Portugal reports record rise in cases as Italy joins UK's 'amber list'

Annabel Fenwick-Elliott
·19 min read
portugal - istock
portugal - istock
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Both Portugal and Italy have reported their highest daily increase in coronavirus cases since lockdown was lifted in May.

Most of Portugal's 486 new cases were found in and around the capital, Lisbon, as well as the country’s second city, Porto. The rise has renewed fears that the country could soon be stripped of its travel corridor with England. Scotland and Wales have already removed it from their quarantine-exempt lists.

New figures show the number of cases in Portugal per 100,000 over seven days – the metric used by the Government to determine which country is on the UK’s travel corridors list – is now at 23.2. If a country surpasses 20, it enters the 'red' zone and is typically removed from the list.

Italy, meanwhile, has also recorded its highest number of new coronavirus cases since May, moving it into the 'amber' zone for the first time; at 15.3 cases per 100,000.

At the top of the 'red zone' is Spain, with 127.2; while France is at 62.8. Greece remains in the 'green' zone with a rate of 13.1.

Scroll down for more.

04:26 PM

What did we learn today?

A recap of the top stories:

  • Infections fall in countries using testing at airports

  • UK testing rate ahead of Germany, France, Spain, and Italy

  • Portugal records highest daily rise in coronavirus cases since May

  • Italy joins the UK's 'amber list'

  • Bahrain re-opens borders to UK tourist

 Thank you for joining us and see you tomorrow morning.

04:17 PM

Interactive map lets you browse countries based on their Covid-19 status

We love maps here at Telegraph Travel, and we really, really love this one. Covid Controls is an interactive spread of the globe that enables you to search for countries based on their current coronavirus restrictions.

So you can see where rates are spiking, which destinations enforce masks, and whether you have to quarantine or present a negative Covid-19 test, among other deciding factors.

Handy, if you're scouring your options for a holiday in this fast-changing environment. 

03:48 PM

Pope forced into cutbacks as Vatican City struggles without tourists

Pope Francis has announced new measures to reduce internal spending at The Vatican, as the nation state predicts huge losses this year.

The impact of the pandemic on the Vatican has been particularly significant as it is expensive to run, with huge maintenance costs and pricey papal activities. In an attempt to streamline costs, all expenditure must now be approved by a new central ordering system.

The Sistine Chapel - getty
The Sistine Chapel - getty

The Vatican museums, which include the Sistine Chapel, usually attract seven million visitors a year and cost around 20 euros to enter. While the chapel, famous for its Michaelangelo-painted roof, reopened in June, it has only welcomed a tiny proportion of the tourists it would normally would, due to lack of international tourists and social distancing measures. 

The clouds have been gathering for a while. Back in May, Father Juan Antonio Guerrero, the head of the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy, told the official Vatican News website “We definitely have difficult years ahead of us.” 

03:32 PM

The situation in Sweden.

Sweden's Covid-19 case rate has dropped below both Norway and Denmark in a boost for its 'no-lockdown' approach. 

Which begs the question: Is the country's coronavirus strategy finally silencing the doubters? Richard Orange reckons so

Here's how Sweden's graph is looking:

Coronavirus Sweden Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus Sweden Spotlight Chart - Cases default

 Let's compare that with Spain, which had the most draconian lockdown in Europe:

Coronavirus Spain Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus Spain Spotlight Chart - Cases default

 Which country do you think had the best strategy? Let us know in the comments box.

03:12 PM

Sick of WFH but office still shut? Try the home-working hotel

Could a 'working mini-break' at a member's club offer respite for tired employees? Helen Chandler-Wilde charged up her laptop to find out...

work - Andrew Crowley
work - Andrew Crowley

Coronavirus means I haven’t been on a foreign holiday in 12 months, so I book two days of work and play at Birch – a new “lifestyle membership community” just north of London in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire.

It’s difficult to explain what it is in a few words: there are bedrooms, but it’s not a hotel; there is work space, but it’s not an office; there are yoga and spinning classes, but it’s not a gym. There are also the beginnings of a full working farm, but more on that later.

Read about Helen's trial of the home-working hotel here.

02:15 PM

Indonesia's case total nears 200,000

Indonesia reported 3,444 new coronavirus cases today, bringing the total to 194,109, data from the country’s health ministry website showed.

The Southeast Asian country also reported 85 new deaths, taking the total to 8,025, the highest coronavirus death toll in Southeast Asia. 

jakarta - bloomberg
jakarta - bloomberg

02:01 PM

How to get travel insurance should you choose to ignore Foreign Office advice

Contrary to popular belief, you can visit a country to which the Foreign Office (FCDO) advises against travel without invalidating your insurance – you just need to contact one of the few providers willing to offer cover. What’s more, it shouldn’t cost much more than an ordinary policy. 

