Portugal excluded as five new ‘corridors’ announced

Beaches, like this in Albufeira, will remain quiet this summer in the absence of Britons
Beaches, like this in Albufeira, will remain quiet this summer in the absence of Britons


Britain is to maintain its travel ban on Portugal, forcing UK holidaymakers to quarantine for 14 days on their return.

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, announced on Friday that the Government has rejected Portugal’s bid to be added to a “safe” list of 74 countries and territories exempt from UK quarantine.

Spain remains on the list despite, like Portugal, having faced a surge in Covid-19 outbreaks that have forced regional authorities to reintroduce local restrictions.

As of July 28, five new countries will be added to the list. They are Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Estonia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The announcement is likely to provoke anger in Portugal which each year welcomes two million Britons to the Algarve, accounting for a fifth of its tourist income.

In an article for The Daily Telegraph after the original travel ban decision, the Portuguese ambassador accused Britain of causing “immense” and potentially “lasting” damage to his country and claimed its decision was based on unclear science.

Follow the latest news below. 

Five stories you need to know about today

Read all about the main stories of the day and more below. 

Key developments include: 

  • Portugal frustrated after travel corridor snub
  • Five new countries, including Slovenia, added
  • France warns against travel to Catalonia and mulls border closure with Spain
  • China see air travel on way to pre-pandemic levels
  • Cheddar Gorge caves to reopen

The Olympics might not have happened, but they have made Tokyo better than ever

Tokyo spent years preparing for an Olympics that has not happened; nevertheless, the investment has made the city better than ever.

Ronan O’Connell reports:

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics would have started today if not for the Covid-19 Pandemic. The only silver lining is the Japanese capital has become an even more appealing tourist destination thanks to many projects completed for the Olympics, which has been postponed until 2021. 

From new museums, to upgraded public spaces, Olympic exhibits, cutting-edge taxis, and public service robots, Tokyo’s Olympic enhancements are many and varied.

Read the full story

France introduces new testing regime for travellers from 16 countries

France will require on-the-spot coronavirus tests for people arriving from 16 countries where the pandemic is circulating widely, Prime Minister Jean Castex said Friday.

France does not allow general travel to and from these countries, which include the United States and Brazil. The tests will be for “French citizens who live in these countries or citizens of these countries with an established residence in France,” Castex told reporters at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport.

Travellers testing positive will be required to spend 14 days in isolation to prevent the spread of the virus.

Castex said some of the high-risk countries already require airline passengers to show a negative virus test before boarding. It was not clear if those would be re-tested upon arrival in France.

Along with the United States and Brazil, which are reporting tens of thousands of new cases each day, the countries include Algeria, Bahrain, Israel, India, South Africa, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Panama, Peru, Serbia, Turkey and Madagascar.

Where to stay in Slovenia

Now that holidays to Slovenia are back on (finally) after the Government’s air bridge announcement earlier today, Telegraph Travel has compiled a handy guide to the country’s best hotels, including converted castles, city centre five-stars, and seaside retreats.

Read the full list.

Revealed: The top flight destinations of post-lockdown Britain

British holidaymakers are overwhelmingly flocking to Spain for their post-lockdown getaway – but tracking data also reveals hundreds of flights to Portugal, despite lacking an air bridge with the UK.

Over 1,200 flights touched down in Spanish holiday destinations from UK airports in the first two weeks following Sunday, July 4, according to data seen by The Telegraph from plane tracking service FlightRadar24, as deals struck by the Government removing the need to quarantine came into effect.

Read the full article.

France warns citizens not to travel to Catalonia

The French government is now advising its citizens not to travel to Catalonia as the Spanish region battles against a fresh wave of coronavirus infections.

Catalan authorities have also introduced new restrictions in an attempt to prevent the virus’s spread after 8,000 cases were diagnosed in the 14 days up to Thursday.

“Concerning the situation in Catatonia, which is displaying worsened indicators for infection, we strongly encourage French citizens to avoid going there until the health situation improves,” said the French Prime Minister, Jean Castex.

Italy imposeses fresh travel restrictions

 Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza said he has signed a quarantine order for people who have been in Romania and Bulgaria in the last 14 days, in a move aimed at preventing the importation of Covid-19 cases from outside the country.

“The virus is not defeated and continues to circulate. For this reason we still need to be careful,” Speranza wrote on Facebook.

Italy, one of the European countries worst-affected by the novel coronavirus, had already banned entry to people coming from 16 countries including hard-hit Brazil

Portugal exclusion not ‘backed by facts’

Britain’s decision to persist with a quarantine regime for travellers from Portugal, which has hit the tourism-dependant country hard, is not supported by facts, its foreign minister said on Friday.

