British Airways has unveiled a drastically reduced food and drinks service, with booze banned for those travelling in short-haul economy.
The airline outlines the new options on its website, and while those in premium cabins will still be offered snacks and "a selection of alcoholic drinks", anyone in the cheap seats must make do with a bottle of water. "Please speak to a member of crew if you would like a juice or hot drink," it adds.
Free pre-packed meals will be offered to everyone on long-haul flights, however, with menus scrapped to limit interactions between passengers and cabin crew.
BA says: "You'll be offered a new food service which will reduce physical contact with our crew, and you'll be able to choose between a vegetarian or non-vegetarian option. If you have special dietary requirements or allergies, please bring your own food and snacks."
Virgin, easyJet, Delta, KLM and American Airlines have all already confirmed that alcohol sales will be temporarily halted on post-lockdown flights.
Follow the latest news below.
That's a wrap
Here's a recap of today's key stories:
Sources suggest "air bridges" with Portugal, Greece and Spain could be announced on June 27
BA has become the latest airline to ban booze (but only for economy passengers)
Norwegian is returning to the sky from July 1
Israel will reopen to tourists from August 1, with Greeks the first to be welcomed
Malta could welcome travellers in July after its flag carrier announced a major relaunch of routes
Australia may be off-limits to Britons until 2021
Your evening read: A thrilling search for Africa's elusive black leopard
Before we sign off the blog for the day, do take a look at this enthralling feature from our safari expert, Brian Jackman. He writes:
Loisaba is the Africa you have always dreamed of, as wild and unfenced as you could wish for, with views reaching all the way to the snaggle-toothed summit of Mount Kenya. Its Lion King landscapes bristle with granite steeples, but lions are not uppermost in our minds today. Binoculars at the ready, we are looking for shadows in the grass and maybe – just maybe – a feline silhouette with a dangling tail in the tangled crown of a boscia tree.
According to Lenguya, my guide for the day, leopards love to lie up in the trees’ distinctive parasol-shaped canopies. Here they rest until darkness falls and they come into their own; the shadow-steppers, the moonlight hunters whose ripsaw cough causes the roosting baboons to bark in alarm and makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.
Israel to reopen to tourists in August
The first international tourists to visit Israel this summer will be a plane full of Greeks on August 1. The announcement follows a recent visit by Greece's Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakisis, to the Middle Eastern country. When other nationalities can visit remains to be seen.
In the meantime, Jerusalem, Israel's biggest draw, is beginning to reopen to domestic tourists. Attractions, services and hospitality venues are opening their doors under new health regulations.
Sharon E. Bershadsky, Director of the Israel Government Tourist Office UK, said: "We are thrilled to see the Israel tourism industry begin to open up again, including the world-famous hotels, restaurants and attractions of Jerusalem. We are currently working with travel industry partners and friends in the UK to make sure travel and Israel is even more exciting and enjoyable for our UK visitors, and we look forward to welcoming them back soon."
Which are the likely candidates for an 'air bridge' holiday this summer?
Ministers and civil servants are (we hope) furiously trying to thrash out deals with other countries so Britons can salvage their summer holidays. Portugal, Spain and Greece look likely options. Australia? Not so much.
Monaco is reopening
The tourist board of Monaco has declared the tiny country open for business.
"The Government [is] rolling out all possible measures to be able to offer all those who come to Monaco a perfectly safe stay, for their own health, that of their loved ones, as well as that of the Principality’s residents and employees," it says. As we reported last month, those measures will include floating breakfast trays and UV robots.
Britons hoping to visit must travel via France, which is currently asking UK arrivals to self-isolate for two weeks (a policy that is not being enforced). However, the Foreign Office still advises against all but essential overseas travel, and you will need to self-isolate on your return to Britain.
The Alhambra reopens
One of Spain's greatest attractions, Granada's Alhambra palace, has reopened for the first time in months. New security regulations such as social distancing and the mandatory use of face masks have been adopted.
AA launches 'Covid Confident' scheme for hotels and restaurants
Pip Sloan reports that the AA has launched an accreditation scheme that it hopes will give customers the confidence to visit bars, restaurants, hotels and B&Bs (not to mention campsites and golf courses) once lockdown measures are lifted.
Its new Covid Confident scheme has been backed by 19 hospitality trade bodies, and promises to be a vital support for the hospitality industry in rebuilding a customer base that feels comfortable going out once stricter social distancing measures are eased.
