The current travel quarantine rules will end in mid December, and will be replaced by a five-day testing plan, the Transport Secretary is expected to announce this week.
Travellers who visit destinations without a ‘travel corridor’ will no longer be required to quarantine for 14 days on their return. Instead, they must self-isolate for five days – and then take a test. If the result is negative, they will be free to end their isolation period.
A source told The Telegraph: “The rule will be that you can have the test on day five and either on the same day or day six release yourself, depending on when you get your negative result. We are looking to enforce it in December, in two weeks’ time, around December 15.”
Testing costs are expected to be covered fully by travellers, with home kits currently costing in excess of £100. However, ministers are seeking to green-light rapid saliva tests, which produce results within an hour and currently cost half the price.
The move has been welcomed by travel industry leaders, and represents a victory for Telegraph Travel’s Test4Travel campaign to replace quarantine with tests.
Scroll down for more on this story, and other breaking news.
Ski boom expected as quarantine slash is imminent
Ski tour operators and resorts are poised for a spike in winter bookings, in light of the expected reduction of quarantine from 14 days to five.
Currently all major ski holiday destinations in Europe, except Finland, are deemed as high-risk by the Government – meaning that returning travellers have to quarantine. But ski operators are hoping to benefit from the new ‘test and release’ scheme.
“Quarantine has been a major barrier to ski holiday bookings so the reduction to five days will certainly remove a significant obstacle for many,” said James Gambrill, CEO of industry representative Mountain Trade Network.
Last week, data released by leading all-inclusive operator Club Med supported this, with 60 per cent also saying the test and release scheme and subsequent reduction in quarantine time would entice them to book a holiday this season, regardless of the destination’s travel corridor status.
Will holidays be allowed after lockdown?
Talks of a lockdown extension, or “strengthened tiers”, have cast a shadow over our Christmas holiday plans, writes Greg Dickinson.
By law, the current lockdown measures end on December 2. However, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has suggested that lockdown could carry on beyond December 2. In this instance, holidays both domestic and international will presumably remain off the cards, unless essential (which holidays, sadly, are not).
Even if the nationwide measures do end, there is talk of the need for a “strengthened” tier system.
Speaking to Telegraph Travel, a spokesperson for ABTA said: “It is certainly our hope that holidays both in the UK and abroad will be allowed after 2 December. We know there is a demand to travel – both for next summer and over the winter. When the Canary Islands and Maldives were added to the travel corridor lists, travel companies saw a spike in bookings as people tried to secure a spot of winter sun, a similar surge in bookings for next year was seen following the Prime Minister’s update about a vaccine.”
Cutting quarantine will not be enough to save the travel industry, bosses warn
Travel companies have told Telegraph Travel that they cannot offer packages to high-risk destinations unless the Government drops its blanket non-essential travel advisory.
Currently, countries not on the travel corridor list – such as South Africa, Brazil and Mexico – are subject to an FCDO warning against “non-essential” travel, and tour operators, which have a duty of care to protect their customers, will not offer trips against FCDO advice.
Edward Paine, managing director of adventure specialists Last Frontiers, said: “I welcome any reduction in the length of quarantine, and using testing to do this safely makes perfect sense. It will definitely help Christmas and New Year bookings where time off can be a limiting factor. However, we still need the FCDO to remove its Covid-related advice against non-essential travel. ”
A spokesperson for Tui, Europe’s largest tour operator, confirmed it would continue to use FCDO advice to determine where it operates, and expressed frustration at the uncertainty created by major policy changes being leaked to the media. Tui’s losses for the first nine months of the year totalled £2.05bn, and already this year 27 Atol license holders, including STA Travel and Shearings, have ceased trading.
Book now for the USA in 2021? Flight prices reach four-year low
Flight prices between the UK and USA have reached a four-year low, according to holiday search website Netflights. Return flights booked now are currently around 20 per cent cheaper than this time last year.