Portugal initially won praise for its quick response to the pandemic but a steady count of several hundred new cases per day in and around Lisbon in the past two months has worried authorities at home and abroad.

It was this month left off an initial list of more than 50 countries Britain considered safe enough for travel without coronavirus-related restrictions, and left off again when Downing Street updated the list on Friday, adding more countries including Estonia and Slovakia.

Portugal regretted a decision “that is neither substantiated nor backed by the facts,” Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva tweeted.

The need for holidaymakers returning to Britain from Portugal to quarantine for 14 days has particularly affected the southern Algarve region, popular among Britons for its sandy beaches and golf courses.

Reality check: Spain is not going into a second lockdown anytime soon

… so says our destination expert Marti Buckley. She writes:

“As someone on the ground in one of the highly affected northern regions of Spain, I can confirm that the idea is the equivalent of the nuclear button – people talk about it, but nobody really wants to push it.

If Spain has one single goal, it is to avoid a mass lockdown. The confinement during spring of this year was unprecedented in Spain’s history, and the economic damage it has caused is painful from the bottom all the way to the top. In typical equivocating fashion, politicians from the president to the health minister have done backflips to avoid being caught on record ruling out a countrywide confinement, but the truth is the potential political fallout alone from a second mass confinement is enough to make Spain’s leaders jump to attention and seek other solutions.”

Read her full comment here.

Germany to test all returning passengers from high-risk countries 

Health ministers from Germany‘s states have agreed to require people returning from high-risk countries to take a coronavirus test at the airport or face two weeks’ quarantine as part of efforts to prevent a new wave of infections.

Anyone who cannot show a negative test result will be required to go into quarantine for 14 days, Berlin’s Health Minister Dilek Kalyci told reporters following a meeting of the state ministers. 

What happens if my Spain holiday is cancelled?

A question many will be asking at the moment. 

Here is our consumer expert Nick Trend’s new guide to navigating the uncertainty in Spain over the next few weeks. 

Qantas retires last 747

Qantas has bid farewell to its last 747 as the Australian flag carrier retires its jumbojets. 

Qantas is not alone, as Telegraph Travel wrote about last week

The 747 was with Qantas for nearly 50 years


Norway imposes quarantine restrictions on Spain

Norway will reimpose a 10-day quarantine on all international arrivals from Spain from Saturday after a surge in infections,  while it will ease restrictions on people coming from more counties of Sweden, the government said on Friday.

The UK was facing the same decision and has decided not to add any restrictions to Spanish travel.

Retuers reports: 

Residents of the European Union, European Economic Area or Schengen countries with fewer than 20 confirmed cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the last two weeks are able to enter Norway without being required to go into self-quarantine.

The latest data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) showed COVID-19 infections in Spain had risen to 30.9 per 100,000 inhabitants.

The Spanish Foreign Ministry did not immediately responded to a Reuters request for comment.

Olaug Bollestad, Norway’s minister of agriculture and food, who announced the government’s decision, said Norwegians should think hard before travelling abroad as countries marked “green” could quickly turn “red”, meaning a requirement for quarantine.

There were about 12,000 Norwegians on holiday in Spain, according to Norway’s public broadcaster NRK.

‘Morally, I would not have been happy’

The head of a leading Latin America tour operator has written about his experiences throughout the pandemic.

Luca Newbold, director of Llama Travel, said his company has refunded more than £2million worth of lost travel, some of which he does not believe he was legally liable to.

Writing in a blog post, he said: 

In this covid wild west, I have wondered if we have made the right call in offering refunds, and if companies that have been much less flexible will be in a better position once this situation is over. But morally, I would not have been happy to make that decision.

We have always run Llama Travel based on doing right by our customers and this has served us well as a business, so I cannot imagine that by changing that now we would really benefit. There might be a short term financial gain, but I think we would be doing so much damage to what Llama Travel stands for, and what our customers expect, that it would be a bad business decision.

In his post, he also discusses the “sleepless nights” of repatriating customers from South America and caution of resuming holidays in the region. 

Read the full post here

‘No amount of sunshine is worth it’

Lucy Aspden’s parents are due to travel to Spain next month for a holiday, as they have always done. But what do they make of concern over a rise in cases?

She writes:

Therefore it came as no surprise that as soon as the government granted permission for travel to Spain to recommence, without any risk of quarantine restrictions at either end, Mr and Mrs Aspden wasted no time in securing flights, departing in early August for almost a month of Spanish sunshine.

However, now as the departure date grows closer as does the worry, especially since local outbreaks of the virus have emerged on the Costas, most alarmingly in Catalonia and Barcelona – albeit a fair distance from my parents’ beloved southern neighbourhood. “I’m not nervous, I’m cautious,” my father insists, but recent headlines have somewhat dampened the pre-holiday spirit.

