More European countries look set to join the UK’s quarantine list later today, potentially leaving Britons with just one restriction-free holiday option: Gibraltar.
Both Italy and Sweden look set to lose their travel corridors after experiencing surging infection rates.
The Italian caseload has shot up in the last week, and now stands at 28.5 per 100,000 people (last Thursday it was hovering on the UK government’s ‘safe’ threshold of 20), while the rate in Sweden is currently 36 per 100,000 people.
Both countries were in the firing line this time last week, but escaped quarantine restrictions as Turkey and Poland were placed back on the ‘red list’ of countries from which arrivals in the UK must self-isolate for 14 days.
Meanwhile Greece, which is still open to Britons with the exception of seven islands, is due to update its own quarantine list this morning. With the UK’s caseload now at 126 per 100,000, it seems likely that the Greek government will introduce new travel restrictions.
Germany has already added Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and large parts of northern England to its list of high-risk destinations.
Grant Shapps will announce the changes to the UK’s quarantine list later today at his weekly travel corridor update.
However, the Transport Secretary’s announcement yesterday that a Global Travel Taskforce is being set up to explore the possibility of airport testing to reduce the quarantine period could see many red-listed countries reopen to UK holidaymakers.
Scroll down for more updates
11 feasible holiday destinations to consider
Italy has told UK holidaymakers they must show proof of negative PCR test before they are allowed into the country. Or they can agree to being tested on arrival, self-isolating at a hotel while they await results.
It makes travel a bit more of a hassle, and a bit more expensive, but ultimately Italy is still a feasible holiday option for Britons.
Other countries and territories have a similar arrangement. Here's the list of destinations you can still travel to, provided you can pass the test to get in:
Italy: Test before departure
Cyprus: Test before departure
Faroe Islands: Test on arrival
Jersey: Test on arrival
Madeira: Test before departure
Anguilla: Test before departure
Antigua and Barbuda: Test before departure
Barbados: Test before departure
Bermuda: Test before departure
St Lucia: Test before departure
St Vincent and the Grenadines: Test before departure
What's the situation in Germany?
Germany has seen daily infections above 2,000 numerous times in the last few weeks, and the 3,994 recorded on October 7 was a six-month record. It has imposed tougher rules on mask wearing and will keep fans out of stadiums until at the least the end of the year to combat the rise.
However, its seven-day figure remains relatively low at 20.1 per 100,000. It currently looks a fairly solid bet for a last-minute quarantine-free holiday – provided you're coming from the right part of the UK, of course. Anyone travelling to Germany from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, or the north of England must self-isolate for two weeks on arrival.
Comment: Australia's travel strategy – imprisoning its people until a vaccine arrives – is illiberal and naive
The Australian government has announced that it is unlikely the country's borders will open to visitors until the end of 2021, by which time a Covid-19 vaccine will hopefully have been developed. James Bolt explains why this is the wrong decision:
If you were thinking of seeing friends and family from Australia next year, think again.
Maybe after living under Boris Johnson’s restrictions for the next six months, you’d want to get as far away from your house as possible. Or maybe Australians – some of whom haven’t been able to leave the house for more than two hours since July – wanted to visit you.
But our federal government won’t let you.
On Tuesday Treasurer Josh Frydenberg delivered Australia’s federal budget, which Institute of Public Affairs modelling says will see Australia in debt until 2080, even under optimistic projections.
And it is hard to be optimistic when you read two key assumptions Frydenberg made about the budget when speaking to the National Press Club on Wednesday: “International travel, including by tourists and international students, is assumed to remain largely closed off until late next year and then gradually return over time, and a vaccine to be available around the end of 2021 is one of the assumptions in the budget.”
The vaccine assumption is naivety. The travel assumption is economically catastrophic and hurts the freedoms of Australians and those who want to visit our country.
Lack of airport testing is denying students 'horizon-broadening' travel experiences
Sam Willan, General Manager of UK and Australia Markets at youth travel specialist StudentUniverse, has urged the Global Travel Taskforce to introduce airport testing for the sake of young travellers:
Student and youth travellers have been hugely affected during this unprecedented and turbulent time, and restrictions and feasibility of travel has been a huge part of that. Many have missed out on the horizon-broadening experience of taking a gap year, studying abroad or taking part in educational programmes across the world. With yet further delays to establishing airport testing in the UK – this uncertainty lingers on.
