Holidays in Greece and Croatia are at risk, as Covid-19 cases in the popular holiday destinations continue to rise.
The number of cases in Greece is now the highest since the beginning of the pandemic. Yesterday, there were 216 cases, up from the previous high of 156 on April 21.
It is a similarly worrying picture in Croatia, which recorded its all-time high number of cases on Friday – 208.
Both countries are now teetering towards the alleged ‘threshold’ of cases per 100,000 which could see the FCO advise against travel and introduce quarantine measures.
On Saturday Grant Shapps revealed that anything above 20 cases per 100,000 for a period of seven days or more will likely lead to a country being added to the quarantine list.
Greece is now at 13.8 cases per 100,000 over seven days, and Croatia is at 21.4.
The Government is constantly reviewing its travel policy, something which was put into action last week when FCO travel advisories and quarantine measures were introduced for France, the Netherlands and Malta after cases continued to rise in the countries.
Follow all the latest news below.
A recap of some of today’s main stories:
Croatia could be next to launch ‘digital nomad’ visa
EasyJet to close Stansted, Southend and Newcastle bases
Indonesia is considering a reopening plan
Wales finally lifts ban on public transport for leisure travel
Italy tightens social distancing measures
British Airways A380s (temporarily) fly again
Scroll down for all of today’s travel stories, and join us tomorrow for more live updates.
Ryanair cuts flight capacity for September and October
Budget carrier Ryanair will cut its flight capacity by 20pc during September and October, saying “forward bookings have notably weakened over the last 10 days” as Covid-19 case number rise in some European countries.
The cuts will mostly take the shape of frequency reductions rather than outright route closures. The airline said “they will be heavily focused on those countries such as Spain, France and Sweden, where rising recent Covid case rates have led to increased travel restrictions”.
Ireland will also be affected due to its strict quarantine rules.
A spokesperson for the airline said:
Any effected [sic] passengers in Sept received email notification earlier today advising them of their options. Similar communications will be issued to the small number of affected passengers in Oct later today…
Proper testing at airports, and effective tracing (as is being conducted in Germany and Italy) is the only realistic and proportionate method of supervising safe intra-EU air travel while effectively limiting the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
Wales finally lifts ban on public transport for leisure travel
As of today, Wales joins the rest of the UK in allowing the use of public transport for leisure travel – “opening up trains and buses to more potential passengers.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Transport for Wales has said: “Thank you for not travelling with us during these exceptional times. This helps keep trains clear in Wales for key workers and those with essential needs.”
The Welsh government has now announced the “essential travel only” message will be lifted from today.
Do I still have to self-isolate if I drive through France or Belgium to reach the UK?
Belgium and France are officially off the FCO’s ‘green list’, meaning anyone arriving into the UK from the country will have to self-isolate for 14 days.
However, there is an exception for travellers who drive through Belgium or France, as many do from much of western and central Europe, to reach the UK.
Anguilla accepts applications for entry
Anguilla has announced it will begin accepting applications on August 21 from certain people hoping to travel to the island.
Phase One will last from August 21 to the end of October. Most tourists will then be allowed to return from November onwards.
“Anguilla is currently COVID-19 free, so our objective has always been to reopen in a prudent way, taking every precaution to protect the health and safety of our residents and our guests”, said Hon. Quincia Gumbs-Marie, Anguilla’s Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism.
Join a special ‘remote tourism’ tour of the Faroe Islands, led by the Telegraph
Fancy a bit of escapism? Tomorrow, we are running a special one-off ‘remote tourism’ tour of the Faroe Islands.
Sarah Marshall from The Telegraph will be giving her take on what she sees, hears, smells and feels as she explores the Faroe Islands.
What is the situation in Turkey?
Daily cases are slowly rising in Turkey. There were 1,192 cases yesterday and 19 deaths were reported. This brings the number of weekly cases per 100,000 up to 10.1 – a notch higher than the UK (9.7). Two weeks ago, Turkey’s average number of cases was at 7.7 per 100,000.