However, flight booking searches are currently rising – which will, in turn, cause an uptick in prices.
According to Netflights, summer 2021 is currently the most popular period for booking searches – with flights to the USA in most demand out of all destinations, a 258 per cent rise month-on-month.
The most searched-for USA locations for travel in 2021 are Miami (up 1,100 per cent month-on-month), Las Vegas (680 per cent), Orlando (312 per cent) and New York JFK (182 per cent).
And there are bargains to be had. For example, flights from London to Orlando in July and August 2021 are on average £502 and £528 respectively, up to 28 per cent lower than if booked this time last year.
Likewise, flights to New York and Los Angeles next summer are currently between 15 and 26 per cent lower compared to prices available in November 2019. And it’s not just London departures where the drop in prices is evident: Manchester to Orlando in 2021 is 17 per cent cheaper than a year ago.
11 beautiful British hotels with cosy cabins to escape to when lockdown ends
Some of Britain’s best-loved hotels have cabins hidden away in their grounds – combining great design, luxe amenities, and suitably wild surroundings.
It’s the getaway you’ve been craving all autumn – and when lockdown ends on December 2, it should be yours for the taking…
Emirates: Bookings to Dubai have doubled
Since the UK granted the United Arab Emirates ‘travel corridor’ status earlier this month, Emirates has reported a doubling of passenger bookings between Britain and Dubai.
There has also been a spike in bookings to other winter sun favourites, says the airline – with increases of more than 50 per cent week-on-week for Cape Town, Durban and Bangkok. The Maldives is also in demand.
In response to the uptick, Emirates will introduce 15 additional weekly flights to the UK – bringing the total number of weekly flights to 52 in December. It will fly four times a day to London Heathrow on an A380 service, while services to Manchester will increase to 10 flights per week. It will also introduce a daily service to Birmingham and Glasgow.
Under the air travel corridor between UK and UAE, travellers entering the UK from the UAE are no longer required to quarantine for 14 days. Travellers heading to Dubai can opt to do their required PCR tests 96 hours in advance of their flight, or to do the test on arrival in Dubai.
Amazing winter destinations that will be unlocked by the end of a 14-day quarantine
The news that the quarantine period will be cut to five days for those who test negative for Covid will provide a boost for travellers, making trips to “high-risk” destinations far more feasible.
Brazil, Egypt and South Africa will soon be back on the cards for Britons – so where will you head first?
US health authority warns against cruise holidays
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged citizens to avoid cruises because of the ongoing coronavirus risk.
In new guidance, it said it recommends that “all people avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide, because the risk of Covid-19 on cruise ships is very high.”
In a level-4 travel alert, its highest, the CDC said it was particularly important that people with an increased risk of serious illness – such as the elderly or those with other risk factors – avoided cruises.
If people decided to go ahead anyway, it recommended getting a coronavirus test 3-5 days after the trip and staying home for at least 7 days.
It mirrors the advice of Britain’s FCDO, which currently warns against all non-essential ocean travel.
Australia and New Zealand could form two-way ‘travel bubble’ within months, says Qantas chief
Holidays abroad could soon be on the cards for grounded Australians, with a New Zealand ‘travel bubble’ likely to be announced early in the new year, according to the CEO of Qantas.
Speaking on morning television, Alan Joyce told viewers the Australian airlines is preparing for borders between the two neighbours to reopen in the first few months of 2021.
“We’ve always believed in the possibility of these ‘bubbles’ between nations,” he said.
“At the way we’re going in Australia, New Zealand could open in the early new year in both directions – that’s a massive market for everybody.”
Previous attempts to create a Trans-Tasman travel bubble began in May, with politicians on both sides targetting a new travel arrangement by Christmas 2020.
But plans were scuppered after several Australian states saw the number of Covid-19 cases spike over the summer, while New Zealand, pursuing a strategy to eliminate the virus completely, tightened its border controls.
