British holidaymakers will be offered new Covid-19 testing options by airlines and tour operators in a bid to boost demand post-lockdown.
Easyjet and Easyjet holidays have partnered with two private testing firms to offer discounted tests to travellers.
Starting this week, its customers will be able to book home tests through Easyjet for £75 with Confirm Testing (the usual price is £120) and £100 (reduced from £150) with City Doc. City Doc tests taken at a clinic will also be available to Easyjet passengers for £150, down from £200.
Easyjet chief executive Johan Lundgren said offering convenient test options, alongside the news that UK quarantine can be reduced with a negative test from December 15, is a key step towards travel getting back to normal.
“We continue to push for testing the efficacy of rapid testing technologies like antigen and Lamp testing which could be undertaken on departure at the airport and for further reducing quarantine, making it easier and less onerous for people to travel,” he added.
Virgin Atlantic has announced that it will also trial free pre-departure Covid tests to passengers on selected flights from Heathrow to Barbados, Antigua and Grenada, starting December 9. All three destinations require visitors to present evidence of a negative test results; a number of Easyjet’s European destinations also require testing.
Scroll down for the latest updates.
The curious parallels between our reactions to Covid and Europe’s last Great Plague
There are plenty of similarities between 1720 and 2020, fatality rate excluded, writes Anthony Peregrine.
The disease arrived from the east (or did it?). It took Europeans unawares. They were unsure of the nature of the illness, how it was transmitted, how to protect against it and what might be the best treatment. It spread quickly, official measures always running somewhat behind. Businesses were shut, festivals cancelled. Under pressure, hospital facilities were expanded. Involvement of the national government led to
tough lockdown and quarantine measures,
swingeing penalties for contravention, and a
great deal of fake news. Influential voices claimed the economic and social effects of the cure would be
worse than the disease.
Then the epidemic died down. Then it flared again, in a second wave. Which brings us up to date. Or, on the other hand, takes us back exactly 300 years, to Europe’s last great plague epidemic. The outbreak devastated Marseille and Provence, notably those bits (Luberon, Avignon, Arles, Aix) where, these days, we like to go on holiday. And – here’s the point – the parallels between 1720/21 and 2020 are striking. Granted, the present unpleasantness is less fatal per head of population. By 1722, up to 120,000 of Provence’s 400,000 people had succumbed. In 2020, there have also been fewer corpses left out for weeks to rot on sunny streets than was the case in Marseille. According to contemporaries, they became squelchy.
Other than that, though, it sometimes appears that, in recent months, we and our leaders have been following a 300-year-old blueprint.
Rusty pilots making flying errors is next aviation problem
An Indonesian flight carrying 307 passengers and 11 crew to the northern city of Medan momentarily veered off the runway after landing, sparking an investigation by the country’s transport safety regulator, reports Bloomberg.
The regulator found the pilot had flown less than three hours in the previous 90 days and the first officer hadn’t flown at all since February 1. No one was injured in the incident.
This pointed to an emerging risk from the coronavirus pandemic: pilots haven’t had enough opportunity to fly as airlines have grounded planes and scaled back operations amid the pandemic and resulting travel restrictions.
In its preliminary report, Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee said the pandemic has made it harder to maintain pilot proficiency and flying experience.
Pilot rustiness was also cited by Europe’s top aviation-safety official as a possible factor in the crash of a Pakistan International Airlines plane in Karachi in May that killed all but two of the 99 people on board.
Super Nintendo World to open in Japan next year
A Super Nintendo World is to open at Universal Studios Japan in February, making it the world’s first theme park dedicated to the video game’s characters.
The attraction in Osaka will start welcoming visitors from February 4.
Super Nintendo World will offer Mario Kart- and Yoshi-themed rides and attractions such as a castle, as well as restaurants, shops and other experiences.
Tokyo governor wants city’s elderly excluded from travel scheme
Tokyo’s governor asked the government on Tuesday to temporarily exclude Tokyo residents aged over 65 from a scheme encouraging travel and tourism in Japan, saying it could expose them to the coronavirus and result in more severe cases of Covid-19.
The Go To Travel campaign offers subsidies for domestic travel. It has been credited by the Japanese government with boosting the country’s regional economies and helping airlines and other travel companies weather the coronavirus pandemic.
The campaign, however, has come under pressure as Japan encounters a fresh wave of coronavirus infections that some fear could escalate beyond the capacity of hospitals to cope.
“The elderly are more susceptible to becoming severely ill, so from that standpoint we asked for the change,” Yuriko Koike told journalists following a meeting with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. “The decision and how to go about it is for the government to make.”
Travellers who have had Covid will be exempt from Iceland quarantine
People who have previously tested positive for Covid-19 will be exempt from any quarantine or testing requirements when visiting Iceland, Government officials have confirmed.