Oliver Smith explains how it works.

01:31 PM

Tony Blair: We must use every innovation to end 'travel roulette'

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has weighed in on the topic of the UK's quarantine laws, insisting that testing at airports should replace the current 14-day isolation period required for arrivals from certain countries, writing for MailOnline:

Every decision taken about the easing [of restrictions] is a mix of science and judgment, but when it comes to international travel, we need a much better mixture of the two. The insistence on the current quarantine measures is doing huge damage to the British economy – quite unnecessarily so.

The often opaque communication from the Government, which has caused chaos and confusion for holidaymakers, has come at a steep cost to employers in terms of lost productivity and to employees in lost wages.

In addition to the economic hit, quarantine also makes a dent on mental well-being. The policy is also doing untold harm to the airline industry itself.

On this topic, we agree with Mr Blair.

01:15 PM

Czech daily cases surge beyond 700

The number of people infected with coronavirus has continued to surge in the Czech Republic, surpassing 700 for the first time.

The Health Ministry said the day-to-day increase reached a record of 798 new confirmed cases on Friday.

Health authorities have already imposed new restrictive measures in the Czech capital, reacting to the spike.

Starting on Wednesday, it is mandatory again to wear face masks in stores and shopping malls. At the same time, bars, restaurants and nightclubs must be closed from midnight to 6am.

The Czech Republic has 27,249 cases and 429 deaths.

12:49 PM

Your lunchtime read: If we're being forced into quarantine, at least show us the data to prove it's working

The UK Government hasn't released figures on whether its confounding quarantine laws are even of use, argues Ashwin Bhardwaj:

This data would either discourage people from travelling, or show that quarantine is unjustified.  

The difficulty is that we can’t know for sure, because, if someone gets tested a few days after returning, we can’t tell if they contracted Covid-19 abroad, on the plane, or back at home. Track-and-trace has its issues, too, as the Tui flight from Zante, showed. 

Testing-on-arrival is the only system that catches all these problems, which are public health issues, rather than economic ones. The infrastructure will take time and money to set up. But it’s the only viable solution to keep us all safe. The Government has done more to save jobs and lives elsewhere. They should do so here, too.

Read his full piece here.

12:30 PM

India set to become second most affected country

India added more than 90,000 cases of the coronavirus on Sunday, a global daily record, according to data from the federal health ministry.

There were 90,632 new cases in the 24 hours to Sunday, according to the data from the Ministry of Health and Famlily Welfare, while the number of deaths rose by 1,065 to 70,626.

The country is set to pass Brazil on Monday as the second most affected country by total infections and will be behind only the United States, which has 6.4 million cases and nearly 193,000 deaths.

Coronavirus cases in India have reached 4.1 million and about 3.2 million affected people have been treated so far, the government data showed.

12:12 PM

How is Greece getting on?

There's been an increase in the number of coronavirus cases reported in Greece in recent weeks. However, the latest figures still put it safely under the UK Government's threshold of 20 cases per 100,000 over seven days; Greece is at 13.1.

Coronavirus Greece Spotlight Chart - cases default
Coronavirus Greece Spotlight Chart - cases default

This is Portugal's chart, for comparison:

Coronavirus Portugal Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus Portugal Spotlight Chart - Cases default

 And the UK's:

Coronavirus UK Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus UK Spotlight Chart - Cases default

11:55 AM

'The same as it was in the 1970s' – a postcard from Florence, the best place in Europe for a city break

Sasha Slater says now is the time to visit:

Travelling to Florence these days is not like the post-apocalyptic weirdness of July, when you could go to the Piazza del Duomo at midday and see not a single soul. Instead, it’s the same as it was in the 1970s except with Wi-Fi and better plumbing. It’s basically the perfect mini-break.

September is always a wonderful month to visit the Tuscan city. It’s less scorching than August; the sun doesn’t beat down directly on those narrow streets quite so ferociously. Even the mosquitos have given up by this point in the year. But it is hot enough to eat out in the evening in shirtsleeves. And right this minute, it’s also got the optimum level of tourism – if you’re a tourist that is, rather than a seller of plaster reproductions of Michelangelo’s David.

Read her full report here.

uffizi - ap
uffizi - ap

11:35 AM

The most enchanting places to stay on the River Thames

You can stay in a charming riverside pub or a boutique hotel that has three Michelin stars; a tepee, a members’ club or a building commissioned by King Charles II.