This news comes as thousands of restaurants and bars face potential closure as a result of both a lack of government clarity over social distancing measures. Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of UKHospitality, which represents hotels, bars and restaurants, said a third of hospitality businesses (30,000 or 40,000 firms, employing one million people) could start redundancy processes this week if there was no clarity, with firms having to fund an increased proportion of the salaries of furloughed workers from the end of July.
Blackpool Zoo confirms reopening date
Zoos and safari parks around the UK were given the green light to reopen on June 15, but Blackpool Zoo will not welcome guests again until June 29, it has confirmed.
Indoor animal houses will remain closed, however, while people will be required to follow social distancing guidelines, on-site signage and make regular use of the additional hand sanitation points that have been installed.
Play areas, activities, the miniature train and children’s rides will also be closed, and short podcasts will replace the suspended daily talks, feeds and displays.
A German couple kiss as they arrive in Ibiza on a Eurowings flight from Dusseldorf. Spain is slowly reopening to tourists, and Britons could be welcomed by the end of the June.
Cruise line's future hangs in the balance
Essex-based Cruise and Maritime Voyages is in negotiations to secure additional financing as fears grow that the coronavirus pandemic has left it unable to stay afloat, Benjamin Parker reports.
A number of sources said today that CMV, which employs 4,000 and has six ships in its fleet, had been in talks with creditors but these were abandoned after a £25 million loan from the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme was denied. In February the line borrowed more than £50 million from an Australian bank.
A spokesperson said: "As the majority of other cruise lines have already done or are presently doing, CMV is also looking for additional financing to improve its liquidity position until sailing will resume again."
Last week CMV cancelled further cruises, meaning it won't be back sailing passengers until at least August 25. The firm blamed the Covid-19 crisis and the fact that many countries still had travel restrictions in place.
Why Americans will miss the British if we can't visit this year
With the US likely to ban British holidaymakers for the rest of the summer, Lizzie Frainier, born in California, thinks they will miss us:
Clearly, the British accent is a big part of the appeal. But there are other things to consider too: the interest in the Royal Family is huge. My American grandmother is always filling me in on what they’ve been up to, and is obsessed with television dramas like The Crown. She is not alone. For a country without the same depth of history, it’s easy to see why they find our long and storied past so intriguing. Music is another factor, with diehard fans eager to discuss their favourite albums (from The Beatles to The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd) with a local.
US and Mexico extend border restrictions
The border between Mexico and the US will remain closed to tourists until at least July 21. The restrictions were first put in place in March.
Since March 16, it has not been possible for most British nationals to enter the US if they have been in the UK or Europe during the previous 14 days. Mexico is welcoming British travellers but there are restrictions on movement within the country and hotels are not open.
Amsterdam residents want tourists to stay away
Emma Featherstone reports that a limit to visitor numbers, a ban on new hotels, and an increase in tourist tax are among the demands sought by the signatories of a new petition in Amsterdam.
The appeal is nearing 23,000 names; when it reaches 27,000 it will trigger a city council referendum on the issue of the future of tourism in the Dutch capital in a post-pandemic age.
"If the number of tourists rises to the pre-coronavirus crisis level, then the economy and streets will once again be dominated by tourists," Martijn Badir, one of four young Amsterdammers behind the petition, told Dutch newspaper Het Parool.
'A visit to an Egyptian orphanage marked the start of a life-changing journey'
Amid all Egypt’s great wonders, it was a visit to a backstreet orphanage in Luxor that Hina Belitz remembers most vividly. She writes:
My husband and I had been trying for a baby for a year. Until recently, I hadn’t really focused on why we hadn’t got pregnant. I was in my thirties, busy building my career in law, and anyway my GP had said it was normal to take a couple of years to conceive. It will surely happen for us, we think. Surely.
Then, devastating news. A fertility specialist tells us my hormones are outside the “acceptable” range for IVF and we would not be able to have children of our own. And so we book a holiday, to Egypt, to take our minds off this news that leaves us charred on the inside, depleted, our eyes hollow from a desperate, incurable grief that only those who have been there can know.
After settling in, we attend the holiday rep’s presentation. “At the end of your holiday,” he notes, “please consider leaving any unused toiletries at reception, as we donate them to the local orphanage.” My husband and I exchange looks. We both know that alongside the ancient sites, we will also pay a visit to this orphanage.
Is the sun setting on lockdown?
Tourists snap the sunset in Mallorca last night. Spain is slowly reopening its borders to tourists, with an "air bridge" with the UK predicted for the end of the month.
