New testing options to unlock post-lockdown holidays

Emma Featherstone
woman at testing facility
woman at testing facility

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.​

05:15 PM

What happened today?

Here are the main headlines: 

  • Canada extends travel ban until January ​

  • Cornwall will welcome visitors from Tier 2, says head of local tourism 

  • EasyJet joins Ryanair in 'race to the bottom' by charging passengers extra for cabin bags

  • Travellers who have had Covid will be exempt from Iceland quarantine

Catch-up with the rest below.

05:03 PM

'Gentler, greener, quieter – welcome to the city of the future'

Far from killing off our great metropolises, Covid-19 could end up speeding their transformation into even better places to visit, writes Chris Moss.

Green city
Green city

Travellers love cities. Metropolises powered the Grand Tour, the Interrail era and the no-frills flight age. Half a day in a museum is the tourism experience par excellence. City restaurants get the bulk of Michelin stars and attract the most innovative chefs. City hotels get the most stars, the biggest suites, the most glamorous guests.

The pandemic put a block on urban adventures. That was bad enough. But then the armchair Nostradamus began to announce that the end of the city was nigh. No sooner had London’s Waterloo and City line stopped running at the start of the first lockdown than the crystal balls came out. Forecasters were predicting that commuting as we know and loathe it had ended; theatres and galleries would never recover; homeworking would turn once great metropolises into ghost towns; all the Prets would have to close.

I don’t think so. Sure, real changes had an impact on some of the cities travellers love most. Paris’s bookshops were forced to beg for charity. Buenos Aires’ empty cafés struggled to survive; some steakhouses shut their doors for good. The fashion boutiques of Milan had last season’s garbs in their window displays; designers went virtual, buyers stayed home. But, at the same time Venice had a spell without overtourism, and its canals were cleaner. There was room on Tokyo’s trains and New York’s subway. Cleaner air and blue skies everywhere allowed us all a breather and a break from routine. 

Read the full story.

04:50 PM

Berlin fetish nightclub to become Covid testing centre

In a sign of the times, Berlin's legendary KitKat fetish nightclub, which has been shut for eight months, will reopen to the public on Friday – as a Covid testing centre. 

Instead of revellers there will be rapid tests, with results returned in just 25 minutes. Each test will cost a reasonable 24 euros (£21).

04:31 PM

'Closing pubs means people will buy supermarket booze and gather in houses – it's not rocket science'

New lockdown restrictions in Wales are the final straw for the hospitality industry in the run-up to Christmas, writes Kerry Walker.

Last orders: People enjoy a beer in Cardiff
Last orders: People enjoy a beer in Cardiff

Instead of opting for a tiered system like England and Scotland, Mark Drakeford has opted for a broad-brush, one-size-fits-all approach, which many businesses in rural regions with low rates of infection deem unfair. 

 “The First Minister’s announcement is a real disappointment for the hospitality industry, says Sarah Hudson, owner of The Bell at Skenfrith, a 17th-century coaching inn with a highly regarded restaurant on the River Monnow in Monmouthshire, a stone’s throw from the English border. “Everyone has gone to such lengths to implement all the necessary Covid-safe measures and now we can’t serve any measures! It’s been particularly hard for us here having only just got back on our feet after being closed due to floods for nearly a year.”

 Others restaurateurs and publicans are worried about the uncertainty still clouding the horizon. How long will these restrictions go on for? What comes next? One recurring criticism is that the Welsh Government should have been more transparent and informative from the outset, enabling businesses to plan accordingly.

Read the full story.

04:20 PM

Tour operator reports increase in Africa holiday bookings

Expert Africa has reported a welcome increase in safari bookings. The company suggests that travellers are being attracted by special rates, quiet conditions and the chance to make a major contribution to camps and communities during this tough time. It says ‘fair and flexible’ booking terms and effective insurance policies, offer reassurance, as do the sustained low infection rates across the continent. 

Chris McIntyre, Expert Africa’s Managing Director, said:

Since August, Africa and the routes to get there have been re-opening. The initial trickle of travellers has become a steady stream, with a healthy number of last-minute bookings.