Whilst any progress to opening international travel is welcomed, we’re disheartened that the ‘Global Travel Taskforce’ is only just being established to investigate a solution that is already commonplace in many airports around the world.
International student and youth travel alone brings in £25bn annually to the U.K. without even mentioning other sectors this demonstrates the value of the travel industry to the economy. We hope the taskforce can pull together quickly to resolve the current barriers for those young people wishing to travel and to further aid the UK’s economic recovery.
Britons must now take a Covid test to visit Italy
Britons hoping to visit Italy must now present evidence of a negative Covid test – or agree to take a test on arrival, writes Oliver Smith.
Italy’s Minister of Health, Roberto Speranza, announced on Twitter yesterday: “The number of infections is growing throughout Europe and, of course, also in Italy.
“From today, masks are also required outdoors and tests [are now required] for those arriving from Belgium, Holland, Great Britain and the Czech Republic.”
Italy’s list of high-risk destinations already includes Spain, Croatia, Greece and Malta and, given that the UK’s seven-day case rate is now 126.2 per 100,000 – significantly higher that Croatia’s, Greece’s and Malta’s, the move had been widely expected.
What new restrictions in England could mean for half-term holidays
New Covid restrictions in parts of England that look set to come into force next week are casting doubt over many people's half-term holiday plans, reports Rachel Cranshaw.
The closure of pubs and restaurants, as well as a ban on overnight stays away from home, are among measures being considered for the worst affected areas of the country, which would effectively prevent holidays whether self-catered or otherwise, two weeks before the start of most schools' half-term breaks on October 26.
A three-tier system for local lockdowns that would see different parts of the country placed in different categories is also likely to be introduced.
The picture for holidaymakers is concerning to say the least, with even those planning on playing it safe with a staycation now facing uncertainty. For the already beleagured hospitality industry, meanwhile, the loss of half-term revenue could prove catastrophic.
A fifth of companies due to renew Atol licences have failed to do so
How badly has Coronavirus hit the travel industry and what are the implications for our future holidays? This week we were given an insight, writes Nick Trend. The CAA published its biannual list of tour operators whose licence to operate had not been renewed. It doesn’t give the reasons behind for each individual case, but the length of the list is a telling annual indicator of the overall state of the industry and the latest edition showed a big increase in the number of companies shutting up shop compared with this time last year.
There are always some which fail to make the grade, or decide to pack it in without making an application. But this year the numbers have taken a sharp turn for the worse. Only 995 of the 1,261 companies whose licences expired at the end of September, have had them renewed – a fall of more than 20 per cent. Some 176 companies did not even apply for renewal – more than three times the number for the same time last year, and a sure sign of the huge financial pressure the industry is under.
What does all this mean? The biggest impact is, of course, on those who may have lost their jobs or businesses. But it also matters to consumers for two reasons. First because fewer companies not only means less choice, less competition and higher prices. And second because it makes an already complex financial protection system that much more confusing.
Singapore agrees to launch of 'cruises to nowhere'
Cruise holidays will return in Asia after getting the go-ahead from the Singaporean government.
With the vast majority of ports still closed to commercial travel, the 'cruises to nowhere' will start and finish in Singapore without stopping on the way.
The first to depart will be Hong Kong-based Genting Cruise Lines’s World Dream on November 6, followed by Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas on December 1.
Ships will be restricted to 50 per cent capacity, and will have to carry a CruiseSafe certification currently being developed by the Singapore Tourism Board.
Angie Stephen, Royal Caribbean International Asia Pacific managing director, said: "Singapore residents are adventurous travellers and we are so excited to be giving them the opportunity to get away from their daily grind and enjoy a thrilling world-class ccean getaway, with total peace of mind.
“While the cruise experience will be different than it was pre-pandemic, we are committed to providing the signature Royal Caribbean holiday that guests know and love, while keeping the health and safety of everyone on board as our top priority.
What's the situation in Greece?
Greece recorded 453 new cases on September 21, its highest daily figure since May, and was removed from Scotland's travel "green list" recently. Furthermore, several islands, including Crete and Mykonos, have been removed from the quarantine-free lists of England and Wales.
However, deaths remain low and, despite the country's seven-day case rate creeping above 20 per 100,000, it looks unlikely to be removed from the UK-wide list this week.
How has Covid changed our country?
For the next five weeks, travel writer Simon Parker is cycling the length of Britain, from the tip of Shetland to the Isles of Scilly, stopping frequently along the way to take a look at how much has changed as a result of the pandemic – and how much has stayed the same.
