Portugal among 30 hotel quarantine countries confirmed

Annabel Fenwick-Elliott
·33-min read
portugal - getty
portugal - getty

The Government has announced the list of the 30 'high risk' countries from which visitors into the UK will be required to enter quarantine upon arrival.

Travellers from these nations, including Britons returning to the UK, will have to self-isolate in state-provided hotels for 10 days "without exception", at their own expense, Boris Johnson stated.

This will put holidays to Portugal, South America, and large parts of Africa off the cards for the foreseeable future, and cause heartbreak for tens of thousands of Britons will family and friends overseas.

The Department of Health is working to establish quarantine hotels "as fast as possible", the Prime Minister added, with the list of countries to be "reviewed" today, Michael Gove added. According to one estimate, the move could cost the UK economy £548 million every day.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has meanwhile doubled down on the message that any travel should "absolutely essential".

Transport providers will check passengers' reasons for journeys on departure, police presence will be increased at ports and airports, and people will be directed to return home if they do not have a valid reason. Patel added that police will also carry out more checks at physical addresses, to ensure compliance with the restrictions.

Scroll down for more of the latest news.

05:16 PM

That's it for today

Before we go, here's a reminder of the main headlines:

  • Quarantine hotels will be a 'death knell' for travel

  • Ski holidays cancelled until April

  • CAA clears Boeing 737 MAX for takeoff

  • Dubai is luring remote workers with free vaccines

  • Icelanders get Covid vaccine 'passports'

  • Germany to ban travellers from Britain and Portugal

  • World's first 'airport for flying cars' to be built in Coventry

  • Surge in autumn bookings amidst doubts over summer holidays

Join us tomorrow for more breaking travel news.

05:13 PM

The nine feasible post-lockdown holiday options

Holidays are banned under the third national lockdown, while dozens of countries have temporarily barred UK arrivals due to fears over a new Covid strain, writes Oliver Smith.

Furthermore, the FDCO travel corridor list, which usually dictates where we can go without needing to quarantine when we get home, has been temporarily suspended. Things are certainly looking bleak for travellers. But where can we go when we are free once more?

There are currently more than 50 territories on the corridor list, but many are not welcoming UK tourists. Of those that are, all now require travellers to present evidence of a Covid-19 test. In fact, there are only nine feasible holiday options unless you are able to quarantine when you get back to Britain.

  1. Antigua and Barbuda

  2. Barbados

  3. Bermuda

  4. Cuba

  5. Dominica

  6. St Lucia

  7. St Vincent and the Grenadines

  8. Maldives

  9. Bahrain

Read the full guide

05:08 PM

UK quarantine hotels: how will they work and what do new rules mean for holidays?

Britons returning to the UK from 30 countries will have to pay for hotel quarantine as part of measures to prevent new Covid variants reaching this country from South Africa and South America.

Senior ministers met on Tuesday night to approve the plans for Australian-style hotel quarantine that will cost travellers up to £1,500 for 10 days self-isolating with meals served in their rooms and supervised by private security guards. Other measures being introduced include tougher border checks regarding reason for travelling.

Quarantine hotels, or 'directed isolation' facilities, are already in use across Asia, New Zealand and Australia. But how might the idea work in the UK, and exactly which arrivals will have to comply?

Here's what it could look like

04:57 PM

50 wonderful reasons to rediscover America – one for every state

Will the USA’s politics be less abrasive as a result of this changing of the guard, asks Chris Leadbeater. Perhaps. Will it be suddenly more attractive as a destination? No, not exactly. Because, while the events of recent history: the fractious discourse, the riot in Washington DC, the government by social media, have not painted the nation in the most appealing light, it takes a lot to dim the lustre of a country that, in terms of holidays, is an epic playground.