British Airways A380s fly again
British Airways appears to be granting its fleet of giant Airbus A380 jets a stay of execution following the superjumbos’ grounding when coronavirus was at its most fierce.
The airline put 12 of the giant aircraft into storage at a French airfield as the pandemic caused demand for air travel to collapse, raising questions about whether such large aircraft would be needed again.
However, flight tracking data reveals that one by one BA has been flying the jets back to Heathrow for maintenance, while two have gone to a specialist centre in the Philippines for costly major overhauls.
Last month BA retired its 31-strong fleet of Boeing 747s with immediate effect because of worries about filling them with enough passengers to make them cost-effective.
Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at StrategicAero Research, said: “BA has just taken out masses of capacity by retiring its 747s in one swoop, and if there is a sudden resurgence in demand then they will have nothing to backfill without the A380s.”
Read the full article here.
The remote Italian region, where things feel almost back to normal
The global pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the Italian hospitality sector, writes Anne Hanley.
By July, seven out of ten Venetian hotels were accepting guests, but occupation rates languished at just 15 per cent. In Rome in August, fewer than 200 of the Italian capital’s 1,200-odd hotels have bothered to open at all.
Yet in Città della Pieve, a small Umbrian town with sweeping views across the Valdichiana towards Tuscany, the situation couldn’t be more different: finding a room in the middle of August was like winning the lottery.
Holidaymakers in quarantine are allowed “one shop”
Britons returning from France face one trip to the supermarket on the way home and should not walk their dogs, as the Government insisted there were very few exceptions to tough restrictions.
Under new guidance issued to those returning home, travellers are urged to arrange online food deliveries or ask friends to help them with their shopping.
A Government source said that if there is no possible way of getting food then people should go to the supermarket once on the way home from the airport.
However, the source stressed that this should only be done as a last resort, for people who have no other way of getting supplies.
Read the full report here.
Outcry after campers abandon kit in Lake District
It has become something of a familiar sight – people abandoning their kit and rubbish following a camping trip.
Author Robert MacFarlane has today Tweeted to speak out against the rise of fly-tipping campers. In this instance, it was on an island on Thirlmere, in the Lake District.
Tents, chairs, pans (& dead rats) left on a Lake District island by “campers”.
Honest question; I’m confounded by the behavioural psychology here.
– spend the money on the gear
– make effort to get to the island as a special place
– trash it all?
Any research on this? https://t.co/cIAXRU9odf
— Robert Macfarlane (@RobGMacfarlane) August 17, 2020
Recently the adventurer Phoebe Smith wrote an article for Telegraph Travel, arguing that true wild camping is a great British tradition worth fighting for.
EasyJet to close Stansted, Southend and Newcastle bases
Some bad news for budget holidaymakers. Low-cost airline easyJet has confirmed plans to close its Stansted, Southend and Newcastle bases, putting 670 jobs at risk.
The move will mean outbound flights are reduced from Stansted and Newcastle, while inbound flights continue. Al flights in and out of Southend will end.
The airline says it will find alternative services or offer refunds for anyone already booked onto flights after September 1.
Johan Lundgren said:
“We have had to take the very difficult decision to close three UK bases as a result of the unprecedented impact of the pandemic and related travel restrictions, compounded by quarantine measures in the UK which is impacting demand for travel.
“Working closely with our employee representatives, I am pleased that we have been able to identify ways to significantly reduce the number of proposed compulsory redundancies through providing enhanced voluntary redundancy packages for all UK crew alongside additional options like part time and seasonal contracts, base transfers and unpaid leave which we expect to result in reducing the number of job losses overall.”
Where to go for a mask-free holiday
Fancy getting a breath of fresh air, that isn’t filtered through a piece of material?
Oliver Smith has dug out the countries that are, in some way or another, quite “normal” right now.
Ferry firms furious as passengers told they cannot drive through France without facing quarantine
Channel ferry firms have expressed their anger and confusion after the Government announced that motorists driving from quarantine-exempt countries must still self-isolate if crossing to the UK by sea.