The best post-lockdown breaks to book now
Looking for a blast of winter sun after a drab month at home? Consider these quarantine-free holidays…
Travelbag (travelbag.co.uk) is offering five nights in Dubai from £889pp half-board, departing on Dec 10, including flights.
Meanwhile, Inspiring Travel Company (inspiringtravelcompany.co.uk) is offering seven nights in Tenerife from £885pp, departing on Dec 10, including flights, transfers and breakfast.
UK holiday bookings ‘up for 2021′, thanks to Britons’ pent-up demand
British travel companies are experiencing a rise in staycation bookings for next year, as well as renewed appetite for festive getaways. Confidence has soared in light of vaccine progress and the lifting of England’s lockdown – as well as the new five-day testing regime for inbound travellers, expected to be announced later today.
Jonathan Knight, founder of CoolCamping.com said that December bookings were up 60 per cent compared to last year, and reported another increase last week. “Presumably customers are feeling more confident that restrictions will ease,” he says. “Interestingly, although there is a notable spike in holidays starting the first two weekends in December, and again at New Year, Christmas bookings are subdued, possibly indicating that people are not anticipating being able to get together with others at that time.”
He adds: “Most bookings we are getting now are actually for 2021, so people are clearly looking further ahead. Last November, the average reservation was for 68 days ahead, whereas this November that has jumped to 155 days ahead, which is quite a big change in behaviour.”
A spokesperson from Under the Thatch, which offers cottages around the UK, told us: “Bookings are actually very normal for December this year. We’d be full now for weekends if it wasn’t for lockdown, so demand is definitely there. But the bigger story for us is that advance sales are noticeably up for 2021. People who lost out during 2020 are advance-booking premium properties by the beach for 2021, especially given our flexible booking policy.”
An agent for Cotswold Hideaways, weighed in: “Since the start of last week, we’ve been receiving many more enquiries about December holidays. Of all our bookings made in November, 36 per cent are for December and 52 per cent account for the first half of next year. The only cancellations we are seeing in December are due to Government restrictions, mostly concerned with the ‘rule of six’.”
Will the FCDO ‘non-essential’ travel advice be lifted?
While the news that quarantine will soon be replaced with a five-day testing regime is very welcome indeed, it remains uncertain whether the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) will lift its ban on travel to ‘red list’ countries.
Currently, non-essential travel is, in essence, forbidden to all countries that don’t currently have ‘travel corridor’ status. While this means that returning travellers must quarantine (currently for 14 days; reducing to five days by mid December), the FCDO advice also invalidates many travel insurance policies. Most insurance providers will not cover anybody travelling anywhere that ‘non-essential’ travel is not advised.
Will that change? It looks unlikely, but the new testing approach indicates a more nuanced approach to restrictions. We are hopeful of obtaining more clarity from the Transport Secretary soon.
Rise in festive holiday bookings
Britain’s travel companies are reporting an uptick in bookings and searches for getaways over the Christmas period – boosted by the end of England’s lockdown (on December 2) and the impending reduction of quarantine measures.
Sonia Davies, CEO of luxury operator Scott Dunn, told Telegraph Travel:
We had our busiest day of bookings in three months last week, with interest for departures around December 10 onwards. Some families are looking for a slightly earlier festive break, giving themselves time for a potentially shorter quarantine period before the kids go back to school.
The Maldives, Caribbean, UAE, Seychelles and Kenya are currently the most in-demand, with a lot of interest for South Africa as well as the rest of Africa.
Enquiries and bookings are predominantly from families with older children for the coming festive season, but there is also a lot of interest in next Summer and the 2021 festive season.
‘We are so excited to see confidence return’
Since the announcement that England’s lockdown will be replaced by tier restrictions on December 2, there has been a spike in travel bookings, says James Bell, Managing Director of Turquoise Holidays. He told Telegraph Travel:
We currently have over £1 million of business optioned for travel between December 2 to 31. All [trips were booked] since the start of November, so we definitely feel there is pent up demand amongst Britons when lockdown lifts.