It gleams in swaggering cities and widescreen national parks; in road-trip-friendly highways, wonderful beaches, and gorgeous hotels. And it has an undilutable potency for travellers. The getaway suggestions in this feature: 50 of them; one for every state, could fill a lifetime of trips. But then, we have all had what feels like a lifetime of lockdown to consider our next moves. And when conditions allow, the USA will be high on to-do lists.

America is full of epic trips - Getty
America is full of epic trips - Getty

When will this be? Not in the immediate future, obviously. Although, three days before he departed 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the outgoing President Trump rescinded the 10-month ban on European (including British) travellers entering the country, the incoming President Biden reinstated it almost as soon as he had reached the Oval Office. A wise idea, too. America, is still firmly in the grip of Covid-19. This is not a time for winter weekends in the Big Apple or escapes to Los Angeles. But the hour will come, soon, as vaccines repel the virus, and the planet starts to reopen.

When that happens, any of these trips could be an American adventure for later in the year

04:45 PM

Should you book a summer holiday now?

With the news that more and more Britons are putting off holiday plans until October (see below), doubts over the feasibility of booking a summer holiday look set to grow, spelling further disaster for a travel industry that's already on its knees.

While there no safe bets when it comes to travel in this day and age, The Telegraph's travel experts have picked out a few options that could well be viable holiday options come July.

Read our handy guide to booking your next trip abroad for summer 2021

There are high hopes that the 'great summer holiday' can go ahead in 2021 - Getty
There are high hopes that the 'great summer holiday' can go ahead in 2021 - Getty

04:27 PM

Comment: If Britons continue to be denied their freedoms, we will soon have no travel industry to speak of

It has now been almost a whole year Boris Johnson first stamped on our personal liberties and ushered in one of the greatest economic crises in living memory, says Simon Dolan, founder of Jota Aviation. With every inch of the UK back under the tightest form of lockdown, we are trapped in our own version of Groundhog Day, doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over, until the Government finally gets it right.

How has this happened, when lockdown was first sold to us on the basis that it would last for just three weeks and the virus would be a distant memory within 12? Legislating and governing by decree, and largely without challenge from Parliament, the magnitude of the recession caused by the coronavirus outbreak is unprecedented in modern times – and nowhere is this truer than in travel.

Read the full article

04:14 PM

Europe's largest hospitality firm 'standing ready' to support UK quarantine hotel scheme

Accor, the France-based hotel company with more than 230 hotels in the UK, has confirmed that it is standing by to aid the Government's plan to introduce quarantine hotels for travellers arriving from 30 'high risk' countries.

An Accor spokesperson told Telegraph Travel:

The spread of Covid-19 continues to be an unprecedented challenge for our industry.

Our hotels stand ready to support the Government’s call for quarantine in order to enable safe travel for Brits and international tourists in these challenging Covid times. We remain available to help implement the need for safe travel just as we have done in other countries, particularly in Australia which followed a similar approach.

Our priority remains the health and safety of our guests and hotel teams.

04:05 PM

Longer stays and quieter slopes: The ski holidays trends for next winter

The coronavirus pandemic has spelt disaster for ski holidays this season, writes Lucy Aspden. This week resorts across Europe remain off limits to Britons and leading operators continue to have to suspend ski holidays for the foreseeable future.

The ski industry’s spotlight therefore now shines on next winter. The latest research by the Mountain Trade Network (MTN) has revealed several predictions for the 2021/22 ski season, which show early signs of skiers’ intent.

See next year's big ski trends here

banff ski
banff ski

03:47 PM

Storytellers, poets, BMXers – London National Park City is recruiting for ‘rangers’

Two years ago, self-proclaimed ‘Guerilla Geographer’ Dan Raven-Ellison successfully campaigned for London to become the world’s first ‘National Park City’.

He told Telegraph Travel:

If you begin to think of humans as animals, and the 15,000 species that live alongside us in London as just as valuable as those that are in the countryside, and if you think of the city not just as a place just for work but actually as a habitat, where we live, where we eat...

london - Getty
london - Getty

As part of the project, Raven-Ellison hopes to make the majority of London "physically green and blue". It’s very nearly there, he says. A team of rangers will help to make this dream come to fruition.