With France and Belgium both struck from the UK’s ‘green list’ on Saturday, travellers from those countries are now required to go into quarantine for two weeks.
An exception has been made for those travelling by car from ‘safe countries’ such as Germany and Switzerland, meaning the safety measures need not apply to those who choose to drive, so long as they do not mingle with others en route.
But the Department for Transport (DfT) has since clarified that motorists who cross the English Channel using a ferry service must go into quarantine since safety protocols require passengers to leave their vehicles while on board, thus exposing them to infection from other travellers.
Meanwhile, those who travel to the UK via the Eurotunnel’s car train, where passengers must stay inside their vehicles, will be allowed to forgo the mandatory 14-day isolation period.
Scottish hotel unveils major artwork to celebrate its reopening post-lockdown
‘Everything is going to be alright’. These are the words that are spelled out in bold neon hues in Turner Prize-winner Martin Creed’s latest installation. The work was unveiled in the grounds of Braemar Castle in the Cairngorms National Park to celebrate the reopening of nearby Highland hotel The Fife Arms, and will remain in place throughout the rest of the summer.
Glasgow-born artist Martin Creed has made a few different iterations of this phrase in neon works since 1999, with one on the facade of the National Gallery of Scotland since 2012. He told the crowd that he first came up with the idea when he was depressed, but that he recognised it carried a particular pertinence to many others now after six months of global uncertainty.
He explained: “If you are upset and someone speaks to you to try to help you, even if the words are empty because no one knows what is going to happen in the future, it can still feel like a comfort. No one can really tell you everything is going to be alright, but despite that, many times in my life I have been very comforted by people saying something like that to me.”
‘I spent hours carefully choosing Croatia for my holiday – now Boris might ruin it after all’
The travel checklist is as old as travel itself, says Chris Leadbeater. This year’s, however, is more complicated than most. He writes:
Last week, I booked a holiday, for later this month. This did not so much involve researching the currency in my chosen destination – Croatia – as its Covid rates (at the time, low; now, worryingly, on the rise).
I weighed this against other countries – not just in the interests of staying healthy, but to gauge the chance of local lockdowns while I am there, and of quarantine being required when I return home. Once I’d done that, Croatia wanted a look at me. I spent half an hour filling out a fiddly online form which needed to know whether I, or anyone in my family, had experienced this year’s bête noire, and exactly where we would be located throughout our break.
First major post-lockdown Mediterranean cruise departs from Italian city of Genoa
The first major cruise to set sail in the Mediterrean since the global lockdown has departed, nearly five months after the pandemic put holidays at sea on hold.
MSC Grandiosa left the Italian port of Genoa on Sunday, a day after Italy lifted its ban on cruise ships, with 1,500 passengers on board – 30 per cent of its usual capacity. All guests were tested for Covid-19 prior to boarding, and will have their temperatures checked on a daily basis.
The ship will make stops at Rome, Naples and Palermo before wrapping the seven-day voyage in Valletta, capital of Malta.
There is plenty of room on board the vessel, which has a capacity of 4,842 at double occupancy. Another 1,000 passengers will join at other ports, meaning it will only carry around half the number of its usual guests in total. Masks will be mandatory only when social distancing is not possible, for example in lifts.
Now it’s bring-your-own food for long-haul flights. What will you put in your picnic?
Passport, suitcase, Scotch eggs? Self-catering on long flights leaves travellers with one more thing to worry about.
Sophie Money Coutts mourns the end of the in-flight menu on long-haul flights.
Italy shuts down nightclubs as coronavirus cases rise among young
Italy has ordered the closure of all nightclubs and discos amid growing concerns that young people are catching and spreading the coronavirus, which has so far killed more than 35,000 Italians, writes Nick Squires.
It was the first re-imposition of restrictions since Italy’s strict national lockdown began easing in May.
The decision comes as the number of new cases increases, rising from an average of around 300 a day last month to as high as 600 a day this month.
On Saturday, 629 new cases were reported – the first time there had been more than 600 daily cases since May – while on Sunday there were 479 cases.
