Travel latest news: Britons face mad dash home after Cyprus stripped of travel corridor

Lizzie Frainier
·24 min read
Cyprus - GETTY
Cyprus - GETTY

Hundreds of British holidaymakers in Cyprus, including families on a half-term holiday, now have until 4am on Sunday to return home or face a two-week quarantine. 

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced the move on Twitter yesterday at 5pm, after the country’s seven-day infection rate crossed the threshold of 100 per 100,000 residents.

Flights immediately increased in price for those wishing to make a last-minute dash back to the UK on Saturday October 31, with direct flights home from Cyprus rising to £405 from Paphos and £371 from Larnaca within an hour of the announcement. Comparatively, direct flights on Sunday November 1 from the island to the UK were just £109 at the same time.

This morning, there are no direct flights available to book for October 31 to avoid quarantine; options with multiple stops coming in at 13 hours travel time are also pricey at £387 one-way from Paphos. The fastest option (with one stop) back from Larnaca is £564.

Rory Boland, Which? Travel editor, said: "With yet more countries removed from the travel corridor list, the government's approach and the lack of clarity around how decisions are made continues to cost holidaymakers dearly.

"While many families would have been scheduled to fly home from Cyprus this Sunday as the half-term draws to a close, they will now be forced to pay extortionate airfares as they scramble for flights that arrive before the 4am deadline."

Scroll for more updates.

04:15 PM

That's a wrap

The biggest stories of today included:

  • Travellers from UK virus hotspots could still barred from entering Wales after the firebreak

  • Flight prices returning from Cyprus surge as holidaymakers rush home to beat quarantine

  • Powerful earthquake strikes off of Turkey's Aegean coast

  • Swiss ski resorts among last to remain open despite lockdowns in Europe

  • Machu Picchu to reopen to tourists – but children are banned

We'll be back tomorrow with more updates.

04:01 PM

'Norway handled Covid better than Sweden – but it had nothing to do with lockdowns or masks'

Mallika Aryal writes:

Norway confirmed its first case of Covid-19 on February 27, but it was not until mid-March that the country’s prime minister, health minister, and the director of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH), went on national television and advised caution. The message was clear – the world is in crisis, and we need to act now to control the infection.Our neighbour Sweden is often criticised for not locking down, with many pointing to Norway’s lower Covid death rate. What most fail to mention is that we didn’t have a full lockdown either.

Yes, schools, kindergartens, higher education institutions, hairdressers and gyms were shut, we were encouraged to work from home, non-essential travel was discouraged, and restrictions were imposed on international arrivals. But shops, restaurants and bars stayed open, we did not impose any kind of curfew, and there have been no rules about when or how many times one can go out. As with Sweden,  face masks are not mandatory – and very few people wear them.

Read more.

03:33 PM

Swiss ski resorts among last to remain open despite lockdowns in Europe

The Swiss ski resort of Verbier is bucking the gloomy trend and opening the first part of its ski area today – offering a glimmer of hope to skiers and snowboarders who yearn to return to the slopes this season.

The resort’s Lac des Vaux slopes, which run between the Chassoure (2,740m) and Attelas (2,727m) peaks, will welcome the first skiers of the season today. They will be open on weekends only during November and then daily from December 5. 

Verbier - MELODY SKY/VERBIER.CH
Verbier - MELODY SKY/VERBIER.CH

“After a magnificent summer season, the cold and the snow arrived very quickly on the heights of Verbier,” said a spokesperson from Téléverbier, which operates the ski lifts in the resort. “The recent precipitation has blanketed the mountains with a beautiful white carpet. We are therefore pleased to announce that Lac des Vaux will be open to the public from this Friday.” 

Quarantine for British arrivals has been dropped in Switzerland, though British travellers would still have to quarantine upon their return to the UK.

Lucy Aspden has more.

03:25 PM

Travel industry sounds off about air bridges

Many in the industry are expressing their concerns about the travel corridor system, and whether it really is a fair system.