I wonder how I’ll be received in these cagey times, on home soil? Will a wrapped-up, sweaty stranger on a bicycle be a figure of microbial suspicion? Or will I be welcomed with a well-sanitised handshake? I suspect I’ll see every extreme on Covid-19’s spectrum, ranging from indifference to crippling paranoia.
Has the social and economic impact of coronavirus spread to every nook and cranny of the nation? Or have some bucolic corners bumbled through with little or no change?
We’ll be publishing regular articles and short films from Simon’s journey as he cycles the length of Britain. You can also follow his adventure in real time via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Search for the hash tag #BritainByBike.
BTA calls for airport testing 'within weeks'
The head of the Business Travel Association, Clive Wratten, has urged the Government to act swiftly to introduce Covid-19 testing at UK airports.
"[Yesterday's] announcement of a task force charged with looking at a testing model for international travel is long overdue. The BTA has been calling for months for airport testing to be introduced.
"Testing trials in other markets have demonstrated high levels of accuracy and effectiveness. The British travel industry will only survive if the task force acts swiftly. It must take concrete action to introduce testing in weeks, not months.
"As the representative body for business travel, we urge the Global Travel Taskforce to consult with us, and for testing to then be safely introduced without further delay."
Where can I go skiing this winter?
On the subject of skiing, Lucy Aspden has the latest on rules and restrictions in ski resorts:
With just a few months until the start of the ski season thoughts have turned to whether winter sports holidays will be able to go ahead.
It’s the million pound question for every keen skier and snowboarder, but with regular changes being made to our list of travel corridors, and Covid cases rising across much of Europe, there is no clear answer.
Very few ski destinations are currently accessible to Britons without the need to quarantine (either on arrival or when they return home), but airport testing or the reintroduction of travel corridors could see this change.
With that in mind, and with a pinch of optimism, you can still maximise your chances of getting away to the slopes this winter.
Those determined to travel will need to be flexible, take the right precautions, plan carefully and probably book at the very last minute.
Airport testing delays an "act of sabotage against the travel industry"
Richard Sinclair, managing director of ski travel agent SNO, has been even more forthright in his criticism of the Government's track record on airport testing, and claims that time is running out for the ski sector.
“This farcical “task force” is yet another specious attempt from the Government to look like they’re doing something for travel. In the months since quarantines were first announced, we’ve seen exactly three bookings (in a multi-million pound travel agency trying to support many jobs) and dozens of cancellations from clients who don’t have the confidence to pay their balance.
“We’re running out of time to save this winter ski holiday season, and the Government kicking airport testing at least a month down the road is another wilful act of sabotage against the travel industry.”
Comment: The Government has had seven months to come up with a plan for travel – but still there's chaos
We are now seven months into a pandemic and yet the Government still appears to have no thought-out strategy or concrete timescale on testing for travellers, writes Julia Lo Bue Said, CEO of Advantage Travel Partnership. It is creating confusion and, frankly, utter chaos.
While the announcement of a new Global Travel Taskforce is a step in the right direction, it does not alleviate the financial strain and frustration placed on the travel sector at this moment in time, and we need assistance now.
The travel industry has been immobilised, and we are a key economic driver for so many businesses across so many sectors. We employ hundreds of thousands of people and create huge amounts of tax revenue for the Government and yet have so far been totally sidelined.
It seems as though this government is hell-bent on keeping travel and tourism on the naughty step, with a complete lack of comprehension on how the industry can survive this crisis.
The safest options for a holiday abroad
The following countries have a seven-day case rate below 18 per 100,000, are not on the quarantine list, and are feasible holiday options for UK travellers:
St Lucia (0.5)
San Marino also has a low case rate (just 14.8), but since you have to travel through Italy (28.5) to get there, it might not be a viable quarantine-free holiday option for long.
Ireland stalls on airport testing, claiming 'unwise' use of resources
The Dublin Airport Authority has declared that it is "ready to go" on testing passengers for Covid-19, but the Irish government is reluctant to give the green light.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin told the Dáil that Ireland's public health authorities have warned that airport testing "would not be the wisest use of resources".
"They have fears about that, and that it could lead to multiple false trails driving huge numbers," he added.
Politicians and airline bosses have criticised the hold-up, with Labour TD Duncan Smith highlighting the thousands of aviation jobs "hanging by a thread."
"It seems incredible to me that we do have capacity and teams ready but the Government haven't pushed forward on this," he said.