Last year we launched our National Park City Rangers programme to help with that by spreading good ideas, skills and energy.

Ranging from storytellers and photographers to fungi experts and BMXers the rangers inspire people to tackle the climate and ecological crises, create green corridors, run education and youth initiatives, improve access to green and blue space and enjoy themselves in the capital's great outdoors.

Read more about the project here

london park rangers
london park rangers

03:29 PM

A reader asks: 'Why must I pay extra for travel insurance after a Covid-19 vaccination?'

Alexandra Wakid contacted Telegraph Travel's consumer expert, Gill Charlton with a query about travel insurance.

She writes:

I expect to be vaccinated against Covid-19 by the end of February. As a widow living alone, I have had a very solitary existence for many months and would like to take a holiday once the shackles of Covid restrictions come off. I have not seen my in-laws, who live in Egypt, for over a year and I am keen to make the journey.

The fly in the ointment is travel insurance. I have an annual worldwide travel insurance policy as part of my Lloyds Bank account, arranged through Axa Insurance. I approached Axa this week and asked whether pandemic cover would be reinstated once a customer had been vaccinated. It replied that its underwriters were retaining the exclusion. What possible justification can there be for this?

See Gill's response here

03:15 PM

In pictures: China on the move as Lunar New Year approaches

Today is normally the day on which millions of Chinese travellers take to road, rail and runway as they head home for the Lunar New Year.

But with the Chinese government worried that the annual migration will act as a superspreader for Covid, officials have encouraged the populace (with varying degrees of niceness) to stay put this year.

chinese new year - AP
chinese new year - AP
chinese new year - Visual China Group
chinese new year - Visual China Group
chinese new year - AP
chinese new year - AP

02:58 PM

Surge in autumn bookings amidst doubts over summer holidays

Autumn is emerging as the favoured holiday period for 2021, with consumer confidence in travel reopening in time for the summer starting to waver.

Data from comparison site TravelSupermarket shows that October half term has rapidly become the most popular time for holiday bookings this year, with Tenerife and Barbados the two most popular destinations.

It shows a stark shift in booking patterns since the first half of January, when sales followed the more normal trend with peaks at Easter half term and during the summer holidays.

The Government has lately been urging caution for those eager to travel abroad this year.

Earlier this week, Nadhim Zahawi, the Under-Secretary of State for Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment, said that it is "far too early" to start booking summer holidays.

02:40 PM

'UK will be without hope unless there is a roadmap out of travel restrictions'

Danny Callaghan, CEO of the Latin American Travel Association, says:

Whilst there is a clear need for restrictions at the moment due to the huge number of people being hospitalised and the problems facing the NHS, what the travel, tourism, aviation and hospitality sectors need is a clear roadmap to restart.

Additional measures such as hotel-quarantines are yet another barrier for our sector and the Government needs to outline what measures will be put in place to support our industry.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, during Friday's briefing by the PM said what we have all known for months – that Covid-19 will probably be with us forever. This puts the lie to the oft-repeated mantra of 'beating the virus'. We can't beat Covid-19, we can only learn to live with it, and with that acceptance we need a pathway to opening all aspects of our economy up, not least the travel, tourism, aviation and hospitality sectors, which have been decimated by the pandemic with more and more restrictions being announced daily which hugely impacts consumer confidence in terms of future bookings.

With new requirements for hotel quarantines and without a roadmap, we are in a hopeless position – quite literally a position without hope. The knock-on effects of the lack of vision and clarity are huge, as 'Global Britain' becomes 'Isolated Britain', and the promise of post-Brexit prosperity in the world economy becomes a distant memory.

02:24 PM

World's first 'airport for flying cars' to be built in Coventry

The world's first fully-operational airport for flying taxis is due to launch in Coventry later this year, as companies gear up for tests of the vehicles as soon as 2023, reports Hannah Boland.

