test, carried out no more than 72 hours before arrival, or take a test on arrival and await the results within 12 hours at their accommodation)
More details here.
‘We felt safer on a Scottish cruise than going to a supermarket’
A couple who haven’t even visited a supermarket since the start of lockdown six months ago decided to go on a Scottish cruise with seven people they hadn’t met. Why?
Charlie and Wendy McNicoll, both 66, have been very cautious over coronavirus. Their only outing has been to a post office to return a parcel – they did all their food shopping online.
But they felt confident booking one of the first post-lockdown cruises with small-ship company The Majestic Line.
Speaking on board Glen Shiel, Mrs McNicoll said: “We were concerned about the Covid situation and wondering if we should go but we knew the managing director, Ken Grant, is an epidemiologist so we thought it would be OK. It was a smaller ship with fewer people and the passengers were just from the UK.”
Her husband added: “There was a little trepidation, actually, but we weren’t too worried, we were quite excited. The excitement overcame the slight trepidation, and I’m glad it did.”
Read Dave Monk’s full report here.
Holiday quarantine: Which country will be removed from the ‘green list’ next?
Normally, a destination is removed from the travel corridor list when it crosses the threshold of more than 20 cases per 100k. The UK Government reviews its policy every Thursday, with destinations usually removed from 4am on a Saturday morning.
Take a look at the numbers below to see which country could be removed next.
Find out more about the likely contenders here.
What happened yesterday?
Tui agrees to refund customers by end of September
Dozens of countries ease restrictions ahead of winter sun holidays
Airlines have escaped fines for breaking UK law for 17 years, says Which?
G20 leaders to consider international plan for airport virus testing
Thomas Cook launched as online online tour operator
BA boss tells Transport Select Committee: ‘We’re still fighting for our survival’
More updates to follow.