Developments regarding Covid-19 testing are offering renewed hope for the possibility of European summer holidays.
Yesterday The Telegraph revealed exclusively that the government is considering implementing 20-minute testing prior to airport arrival so that Britons could avoid international quarantines.
A new private service is also launching, also with the aim of enabling quarantine-free travel. Swiss startup Viselio, which normally provides visa services, already offers self-testing and lab-appointment testing in Switzerland, and will have launched the service in the UK, France, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands by Tuesday, June 2, at the latest.
For £169, travellers will receive the relevant accepted test for whichever country they are visiting, and certification in the corresponding language. Countries that will accept testing as an alternative to quarantine include Iceland, Austria, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Turkey, Thailand and Cambodia, with ready documentation avoiding the potential need to wait around in airports.
“We are proud to be offering the first European network of COVID-19 testing specifically tailored for travellers. We are thrilled to be making travel accessible again in these difficult times for families, their loved ones as well as businesses who rely on travel to conduct their work”, said Viselio CEO Niklas Zeller.
Speaking exclusively to Telegraph Travel, he said the company would also not rule out offering a similar service for antibody testing in future, if it began to be accepted at international borders. Mr Zeller described the UK government not accepting testing as an alternative to quarantine as “nonsense”.
As things currently stand given the above, any Briton leaving the UK once FCO advice has been lifted would still need to isolate for 14 days upon return – though the move to considering pre-departure testing may suggest changes are afoot.
Plans to create ‘air bridges‘ – mutual quarantine exemption agreements between the UK and other countries with similar infection rates – meanwhile, continue to progress, and may be in place by June.
Bulgaria to ditch its 14-day quarantine on Monday (but not for Britons)
Bulgaria is the latest nation to announce it is excluding UK tourists from a list of those permitted to enter without quarantine restrictions.
The Eastern-European country will lift its obligatory 14-day quarantine from June 1 for travellers arriving from most other European countries.
EU residents will be able to travel freely into Bulgaria, which has seen one of the continent’s lowest coronavirus infection rates with 2,475 cases and 136 death reported, from Monday. However anyone from the UK, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Malta or Sweden will continue to be subject to quarantine restrictions – apart from a select number of exemptions, according to a new order issued by Health Minister Kiril Ananiev.
Almost all lockdown measures have been eased in the country, where restaurants, cafes, gyms and theatres are now open and people can travel between cities. The government hopes that by lifting quarantine restrictions on foreign travel it will see a boost in summer tourism at its Black Sea and mountain resorts.
The news comes after yesterday The Greek Tourism Ministry announced UK nationals are also exempt from its list of those eligible to enter the country from June 15, as the first phase of international travel in Europe recommences.
This is what social distancing looks like on a beach
As Portugal continues to relax its lockdown, locals in the coastal resort town of Cascais gathered on the beach in Praia da Rainha in balmy weather yesterday, as the country was told it could enter the third phase of easing restrictions on June 2.
From next week, restaurants will be permitted to operate at 100 per cent capacity, with specific health precautions in place, and shopping centres will also reopen.
In good news for us, Portugal could be one of the first countries to set up an ‘air bridge‘ with Britain as the two nations are reportedly in the initial stages of a plan that would allow holidaymakers to avoid quarantine. These air bridges could possibly be in place by the end of June according to Boris Johnson’s address earlier this week. See more below:
Universal Orlando to reopen more than a month ahead of Disney World
Select Universal Orlando Resort hotels in Florida will reopen to guests from June 2, with new safety and hygiene procedures in place. This is nearly six weeks ahead of its key rival Walt Disney World, which plans to reopen on July 11.
Universal’s phased reopening will include Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Aventura Hotel and Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites. Guests staying in these hotels will be able to visit the theme parks on June 3 and 4, prior to the public reopening on June 5.
Face coverings will be mandatory, as will temperature checks upon entry. There will be social distancing signs and frequent cleaning of high-touch areas such as telephones, remote controls, door handles, light switches, elevators, and table tops, among others.
No word yet on when the US plans to reopen its borders to foreign tourists.
New York to reopen on June 8
New York City is on track to begin reopening for business on June 8, as the world’s biggest tourist destinations are eased from lockdown.
The Big Apple, America’s most populated city, quickly became the epicenter of the country’s coronavirus pandemic with over 16,000 coronavirus deaths to date. The City of Dreams has been in lockdown since March, major tourist attractions remain closed and the usually bustling streets have been empty.