Urban Air Port has received government funding to build the hub for air taxis and autonomous delivery drones in the city, which passengers will be able to use in a similar way to airports for planes and which will also charge and maintain the electric vehicles.

It said it chose Coventry for the first site given its location in the heart of the UK, meaning there is easy access to most parts of the country within four hours.

The airport will be able to support any electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft, and will also be built so it is easy to move to alternative sites.

Read the full story.

02:18 PM

We will 'probably move towards' vaccine passports, says Scottish health chief

Vaccine passport systems are likely to come into force in the future, Professor Jason Leich, Scotland's national clinical director, has suggested.

He said the concept was "interesting" after Tony Blair called for the UK to use its G7 leadership to introduce this type of scheme worldwide.

Professor Leitch said: "I think we will probably move towards that. I haven't seen the exact details of what Mr Blair's think tank have said but I imagine it's relatively sensible, it's about doing it globally rather than just an individual region of the world."

He pointed to other examples of travel restrictions based on vaccination, such as yellow fever certificates.

It is not yet proven if being vaccinated against Covid will stop people from passing the virus to others.

02:04 PM

10 nights at the Radisson Blu Manchester Airport ...

Could this home for the best part of a fortnight to travellers arriving at Manchester airport from the 30 'high risk' destinations?

As there is a skylink from all three terminals to the hotel, it is thought it might become one of the designated spots for people to quarantine.

CHRISNEILL/MAVERICK PHOTOGRAPHY LIMITED - CHRISNEILL/MAVERICK PHOTOGRAPHY LIMITED
CHRISNEILL/MAVERICK PHOTOGRAPHY LIMITED - CHRISNEILL/MAVERICK PHOTOGRAPHY LIMITED

01:51 PM

Germany to ban travellers from Britain and Portugal

Germany is preparing entry bans for travellers from Britain, Portugal, Brazil and South Africa to limit the spread of the more contagious variants of the coronavirus raging in these countries, the country's interior minister Horst Seehofer said on Thursday.

"To protect our population, there should be no entry from regions where these variants of the virus are rampant," he said on the fringes of a virtual meeting with his EU counterparts.

Belgium has already barred residents from taking vacations abroad until March to fight the spread of the more infectious virus variants, but other European Union members reject radical measures such as travel or entry bans.

Seehofer vowed Germany would go ahead with its plans even if the EU as a whole didn't agree such measures.

"We cannot expect to have a European solution that meets our expectations any time soon, so we are preparing national measures," he said.

01:44 PM

Val Thorens adopts drone technology

Everyday's a snow day during a Val Thorens ski season.

The resort, which is in the Three Valleys area in the French Alps, has started using sophisticated drone technology to monitor Alpine conditions from the skies and keep skiers safe from avalanches.

man using drone - DJI/Triangle News
man using drone - DJI/Triangle News

01:36 PM

Icelanders get Covid vaccine 'passports'

Iceland has issued its first vaccination certificates to ease international travel for those inoculated against Covid-19, authorities told AFP on Tuesday, with EU countries still haggling over using such documents.

All the 4,800 Icelanders who have received two doses of coronavirus vaccine are eligible for the digital certificates, said the health ministry, which has set up a website to handle their distribution.

"The aim to facilitate the movement of people between countries so that the individuals can show a vaccination certificate during border checks and be exempt from border restrictions," the ministry said.

However, the documents have yet to be recognised internationally.

Read the full story.

01:28 PM

Stewed elephant and wayward balloons: The bloody story of Europe's last major siege

It was 150 years ago this week that Parisians could, at last, look forward to eating something other than cats, rats, dogs and camel rôti à l’anglaise, writes Anthony Peregrine.