 Safaris are outdoor holidays, based in remote tented camps in destinations which generally have very low Covid infection rates. Self-isolation on safari – alone with nature and your guide – is the perfect recipe for escapism and mental calm.

 Each guest is contributing directly to the well-being and lives of dozens of people.

The renewed interest in far-flung travel is another indication of the importance of  The Telegraph’s Unlock Long-haul campaign.

LOGO: Unlock Long Haul
LOGO: Unlock Long Haul

 

03:59 PM

'Even with terrible weather and no famous sights, this cruise was full of wonder'

For those with an adventurous spirit, Patagonia is an epic location, writes Chris Moss.

Torres-del-Paine-National-Park
Torres-del-Paine-National-Park

It was at Puerto Natales that I began to wonder if Patagonia's most notorious element – the wind – had got the better of our holiday. Under clear blue skies, the RCGS Resolute eased its way into the harbour and turned as if to begin mooring. The golden steppe beckoned. The peaks framing the little town summoned. But the gale that had been blowing incessantly almost since we'd embarked five days earlier picked up with mean-spirited haste, turning the sea to froth and whipping up spray from the wave-tops.

 A hundred or so passengers waited as the ship weighed anchor, the harbour pilot arrived, the engine was quietened, cameras and cash were pocketed, and... nada. An hour later, the feared Tannoy announced: the port had been closed "due to dangerous conditions"

Read the full story.

03:44 PM

Travel agents blast Government over 'confusing' tier 3 holiday rules

Tour operators are urging Number 10 to provide clarity regarding tier 3 travel restrictions. Last week, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said those living under the toughest rules would be able to go abroad 'if you're going straight to an airport'.

However, Government guidance online was recently updated to say tier 3 residents should 'avoid' international travel.  

Julia Lo-Bue Said, head of Advantage Travel Partnership, told the website TravelMole:

"The latest rules for the tier system are understandably causing confusion for agents and their clients, especially since each tiers' corresponding rules have changed since before the second lockdown.

 "The guidance stipulates that residents in tier 3 should avoid travelling outside of their area and now also refers people to the FCDO website for the latest travel advice if they need to travel abroad, which in itself is contradictory advice. This is also inconsistent to the message from Grant Shapps last week, so there will be more confusion unless this is explicitly outlined by the Government.

 "Currently, travel agents cannot offer the correct advice to their customers and they also need to prepare for the possibility of having to re-book or cancel passengers if travel is in fact banned from tier 3 areas, and we urgently need clarification on the matter."

Which Covid tier will I be in from December 2?
Which Covid tier will I be in from December 2?

 

03:23 PM

Cornwall continues to welcome visitors from Tier 2, says head of local tourism

Malcolm Bell, chief executive of Visit Cornwall, has downplayed fears of an influx of visitors to the county, after it was announced as the only tier 1 location in mainland England.

Mr Bell told PA: “We coped with 180,000-200,000 extra people in August with no rise in infection rate.

“The maximum we would talk about this time of year is 20,000 if that. So people would be welcome as long as they abide by the rules. And considering the age profiles of people visiting this time of year, they are likely to be most compliant.”

Any holidaymakers travelling from a tier 2 area must follow the same rules as the area they came from, including a ban on household mixing – meaning families not living together could not share accommodation or eat inside a restaurant. 

03:04 PM

Comment: 'This pandemic has forced me to redefine what counts as travel, and I'm so glad it has'

This year, Telegraph Travel's Lizzie Frainier learned that at its very basic principles, travel has nothing to do with where you are.

She writes:

Up until this year my idea of travel was quite different. In its purest form it involved throwing on a backpack, hopping on a long-haul flight and gallivanting around a new-to-me country. Different languages, foods, climates and landscapes each tallied for points. A weekend in Budapest would do, but two weeks out of office in Colombia was the goal.

 Everyone has their dream trip. I’m not saying one is better than the other. For some it needs to include white-sand beaches and buckets of sunshine; for others wildlife and adventure. But I doubt that before 2020 many would have counted a walk in their local woodlands as travel – and I think that is a shame.

travel
travel

Read more

02:53 PM

Hong Kong targets yacht parties in latest coronavirus curbs

Hong Kong's yachts and rented party boats are the latest target for Covid-19 restrictions after police warned waterborne revelry risked spreading the coronavirus.

Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong  - Getty
Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong - Getty

The territory has set up a hotline for residents to report unauthorised boat parties as the financial hub tightens social-distancing rules to contain a surge of virus cases.

Nightclubs and karaoke bars have already been closed, leaving some to switch to hosting parties onboard vessels.

Read the full story.

02:38 PM

Grenada launches digital platform to simplify entry protocols for visitors

The Caribbean island has launched a ‘Pure Safe Travel Certificate’ in an attempt to streamline Covid-related admin for holidaymakers.

Visitors can upload their negative PCR test results, accommodation details and other relevant information on the online portal, which promises to save time at the airport.

However, there are still hoops to jump through. Travellers to the ‘Spice Isle’ can choose to ’holiday in place’ at an approved resort for their entire stay or take a second PCR test, without cost, on day four. Only with a confirmed negative result, provided within one to two working days by the Ministry of Health, can tourists leave their hotels.

The Caribbean has emerged as a beacon of holiday hope this winter, with many islands welcoming visitors if they provide evidence of a recent negative PCR test.

Where can I go? The CAribbean
Where can I go? The CAribbean

 

02:19 PM

More hotels in Wales react to increased restrictions

The Angel Hotel in Abergavenny has decided to completely close its doors while the new Welsh hospitality restrictions are in place. The new rules require restaurants and pubs to shut at 6pm and ban the sale of alcohol.

William Griffiths, who runs the group that owns the hotel, said:  “For the past week we have been decking the halls, putting up Christmas trees (our biggest ever outside the front of the hotel), hanging wreaths, feeding our Christmas cakes and mixing huge tubs of mincemeat. Our menus were all planned and cocktail lists written for our most favourite time of the year.”  

“However, following the announcement from the Welsh Assembly yesterday it is not possible for us to operate.  It is simply not viable for us to open the business partially and with a limited offer due to the complexity and scale of our operation.”

02:05 PM

A new discovery in tourist-free Pompeii is proof that this pandemic has its upsides

With the archaeological site closed due to Covid, experts have devoted time to new excavations instead, writes Chris Leadbeater.

Pompeii - Getty
Pompeii - Getty

It says much about this year that the discovery of two bodies in the wreckage of a disaster zone counts as akin to good news. But here we are, nearing the end of what is the darkest year that almost all of us can recall, and a rare strand of positivity has emerged from, of all places, Pompeii.

 That’s right. Pompeii. A city that was choked to death by a volcano – but, which, compared to the Exploding Clown Car of Doom that is 2020, is all ­sunlight, honey and luxury biscuits. In case you missed it amid the weekend’s various titbits about lockdowns, R-rates and presidential elections, I’m referring to the announcement that the winner of 79AD’s Someone Has It Worse Than You Award has “unveiled” two “new” victims of the ashen rain that swallowed it whole.

 They are thought to be a twentysomething slave, and his older master. Both have been brought back to “life” using the archaeological site’s much-vaunted technique of making plaster moulds of cavities left in the earth by long-decomposed corpses.

Read the full story.

01:52 PM

Legendary Vienna hotel launches drive-through cake service

Hotel Sacher Wien, birthplace of the world-famous sachertorte, is selling its rich chocolate cake from an outside stand to fans who can’t visit its café (dine-in restaurants are currently closed in Austria).

The kiosk, just across the road from Vienna’s State Opera House, presents patrons with a full cake for 50 euros (£45) to enjoy in the comfort of their own homes – or cars.

The family-run hotel has introduced the service to generate some much-needed revenue. Rooms have lain empty for most of the year as international travellers usually account for 90 per cent of its guests. Most staff remain on a furlough scheme while hotels are only allowed to accommodate business travellers. 

01:40 PM

Olympic rings monument returns to Tokyo

The Olympic rings monument was reinstalled in Tokyo Bay today, after being taken down in August, as organisers step up preparations for next year’s postponed Games.