What's the situation in Italy?
While the holiday favourites of France and Spain have seen a big rise in new cases, Italy had seen fewer signs of a second spike. However, in the last month its infection rate has more than trebled. It looks at risk this week, although its positivity rate remains low in comparison to other nations at around 2 per cent. This could be its saving grace.
More travel taskforce reaction
Travel experts of all stripes have been reacting to the Transport Secretary's announcement of a travel taskforce to explore the possibility of airport testing to reduce quarantine.
Most are cautiously welcoming of the news, but general consensus is that speed is of the essence. With the furlough scheme set to wrap up at the end of October, travel firms need customers back as soon as possible.
Here's a snapshot of the industry's response:
Derek Jones, CEO of Kuoni:
This is very welcome news. Thank you for recognising the existential challenge that #coronvirus presents to the travel industry.
The health and well-being of travellers should always be the first priority but the taskforce needs to move quickly. Speed is of the essence.
— Derek Jones (@Degsy_DJ) October 7, 2020
Sophie Griffiths, editor of Travel Trade Gazette:
Plans to reduce quarantine is good news but there is understandable frustration at the launch of a taskforce (which shld have been established months ago anyway!), that's not going to report back until Nov. Travel needs urgent action and dedicated support-not in November, but now
— Sophie Griffiths (@TTGTravelQueen) October 7, 2020
Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency:
Looking forward to @transportgovuk announcement later - it would be substantial progress if ministers signal quarantine time could be cut by 50% to 7 days+test. A travel taskforce could suggest workable solutions for the short-term and build confidence to travel. #Quarantine
— Paul Charles (@PPaulCharles) October 7, 2020
Comment: 'Our fear-driven approach to travel is killing jobs and destroying our mental wellbeing'
As ever, it isn’t coronavirus that’s to blame for our dismal situation, but our government’s inept and fear-driven response to it, writes Oliver Smith.
From 5pm today, Britons could conceivably have just one restriction-free holiday option left: Gibraltar.
I’m not saying this exotic version of England, with its red phone boxes and Barbary macaques, isn’t a fine place to while away a few days, but at just 2.6 square miles, there’s hardly room to fit all of the pandemic-weary Britons itching for an autumn escape.
Nevertheless, if Italy, Greece, Sweden and Germany – which have all crossed (or, in the case of Germany, are about to cross) the UK’s arbitrary threshold of 20 cases per 100,000 residents – are relegated to the quarantine naughty step this week, Gibraltar will be our last holiday option that doesn’t involve a costly private test or some form of self-isolation.
We’ve now reached the dizzy heights of 126 – yet the threshold still seems to be 20. Last week, for example, Poland was snubbed after its rate reached just 24.4.
If the purpose of a quarantine is to reduce the risk of Covid cases arriving from overseas, then what is the point of banishing countries where the rate is more than five times lower than our own? We should be grateful they still want us to visit.
UK airports face mass job losses
One of the UK's biggest airport operators has warned that it may soon have to cut hundreds of jobs in order to survive.
Manchester Airports Group, which owns Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands airports, said that monthly demand is down by 75 per cent compared to normal levels, and that passenger numbers are not expected to bounce back until 2023 at the earliest.
CEO Charlie Cornish has now announced that 465 roles could be axed at the Manchester hub, with another 376 at Stansted and 51 at East Midlands.
“By now, we would have hoped to see a strong and sustained recovery in demand. Unfortunately, the resurgence of the virus across Europe and the reintroduction of travel restrictions have meant this has not happened,” he said.
'Laughable' travel taskforce shows contempt for travel industry, says tourism chief
The chairman of the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) has lambasted the new Global Travel Taskforce, claiming that is show's the Government's "total disinterest in helping" the travel industry.
Chris Rowles went on to warn that hundreds of thousands of jobs in the outbound tourism sector have been "dumped on the scrap heap".
"AITO has been campaigning on behalf of travel specialists since quarantine was first introduced that this was a blunt instrument which would decimate the travel industry.
"The introduction of testing was - and is - the obvious solution to give confidence to travellers and to protect everyone, as adopted by many other countries.
"To be talking of forming yet another committee to discuss the issues so many months later is frankly laughable. It shows government's total disinterest in helping, and working with, the outbound travel industry.