A ceasefire on January 28, 1871 ended the four-month siege – the last traditional, land-based siege of a major European capital. No longer would Parisian restaurants be serving stewed elephant trunk at 40 francs a pound. Having pushed Paris to the edge, and shelled quite a lot of it, the Prussians had won. The Franco-Prussian war was over.

Read the full story

siege of paris - Getty
siege of paris - Getty

01:13 PM

Tui extends cruise cancellations until April

Marella Cruises – the cruise line operated by Tui – has announced more voyage cancellations due to doubts cast by ongoing travel restrictions.

European sailings will remain suspended until March, while Caribbean cruises operating out of Jamaica and Barbados are on hold until April.

Popular among UK travellers, Marella Cruises has been hard-hit by several Government restrictions, including the current ban on international travel, and an FCDO advisory against cruise travel that has been in place since March.

12:57 PM

Dubai is luring remote workers with free vaccines

The Emirate of Dubai hopes to tempt remote workers to its capital city by offering access to free vaccines, even as cases mount to record-breaking levels, reports Emma Cooke.

The offer may be seen as an alluring one to young Britons, as many from this generation face delays on receiving the vaccine in their home country due to the prioritisation of more vulnerable groups. Some Britons have already expressed concern that older citizens will end up enjoying more freedoms this summer, while the younger generation will continue to be restricted despite being in a low-risk category.

Wealthy, young professionals are exactly what Dubai is looking for, however, and they’re prepared to offer manifold perks to lure them across, including vaccines.

Read the full story

Coronavirus UAE Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus UAE Spotlight Chart - Cases default

12:45 PM

Germany awaits travel ban decision

Germany's border restrictions look set to get even tougher in the next few days as the federal government considers implementing travel bans to block the spread of new Covid variants.

Ministers and health officials are discussing several possibilities, but could soon order a near-total shutdown of air travel.

Meanwhile, police have turned up at Frankfurt Airport to check that incoming passengers have evidence of Covid tests.

frankfurt airport - Getty
frankfurt airport - Getty
frankfurt airport - Getty
frankfurt airport - Getty

12:32 PM

Comment: 10 annoying things UK tourism needs to fix before our Great British summer

We’re all heading on a UK summer holiday this year if the current overseas travel restrictions continue, says Rob Crossan.

There’s nothing wrong with a Great British Break, of course. But, there are a few things our tourism industry could improve on.

Find out what they are

cornwall - Getty
cornwall - Getty

12:22 PM

CAA clears Boeing 737 MAX for takeoff

The controversial Boeing 737 MAX has been given the green light to fly in the UK again, although it will remain subject to "close oversight".

The aircraft was involved in two fatal crashes in 2018, causing it to be grounded by aviation regulators around the world over a number of safety concerns.

Boeing has now made several modifications to the design, as well as to pilot training programmes, both of which have been accepted by the UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

The 737 MAX was cleared to fly in the US in late 2020, and has recently also received clearance from the EU and Canadian regulators.

12:09 PM

Ski holidays cancelled until April

Hotelplan UK, owner of major ski operators Inghams, Ski Total and Flexiski, has announced it will not run any ski holidays until April at the earliest, reports Lucy Aspden.

The operators have not been able to take any skiers away so far this winter – previously it has suspended all trips until the end of February, but prolonged travel restrictions have forced bosses to extend the suspension of trips.

“Since travel restrictions are set to remain while countries continue to manage the spread of Covid-19 and the rollout of vaccines, we have this week, sadly suspended our Inghams, Ski Total and Flexiski holidays until the 2 April 2021,” said Joe Ponte, CEO of Hotelplan UK.

“Of course, we are disappointed for all those impacted by this news. We hope our customers with a booking in March of this year will choose to join us at a later date, but they can choose to have a refund if they want one,” he said.