Read the full story

Mapped: Where in Spain has seen a rise in infections

France considers closing border with Spain

France is considering shutting its border with Spain on Friday after cases of coronavirus soared in three Spanish regions close to the border.

Emmanuel Macron, the French president, is expected to announce the measure to ensure the Covid-19 infections do not spread across into France.

Tourists from France normally head south to Spain at this time of year via Catalonia or other regions to spend their holidays.

Catalonia, Aragon and Navarre, which all border France, have seen the highest rise in coronavirus cases in recent weeks.

There were 547 cases of coronavirus detected in Aragon and Catalonia together on Thursday.

France and Spain meet in the Pyrenees


A postcard from Lanzarote

Stringent rules have kept infection rates low in the Canary Islands where tourists are now returning to the new normal of holidays, writes Isabella Noble.

Most people I speak to in Lanzarote share concerns about the risks of welcoming back foreign visitors, but are also excited to get back to work. The tourism industry brings in 35 per cent of GDP in the Canaries; in 2019, Lanzarote received almost 3 million visitors. Over a (fabulous) dinner at El Risco in the beachy village of Famara, Héctor Fernández Manchado, Managing Director of Turismo Lanzarote, emphasises how important it is to “balance health and security,” that “holidays are [about] happiness and freedom.”  There is hope that by December (typically high season) tourist activity in the Canaries will return to 60 per cent of what it was in 2019.

Hand-sanitising stations, one-way systems, QR-code menus, distanced tables and face masks are now the reassuring norm at sights, museums, restaurants, bars and airports. Masks are mandatory whenever you’re out in the Canary Islands and can’t maintain 1.5m distance (and everywhere in public in most other Spanish regions).

When I visit, only 10 per cent of Lanzarote’s hotels have reopened post-lockdown, though around 50 per cent are expected to be back by August, and the beaches are blissfully quiet enough to spread out. 

Read the full story.

Heathrow pleads with passengers over social distancing

Heathrow has reminded passengers not to arrive to their flights more than three hours before departure to avoid “congestion issues”. 

After images of overcrowding at the London airport appeared on social media showing people packed “liked sardines”, a spokesperson said:

“Some passengers are arriving several hours in advance of their flights which is not necessary and is causing some congestion issues.

“To prevent this, passengers are advised to arrive no earlier than two hours before a short-haul flight and three hours for long-haul journeys.

“Our teams are on hand to support where possible, but we recognise that there are points in the journey where social distancing is not always possible. That is why face coverings are mandatory in terminals, as they help to reduce the risk of transmission at the airport.”

Spain holidays under threat as country wrestles virus

The plans of thousands of British holidaymakers are under threat as Spain continues to wrestle with a surge in coronavirus infections. 

On Thursday, Totana, a town of 32,000 in the region of Murcia, was placed in lockdown after a spike in cases linked to a nightclub, while Catalonia and Malaga have also seen recent rises.

Lee Hunt, managing director of Deben Travel, said the travel industry needed clear guidance from the Foreign Office. 

“We are receiving no advice from airlines or tour operators but not surprised those travelling are concerned,” he said. “We need decisive action from the UK Government and if Covid cases in certain areas continue to rise the Foreign Office surely must advise against travel to those areas.”

Annie Bennett, Telegraph Travel’s Spain expert, said it was not true the country was nearing a second lockdown. “At the moment there are isolated outbreaks with local measures,” she said.

Holiday concern over collapsed ‘air bridges’

Tour operators have warned of the impact of removing travel corridors to countries taken from the ‘green’ list and placed on the ‘red’. The Government is due to review its quarantine measures over the weekend. 

Kerry Golds, managing director of luxury operator Abercrombie & Kent, said: 

“Air bridges were the lifeline we needed – while not only injecting cash into a ravaged travel industry, it was an essential step in lifting the mood of the nation. This would be a devastating blow to an already fragile industry.

“With government guidance, we can make travelling workable in this challenging situation. Tour operators, airlines and foreign governments are doing their utmost to ensure this is do-able.”

Sam Bruce, co-founder of Much Better Adventures, which leads small group tours in wild settings, echoed the sentiment:

“We were very aware of the risk that this may happen as we’ve opened up our overseas adventures again. To counter it, we’ve made sure that we’ve put some good systems in place to react quickly and flexibly to any changes. We would just encourage the government to try and give everyone as much notice as possible about any planned changes that would affect our customers, so that we have a better chance of supporting them and getting them back home again.”

In pictures: Summer finds a way

Amid all the confusion and concern over travel within Europe, many have been able to enjoy something of a summer holiday. 