The rings will be briefly illuminated as a signal of positivity that the Games are drawing closer, before going dark while Japan’s capital remains under entertainment/hospitality Covid restrictions.

In an interview with Reuters, Tokyo metropolitan government planning director Atsushi Yanashimizu, said: “Since the symbol is here, we want Tokyo residents and also international fans to feel that the Games are coming very soon,” Yanashimizu said.

He added: “We want everyone to feel we will definitely have the Tokyo 2020 Games next year.”

It has been reported that organisers estimate the cost of Covid safety measures for the Games will run to around 100 billion yen (£719 million).

Tokyo Olympics - AP
Tokyo Olympics - AP

 

01:25 PM

Vietnam suspends inbound commercial flights after virus outbreak

Vietnam will suspend all inbound commercial flights after it detected its first Covid-19 outbreak in nearly three months, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said on Tuesday.

Phuc said inbound evacuation flights can continue but anyone coming in will still have to go into 14 days of quarantine. 

01:24 PM

Ski tour operator falls victim to travel slump after 30 years of trading

Another ski tour operator has fallen victim to the pandemic. Ski Amis, which operated chalet and self-catered holidays in French ski resorts for almost 30 years and won many awards in the process, has ceased trading.

"It is with great regret that we have taken the decision to cease trading effective from Monday the 30th November 2020," reads a statement on the operator’s website.

"We would like to thank all of our loyal clients who have chosen us to take their holidays with over the years, along with the staff who have worked hard to provide our clients with the very best holidays."

"We have tried very hard throughout this period however unfortunately we are left with no other alternatives but to take this very difficult step and we are so very sorry to everybody affected."

The news follows the announcement by the French prime minister last week that ski lifts must remain closed until January at the earliest, meaning despite resorts being able to open, skiing for the masses is not possible. As the FCDO still advises against all non-essential travel to France all UK operators are being forced to cancel trips for the foreseeable, with experts predicting it’ll be spring before ski holidays get back on their feet.

01:11 PM

British Airways' 'Queen of the Skies' saved for future generations

The airline's "Queens of the Skies" planes will continue to inspire aviation enthusiasts as British Airways has found a permanent home for its remaining retro-liveried Boeing 747 aircraft.

BOAC Livery 747 Aircraft - Stuart Bailey
BOAC Livery 747 Aircraft - Stuart Bailey

The aircraft, registrations G-BNLY and G-BYGC, are this month due to depart from British Airways’ engineering base in Cardiff, where they will be waved off by the British Airways engineers who for many years have proudly maintained the 747 fleet. The pair were among several aircraft painted in heritage liveries to mark the airline’s centenary last year.

Adorned in the iconic Landor livery, used between 1984 and 1997, G-BNLY has been given a new lease of life as a permanent exhibit at Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey. It will join 747, G-CIVW, which was retired in late October and features the current Chatham Dockyard livery.

G-BYGC, painted in the BOAC ‘Gold Speedbird’ livery used between 1963 and 1974, will make the short journey from Cardiff Airport to the Bro Tathan business park in the Vale of Glamorgan.

12:58 PM

EasyJet joins Ryanair in 'race to the bottom' by charging passengers extra for cabin bags

Low-cost airline easyJet has announced a new cabin bag policy, meaning passengers can no longer bring a wheelie case or large rucksack on board for free, reports Greg Dickinson.

The new policy means that people can only take a "small under seat cabin bag" free of charge. A spokesperson for easyJet said: "This will enable them to bring all the essentials for their journey or enough for a short trip."

This brings easyJet in line with the stringent cabin bag policies of Ryanair and Wizz, which have each shrunk their free cabin bag allowances in recent years. Passengers booking with these airlines must pay for ‘Priority’ in order to take a bigger bag on board. 

While the move has received criticism on social media, the airline is spinning the move as an improvement for passengers. Robert Carey, Chief Commercial and Customer Officer for easyJet, said: "Punctuality is important to our customers and we know that if they have their bags placed into the hold at the gate due to the limited space on board this can cause flight delays, and it can be frustrating for them too."

Read the full story.