The new rules, which come into effect on December 10, will enable visitors from selected destinations with a “certificate of prior Covid-19 infection” to enter the country freely – based on the assumption that those who have already had the virus are immune.
“As of December 10, arriving passengers who have already recovered from a Covid-19 infection will [be] exempt from border measures if they can provide proof of prior infection,” reads a statement from Iceland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
The following certificates will be considered a “valid confirmation” of a previous infection:
- Positive PCR-test result for SARS-CoV-2/Covid-19 that is older than 14 days.
- Presence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2/Covid-19 measured by ELISA serologic assay.
Face masks become mandatory in Netherlands
A law mandating the use of face masks to slow the spread of coronavirus went into effect in the Netherlands on Tuesday, completing a gradual turnabout in policy.
With the country in a “partial lockdown” since Oct. 13, health authorities are expected to release weekly figures later on Tuesday that will show new Covid-19 infections are about flat from the 36,931 cases reported for the week ended Nov. 24.
A requirement that masks be worn in public buildings, including schools, supermarkets and restaurants, will be imposed for an initial three months. Violators can be fined up to 95 euros.
‘Not all second home owners are rich – these post-Brexit travel rules will punish our hard work’
The French Government must recognise the contributions of second home owners, according to Judith Dowden.
Perhaps there is a misconception that anyone who owns a second home abroad is stinking rich. Well, as retired teachers we most definitely are not.
However, in order to fulfil a lifelong dream, savings, loans and priorities can be arranged, and sacrifices endured. We are certainly not awash with money, and we prioritise our lives accordingly.
We had always been enormous devotees of France – all the usual stuff: the food, the weather, the language, the lifestyle and yes, the French. Working in education gave us the opportunity in holiday times to meander from Loire to Languedoc at leisure, staying in tents, cheap-as-
frites pensions with carpet up the walls, plus the odd treat night in an elegant Château.
When we had the opportunity and knew that retirement beckoned, we took the leap and found an affordable, dilapidated townhouse in a small village down South in glorious Occitanie. This is not a ‘holiday house’: it’s our second home. We are not tourists. We pay our French rates, tax, bills, insurance etc – all year round.
Australian states to open internal borders
Western Australia’s government said it would reopen borders to Victoria and New South Wales next week, which would enable quarantine-free travel between those states.
The state’s government has been under pressure to allow entry from the country’s two most populous states, which haven’t recorded any community transmission for weeks.
However, Western Australia’s Premier Mark McGowan said the state was not yet at the point where it could relax its border to South Australia.
Meanwhile, people from Sydney and Victoria are now able to enter Queensland without restriction, and Victorians are allowed into South Australia.
Swan Hellenic offers virtual tours of new ships
The Swan Hellenic cruise line has released a virtual tour video of its purpose-built new ships.
It reveals the features of the Vega class vessels: Minerva will be the first to launch next year with a Antarctic polar solar eclipse maiden cruise, followed by a 152-passenger sister ship in April 2022.
A larger expedition vessel is due for delivery by the end of 2022.
Canada extends travel ban until January
Canada has extended the temporary restrictions on entry into the country until January 2021, which will apply to all travellers except those arriving from the US.
The current ban on foreign nationals coming from the US remains in place until December 21, 2020, but could be extended again, according to he Minister of Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness, Bill Blair.
“Protecting the health and safety of Canadians is my most important responsibility. We have introduced a number of policies to keep Canadians safe but must remain flexible and adapt to the evolving COVID-19 situation,” Mr Blair said.
“The ability to align US and international travel extension dates, as well as the Mandatory Isolation Order, beginning on January 21, 2021 will enable the Government to communicate any travel extensions or changes as quickly as possible,” Mr Blair added.
All travelers and returning residents permitted into Canada under certain conditions are required to quarantine or isolate for 14 days.
Comment: I’m shocked at the state of Britain’s high streets – but a solution can be found in Europe
The demise of Arcadia is another timely reminder that our dying high streets need a drastic redesign, writes Simon Parker.
On a recent cycle the length of Britain, I was continually shocked by the dilapidated and unappealing state of our town centres. I passed hundreds of boarded up pubs, restaurants and cafes – and not just closed temporarily, but clearly deceased.
Britain’s town councils must pedestrianize rapidly, and embark upon a frantic redesign. A remarkable 994 pubs closed nationwide in 2019, and the struggling performing arts industry has been brought further to its knees by the pandemic. The Government, too, should help promote diverse and independent businesses by slashing – or at least freezing – business rates. Without life support, our cultural centres will die – and while a few Burton Menswear or Dorothy Perkins stores are – probably – dispensable in the grand scheme of things, our creative heritage certainly is not. Without buzzing cafes, a community of innovative metropolitan chefs, and throbbing nightclubs, tourists will give up visiting, and more importantly, we probably will, too.
