'A couple of drinks and you take off your masks' – top Spain doctor warns tourists to behave

Annabel Fenwick-Elliott
·18-min read
malaga - getty
malaga - getty

One of Spain's leading doctors has addressed problems associated with holidaymakers this summer amid the country's rising Covid-19 infection rates.

Dr. Vicente Soriano, a professor of infectious diseases and director of the UNIR Medical Center in Madrid, says that while spikes were "inevitable and expected" following the easing of lockdown and the reopening of tourism, Spain "is not living a second wave".

Speaking to MarketWatch as to whether Spain is safe for travellers following the FCO's decision to axe it from the UK's "safe list", Dr Soriano said: "If you stay in a resort and a hotel with a beach, really not much problem. But once you decide to take a couple of alcoholic drinks at night time, you don’t wear the mask, and you sing and you dance in a gathering place, that’s the problem."

In early June, Spain was registering fewer than 100 new cases of Covid-19 per day, but that figure shot back up to more than 1,500 on Thursday. However, these numbers represent "mostly young, asymptomatic" people, Dr Soriano pointed out. 

It comes as Spain’s tourism minister Reyes Maroto pleaded for tourists to "come back to Spain” in an interview with the Telegraph, and confirmed the country will not impose any reciprocal quarantine measures on travellers arriving from Britain.

Scroll down for more news.

04:16 PM

What we learnt today

A recap of today's main stories:

  • Victoria declares disaster and sets curfew for Melbourne 

  • UK staycations attract large crowds and increase coastguard callouts

  • Switzerland and Ireland consider enforcing stricter Covid-19 restrictions

  • Holland’s top scientists say no to face masks in public places

  • South Africa coronavirus case toll soars  

Thank you for joining us. Scroll down for more, and see you again tomorrow.

04:03 PM

'In France, it is always wine-o'clock' – Kathy Lette and Ruby Wax laugh their way through a cycling trip in the Loire

The Australian author and British comedian donned ridiculous padded cycling shorts and pedalled through the valley with glee.

Read the lively account here.

03:37 PM

South Africa coronavirus case toll soars

South Africa has become the fifth nation to pass the grim milestone of half a million confirmed coronavirus cases, which account for more than 50 per cent of all Covid-19 infections on the continent of Africa, Marcus Parekh reports.

Zwelini Mkhezi, the health minister, announced a further 10,107 new cases on Saturday, meaning that the Rainbow Nation now only tails the USA, Brazil, Russia and India by number of infections, despite having a significantly smaller population.

03:18 PM

A day at the seaside in Broadstairs

Spirits appeared to be high today on the Kentish coast...

kent - shutterstock
kent - shutterstock
kent - shutterstock
kent - shutterstock
kent - shutterstock
kent - shutterstock

What have you been up to? Let us know in the comments box at the bottom of this article.

03:04 PM

Holland’s top scientists say no to face masks in public places

Move over Sweden, another European country is striking out on its own when it comes to coronavirus measures. 

Walk around Amsterdam this weekend and you are unlikely to see many people sporting face masks. While 120 countries have now declared masks must be worn in public places, Dutch scientists say there is no evidence that they stop the spread of Covid-19 and the government has no plans to make them mandatory.

Coen Berends, spokesman for the Holland’s National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, said: "Face masks in public places are not necessary, based on all the current evidence. There is no benefit and there may even be a negative impact."

Christian Hoebe, a professor of infectious diseases and government advisor, added:

"The evidence for them is contradictory. In general, we think you must be careful with face masks because they can give a false sense of security. People think they're immune from disease or stop social distancing. That is very negative."

However, if you take a trip to the Netherlands this summer be sure to pack your mask as face coverings must still be worn on public transport. Like much of Europe, the country has seen a recent rise in coronavirus cases with 1,400 new infections recorded last week – 342 more than the previous week.

02:50 PM

Today's foreign beaches

Here's the view from sandy shores around the world...

miami - shutterstock
miami - shutterstock
Istanbul - anadolu
Istanbul - anadolu
bondi - getty
bondi - getty

02:39 PM

The secret corner of Turkey that's perfect for post-lockdown misanthropes

Some of us like to mix with fellow Britons on holiday, while others go to great lengths to avoid them. Ben Westwood tends towards the latter camp, so off he went to Turkey in search of some blissful solitude post-lockdown, with his teenagers in tow.

"Getting away from the crowds in the Mediterranean is not easy and Turkey’s Turquoise Coast is busy, especially as it is cheaper than the eurozone," he writes. "I searched hard for a peaceful spot and private retreat Gokce Gemile fitted the bill."

Read the full story to find out how he got on.