02:59 PM

Austria due to announce new restrictions on Saturday

Austria’s daily coronavirus infections jumped by more than a quarter to a new record on Friday, according to a report by Reuters. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who has repeatedly said a second lockdown would be a last resort, is scheduled to announce new restrictions on Saturday.

“The dramatically rising infection numbers in Austria and many European countries will require restrictions on public life and also affect the domestic economy,” the Finance Ministry said in a statement, adding that it was working on additional economic aid measures.

02:35 PM

Travellers from UK virus hotspots could still barred from entering Wales after the firebreak

A travel ban preventing people in areas of the UK with high levels of coronavirus from entering Wales could continue following the country's firebreak lockdown, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said.

"I will want to study, over this weekend and into next week, the comparative incidence rates between Wales and parts of England which are under Tier 2 and Tier 3 restrictions," Mr Drakeford said.

"The point of asking people in those places not to travel into Wales was because the rate of virus circulation in those places was so much more than it is here and I'm afraid there is still a significant gap between those places and Wales.

"If that remains the same, then we will expect to have a similar regime after November 9 as we had prior to October 23 because it just doesn't make sense to add to the difficulties we already face by the virus being imported from elsewhere."

02:12 PM

Legoland Windsor Resort to open new multi-million-pound land in 2021

Legoland Windsor Resort has today revealed it will open a new land in spring 2021, LEGO MYTHICA: World of Mythical Creatures. It will feature new attractions and experiences, including a never-before-seen UK ride.

The parallel universe of LEGO MYTHICA marks the resort’s single biggest investment since the gates opened 25 years ago.

The name of the new land was shared in a video today across Legoland Windor's social media channels.

 

Thomas Jellum, Divisional Director at the LEGOLAND Windsor Resort, said:

What better way to celebrate our 25th birthday than by unveiling a completely unique experience like nothing else we have launched at the Resort since we opened. At the heart of LEGO MYTHICA: World of Mythical Creatures will be epic rides, including a UK first, and breath-taking mythical creatures designed to capture children’s imaginations and inspire them to build and play.

Our new land has been two years in the making and co-created with families to make sure it delivers what children and their parents want from a theme park in 2021. We can’t wait to share more details soon.

02:06 PM

Is my staycation illegal? How the new rules affect UK holidays

Across the UK, there are many restrictions on hospitality and group gatherings. In some places, the rule of six applies; in others, there is a blanket ban on socialising. Some hotels have been forced to close; elsewhere, they remain open – but only for guests from certain areas.

It's confusing, yes, but it's also vital to be clued-up before you travel – especially as 'offenders' can face hefty fines. 

Hazel Plush has all the details here.

01:46 PM

Why Berlin's swanky new airport is more than 30 years in the making

At around 2pm tomorrow (1pm UK time), two planes – one flown by Lufthansa, the other by easyJet – will land simultaneously on parallel runways at the controversial new Berlin Brandenburg Airport, writes Adrian Bridge. 

It will be a hugely significant moment. For the city itself, and the millions of travellers who in increasing numbers have been flocking to it ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall, it will at last provide (hopefully!) a slick, modern, efficient means of coming and going. Beyond that, in aviation terms, today’s opening marks something even deeper: nothing less than the end of the Cold War.

Read the full story here.

01:37 PM

Watch: Machu Picchu opened for a single visitor

Speaking of Machu Picchu, in case you missed it, this is the story of a very fortunate Japanese tourist who enjoyed a tour of the site completely alone earlier this month:

01:33 PM

Machu Picchu to reopen to tourists – but children are banned

Machu Picchu, the Inca citadel which attracts around 1.5 million visitors each year, will reopen on November 1 after a seven-month closure.

This year marked only the second time that Peru's biggest tourist draw has shut since 1948; in 2010 it was forced to close during extended and torrential rain storms. 