Ireland opens up after partial lockdown
Ireland ended a second partial coronavirus lockdown on Tuesday, with non-essential shops, hairdressers and gyms unlocking their doors after six weeks of tough restrictions.
Museums, galleries, libraries, cinemas and places of worship also reopened as the nation lifted virus curbs in place since October 22.
On Friday, pubs and restaurants serving food will follow suit, although drinking-only establishments will remain shuttered. Ahead of Christmas, the government is also urging people to wear masks outdoors on “busy streets”, starting on Tuesday.
Philippines considers subsidising Covid tests to boost tourism
The Philippines may subsidise coronavirus tests for tourists to boost its pandemic-battered tourism industry as it gradually reopens to domestic travellers.
The government is considering paying as much as half the cost of Covid-19 swab tests for tourists, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel on Tuesday.
Travel vouchers for the subsidised tests from state-run Philippine General Hospital in Manila will be given to tourists, she said, without elaborating who can qualify.
“We want people to be able to travel, especially this Christmas season,” she said. “The cost is prohibitive, but we cannot remove the requirement for testing before travel.”
The tourism department is also moving to set uniform requirements for entry to tourist destinations, Romulo-Puyat said, as different travel protocols set by local governments are “confusing.” The tourism sector accounted for 12.7 per cent of the country’s economic output in 2019.
Switzerland halves new infections without national lockdown
Switzerland is emerging as a model for how the coronavirus can be contained without a national lockdown, after daily new infections halved since the start of November despite pubs, restaurants, gyms and sports remaining open in much of the country, reports Justin Huggler.
The figures were hailed as a triumph for the “Swiss special way” by Swiss government doctors last week, and will be seen as evidence that regional tiers can work in the UK.
Rather than ordering a general lockdown, Switzerland allowed regions to decide their own measures and only the worst-hit imposed tough restrictions. But critics have charged that the success came at too high a price, after the country experienced some of the highest death rates in Europe.
Switzerland has been described as the “new Sweden” after it refused to follow the UK and other countries into a second lockdown this month. The Swiss government imposed only minimal restrictions at a national level, including a limit of ten on private gatherings, an 11pm curfew for restaurants and the compulsory use of facemasks in crowded areas.
Ryanair ramps up Christmas flights
The low-cost carrier is increasing its number of flights over the Christmas period, starting December 16.
There will be 11 extra weekly flights between Stansted and Dublin and between Gatwick and Dublin from December 16 –January 3.
The ramped up schedule totals 24 additional flights, including Stansted to Bari and Porto. This follows recent additions from Paris Beauvais, Manchester, Malaga and Budapest, among others.
Prices start from £19.99 one-way for bookings made by midnight on December 3, for travel between December 16, 2020 – January 3, 2021
What the revised tier rules mean for hotel stays in Britain
England’s tightened Tier system, set to come into force from tomorrow, includes specific rules for hotels. Here’s a snapshot of what it means for holidaymakers, and businesses, in each tier.
Hotels will be able to reopen for leisure purposes. The ‘rule of six’ applies, so you can stay overnight with a group of up to six people.
Hotels can reopen for leisure purposes, but you can only stay with members of your own household.
Hotels will remain shut unless stays are for ‘essential’ purposes, such as business. Travel in and out of a tier-three area should be avoided.
Find out more about hotel stays post-lockdown.
Travel Advent Calendar: Answer three questions for the chance to win a holiday voucher
To celebrate the start of the festive season we’re launching our 2020 Travel Advent Calendar, offering readers the chance to win a £200 holiday voucher every day until Christmas.
Enter the prize draw for today’s £200 voucher by answering three questions about Sweden.
US air travel rises to post-pandemic high
The number of people travelling by air in the US rose to a eight-month high as people ignored the advice of public health officials to avoid trips around the Thanksgiving holiday.
Passengers at domestic airport checkpoints reached 1,176,091 on Sunday, the US Transportation Security Administration said Monday. This was the highest number since March.
Public health officials and state leaders had urged people to stay home and limit holiday gatherings to prevent a further surge in Covid-19 cases. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said ahead of the national holiday that people should “think twice” about traveling.
However, the total number of passengers on Sunday total was only 41 per cent of last year’s level. Ahead of the Thanksgiving week, travellers in November had been at about 35 per cent of 2019 levels.
Lastminute.com commits to refund over £7 million for cancelled holidays
Lastminute.com has agreed to pay out £7 million in overdue refunds for cancelled package holidays amid an investigation by Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which had received hundreds of complaints.
More than 9,000 customers whose holidays were cancelled by lastminute.com are currently awaiting refunds, the CMA said in a statement.
Following CMA intervention, lastminute.com has now signed formal commitments to pay these refunds as soon as possible and by January 31 at the latest.