02:27 PM

Dramatic footage captures cliff fall in Cornwall

Blimey. Video footage has emerged of the moment a sizable chunk of rock fell away from Cornwall's Tregudda Gorge, near Padstow, as walkers strolled along unaware not far behind on Thursday.

The clip was also shared by St Ives Coastguard Rescue Team with the warning: "This is why you should keep away from the cliff edge."

02:13 PM

A look at today's British beaches

southend - pa
southend - pa
bournemouth - pa
bournemouth - pa
barry island - pa
barry island - pa

01:53 PM

Ireland considers more travel restrictions after uptick in coronavirus cases

Ireland is considering additional measures to limit non-essential travel in the wake of an uptick in Covid-19 infections in recent days both in Ireland and other European countries, the country's health minister Stephen Donnelly said today.

The country currently advises against non-essential travel abroad and requires people who arrive from all but 15 countries to quarantine for two weeks, but it does not presently require Covid-19 antibody or swab tests from visitors, and flights have not yet been banned from any country.

"We're introducing random testing at the airports and an increased public health presence and we're examining other options as well for further restrictions on non-essential travel... because the international situation is becoming more volatile," Donnelly told RTE radio.

01:19 PM

Your lunchtime read: The kindness and beauty of this city healed me after my third miscarriage

After the agony of another miscarriage, Francesca Babb found that a trip to Cape Town - just before South Africa went into lockdown a few months ago - was surprisingly healing:

 I lay in the sun, with my book by my side and I let myself cry. But rather than the hopeless tears I’d been crying up until that point, under the warmth of the sun, these tears felt different, somehow therapeutic, healing.

I had gone to Cape Town hoping to feel a little better, perhaps to feel more me. I hadn’t expected to fall in love, with a city and its beaches, its people and their kindness. It took me in when I was at my lowest, and helped me remember the joys of life. I hope I never “need” travel in the same way again but, at least if I do, I will always know the power of its magic.

Read the full story here.

01:08 PM

Dispatch: Is Cornwall really ‘like Benidorm on steroids’ this weekend?

Locals in Cornwall have expressed concern at the crowds and lack of social distancing in the busiest regions of its coast.

Thousands of staycationers descended on Britain's honeypot resorts this weekend amid the heatwave, with Cornish residents being particularly vocal about the hordes. One described the scenes as being like 'Benidorm on steroids' to the BBC yesterday and another protested that her family was 'too scared' to leave the house and go food shopping.

So how bad is it really? Telegraph Travel spoke to three of our writers based in Cornwall over the weekend; two locals and one on holiday.

Here's what they had to say.

12:27 PM

Salzburg Festival kicks off

Austria's annual Salzburg Festival is now underway, seemingly against all odds, Rupert Christiansen reports:

The stakes were so high that it couldn’t just roll over and surrender to the virus: Salzburg, the oldest and perhaps greatest of international cultural festivals, had planned to celebrate its centenary in 2020 with a bumper jamboree. In March, lockdown descended across Europe; in May, on a knife-edge, when just about everything else had been cancelled though the summer, the festival’s management, led by its formidable CEO Helga Rabl-Stadler, decided to go ahead. 

How did they do it? Austria has done enviably well in controlling the pandemic, blessed with a citizenry that has stuck by rules clearly and consistently applied by a stern government: the result is that by reducing the programme to essentials, testing extensively, limiting venue capacity, and enforcing draconian guidelines, Salzburg has been able to open for business as not-quite-normal, allowing the world’s greatest musicians to perform for live audiences in three dimensions.  

salzburg - afp
salzburg - afp
salzburg - afp
salzburg - afp

 Read Christiansen's review of the debut performance, Elektra, here.

12:13 PM

Watch: 'State of disaster' declared across Victoria

Australia's state of Victoria declared a disaster today and imposed a nightly curfew for the capital Melbourne as part of its harshest movement restrictions to date to contain a resurgent Covid-19.

11:48 AM

A postcard from Croatia, where the holiday season is in full swing

Croatia has always been considered a safe destination, writes Jane Foster, and judging by the crowds in Split this summer, it still is. At the time of writing, according to the Croatian Tourism Association's coronavirus information website there are only 224 coronavirus cases in coastal counties. And there are some 760,000 tourists there. 

in Dalmatia, walking along the seafront promenade in Split on Friday night, it looks like a regular summer – crowds of sun-tanned tourists, a babble of languages. Restaurants are heaving, music is blaring, bars are serving cocktails below a moonlit sky.

Meanwhile on Korčula, home to Croatia's oldest vineyards and birthplace of fearless explorer Marco Polo, wine tasting at the Toreta winery in Smokvica is continuing as usual, with social distancing and disinfection measures, on a wide terrace overlooking the vineyards.