New York state’s Governor Cuomo announced yesterday that the city will hopefully enter phase one of reopening at the start of June. This will see non-essential construction and manufacturing resume and give retail stores chance to offer collection services – allowing an estimated 400,000 New Yorkers to go back to work.
“We are on track to open on June 8,” said Cuomo, however, “reopening does not mean we’re going back to the way things were.”
The city’s first baby steps come as parts of the state, which have met the seven health benchmark tests, will transition to phase two of reopening. This permits the likes of hair salons to welcome clients and retails shops to allow customers through their doors – with capacity restrictions and face covering rules in place.
The Louvre will reopen on July 6
France’s most-visited museum, The Louvre, will reopen to the public on July 6, it has been announced. A new booking system and special signposting will enable social distancing, with all visitors required to wear masks. The Tuileries garden in front of the museum, however, will reopen from tomorrow to groups of 10 or less.
The lifting of France’s lockdown is already underway. It will reopen bars, cafes and restaurants and lift travel restrictions inside the country from next week as part of “phase 2” of its lockdown exit plan, the prime minister announced has stated.
It also intends to remove border restrictions with European countries without quarantine measures starting from June 15, except for people coming from countries with their own quarantine regimes, including Britain, where rules will be reciprocal.
Two and a half months after the country entered draconian confinement, Edouard Philippe said France was now entering a new phase in which “freedom is the rule and restriction the exception.” Read our advice on visiting France here.
Denmark and Norway cut Sweden out of free travel deal
The governments of Denmark and Norway have cut Sweden out of a deal allowing each other’s tourists to travel freely between the two countries — citing their Nordic neighbour’s higher levels of coronavirus infection, reports Richard Orange.
The deal, announced at parallel press conferences in Oslo and Copenhagen yesterday afternoon, showed Sweden has failed in its diplomatic efforts to be included in the first stage of a Nordic travel bubble.
Under the deal, people from Denmark will from June 15 be allowed to enter Norway without needing to quarantine, while tourists from Norway will be able to enter Denmark, so long as they have booked accommodation for at least six days.
As she announced the agreement, Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen acknowledged that it would be difficult for many Swedes. Read the rest here.
Luxury hotels to give guests beauty treatments through plastic screens
… and their newspapers on tablets after checking their temperatures upon arrival, The Telegraph has learned.
The Iconic Luxury hotel group, whose portfolio includes the opulent country house Chewton Glen on the edge of the New Forest, said it has drawn up a post-lockdown regime to allow guests to return from July 4, the earliest point the hospitality sector will be able to reopen.
Andrew Stembridge, the Executive Director of the group, said it was already busy taking bookings but warned the sector needed ‘clarity’ soon from the Government on social distancing and protective equipment guidelines.
To make the five-star establishment Covid-secure, the hotel is doing away with face-to-face check-in, with guests checking-in over email, before being taken directly to their rooms, which will have been cleaned with electrostatic foggers to sanitise the air and furnishings.
Inside the room, the morning papers will now be available on a tablet, complimentary fruit wrapped up and the remote control in a sealed bag. How relaxing. Mike Wright has the full story.
Air bridges as early as June?
Possibly, reports Charles Hymas. Foreign summer holidays could be back on, under plans to open “air bridges” in June to countries including Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece being drawn up by ministers.
The Department for Transport (DfT) is working with industry chiefs on “holiday corridors” to low-risk countries amid mounting opposition in and outside Government to the 14-day quarantine due to start on June 8.
Airport and airline chiefs are pressing for the first “air bridges” to open as early as June 8 to enable passengers to sidestep quarantine although ministers are understood to believe June 29 is a more likely date when the effectiveness of the travel restrictions are first reviewed.
“There is certainly a willingness in Government to try to do as much for this summer as is safe,” said a senior DfT source. “We are trying to get as much opened as possible this summer.” Read the full report here.
The remote Spanish reason whose isolation is proving an advantage
Extremadura is Spain’s remotest region, and that’s usually considered a disadvantage. Its historic towns and dramatic landscapes have many blessings, but strong air and rail links are not among them. So it has never attracted the visitors it deserves.
During the coronavirus crisis that isolation became an advantage. While Spain as a whole has been hard hit, this sparsely-populated region in the South West has escaped relatively lightly. It was one of the first to report no new cases or deaths from the virus. Now, as Spain prepares to reopen to visitors in July, Extremadura is well placed to reap the benefits of a new form of tourism, far from the crowded bars and beaches of the coast.
Travellers nervous about using public transport needn’t worry. Here, trains and buses have never been your best bet. Hiring a car is the most rewarding way to tour this beautiful and little-visited region.
Source: Telegraph UK