The commitments secured by the CMA will also mean that anyone entitled to a refund for a holiday cancelled by lastminute.com on or after December 3, 2020 will be paid within 14 days.
To ensure that lastminute.com adheres to its commitments, the company must provide the CMA with regular reports on the progress of its refunds.
No vaccine passport needed for the pub, says Michael Gove
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said there were no plans for vaccine passports to allow people in to pubs and restaurants. “I certainly am not planning to introduce any vaccine passports and I don’t know anyone else in government (who is),” he told Sky News on Tuesday.
His comments come after the Government’s vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi suggested hospitality and other businesses could bar those who have not had a Covid-19 vaccine.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Mr Gove added: “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, that’s not the plan.
“What we want to do is to make sure that we can get vaccines effectively rolled out.”
Canary Islands expect tourism recovery in 2021
Spain’s Canary Islands expect a partial recovery of the archipelago’s tourism industry in 2021 as vaccines and testing allow for travel restrictions to be lifted, but the business will still be far below pre-pandemic levels.
The islands’ regional government expects the number of incoming tourists to plummet to 5 million this year, down from 15 million in 2019, before rebounding to 8 million in 2021, regional tourism chief Yaiza Castilla told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference of G-20 tourism ministers held in La Palma.
“We hope in the future we will be able to raise the forecast month after month,” she said.
Ravaged by travel restrictions, the heavily tourism-dependent archipelago has set up rules both to prevent outsiders from bringing contagion and to convince visitors that travel is safe.
WHO urges countries to consider ‘very’ carefully whether ski resorts can open at Christmas
The World Health Organisation has told countries to consider “very, very carefully” whether ski resorts should be allowed to open over Christmas, amid fears that large gatherings would lead to a surge in coronavirus infections, reports Nick Squires.
“We would ask that all countries look at the ski season and other reasons for mass gatherings and look very, very carefully at the associated risks,” said Mike Ryan, the WHO’s top emergency expert.
The problem was not so much having skiers on the slopes, where they are out in the fresh air, but the airports, trains and buses which transport them to the mountains, as well as queues at ski lifts and apres ski gatherings in bars and restaurants, he said.
The governments of Italy, France and Germany have said allowing skiing this winter would stoke the spread of Covid-19, but that has put them at odds with Switzerland and Austria, which have indicated that they want their resorts to open up.
Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble hit by further delays
A hotly-anticipated air travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong has been delayed until next year, the cities’ authorities said on Tuesday, due to a spike in coronavirus cases in Hong Kong.
The first flights between the two Asian financial hubs were called off a day before they were due to depart on Nov. 22. If they had gone ahead it would have been the first quarantine-free travel bubble in Asia.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said in a statement there would be a review in late December over when to proceed.
The travel rules for Tier 3 residents
About 23.3 million people will be put under Tier 3 rules. Here are the restrictions on travel for people living in the toughest tier:
- Avoid travelling outside the area, except where necessary (ie for work, education, caring duties)
- Advice is against all non-essential international travel
- Hotels will remain shut unless stays are for ‘essential’ purposes
The travel rules for Tier 2 residents
Around 32 million people are set to be placed under Tier 2 restrictions after lockdown ends tomorrow. Here are the new travel rules for people living in those areas:
- The ban on non-essential travel will be lifted
- Avoid travel to Tier 3
- International travel is allowed, but the advice is still to only travel when necessary
- Hotel/self-catering allowed with people from same household
- Hotels and self-catering accommodation can open for leisure purposes
- Rule of six applies outdoors; you can only meet people from own household indoors
Tier 1: what it means for travel
England will end its national lockdown tomorrow and is due return to a stricter three-tier system (MPs are voting on the new Tiered structure today). The country will be split into Tier 1, 2 and 3 areas, with differing rules for each risk category.
People in Tiers 1 and 2 will have more freedom to travel in the UK (and overseas) than they had during lockdown, but each Tier will come with different restrictions on people’s movements.
Here are the travel rules for Tier 1 residents:
- The ban on non-essential travel will be lifted
- If you travel to a higher tier, you should follow the rules of that area while there
- Avoid travel to Tier 3 areas
- International travel is allowed, but the advice is still to only travel when necessary
- Hotels and self-catering accommodation can open for leisure
- You must follow the rule of six
Read more on what the new tier system means for holidays.
What happened yesterday?
Here were the main headlines
- Concern grows over plans for vaccine passports
- We are getting far more cancellations than new bookings, says Cornish tourism chief
- Wales to ban sale of alcohol in new wave of restrictions
- Coronavirus makes turn German Christmas market into a drive-thru
- No ‘vaccine passport’ for required for Ryanair
Now onto today’s news.
Source: The Telegraph Travels