42,000 cruise ship workers still stranded at sea
Kaye Holland reports that, while the majority of cruise ship workers are safely back on land, at least 42,000 remain stuck on cruise ships:
With no passengers to look after and their quarantines completed, the employees should be on their way home. Repatriation has been hampered by some countries completely shutting their borders and cancelling all flights.
The US Centers for Disease Control has prohibited cruises in US waters until July 24, while a number of Caribbean countries haven’t allowed cruise ships to dock in their ports due to concerns that their arrival would cause spikes in coronavirus cases.
Pre-pandemic, the cruise ships would have been warmly welcomed by Caribbean nations. Now, some view the ships as potential coronavirus carriers. All of which has left the 42,000 cruise line workers, who come from every corner of the world, in floating purgatory.
Flydubai gets ready for takeoff
Low-cost UAE carrier Flydubai says it has "reengineered the entire passenger journey" as it prepares to relaunch services.
UAE authorities this week gave the green light for citizens to travel abroad to certain destinations from June 23. Britons cannot currently visit the UAE without permission, however, and must quarantine for at least 14 days upon arrival.
"As Flydubai prepares to return to the skies, passengers can rest assured about hygiene on board as the airline has a comprehensive cleaning programme in place and disinfects its aircraft every day with manufacturer-certified cleaning products," said the airline. "In the cabin, air is exchanged every two to three minutes and is sterile when it enters the cabin after passing through high-efficiency particulate air filters which remove more than 99.9 per cent of any particulate matter that may be present."
Lionel Shriver: 'The country at the top of my bucket list is Japan'
Japan has emerged from the Covid crisis relatively unscathed (though nobody can work out exactly why), but that is not the reason why author Lionel Shriver wants to visit. She writes:
When we can travel again, I’ll be heading there. I like the fact that the Japanese have preserved their own character. The country has its own excitement.
One place she won't return to is Bangladesh, however:
It has no redeeming features at all, except for the Bangladesh Festival, the people and the great parties they put on every night. But beyond the festival? It’s filthy. And the traffic is horrific.
Germany contemplates banning large events until October
Chancellor Angela Merkel's government is seeking to ban big events until at least the end of October over fears of renewed transmission of the coronavirus, according to an official draft seen by AFP on Wednesday.
Berlin also plans for schools to return to normal operations after the summer holidays, although recommendations for social distancing and mask wearing in shops and on public transport will stay, according to the document to be discussed by Merkel and premiers of Germany's 16 states later on Wednesday.
France 'making Britain look useless'
Ryanair believes France's request that arriving Britons self-isolate for two weeks, a policy that is entirely voluntary, shows just how "useless" the UK's own quarantine rules are.
"If the French government thought there is any scientific basis behind this measure, then visitors wouldn’t be just invited to self-isolate, it would be properly enforced," said a spokesperson for the low-cost airline.
Paul Charles, spokesperson for the Quash Quarantine campaign group of more than 500 travel companies, agreed.
"The UK's stance is ridiculous in so many ways," he said. "It is poorly thought out and causing pain to UK citizens working in the travel and hospitality sector. Why would any government cause so much economic pain to its own people from an unworkable and badly implemented scheme?"
10 amazing summer holidays in the Alps
With a bit of luck, you might just make it to those legendary peaks before the autumn is here. Let Chris Leadbeater inspire you with 10 holiday choices that make the most of the warmer weather.
The 'safest' European destinations for post-pandemic travel
Where will your first post-pandemic holiday be?
As European countries began opening their borders to other EU nations this week, Emma Featherstone takes a look at some of the safest places to visit.
Hancock struggles to defend quarantine policy
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has defending the Government's controversial quarantine policy, but could only name one country with a worse infection rate than Britain.
Asked at least five times on Sky News what countries meant that quarantining arrivals was necessary, he would not state any other nations other than Brazil.
"It's really sad to see some of the countries like, for instance, Brazil, where the numbers are really shooting up, so we do have to have this measure in place," he said.
"I mentioned Brazil, there are others we are worried about.
"I'm not going to go into which countries."
Your lunchtime read: 'By only seeing the world through a white lens, we are all missing out'
As debate rages around Britain’s imperial past, Ash Bhardwaj notes that everything we experience, from history to travel, is framed through the eyes of the writer. And by only seeing the world of travel through a white lens, we are all missing out. Read the full story.