12:53 PM

'Do not destroy our jobs': ski workers protest against closures

Protests are taking place across France this week as ski resorts in the country fight back against the decision to keep lifts shut until the New Year and skiing off the festive menu.

Yesterday over 300 protestors, including ski instructors and shopkeepers, were out in force in Megève. "Do not destroy our jobs" read one sign – two thirds of hotels in the resorts have announced they will have to remain closed until January. 

The French were also out in force in Les Deux Alpe and neighbouring Alpe d’Huez and  – "We will not give up," read a statement from the resort.

Yannick Amet, president of the Community of Communes in the Haute Tarentaise region, which includes resorts such as Courchevel, Tignes and La Plagne, has called for support at a protest due to take place at Bourg Saint Maurice train station, one of the main transport gateways to resorts in the Alps, tomorrow at 11:30am. 

“Our hope has been stopped dead! This sudden and brutal government stance puts the whole community in disarray. The Savoyard mountain people are not in denial or in revolt, but they simply want the government to hear their difficulties,” reads a statement from Mayors of the 8 communes of Haute Tarentais. Amet and his supporters are calling on the government for a clear and final reopening date for ski resorts and confirmation of the support that will be offered to fragile mountain economics.

12:43 PM

The Rocky Mountaineer heads to the US

The luxury Canadian train operator Rocky Mountaineer is launching its first full route in the United States next year.

Hanging Lake, Glenwood springs - iStock
Hanging Lake, Glenwood springs - iStock

Rockies to the Red Rocks will spend two days travelling between Denver in Colorado and Moab in Utah, crossing the Continental Divide along the way.

Sights will include Ruby Canyon, the Colorado River and Mount Lincoln, with an overnight stay in the hot-spring town of Glenwood Springs.

The company did for a while operate a route between Vancouver and Seattle, but the new Rockies to Red Rocks service, which will complement its signature journeys in Canada –  will be the first involving an extended journey entirely within the United States.

The inaugural run of the new route is planned for Aug 15 2021, and for 10 weeks it will travel from Denver to Utah and back two times a week.

12:30 PM

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 last major outbreak of the plague in Europe occurred exactly 300 years ago - Getty
The last major outbreak of the plague in Europe occurred exactly 300 years ago - Getty

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. 

Read the full story.

12:20 PM

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.

12:06 PM

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.

11:57 AM

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."

11:53 AM

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.

waterfall iceland - iStock
waterfall iceland - iStock

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.

Read the full story.

11:42 AM

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.

11:29 AM

'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.

house in Florac - iStock
house in Florac - iStock

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.

Read Judith's article in full.

11:21 AM

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.

Adelaide Central Market - Getty
Adelaide Central Market - Getty

11:08 AM

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.

11:02 AM

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. 

10:55 AM

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. 

Read the full story.

10:51 AM

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.

woman walking dog in dublin - Reuters
woman walking dog in dublin - Reuters

10:43 AM

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.

10:30 AM

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.

Read the full story.

Coronavirus Switzerland Spotlight Chart - cases default
Coronavirus Switzerland Spotlight Chart - cases default

10:25 AM

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

10:14 AM

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.

Tier 1

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. 

Tier 2

Hotels can reopen for leisure purposes, but you can only stay with members of your own household.

Tier 3

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.

10:04 AM

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.

travel illustration
travel illustration

09:59 AM

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.

Cars are lined up at Dodger Stadium in LA for Covid-19 testing on the Monday after Thanksgiving weekend - Getty
Cars are lined up at Dodger Stadium in LA for Covid-19 testing on the Monday after Thanksgiving weekend - Getty

09:43 AM

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.

09:31 AM

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."

Read more on the coronavirus live blog.

09:23 AM

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.

Las Vistas beach on Tenerife  - Getty
Las Vistas beach on Tenerife - Getty

09:16 AM

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.

Read the full story.

09:07 AM

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.

Visitors at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort - Reuters
Visitors at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort - Reuters

09:00 AM

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

Which Covid tier will I be in from December 2?
Which Covid tier will I be in from December 2?

08:52 AM

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

08:41 AM

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.

08:30 AM

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.