Read the full report here.

dalmatia - istock
dalmatia - istock

11:18 AM

Switzerland should enforce stricter Covid-19 restrictions, says boss of new taskforce

The new chief of Switzerland's coronavirus taskforce has urged the country to tighten its restrictions again following a spike in recent cases, to avoid an even tougher lockdown in the future,

The number of new cases in recent days has reached more than 200 daily, compared to an average of 35 per day in June, Reuters reports.

“We should intervene early to prevent exponential growth,” Martin Ackermann, who took over the scientific taskforce yesterday, told newspaper SonntagsZeitung. “Otherwise there’s a risk of drastic and expensive restrictions. This must be prevented under all circumstances.”

Ackermann says he supports the mandatory wearing of face masks indoors, rather than just on public transport.

“I also believe that the size of public events should now be reduced [from 1,000] to 100 participants,” he stated.

11:04 AM

Socially distanced Turkey

Here's the view from Turkey today, and the beaches in the northwestern region of Balikesir are looking very geometrically arranged...

turkey - Anadolu
turkey - Anadolu
turkey - Anadolu
turkey - Anadolu

10:51 AM

Scottish hoteliers bemoan "the worst month ever for tourism in Edinburgh"

This summer is proving particularly tough for Scotland's capital, with the Edinburgh Hotels Association declaring businesses have been left “on their knees and in financial crisis”, reports The Scotsman.

Two-thirds of the city's hotel rooms could be empty this month, with widespread job losses expected. Edinburgh Aiport has already said it will have to make about a third of its staff redundant, with bosses branding the current quarantine laws “unworkable”.

The city's hotels group also maintains that Edinburgh it at a “huge disadvantage” compared with others in Europe because marketing has failed to recommence in order to entice tourists since the country reopened to visitors on June 10.

Yesterday, Edinburgh Castle reopened for the first time since lockdown having been shut for the longest period since the Second World War.

10:26 AM

Exclusive: Top WHO disease detective warns against return to national lockdowns

The World Health Organisation has urged countries not to reimpose national lockdowns in an attempt to stem the spread of Covid-19 due to the health, social and economic repercussions.

In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, who helps lead the WHO’s pandemic response team as the head of the emerging diseases unit, said that countries should instead adopt localised strategies. 

By the end of March, as the coronavirus outbreak spiralled out of control across the globe, well over 100 countries had imposed a full or partial lockdown – affecting billions of people. 

Dr Van Kerkhove described these measures as a “blunt, sheer force instrument” that bought countries time to build the public health infrastructure needed to tackle Covid-19. 

Sarah Newey has the full story.

10:08 AM

Staycations increase coastguard callouts and encourage 'dangerously' crowded villages

"Unmanageable" beaches, chaotic parking, and overcrowded village – making social distancing impossible – are proving an unwelcome side effect of this summer’s staycation response to coronavirus, reports Patrick Sawer.

Britain’s coastguards had their busiest day for more than four years on Friday, as the UK recorded its third hottest day ever.

A body was found after a 15-year-old boy went missing in a lake close to Lakeside Shopping Centre in Thurrock on Saturday, around the same time as a person was recovered from water near Porthcurno in Cornwall.

Local authorities have warned that beaches are becoming "unmanageable" due to large numbers of visitors, raising fears around keeping people safe in the water.

Read the full story here.

newquay - Tom Nicholson/LNP
newquay - Tom Nicholson/LNP

09:51 AM

Record number of Philippines coronavirus cases announced as Manila lockdown considered

The Philippines today reported 5,032 additional coronavirus infections, its largest single-day increase on record, taking the country's case tally past 100,000.

Confirming that recorded cases had reached 103,185, the country's Department of Health added that the Southeast Asian country's Covid-19 death toll had jumped by 20 to 2,059.

President Rodrigo Duterte will today meet with his cabinet to discuss a call by front-line medical groups to put the capital city Manila, which accounts for the majority of the country's infections, back under a stricter lockdown.

09:48 AM

A dispatch from Cornwall

We've been speaking to writers based in Cornwall this weekend, including our very own Jade Conroy, Telegraph Travel's Hotels and Guides Editor. Here's what she has to say:

Watergate Bay – a popular surfing beach near Newquay – was thriving on account of the blue skies, but parking spaces were still to be found and you could just about maintain social distancing on the beach. Tables were also available at pizza restaurant Watchful Mary, which has a terrace above the sand from where you can observe the surfers.  

The only place it wasn’t possible was on the narrow walkway and stairs leading down to the beach and the body boarding masses in the shallows. By 5pm, though, most of the crowds had gone home and we watched the sun start to set with just a few others.