The 125.8-square-mile site, which sits 7,972 feet above sea level in the Andean mountains, overlooking the Urubamba Valley, will, at first, limit admission to 675 people a day. The first round of tickets has already sold out. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, it saw average daily visitor numbers of 2,000-3,000.

Machu Picchu, the Inca citadel which attracts around 1.5 million visitors each year, will reopen on November 1 after a seven-month closure.

This year marked only the second time that Peru's biggest tourist draw has shut since 1948; in 2010 it was forced to close during extended and torrential rain storms. 

The 125.8-square-mile site, which sits 7,972 feet above sea level in the Andean mountains, overlooking the Urubamba Valley, will, at first, limit admission to 675 people a day. The first round of tickets has already sold out.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, it saw average daily visitor numbers of 2,000-3,000.

Groups will be limited to eight, people will have to stick to four predefined routes, and children under 12 – who, under Peru's Covid rules, are only allowed out of the house for 60 minutes a day – will not be granted entry.

Emma Featherstone has the story.

01:28 PM

Anti-lockdown protests sweep Italy

milan - Paolo Salmoirago/EPA-EFE
milan - Paolo Salmoirago/EPA-EFE
rome - Antonio Masiello
rome - Antonio Masiello
venice - Stefano Mazzola/Awakening 
venice - Stefano Mazzola/Awakening
london -  Victoria Jones
london - Victoria Jones

01:10 PM

Swiss ramp up contact-tracing in face of Covid surge

Coronavirus infections rose by 9,207 and hospitalisations by 279, data from Swiss health authorities showed on Friday, as the country’s health care and contract tracing systems struggled to manage the second wave of Covid-19 cases.

The total confirmed cases in Switzerland and tiny neighbouring principality Liechtenstein increased to 154,251 and the death toll rose by 52 to 2,037.

This week Switzerland removed the UK from its list of high-risk destinations, meaning we no longer have to quarantine for 10 days on arrival.

01:01 PM

Why aren't we getting any new travel corridors?

Oliver Smith thinks it is a scandal that every single African and Latin American country remains on our quarantine list. He writes:

Now that the disease is endemic, travelling abroad is no more risky – Covid-wise – than staying at home. According to the latest ONS report, “there is no longer a difference in the rate of infections between those who have travelled abroad and those who haven’t.” A week in Tuscany, lounging by the pool and visiting the local markets, is just as safe as a week in Tunbridge Wells, lounging on the sofa and visiting the local Waitrose. 

Earlier this week I argued that it’s time to scrap all restrictions on overseas travel. But if we must persist with this quarantine policy, it should only apply to the small number of countries with a significantly higher infection rate (currently, that means Belgium, Andorra, Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Slovenia, and a few others). Keep Cyprus and Lithuania, and bring back the likes of Iceland and Portugal.  

Read more here.

12:50 PM

Breaking: Powerful earthquake strikes off of Turkey's Aegean coast

A 7.0 magnitude earthquake has struck just north of the Greek island of Samos on Turkey's Aegean coast.

It has been felt as far away as Athens and Istanbul according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).

A video being shared on Twitter (below) is thought to show the after-effects in the Turkish city of Izmir, where buildings have collapsed.

12:31 PM

Japan eases travel curbs for nine countries

According to a report by Reuters, Japan has eased travel curbs for China, Australia, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, New Zealand, Brunei and Vietnam. 

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said on Friday that Japan it would be lowering the infection risk advisory level for all nine to 2 from 3, telling its citizens to avoid non-urgent, non-essential trips. Under the infection risk advisory level of 3, the public are instructed not to take any trips. 

12:04 PM

'It's not fair the Cyprus air bridge has been taken away'

Many of the families with school-age children holidaying in Paphos, Cyprus, were flying home from half-term holidays on Friday afternoon and were unaffected by the news last night that those returning after 4am on Sunday will have to quarantine for 14 days. Some, however, had to change their plans fast when they heard the news, reports Sasha Slater.