Tourists enjoy watersports in Crete


A couple take a stroll along a main street in Palma, Majorca


Paris has gone ahead with its urban beach festival despite the pandemic


Britons packing travel insurance documents for next trip

British holidaymakers are planning to leave it late to book a trip this year, according to new research. 

A survey by Hotels.com found that a fifth of Britons will leave as little as a week before confirming a getaway.

The news comes as uncertainty continues over travel restrictions and quarantine. 

The pandemic has shaped traveller behaviour in other ways, too, said the accommodation site, with six in 10 saying they will pack their own hand sanitiser, and nearly half travelling with disinfectant wipes. More than half will print off and pack their travel insurance documents

Cheddar Gorge caves to reopen

Cheddar Gorge and its caves is re-opening to the public on Monday, the attraction has announced. 

Visitors will be able to once again explore Gough’s Cave, along with the Museum of Prehistory.

The south-west attraction said visitor numbers will be limited, social distancing must be maintained and staff will wear PPE. 

“We are delighted to be able to start welcoming visitors back in a safe and controlled manner,” said Head of Operations Simon Townsend.

Gough’s Cave at Cheddar Gorge


In numbers: Spain and the coronavirus

Spain is witnessing a tail whip of coronavirus cases.

Here is how the country has seen infections rise and fall:

China sees air travel demand return

China says the number of daily passenger flights are returning to pre-pandemic levels, as the country attempts to return to normality.

The national aviation regulator said on Friday the number of daily passenger flights had rebounded to about 80 per cent of pre-COVID levels, suggesting further improvement in the aviation industry after coronavirus epidemic shattered travel demand.

Daily transported air passenger numbers have recovered to nearly 70 per cent of the levels seen last year, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said.

Air traffic around the world slumped to a fraction of normal volumes in the first half of the year as the world went into lockdown. 

Landlords say ‘Goodnight’ to Travelodge in Covid row

Owners of properties using the Travelodge brand are angry at being forced by hotel chain’s hedge fund owners to accept steep rent cuts.

Oliver Gill reports:

Dozens of Travelodge landlords are set to desert the budget hotel chain, setting up a rival operator called Goodnight.

In a big blow to Travelodge’s hedge fund owners, 80 hotels will sign new leases with Good Night, The Telegraph can reveal.

The Goodnight brand, due to be formally announced later on Friday, will launch on January 1 next year in conjunction with management partner Village Hotels.

Industry sources said most landlords will revert to pre-Covid terms, although some loss-making sites will need to renegotiate terms.

Read the full story. 

What is the rule on face masks when I go on holiday?

Face masks are now mandatory in all shops in England, but is the same true of Europe?

Telegraph Travel’s Tom Mulvihill looks into the rules on face masks in your favourite holiday destinations.

Take Croatia, for example…

The Croatian government is ramping up face mask rules following a surge in coronavirus infections around the capital, Zagreb, and in the country’s east. Face masks are now compulsory in most enclosed spaces, including public transport and shops. Customers are not required to wear them in restaurants and bars, although serving staff must wear adequate protection.

Read the full story

Tasmania to reopen to Australian tourists

Away from Spain, other nations continue to juggle their travel restrictions. 

Australia, which has seen a fresh surge in coronavirus infections, is preparing to reopen its island, Tasmania, to domestic tourists.

Reuters has the details: 

Australia’s southern island state of Tasmania will next month begin accepting tourists from other areas of the country that have seen significant periods with no fresh cases of coronavirus, state officials said on Friday.

Tasmania, which has not recorded a case of community transmission in 77 days, will accept tourists from Western Australia and South Australia states, as well as the Northern Territory – none of which have recorded community transmission in more than 90 days.

The new policy which begins on August 7 includes stricter testing at airports and a review of travel from other states including New South Wales and Queensland to be completed next month.

Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein said travel won’t resume in the short term from the country’s second most populous state of Victoria, which has been battling a surge in coronavirus cases to more than 7,400 as of Friday,

Tasmania has been mainly isolated from the virus


Murcia town first to go back into lockdown

Good morning, our reporter in Madrid has the latest on the new lockdown in Murcia.

A town in southeastern Spain was closed off by authorities on Thursday after 55 people who met at a bar tested positive for coronavirus.

Authorities in Totana, in Murcia, which has 32,000 inhabitants, were testing 300 people who were at the bar at the time of the outbreak on Wednesday.

No-one can enter or leave the town and visits to care homes are banned, authorities said.

The latest localised lockdown came as a surge in coronavirus cases across Spain in recent weeks prompted scores of British holidaymakers to cancel at the last minute, tourist authorities said.

Read the full story