There are fears that unless urgent action is taken, Italy could be heading back to the darkest days of March and April, the height of the pandemic.
Is Rijeka Europe’s unluckiest city?
Your heart has to go out to Rijeka, says Linda Cookson.
The start of the year saw Croatia’s third-largest city brimful of optimism and confidence. After unexpectedly pipping both Dubrovnik and Split to the post to be designated the country’s first European Capital of Culture (Galway was also a winner), the port was poised to dazzle new audiences with a show-stopping programme of events.
Instead, with the spent firework cartridges from February’s exuberant opening ceremony barely swept up from the quayside, the pandemic rained suddenly and catastrophically all over Rijeka’s parade. Lockdown restrictions, border closures and the cancellation of public events threatened to bring the party to an end before it had begun.
By the Government’s own quarantine standards, we should be free to visit Sweden
Why is Sweden still on the Government’s naughty step, asks Oliver Smith.
With some believing the country’s laissez-faire Covid strategy has given its population at least some degree of herd immunity, infection rates there have been falling. As of August 16, it is on the right side of the threshold at 19.6 new cases per 100,000. Given much of the media’s efforts to demonise the country’s methods, the chances of a travel corridor being announced by Grant Shapps and co this week are all but zero. But if the Government is slavishly sticking to its quarantine criteria with the likes of France, shouldn’t we be permitted to head to Stockholm for a mask-free city break?
Boom for UK camping and caravan holidays
The UK is seeing a major resurgence in camping and caravan holidays, according to research from Gumtree.
The research shows a marked increase in searches for motorhomes (+51%), caravans (+33%) and campervans (+43%) on the second-hand marketplace.
The research also shows that, as local lockdowns loom, one in two (52%) are leaving their staycation plans to the very last minute, with a quarter of staycations (26%) booked a fortnight or less in advance. Some 20% will be heading to the beach for their getaway, while 17% plan to get on a bicycle.
Wondering where to go for a last-minute staycation? Here are some ideas.
Denmark to make face masks compulsory on public transport
As of August 22, everyone in Denmark must wear a face covering on public transport following a spike in numbers of Covid-19, the PM Mette Frederiksen announced on Saturday.
In April, Denmark became one of the first European countries to ease lockdown measures as the spread of Covid-19 appeared to be under control. However, the reproduction rate has now risen above 1.5 – the highest since April.
Because of the surge, Frederiksen said he would delay lifting a limit on the size of public gatherings, which is currently at 100.
How’s Portugal looking?
Daily cases in Portugal continue to drop. Yesterday, the country recorded 121 cases of Covid-19. This comes after a small second spike peaked at 541 cases in July. Deaths currently stand at a seven-day daily average of 3 per day.
The rate per 100,000 over the last seven days is currently 14.2, which is only marginally higher than Greece (13.8) and lower than countries like Denmark (18) which is currently open for travel from the UK.
Croatia could be next to launch ‘digital nomad’ visa
Croatia could be the next country to make working abroad much easier. Remote working or ‘digital nomad’ visas have been cropping up recently with countries like Barbados, Estonia and Bermuda all extending a welcome to freelancers and remote workers, Emma Cooke reports.
Now, Croatia’s government has come one step closer to following suit, confirming a meeting last week to discuss the introduction of a ‘digital nomad’ visa for the country. The meeting was spurred by a recent open letter to the government from Dutch entrepreneur Jan de Jong, which went viral within Croatia.
The result of the talks will be announced soon. Hopes are high Croatia will mirror Estonia’s own ‘digital nomad’ visa, which launched August 1 and allows foreigners to live in the country for up to a year.
These types of initiatives focused on wealth-creating remote workers are thought to help bring in entrepreneurs and stimulate the economy. “[This] piece of legislation, combined with Croatia’s famed lifestyle, could catapult Croatia to be a market leader in this emerging sector in a very short time,” said Total Croatia News in response to the possibility.
What is the “trigger” for a travel ban?