Sue and Steve Whadcock spend half the year in Devises, Wiltshire, and the other half in Polis, a small town on the north coast of Cyprus. "We were due to fly home next weekend," says Sue Whadcock, waiting at Paphos airport for the afternoon Easyjet flight to Gatwick. "And it was a shock last night when the news came through. We got up early this morning and booked the tickets. Normally it costs £60 for a return flight, these were £400 for a single." 

The Whadcocks, who have had a property here for 12 years, need to get home to spend Christmas with their family and didn’t want to quarantine for 14 days on arrival. They believe that Cyprus is being unfairly stigmatised: "They’ve been really good and careful here," says Sue Whadcock. "It’s not fair they’ve had the air bridge taken away."

11:51 AM

'I’ve found the perfect combination for a cosy autumn staycation this year'

The medieval Cinque Port of Rye is a town that is best dressed in autumn. Cobbled lanes, half-timbered houses, brick buildings and plenty of ivy and foliage give the higgledy-piggledy streets in its centre a cosy feel that’s only improved by burnt orange leaves, early sunsets and rosy cheeks from wandering in the cold. Centuries-old inns call out your name for a pint alongside stained glass mirrors and roaring fireplaces.

Mermaid Street, Rye - GETTY
Mermaid Street, Rye - GETTY

Rye was once found on the tip of the sea, but over hundreds of years the surrounding tidal salt marshes have been reclaimed, meaning it’s now just over a mile from blustery walks along the beach. There’s also a lovely nature reserve, nearby vineyards that produce some of England’s best sparkling wine, and antiques shops aplenty. As for mealtimes, seafood is unsurprisingly a highlight, but there’s also a series of creative cafés that you will leave wishing they were your own local.

As Lizzie Frainier found on a recent long weekend in the area, this combination of a thriving independent town and alluring outdoor spaces makes it supreme staycation territory. 

Read the full guide to Rye, with recommendations of where to eat, sleep and drink here.

11:41 AM

TUI Cruises confirms it will continue with its November sailings

TUI Cruises's planned November departures will set sail as planned, despite the German government deciding on October 28 to impose further restrictions on travel. 

A TUI spokesperson said:

More than 30,000 satisfied guests have travelled with us since July, without any incidents. This proves that cruises are possible in times of COVID-19 – with a strict hygiene and safety concept including an obligatory COVID-19-test for both guests and crew'With mutual consideration and disciplined behavior on board, guests stay among themselves. Deliberately reduced capacities of maximum 60 percent ensures an even more generous space-per-passenger ratio. This means that enough space can be kept at all times and everywhere on board.

11:17 AM

In praise of Jet2, and the other travel companies having a good pandemic

Among the hundreds of complaints about the difficulties of securing refunds, we have received praise for a small number of companies.

Top of the list are, indeed, Jet2 and Jet2holidays, which have kept up contact with customers and given refunds without a fuss. Jet2 was voted best short-haul airline by readers in the Telegraph Travel Awards last year, and customer service is clearly a priority.

We have also heard good things about Trailfinders, both as a tour operator and a travel agent. Charlie Baggs booked flights to Cape Town which were cancelled by BA in August. “Trailfinders phoned to alert me and said they would claim my refund from BA, but warned it might take weeks,” he says. “The next morning, I received an email from the same agent saying his manager had agreed to an immediate repayment, which I received that afternoon.”

Gill Charlton shares more here.

11:00 AM

Cruise industry poised for decision on lifting US ban

The US cruise industry is on tenterhooks as it waits to find out whether the ‘no-sail’ order for cruise ships will be extended.

The ban from public health agency Centers for Disease Control (CDC) was initially issued in March before being extended in July and then again in September.

cruise ship -  JEFF GREENBERG
cruise ship - JEFF GREENBERG

It is set to expire this tomorrow (October 31), which would give cruise ships the green light to set sail once more.