“We absolutely want to help skiers return to the mountains as soon as it is safe to do so, but as the Covid-19 crisis continues to worsen, we are facing the reality that it is sadly looking less and less likely. We understand that many skiers are very keen to get skiing again this winter. With this in mind, while we think there is still a possibility that ski holidays could go ahead this season, we will continue to monitor the ever changing situation closely and keep our customers informed of any updates regarding the remainder of this winter, as soon as we can.”

Earlier this week, Crystal Ski Holidays, the UK’s largest ski holiday operator cancelled all trips until March 6.

11:57 AM

'Some essential workers need to travel – but quarantine hotels won't help'

Abby Penston, CEO of business travel consortium Focus Travel Partnership, says:

Whilst I welcome any and all sensible and reasonable controls to managing the outbreak and containment of the virus, essential workers need to travel. Prioritising the management of the safe travel of these individuals is key, [but] containing them in a hotel at the cost to their employer is just not conducive to ensuring that essential work can be carried out.

If the Government would work closer with the trade and understand the value of a responsible travel management company (business travel agent) in prioritising the safe and responsible management of these sectors I believe this could negate the need for these measures. All decisions need to be thoroughly considered and counsel taken from the appropriate bodies to ensure the Government doesn’t needlessly react excessively.

11:46 AM

The horrible history of travel bans

A travel ban is no small thing, writes Chris Moss. That’s why governments in democracies are loath to introduce them and, when they do so, are inclined to use stealth.

In the UK, the right to free movement at home and across borders, during peacetime, is enshrined in article 42 of the Magna Carta. Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 contains the first post-Second World War expression of the right to travel. “Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”

But governments are permitted, under international law, to invoke security, public order, public health, morals or the rights and freedoms of others, to curb the free movement of their citizens. They’ve been doing this for centuries – stopping people coming in, preventing natives from leaving, and using travel as a tool of social and political control.

Take a look at the tumultuous history of travel bans

north korea - Getty
north korea - Getty

11:36 AM

UK travellers arrested in Thai party raid

Police in Thailand have arrested 89 foreigners, including several Britons, during a raid on a party on the island of Koh Phangan.

Authorities cottoned on to illegal gathering after finding tickets to the beach bar event were being sold online.

Mass gatherings are currently prohibited in Thailand to prevent the spread of Covid, and the detainees now face two-year prison sentences and fines of up to 40,000 baht (£975).

11:22 AM

Ski resorts around the world share their thoughts

It’s a tale of two sides for the world’s ski resorts, as this week’s Mountain Trade Network conference has revealed.

In France, where it’s confirmed lifts won’t open in February…

Stephie Dijkman, commercial and marketing director from Tignes, one of France’s leading ski resorts has given an honest view of the ski season in the country. She says:

Looking at the situation unfortunately it’s terrifying what’s happening in the world, and to be honest I don’t think we will open any ski lifts this winter. It’ll be an amazing surprise if we do, and even better if Brits can come out, but to be honest it's too complicated.

In the very short term we do expect the go into a third lockdown, based on information shared in the press.

Because my thoughts are that we won’t be open, or if we do for a very few weeks, the economic crisis for some of the local businesses is only just starting and that is difficult to deal with… We’re only at the start of a long period of negative news.

While in Canada, where resorts are fully open, albeit for locals…

Steve Pampel from Ski Big3, which operates Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise and Mount Norquay, is in a much different situation. He says:

We’re lucky in a sense that our three resorts are open and we’re enjoying great conditions - in fact Mount Norquay had one of their openings on October 25 last year.

There are restrictions in place… the resorts have done a great job and have worked really hard with Alberta health services to provide the best experience and safest experience as possible.

The resort has introduced warming tents for people to shelter in, compulsory mask wearing and has closed restaurants for inside dining. Mr Pampel adds:

Our goal is to stay open. The big difference for us is who we’re welcoming now – it goes without saying we definitely miss the international market.

11:13 AM

Trans-Tasman travel bubble about to burst?

Australia has today decided to extend the suspension of its travel bubble with New Zealand, with the latter's health authorities now investigating two positive cases of the South African coronavirus variant.