Or perhaps the cottage made famous by the Profumo scandal? No two properties will be the same, but they all carry the Thames and its history with them.

Read our expert guide.

11:20 AM

Airport testing is not a 'silver bullet', says Raab

Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, said Labour's call for more airport testing was not a "silver bullet".

Mr Raab told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show: "Let's just be clear about this when we think about airports - there is no silver bullet in airports.

"The current data suggests that the success rate of positively identifying people with Covid with a test in the airport is less than 10 per cent."

Put to him that those numbers increase if passengers are then tested again seven days later, Mr Raab said: "There is no silver bullet in the airport alone and that's why we have the quarantine.

"So, the direction of travel will be making sure we have the capacity and the ability for when the time is right to ease up on the self-isolation at home, and that's certainly something that we'll be looking at."

Read more: Airport testing reduces rates of infections better than quarantine.

11:07 AM

The view from California

It's Labour Day weekend across the pond, and Californians are making the most of Santa Monica...

santa monica - getty
santa monica - getty
santa monica - getty
santa monica - getty

10:50 AM

Melbourne lockdown to continue until late September

Australia's coronavirus hotspot state of Victoria today extended a hard lockdown in its capital Melbourne until September 28.

The announcement came as the state's infection rate declined more slowly than hoped.

"We cannot open up at this time. If we were to we would lose control very quickly," State Premier Daniel Andrews told a televised media conference on Sunday.

The hard lockdown was ordered on August 2 in response to a second wave of infections that erupted in Melbourne.

10:35 AM

The insider guide to Ile de Ré, playground to the Parisian upper crust

As the Tour de France whizzes by, Eilidh Hargreaves books into the opulent hotel at the centre of the action. She writes:

It’s here Audrey Tautou buys market patisserie, politicians peek out from behind crisp copies of Le Figaro to sip their morning café and stars such as Shakira and Katy Perry pootle nonchalantly on quaint village bikes. On Tuesday, the Tour de France will whizz by as it finishes Stage 10 in Saint Martin de Ré - the main town.

Spectators could do a lot worse than checking into the effusively indulgent Hotel de Toiras, as I recently discovered. Situated in the heart of the action, on the old port in a restored 17th century merchants house, the hotel is classically designed, bringing a Versailles glamour to the island that suits les bobos (the bourgeois-bohemians that escape Paris to summer here) to a tee. 

Read the full story here.


10:20 AM

Our journalism is free to read this weekend

Paywall down
Paywall down

Head on over to our travel homepage, and feast on our holiday inspiration and expert advice.

10:04 AM

Bahrain re-opens borders to UK tourists and non-residents from 182 countries

Bahrain has re-opened its borders to tourists and non-residents, including those from the UK, following the introduction of new COVID-19 testing measures.

Passengers holding electronic visas and those eligible for visas on arrival – from 114 countries and 68 countries respectively – will now be able to enter the Kingdom.

Bahraini citizens, residents, and GCC nationals continue to be permitted, as well as diplomats, military personnel, airline crew, and holders of official, service, or UN passports.

The revised measures include a requirement for passengers to undergo a PCR test at their own expense after landing.

Arrivals must remain in self-isolation until negative results are received, while transfer passengers are exempted from the tests. Travellers who test positive will receive further instructions from authorities.

The requirement to quarantine has been removed, but those staying in the country for longer than 10 days must take a follow-up test on the 10th day of their visit.

Passengers can check eligibility or apply for an electronic visa by visiting evisa.gov.bh.

09:50 AM

Portugal records highest daily rise in coronavirus cases since May

Portugal reported 486 new coronavirus cases yesterday, its highest daily increase since lockdown was lifted in May. 

Most of the new cases were found in and around the capital, Lisbon, as well as the country’s second city, Porto. Portugal has now recorded a total of 59,343 cases and seen 1.843 deaths related to the virus, a much lower rate per capita than neighbouring Spain. 

Portugal was initially successful at containing the pandemic, but a series of localised outbreaks kept the country off the UK’s travel ‘green list’ until August 20.

Coronavirus Portugal Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus Portugal Spotlight Chart - Cases default

The rise has renewed fears that the country could now be stripped of its travel corridor with England. On Thursday, Wales and Scotland removed Portugal from their ‘safe lists’ meaning travellers to the country must quarantine for 14 days on return. Somewhat surprisingly, the country was able to hold on to its 'air bridge' with England. 

The threshold for a UK quarantine in recent weeks has been 20 cases per 100,000 (seven-day cumulative figures), which Portugal has exceeded for days now. It is currently hovering around 23 cases per 100,000. All other European countries to have exceeded this figure – including Spain, France and Croatia – have been removed from the travel corridor list. 