Yet while a resumption of sailing is certainly possible in November, it is far from guaranteed. In its latest travel advice, which was updated on October 21, the CDC continues to advise passengers against taking a holiday at sea, warning of the "high risk" of travelling on cruise ships.

Kaye Holland has more.

10:39 AM

G Adventures launches new holidays to the Canary Islands and the Maldives, in line with new air corridors

G Adventures has released a collection of winter departures from December 2020, including a week-long Maldives dhoni boat adventure and a brand-new hiking trip in Tenerife. Both have been added thanks to the addition of travel corridors to these destinations last Thursday.

The Hiking the Canary Islands tour will focus on great hiking, local food and visits to National Parks, highlighting what the popular island of Tenerife has to offer outside of beaches and all-inclusive hotels.

The Maldives Dhoni Explorer tour will show a different side to the Maldives, with travellers spending a week aboard a traditional dhoni boat, enjoying turquoise lagoons, isolated sandbars, traditional drumming ceremonies with locals and helping with plastic clean ups in the South Malé and Felidhu atolls.

Brian Young, managing director at G Adventures, says the new tours will allow travellers to reclaim their winter holiday while doing something different to their usual beach holiday. He continues:

The pandemic has impacted all of us, and has made many people rethink what they want from travel. Over the past six months we’ve seen the demand for active breaks soar, with trips such as climbing Kilimanjaro being top of the search list. With the introduction of the new air corridors, it was the perfect opportunity to launch a tour which enables travellers to get active, while showing them a popular destination like the Canary Islands from a different perspective. The island has so much to offer beyond the big resorts and we’re incredibly excited to share this beautiful destination with travellers in a G Adventures way.

10:19 AM

'Everything in Cyprus is reliant on the Brits – now many of us won't survive the winter'

Yesterday evening, Cyprus was added to the UK government’s quarantine list, meaning that, from 4am on Sunday, those visiting the Mediterranean island from the UK are required to isolate for 14 days on their return.

The decision did not come as a huge surprise. Over the last few weeks, Cyprus has seen a spike in Covid-19 cases –from single digits to over 100 a day – and the nation’s test positivity rate stands at roughly four per cent. But it’s nevertheless a huge blow for a nation which relies so heavily on tourism.

Cyprus - GETTY
Cyprus - GETTY

At the start of 2019, British expat Jane Lewis owned a tea shop based in Limassol, the town hardest hit by the pandemic. “Before corona, we were busy all year round,” she says, “especially during the summer. The Brits would pop off the cruise ships and drop in for tea and scones. 

“But when corona hit Cyprus in the spring, custom dried up overnight. The landlord wouldn’t reduce our rent, measures became prohibitive, and so I simply fired my staff and closed my doors. Since then, I’ve tried various other ventures, but Limassol is so reliant on foreign visitors that everything has been a bust. I reckon, with Cyprus now on the UK quarantine list, I’ll be living off tea and toast this winter!”

Alix Norman has more here.

10:04 AM

Mass exodus from Paris before second lockdown begins

An aerial video being shared on Twitter shows a huge traffic jam in Paris last night, just before the 9pm curfew kicked in. A second national lockdown has begun today.

10:02 AM

You can now visit Austria without a test

Austria has updated its travel advice to say that entry to the country from the UK without the need for a COVID-19 test or quarantine is now possible.

But don't rush to book your tickets just yet – the country still doesn't have an air bridge with the UK, meaning you would have to quarantine for 14 days upon return.

09:51 AM

France begins second lockdown

France's 65 million population are now largely confined to their homes, needing written statements to leave.

Millions of people raced to buy supplies ahead of the new lockdown which began midnight on Friday, with essentials like pasta and toilet paper in high demand.

The lockdown is scheduled to last a month, with bars and restaurants also closed until at least December and travel between regions limited.

Read more on the coronavirus live blog.