Grant Shapps explained on BBC Radio 4’s Today show on Friday:
“With France and these other countries, Netherlands and elsewhere, the numbers have now just gone above the threshold, which is about 20 cases per 100,000, but measured on a seven-day rolling average.
“It’s a dynamic situation, and I don’t think that anybody would want us to do anything other than protect public health and public safety,” he later told Sky News.
“That does mean where we see countries breach a certain level of cases, then we have no real choice but to act,” he added.
Paul Charles explains exactly how it works.
Can you visit Greece, right now?
Right now, yes. Currently the FCO has no warnings against travel to the country, however, those who do choose Greece for their summer holiday should be sure to fill out its mandatory passenger locator form at least 24 hours before departure or face being turned away at the airport.
If Greece is added to the UK’s ever-growing quarantine list – increasingly likely if new Covid-19 cases in the country remain on the current trajectory – this means you would need to go into self-isolation for 14 days on return from holiday. If the FCO also advises against travel to Greece, a policy which would likely coincide with a quarantine, your insurance could be invalidated were you to go ahead with the trip.
Italy tightens social distancing measures
As of tonight, people in Italy will need to wear a face covering in public at certain times of the day, and nightclubs have been ordered to close, as Covid-19 cases continue to rise.
Masks must be worn where social distancing is not possible between 6pm and 6am. The closure of nightclubs and dance halls also applies to any outdoor areas designated for dancing, such on beaches and common areas in hotels.
Pierpaolo Paradiso, manager of the Praja disco in Gallipoli, told Sky News Italia:
“We have become the scapegoat for infections in Italy even though no infection has been reported in any disco.
“Our employees will not be able to reach the days necessary to have unemployment. Furthermore, I do not see the same total closure measures for bars, restaurants, and beaches.
“We only see darkness in front of us, I hope they remember having put a sector on the pavement.”
Australia has one of the world’s strictest travel policies
The Australian federal government is blocking three out of four applications from Australians requesting to leave the country.
Since March 25, most Australian citizens and permanent residents have needed government permission to travel or move overseas, due to the pandemic.
The Liberal MP, Dave Sharma, has expressed concern about the travel ban, which he described as a “pretty extraordinary restriction on people’s liberty”.
“This is an extreme measure for extreme times but it cannot be something we contemplate keeping in place for the long term,” Mr Sharma said. “There’s no other country of which I’m aware that is imposing an exit permit system, like we’ve got in Australia.”
The Australian Border Force told the Sydney Morning Herald it had granted permission for 22,640 citizens and permanent residents to depart Australia from March 25 to July 31, out of 91,950 applications.
Indonesia is considering a reopening plan
Indonesia is conducting a review on whether it can reopen its tourist areas to foreign visitors, prompting concerns that opening the doors could compromise efforts made to contain the spread of Covid019.
Mr Erick Thohir, chairman of the national economic and Covid-19 recovery committee, said on August 15: “Yesterday (Friday), we had a coordination meeting… and discussed that reopening to foreign tourists would be positive, but we must decide the right timing.
“We really need foreign tourists, but we don’t want to risk having new clusters.
“Reopening to foreign tourists is under evaluation. The (possible) vaccines may only be available next year.”
Mapped: the safest places in Europe
Wondering where to go on holiday next?
We’ve drawn up this heatmap, which indicates where cases are high and where they are low across the Continent. You’ll see that the darkest reds are clustered around the Iberian peninsula and in the south-eastern corner of Europe.
Wuhan’s dining scene recovers
Wuhan’s restaurants have reported a speedier recovery than expected, with some establishments saying dine-in services have rebounded to 90 per cent of the pre-epidemic level, Emma Cooke reports.
The secret to this success? New thrifty rules cracking down on food waste. Smaller portion sizes of dishes have been introduced, alongside the increased adoption of an existing “N-1” strategy, where groups of diners need to order one dish less than the number of diners, but are free to add more later.