09:35 AM

BA hits out over £500m bill for failed airport plans

A row has erupted between Heathrow airport and British Airways over the plans to hand airlines a £500m bill relating to the airport’s controversial third runway.

A regulatory consultation recommends allowing Heathrow to charge carriers for expansion costs incurred until February this year.

Judges blocked Heathrow’s controversial £14bn expansion seven months ago over climate change concerns – but not before the airport spent hundreds of millions of pounds in preparation.

Oliver Gill has the story.

09:20 AM

UK testing rate ahead of Germany, France, Spain, and Italy, says Raab

The UK is testing more people than Germany, France, Spain and Italy, Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary has said.

Speaking on the Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme, Mr Raab said the UK's testing rate meant the Government is now testing one in five people, and testing capacity is at around 300,000. 

"In terms of per capita, as a proportion of the population, our testing rate is ahead of Germany, France, Spain, Italy, so we need to craft and make sure we keep ramping that up," he said.

He added there is  "plan" to get testing up to 500,000 capacity and couples with localised lockdowns - where needed - "we can make these steps to get people back to work".

Introducing Test4Travel: the Telegraph’s campaign for airport testing

09:05 AM

Exclusive: Infections fall in countries using testing at airports

Countries that have expanded their airport testing of arriving holidaymakers have seen their national Covid infection rates decline, according to a new analysis, Charles Hymas reports.

The data, covering the period from mid-August to this weekend, shows Greece, Denmark, Iceland, Germany, Cyprus and Singapore all reduced their rates after intensifying border testing to allow arrivals to avoid 14-day quarantine.

The disclosure challenges the Government’s contention that testing on arrival is ineffective and catches only seven per cent of cases - an argument deployed by both Boris Johnson and Grant Shapps on Friday.

EXCLUSIVE: Airport testing reduces rates of infections better than quarantine

frankfurt - bloomberg
frankfurt - bloomberg

08:51 AM

Worldwide summary

Here are the latest coronavirus developments from around the world this morning.

  • India added more than 90,000 coronavirus cases today, a global daily record, according to health ministry data. That brought the country's total cases to 4.1 million, while the number of deaths rose by 1,065 to 70,626.

  • South Korea reported the smallest rise in infections in three weeks today, remaining under 200 for a fourth consecutive day as tighter restrictions cap a second wave of the virus.

  • Italy's former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is in a stable condition two days after being hospitalised with the coronavirus, his doctor said yesterday.

  • Brussels honoured health workers battling the pandemic on Saturday by dressing up the Belgian capital's famed bronze statue of the Manneken Pis as a doctor in a white gown and wearing a protective face mask.

  • Mexico has recorded 122,765 deaths more than would be expected during the pandemic up to August, the health ministry said in a report on excess mortality rates, suggesting the country's true coronavirus toll could be much higher. Mexico has recorded 67,326 confirmed coronavirus deaths, the world's fourth highest death toll.

  • United States vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris said she would not take President Donald Trump's word alone on any potential coronavirus vaccine.

Head to our coronavirus live blog for more as it happens.

08:49 AM

What is Cyprus doing so right?

Here is the current state of affairs regarding on the UK's 'traffic light' system, used to judge which countries are on our quarantine-exempt list:

Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency, weighs in:

Confusion still remains because of the divide between England, Scotland and Wales treating Portugal differently, as well as six Greek islands of course. It’s also still not clear why countries such as Singapore and Bulgaria have not been removed from the quarantine list. 

Greece and Turkey still remain in the green zone, managing their caseloads - both countries have solidly stuck to green for several weeks now. 

Finally Cyprus is still one of the most impressive countries in the world for keeping its cases/100,000 at low levels. It has one of the highest testing rates in the EU as a proportion of its population. It should be commended for taking a tough stance, demanding proof of negative Covid tests for anyone entering its borders. Perhaps Westminster politicians could take a leaf out of Cyprus’ book to enable more travel, yet keep case numbers down? 

Making it mandatory to produce a negative Covid test on entry to Britain, and then a short quarantine period of five days, followed by a second test, would boost confidence in business and leisure travel and protect many thousands of jobs.

08:29 AM

What happened yesterday?

A quick recap:

  • Thousands of returning holidaymakers checked on by police

  • Second major cruise line prepares for post-lockdown sailing from Italy

  • ‘Disarray’ for UK airport arrivals, with no distancing for quarantine passengers

  • Half of Virgin Atlantic staff to go in £1.2bn rescue

  • Californians protest against increase in tourists

  • Norwegian Airlines sees low passenger numbers for August, despite restarted routes

Read yesterday's blog here.