Campsites to create 'wildlife corridors'
UK campsites are itching to reopen on July 4, and some are introducing novel ways to keep guests two metres apart. Ros Pritchard, director-general of the British Holiday & Home Parks Association, told The Mirror that many owners are letting the grass grow between pitches to create two-metre zones dubbed "wildlife corridors" as they may attract insects and other creatures.
Other measures include erecting marquees and gazebos in front of reception buildings, so customers need not get out of their cars to check in.
Lithuania plans new national airline
Demand for air travel looks likely to remain dampened for some time, but Lithuania remains determined to launch a new flag carrier this year.
The country's Ministry of Transport and Communications said the move would help it "adapt more flexibly to the new demands of Lithuanian air connectivity" and "minimise dependence on the constantly changing strategies of the foreign air carriers".
London hotel goes contact-free
The East London Hotel claims it will be "one of the UK’s safest social-distancing hotels" when it reopens on July 4. Indeed, it has promised a "contact-free journey" for all guests. Other measures include:
Motion-sensor hand sanitisers upon entry with instructions playing on LCD displays
24-hour self-check-in process which limits human contact to prevent the spread of any germs
Mobile check-in capability which allows guests to use their own mobile as room key for touch-free entry
Public spaces and touch points will be rigorously and regularly deep cleaned, and multiple touch-free sanitising stations will be available for guests on each floor
Each room is mechanically ventilated with fresh, outdoor air from above the building which is circulated throughout the hotel
The concierge service will be offered via WhatsApp for live, 24/7 communication without risk
Cruise line cancels all holidays until October
More bad news for cruise lovers looking to get back on the water, reports Benjamin Parker.
In a surprise announcement, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings extended its suspension of voyages until the autumn across its three cruise brands: Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and the eponymous Norwegian Cruise Line. The earliest they will now sail is October 1; previously voyages had been cancelled until the end of July. The only exception is cruises from Seattle to Alaska, which will be setting sail in September – not much use to Britons unable to enter the US.
A statement from the NCLH said the lines were taking "all necessary precautions to ensure the health, safety and security of guests, crew and the communities visited."
Will Paris ever be the same?
France eased its border restrictions this week (though not to Britons). So what does the post-lockdown Paris look like? Hannah Meltzer writes:
Social distancing remains in place around the city, including at the Eiffel Tower, where visitors will only be able to use the stairs when it opens next week.
And some believe tourism in Paris may not look the same as visitors begin to return. Montmartre, for example, the hilltop village that normally bustles with tourists, has been unrecognisable in recent weeks without the usual swathes of visitors following flag-carrying guides and snapping selfies in front of the Sacré Coeur.
Flights to Malta to resume
Air Malta has announced a return to the skies, connecting the island with 22 destinations from July 1.
Rome, Lyon and Marseille will join previously announced services to Catania, Munich, Frankfurt, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Vienna, Zurich, Geneva, and Prague.
From July 15, operations to Amsterdam, Brussels, Milan, London Heathrow, Lisbon, Madrid, Palermo, Paris Charles De Gaulle and Orly will be added.
Last month Malta said it is planning to use "air corridors" to permit tourism to resume, but flights are currently suspended and all arrivals must self-isolate for two weeks.
Ancient wonders all to yourself
Tourists in Rome explore the ancient Forum, minus the usual crowds. Italy reopened its borders to travellers earlier this month but Britons hoping to visit must ignore FCO advice and self-isolate on their return. See the latest advice.
Association fears more UK tourism failures
The UK’s largest leisure trade association fears a collapse in the attractions and hospitality industry unless current restrictions on re-opening are relaxed.
The British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions (BALPPA), which represents more than 400 businesses, is urging the Government to re-think its approach.
"Over the last 24 hours, we have sadly seen the announcement of two significant UK attraction closures; Wicksteed Park, the oldest theme park in mainland UK, and the Torquay visitor attraction Living Coasts," said Paul Kelly, BALPPA chief executive. "These closures are due to a lack of clarity from the UK Government, which has seen hospitality lumped into a single category, regardless of significant operational differences, and left at the back of the strategic reopening queue."
Salzburg Festival will go ahead this summer
Good news for opera fans. The Salzburg Festival, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, will go ahead from August 1-31, with a reduced programme of 110 events (down from 200) at eight venues, and "meticulous coronavirus security and prevention measures in place". Organisers plan to stage productions not shown this year in 2021. See www.salzburgerfestspiele.at for more information.
Australia may not welcome Britons until 2021
Australia is unlikely to reopen its border to international travellers until next year, Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has said.