Our enquiry numbers were up 17 per cent year-on-year last week, and although bookings are down overall, we have seen an upswing in holidays being booked to the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean. These regions are up 63 per cent for us when compared with November 2019. British Airways is increasing capacity here as well, with additional flights to Antigua, St Lucia and Barbados just announced.
We are so excited to see confidence return to market.
The ultimate Christmas gift for travel lovers?
British Airways has launched a sale of its on-board crockery, amenity kits and bedding – just in time for Christmas.
You can snap up a little piece of in-flight ephemera via its online shop, which went live this morning. From the Club World category cabins, there’s everything from bread baskets and serving trays, to the complimentary slippers offered to every passenger (£10 for five pairs).
Meanwhile from First Class, the brandy glasses, tea cups and blankets are on sale – with a drinks coaster set costing £5.
So, why is the airline suddenly selling off its crocks? “The lack of flying in the past months means that breakages has significantly reduced,” says Rob Burgess, editor of frequent flyer website Head for Points. “BA also plans to introduce a new service in the near future although it’s likely this will be postponed, plus given the reduced quality in the food offering right now, perhaps there’s not the need for very posh crockery.
“All we know is that items are likely to sell-out fast so be quick if you fancy getting your hands on some items – I’m looking forward to receiving my bread basket!”
Holiday bookings surge with renewed confidence in travel
It’s official: lockdown will lift on December 2, to be replaced with a tier system, Boris Johnson will announce today.
Exactly what that means remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain: Britons are planning holidays. With a vaccine is on its way, an end in sight for England’s second lockdown, and as of yesterday, news that quarantine for UK arrivals will be slashed from 14 days to five, consumer confidence has been bolstered considerably.
Indeed, Telegraph Travel spoke to a number of the country’s leading tour operators and travel providers regarding their bookings for December and beyond, both domestic and international, and found an increasingly optimistic picture.
Camping companies are seeing more demand this year compared to last, and there’s been a recent spike in inquiries for holiday cottages across the UK, indicating that Britons are still banking on Christmas staycations away from home.
Ryanair, meanwhile, has announced 24 additional flights departing from December 17 to cater for family reunions overseas, with destinations including France, Spain, Italy, Greece, and Portugal; while other travel companies are reporting increased interest in long-haul winter sun holidays.
How will the new quarantine rules work for people entering Britain?
With quarantine expected to be replaced by testing by mid December, and rules on group gatherings lifting over the festive period, many families with loved ones in ‘red list’ destinations may be planning a Christmas reunion.
So, how will the new testing plan work for inbound travellers?
While the rules are yet to be established, we expect them to apply to inbound travellers in the same way that they will apply to returning Britons. So, anybody entering the UK from a ‘red list’ destination will be told to self-isolate for five days, and then able to take a Covid test on the fifth day. If the result is negative, they will be entitled to end their quarantine with immediate effect.
For those who are arriving from destinations with ‘travel corridor’ status (with no quarantine requirements – such as Barbados, Gibraltar and Sri Lanka), there will be no need to quarantine on arrival in the UK, or take a Covid test.
Ministers agree on plan for households to mix over Christmas
Families will be able to enjoy Christmas together across the whole of the UK after ministers agreed a plan that will allow up to four households to mix for five days.
The leaders of all four home nations have agreed that the same rules will apply in every part of the country between Christmas Eve and December 28.
Tough limits on household mixing will be scrapped for the festive break before the country returns to a Tier system which will replace the current lockdown from December 3.
Here’s a quick recap of the weekend’s headlines:
- Covid testing centre to open at Gatwick
- Ryanair extends flight change fee waiver
- Safari industry needs travel corridors for Africa’s regional hubs
- Americans urged to stay home for Thanksgiving
- Princess Cruises cancels sailings until April 2021
Now, on with today’s news.
Source: The Telegraph Travels