"It seems that we are considered to be expendable and that the many hundreds of thousands of jobs that we support in the UK (and the many millions worldwide) are to be dumped on the scrap heap, with no regard to the huge amount of tax that we contribute to the Exchequer, the flight routes that we create which also assist inbound tourism, and the international understanding and friendships that outbound tourism creates and the people it supports."
EasyJet warns first ever annual loss could reach £845 million
EasyJet has warned that it could post an annual loss of as much as £845 million this year as a result of the pandemic.
It will be the first time the budget airline has made a loss over the course of a year since it was founded in 1995.
CEO Johan Lundgren has now asked the UK government to “step up with a bespoke package of measures” to help the struggling aviation industry.
With capacity cut back to just 25 per cent, easyJet has already taken a number of cost-saving measures, including a £6 million government loan, another £6 million from selling aircraft, and cutting 4,500 jobs.
Holiday quarantine: Which country will be removed from the 'green list' next?
Ireland, Sweden, Lithuania, Italy, Estonia and Greece are the countries on the green list with the highest case rates so appear the most likely to face the chop (although Ireland, Lithuania and Estonia already have restrictions on UK arrivals).
However, other factors come into play such as a country's population size, the number of Britons who visit, and other measures introduced to stop the spread of the virus.
Travel taskforce must act now to prevent job losses
Travel association ABTA has welcomed the announcement of a new taskforce to open up travel with a programme of airport testing, which would quarantine times and encourage both business travellers and holidaymakers.
But chief executive Mark Tanzer has also warned the Government that urgent action is needed if the UK is to avoid widespread job losses within the tourism sector.
“The creation of the Global Travel Taskforce shows a recognition from Government of the need to get people travelling again to support the travel industry, which has been hit hard by the Covid-19 crisis.
“The taskforce needs to focus on decisive and urgent action, not only on rapidly introducing a testing regime, but also on moving to a regionalised quarantine approach and lifting the global advisory against travel - returning to providing travel advice for individual countries based on the risk to a traveller in destination.
“Other countries have already moved to introduce testing, and further delays will only serve to exacerbate the industry’s struggles – especially as the winter season is fast approaching. With furlough ending this month, and the new Job Support Scheme doing little to support travel businesses, without tailored support we’ll see more job losses and businesses folding.”
BA waves goodbye to the 747
British Airways is bidding a fond farewell to its last pair of much-loved Boeing 747s.
The planes have been retired early due to the financial impact coronavirus pandemic. They will depart Heathrow for the final time today: one to an airfield in Gloucestershire, the other to a site near Cardiff.
Both will eventually be scrapped for parts.
You can follow the departure live via BA's Facebook page.
Join the #SaveTravel 'Twitterstorm' today
The Travel Trade Gazette is urging everyone to get involved with the #SaveTravel 'Twitterstorm' at 10am today.
With as many people as possible tweeting the same message – to urge the Government to act now and save the travel industry – the aim is to keep this vital issue at the top of the news agenda.
The tweet that TTG is asking people to share is as follows:
90,000 jobs already lost/at risk, only 6 countries without restrictions – the UK travel industry is collapsing in front of your eyes @grantshapps. Enough is enough. Where is the sector specific support? The airport testing? Why won’t you #SaveTravel? #SaveFutureTravel #Test4Travel
In case you were wondering...
This is the Global Travel Taskforce's official brief:
How a testing regime for international arrivals could be implemented to boost safe travel to and from the UK
What steps we can take to facilitate business and tourist travel on a bilateral and global basis, through innovative testing models and other non-testing means
More broadly, what steps we can take to increase consumer confidence and reduce the barriers to a safe and sustainable recovery of international travel
Travel taskforce: A welcome development, or too little too late?
Yesterday afternoon the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, announced the new Global Travel Taskforce, which will look at ways to implement testing at ports and airports as a means of reducing quarantine times.
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) October 7, 2020
Reaction has been mixed. Many in the travel industry have been calling for a testing programme that could open up travel for months now (The Telegraph has been a vocal supporter of this policy), and there's a sense of relief that their voices have finally been heard.
But there's also a palpable frustration that it has taken the Government this long to even consider airport testing, let alone acting on it.
We'll bring you more reaction throughout the day.
What happened yesterday?
Here are Wednesday's main headlines:
New Scotland lockdown rules set out by Nicola Sturgeon
Government set to postpone Covid testing at UK airports
Global Travel Taskforce announced
Travel to Australia not likely until late 2021
Germany reports highest case numbers since April
Council leader calls for Wales to lift travel ban