The country closed to overseas arrivals in March, helping it contain the spread of the virus. So far 102 people have died from Covid-19 in Australia.
But its relative success will not see an easing of restrictions, and, keen to protect its population from imported cases, it looks likely to remain off-limits to UK holidaymakers for months.
An exception could be made for students and other long-term visitors, however. Birmingham said Australia's existing quarantine rule for returning citizens could be applied to international students and others who plan to stay for a long period of time.
Last month The Love Australia Project was launched to encourage Australians to abandon overseas travel and explore their own backyard. But after years of enjoying cheap flights to Bali, not everyone is keen.
What a post-lockdown spa treatment looks like
Lee Cobaj checked into the Four Seasons Hong Kong for a taste of spa treatments in the Covid-19 world:
Wearing a fluffy white robe and surgical mask, my feet are bathed in warm scented water while I rub my hands with sanitiser. I lay face down on a massage bed disinfected with electrostatic sprayers, ensuring the front, back and underneath of every surface had been zapped.
My Balinese therapist Astini, the embodiment of calm, had her temperature checked before starting work that morning and told me she feels safe when I asked if she was concerned about the virus.
Aussies embark on sledge battle
A row has erupted Down Under after South Australia scrapped quarantine rules for visitors from Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory, but not those from neighbouring Victoria. In response, the Victorian leader Daniel Andrews questioned why anyone would want to go on holiday to South Australia. Which didn't go down too well.
No more bets...
A maintenance worker wears a face mask as he sets up chips at one of the roulette tables in the Casino Lisboa in Portugal. Casinos reopened across the country on June 8 after being closed for three months due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Britons can currently visit Portugal if they are willing to ignore FCO advice and self-isolate on their return. An "air bridge" with the country may be announced on June 27. See the latest advice.
Tunisia ready to reopen, but will anyone come?
The North African country is planning to reopen to tourists in late June, but Bloomberg reports that no major tour companies have booked rooms in Tunisia for the summer season.
According to Tourism Minister Mohamed Ali Toumi, some have expressed reservations about a requirement for visitors to carry a test certificate, issued no more than 72 hours before arrival, showing they don’t have the virus.
Tunisia began easing restrictions at the start of June, and resorts will be allowed to reopen at 50 per cent capacity from June 27. “Hotels will have to apply social distancing rules, and will be providing individual meals instead of an open buffet,” Ali Toumi said. Even swimming pools will face restrictions, with bathers having to keep three meters apart, he added.
Come on in, the water's lovely
Tourists enjoy a swim in Mallorca. Spain will reopen its borders on June 21, but is considering a quarantine policy for British visitors.
'Air bridges' could include Spain and Greece, but not France
Transport Minister Grant Shapps yesterday suggested the first "air bridges" would be unveiled on June 29, allowing Britons to head abroad this summer without needing to self-isolate on their return. But now it seems our closest neighbour, France, may not be included in any announcement.
The Times reports that the Government is close to agreeing deals with Greece, Portugal and Spain, as well as the British Overseas Territories (which include Bermuda and Gibraltar), but an EU-wide arrangement appears unlikely.
It is expected that the Foreign Office's travel advice will be relaxed for individual countries once deals are reached.
China cancels flights
A spike in new coronavirus cases has prompted China to cancel scores of flights and close schools.
After 31 more cases were reported in Beijing, authorities grounded more than 1,200 flights from the capital's main airports, state media reported, adding to restrictions placed earlier on close to 30 residential compounds.
Authorities in the city have also closed schools, increased testing and urged residents not to leave.
Norwegian announces July restart
Low-cost airline Norwegian is to relaunch 76 European and domestic routes from July 1.
The carrier, which has only kept eight aircraft in service during the Covid-19 crisis to cover key domestic services, will begin flying to destinations in the UK, France, Spain and Greece from Scandinavian capitals.
"Feedback from our customers has shown that they are keen to get back in the air and resume their travels with Norwegian beyond the current domestic services that we have been operating," CEO Jacob Schram said in a statement.
Face masks will be required for anyone over six years old and no meals or drinks will be served.
What happened yesterday?
Here's what we learnt on Tuesday:
Grant Shapps expects the first 'air bridges' to be confirmed on June 29
Spain is considering a quarantine for UK visitors from June 21
Coronavirus is back in New Zealand, and it came from Britain
Machu Picchu is to place a strict limit on visitor numbers
Visitors to Cambodia must now pay a hefty 'death deposit' on arrival
Britain's new passport colour is causing a stir