“After we introduced single-person or small servings, we started receiving more take-out orders and our dine-in services have rebounded to 90 percent of the pre-epidemic level,” said Huang, manager of Mystic South-Yunnan Ethnic Cuisine in downtown Wuhan.
A national call to curb food waste prompted the Wuhan dining industry association to advise restaurants to introduce these new rules, design smaller-portion and half-portion dishes and offer take-away boxes for leftovers. These measures have encouraged consumption and boosted sales.
“Now, over 80 percent of businesses are back to work in the industry, which is better than expected,” said Liu Guoliang, president of Wuhan’s dining industry association.
“Customers can now enjoy four to five (smaller) dishes at the price of two (larger) dishes,” she added. “This will help restaurants win back consumers who have been accustomed to cooking and dining at home.”
Don’t expect a holiday in Malta any time soon
Cases have reached a record high in Malta. Last week the number of recorded Covid-19 cases reached 78, the highest since the beginning of the pandemic.
New infections have been going up in the past three weeks following a period in mid-July when the country saw eight consecutive days with no new cases.
The number of cases per 100,000 is one of the worst in Europe – 70.9. This makes it highly unlikely that Malta will receive a reinstated “travel corridor” any time soon.
So where can you actually travel, right now?
There are 22 countries where the FCO gives the green light for travel, and you won’t need to quarantine on return. Here they are:
Things are hotting up in Death Valley
In other news, a temperature of 54.4C has been recorded in Death Valley, California – which could be the hottest reading ever reliably taken on the planet.
The US National Weather Service’s weather station at Furnace Creek reached the temperature at 3.41pm on Sunday afternoon.
Read the full article here.
‘I shall get hate mail for travelling abroad, but I had to do something to escape’
Tim Stanley has escaped to Venice:
“Covid-craziness is impossible to escape, but at least here – where my grasp of the language extends to repeating English words in an Italian accent – I can’t understand what’s being said, so I’m able to pretend no one’s talking about it.
“I’m not on a mini-break. This is a mini-breakdown. I hate lockdown Britain and not just for the deaths we are trying to prevent but the paranoia and despair. I thought we cared about mental health? I suspect we were just trying to sound nice.”
“You and I are living with the consequences of other people’s terror, and it’s as frightening as the disease itself. I shall get hate mail just for having the nerve to go abroad. “Is this an essential journey?” a friend asked angrily. I said: “Well, it’s not quite the Bahamas, but it’ll do.”
Read his full article here.
A look at Croatia’s numbers
And here’s the graph of cases on the rise in Croatia.
Could Greece be next?
Greece has been mooted as the next country destined for the Foreign Office’s ‘red’ list. Here is how the pandemic is playing out there:
“We told them ‘come to Greece’ and Greece has shut down”
The popular Greek island of Mykonos is pushing back against new lockdown restrictions that see bars and restaurants forced to close at midnight.
“Everyone has come [to Mykonos] to eat their food, to entertain themselves, swim in the sea. At this moment, we are fooling them,” bar owner Stavros Grimplas told the Associated Press. “We told them ‘come to Greece’ and Greece has shut down.”
The new measures to stem a rising number of coronavirus cases on the islands and across the country come as Greece is rumoured to be next to be added to the UK’s quarantine list.
But businesses on Mykonos say the rules should not target legitimate business but illegal parties instead. Owners have signed an angry letter accusing the government of wanting “to render us mere spectators of the destruction of our businesses.”
They also demanded to know the data that prompted that decision and asked why the government is not stopping the “illegal parties … that will blow up the pandemic.” The parties are held in isolated villas around the island; invitation is strictly word-of-mouth.
The government says it won’t back down from the measures and has extended them to much of the country. From Monday, the midnight closing hours extend to the capital, Athens.
What we learnt yesterday
A recap of the main stories from yesterday’s live blog:
Coronavirus could travel five metres through air, study finds
UK ‘staycations’ in huge demand after new quarantine rules
China sees tourism surge as virus recedes
Britons still travelling to France despite quarantine
Save summer, PM told, as Greece teeters on brink
Now, on with today’s travel news from around the world.