09:47 AM

BA sinks to £6.2bn pre-tax loss for first nine months of the year

The FTSE 100 group said Covid has had a material impact on the global airline and travel sectors since late February and there were "no immediate signs of recovery".

Chief executive of International Airlines Group, Luis Gallego, said: "These results demonstrate the negative impact of Covid-19 on our business but they're exacerbated by constantly changing government restrictions.

"This creates uncertainty for customers and makes it harder to plan our business effectively.

"We are calling on governments to adopt pre-departure testing using reliable and affordable tests with the option of post-flight testing to release people from quarantine where they are arriving from countries with high infection rates.

"This would open routes, stimulate economies and get people travelling with confidence. When we open routes, there is pent up demand for travel."

Read about The Telegraph's Test4Travel campaign here.

09:28 AM

easyJet holidays responds to changing travel advice for Cyprus

Customers who are due to travel will be contacted by the easyJet holidays team to share the disappointing news and all affected customers will be contacted with their options based on the date of their departure. For customers whose holidays are cancelled, the holiday firm offers reassurance that they will receive a full refund for their cancelled holiday back to their original payment method. Something easyJet holidays has been able to process within an average of 12 days.

Customers who opt to receive the value of their Cyprus trip as easyJet holidays credit to make a an alternative holiday booking can choose from any destination on the easyJet holidays website, and for those looking for winter sun, the holiday company last week resumed holidays to the Canary Islands following the announcement that holidaymakers can visit the Spanish archipelago without having to quarantine on return.

09:24 AM

Your 19 remaining holiday options

In all, there are now just four places on the travel corridor list that have no restrictions on UK arrivals, and a further 15 with limited restrictions that make holidays just about feasible. 

Open for business

1. Canary Islands

2. Gibraltar

3. Greece

4. Sweden

Feasible options

5. Germany: Test on arrival

6. Jersey: Test on arrival

7. Madeira: Test before departure

8. Anguilla: Test before departure

9. Antigua and Barbuda: Test before departure

10. Barbados: Test before departure 

11. Bermuda: Test before departure

12. Cuba: Test on arrival

13. Dominica: Test before departure and on arrival

14. Grenada: Test before departure 

15. St Lucia: Test before departure

16. St Vincent and the Grenadines: Test before departure

17. Maldives: Test before departure

18. Mauritius: Test before departure and on arrival

19. Seychelles: Test before departure and on arrival

More information here.

09:18 AM

Which? Travel editor weighs in on removal of Cyprus air bridge

 Well said.

09:07 AM

Thomas Cook removes Cyprus from sale

Following the latest announcement on the Government’s travel corridors, holidays and short breaks to Cyprus have been removed from the Thomas Cook website, the company has confirmed.    

The brand, which re-launched last month as a ‘Covid-ready’ travel company, only sells holidays to destinations on the Government’s safe travel corridor list and has committed to providing flexibility to customers affected by changes to the rules.    

A spokesperson for Thomas Cook, which has committed to providing refunds within 14 days of a holiday being cancelled, said:

Cyprus has been one of our most popular destinations since our re-launch, and it’s a shame holidaymakers will not be to enjoy this beautiful island for the time being.     We are in touch with customers who are due to travel to Cyprus in the next couple of weeks, to offer to move their holiday elsewhere or postpone it to a later date. We are also contacting all of our customers already enjoying their holidays in Cyprus to offer our support and advice about what their next steps might be.    If any other customers who have booked a holiday to Cyprus want to discuss their options, please give us a call or drop us a chat and our team will be happy to help.

08:51 AM

What happened yesterday?

  • Cyprus has lost its travel corridor, but Germany and Sweden survive

  • France, Germany and Spain have announced new lockdown measures of varying severity

  • Nicola Sturgeon has refused to rule out a national lockdown as new travel restrictions loom

  • United Airlines has launched free – but mandatory – Covid testing on transatlantic flights

  • 60 cruisers have tested positive for Covid after a yodelling cruise 

More updates to follow.