Treyarnon Beach and Harlyn Bay, also on the north coast (near Padstow), were decidedly less busy the day after, but possibly because of the grey and drizzly weather. 

cornwall - jade conroy
cornwall - jade conroy

09:32 AM

The 'grim reaper' takes to Mexican beach

A young man dressed as death personified has been prowling the Mexican beach town of Puerto Morelos in Quintana Roo, where beaches are closed to visitors but people are going regardless.

mexico - afp
mexico - afp
mexico - afp
mexico - afp
mexico - afp
mexico - afp

09:09 AM

Airport testing won't save the industry, warn aviation firms

The largest airport outside London has accused ministers of “suffocating the aviation sector”, as flight hubs send mayday signals and warn Boris Johnson’s “levelling up” pledge is at risk.

Sir Adrian Montague, chairman of Manchester Airport Group, which also owns the package holiday hub Stansted, condemned the quarantine on travellers from Spain as “unnecessary”.

He called for a “more proportionate” approach such as the reintroduction of “travel corridors” to the Balearic and Canary Islands. Meanwhile, a testing regime to save millions of Britons’ overseas holidays will not be in place in time, the ex-Aviva chairman warned. Sir Adrian said:

If we cut ourselves off from the important low-risk areas, we are going to suffocate the recovery of the aviation sector. We have got six weeks left of the holiday season and if the Government was able to be more tactical in the way that it approached quarantine… then that would unlock holidays for people.

Oliver Gill has the full story.

08:53 AM

Deserted beaches, free Covid tests - and no masks: Europe's 'safest' destinations lure British tourists

Norway has more coastline than Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, Sweden and France combined and ten times as many islands as Greece, the country's tourism agency is boasting in its new advertising campaign for British holidaymakers forced to rethink travel plans in light of Europe's 'second wave', writes Richard Orange.

Space to social distance rather than sunshine is at the core of the new marketing campaigns launched by a string of unusual holiday destinations competing to lure Brits taking last-minute summer breaks.

With just three cases per 100,000 people over the last fortnight, and a population density of less than six people per square mile, Norway has a good claim to being both the safest destination, and the most unlikely to see Britain impose surprise quarantine rules.

Where is safe to travel in Europe
Where is safe to travel in Europe

Read the full story here.

08:40 AM

Covid-19 death toll in Latin America passes 200,000

Last night, Latin America's death toll from the coronavirus surpassed 200,000, according to Reuters.

Brazil and Mexico have registered more deaths than any other country except the US; the former reported a daily record of 1,595 fatalities earlier this week, while Mexico counted 784 yesterday. Peru has also reported another 191 deaths.

Despite this, all three countries are continuing to ease lockdown. The Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro has now commenced phase 5 of the process – from now on, bathing in the sea and physical activities on boardwalks is permitted. 

Rio - getty
Rio - getty

08:21 AM

Victoria declares disaster and sets curfew for Melbourne

Australia's state of Victoria declared a disaster on Sunday and imposed a nightly curfew for the capital Melbourne as part of its harshest movement restrictions to date to contain a resurgent Covid-19.

Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city, is already under a reimposed six-week stay-home order but struggling to rein in the disease, with record numbers of infections of coronavirus last week.

On Sunday, Victoria, the second-most populous state, reported 671 infections - one of its highest - and seven Covid deaths.High numbers of community transmissions and cases of unknown origins have forced the new restrictions, which will be in place for six weeks, officials said.

"The current rules have avoided thousands and thousands of cases each day, and then thousands of people in hospital and many more tragedies than we have seen. But it is not working fast enough," Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews told a televised briefing.

Read the full story here.

08:18 AM

Empty sun loungers cast long shadow over deserted Greek beaches

Greeks may be enjoying quiet tourist spots but the looming economic impact brings with it reminders of the financial crash, writes Madeleine Speed from Mykonos:

Businesses who weathered the last crisis are bracing for another blow. For the first time, five-star resorts built into bays and hills across the island stand eerily empty. The Myconian Collection is Mykonos’ largest luxury accommodation chain. Its ten, family-owned properties are all closed this year. 

Smaller hotels are faring better, but prices have dropped significantly, and average capacity across the island is at roughly 25 per cent, according to Mayor Koukas. Markos and Jessica run White and Grey, a small hotel a few kilometres outside town. They felt obliged to drop their room prices by almost 50 per cent because of similar cuts offered by their competitors.

Read her full dispatch here.

08:07 AM

Yesterday's top stories

A recap:

  • Bookings to Greece surge as British holidaymakers flee Spain

  • Hurtigruten cruise cancelled as 33 crew members test positive for Covid-19

  • Spanish tourism minister pleads with Britons to return

  • Tokyo reports record number of cases

  • Denmark opens air bridge with Portugal

  • Jet2 'will refund customers returning early from Spain'

Read yesterday's blog here.