Travel links between the two nations were severed earlier this week, initially for 72 hours, after New Zealand declared its first new case of Covid-19 in several months.

The bubble, which was only formed last month, has now has its suspension extended until Sunday following the discovery of the South African variant at a quarantine facility in Auckland.

Commenting on the decision, Australia's acting chief medical officer, Michael Kidd, said: "This allows continuing protection of the people of Australia, while the extent of the situation in New Zealand continues to be clarified."

10:59 AM

How a cruise line is tackling the biggest change in shipping 'since steam power replaced sails'

Dave Monk writes:

Turning cruising "green" will be the biggest change in marine technology since steam power replaced sails in the 18th century, according to Linden Coppell, MSC Cruises’ director of sustainability.

The Swiss-based line has joined a major European project with universities and tech companies – including the British firm Silverstream Technologies – to research the best ways to achieve low-carbon cruises. Results will be shared across the industry.

Alternative energy sources such as biofuel are being considered as part of MSC Cruises’ long-term plan to cut ship emissions to zero.

"It’s not going to be an easy journey, but this is big for the shipping industry and it’s big for us," said Linden Coppell.

"At this stage we are looking at all options, nothing is off the table."

Read the full story

msc cruises
msc cruises

10:51 AM

'Restrictions must be relaxed as soon as it is safe to do so'

Erin Johnson, the marketing director for Sovereign Luxury Travel, has called on the Government to develop a plan for lifting strict travel restrictions as soon as the risk posed by Covid variants has abated. She said:

Sovereign supports any measures necessary to help bring the pandemic under control. However, this is a short term solution. It is not sustainable for the UK travel industry, as the additional costs and restrictions will make travel prohibitive for so many. There needs to be a clear plan in place for relaxing these enforcements as early as is safe to do so in order that customers can try to plan further ahead with more confidence.

In the long term, it’s vital that we have an affordable testing scheme in place, which, combined with the wider roll out of vaccinations, would give customers reassurance that it’s safe to travel again.

10:44 AM

Heathrow's eerie silence is broken only by those leaving Britain for good – or returning from a yoga retreat

As tough new sanctions are announced, Imogen Lepere spoke to the handful of travellers at Heathrow. Here's a snippet of what she found:

While the vast majority of people I encountered had the necessary paperwork to comply with restrictions, there was the odd exception: a sun-kissed 28-year-old confessed in hushed tones that she was returning from a yoga retreat and hadn’t been grilled by Border Force – although wouldn’t risk it again under the new restrictions; and Kyle, a crypto currency trader from Ipswich, who was there to meet his girlfriend from LA for a two-week holiday.

“It will be the first time we’ve seen each other in a year and is our last attempt to save our relationship – we have no idea when we’ll see each other again.” The pair will have plenty of time to catch up over a fortnight spent at home waiting for Border Force to call.

Read the full story.

10:23 AM

Wizz Air to offer 'Covid-19 coverage'

Low-cost carrier Wizz Air announced today that "Covid-19 coverage" would be an option for customers who sign up for the airline's insurance package.

This is available on wizzair.com through the carrier's partnership with insurance provider Chubb. The Covid aspect of the insurance will cover:

  • Covid-19 related cancellations and medical expenses when travelling abroad (for example, if you contract Covid-19 on your trip and incur extra costs to extend your stay, or medical expenses to treat you while sick).

  • A cancelled trip because you contracted Covid before you were due travel.

​Maximum costs limits will apply, see here for more information.

10:07 AM

Strict new travel rules will increase poverty, starvation and poaching in Africa, operators warn

Tour operators have sought to highlight the devastating impact that Britain’s strict new travel restrictions will have on people in developing countries, particularly those in Africa, writes Oliver Smith.

safari ranger - Getty
safari ranger - Getty

Jackie Burton, managing director of Namibia-based Chameleon Safaris, is among them. She said unemployment in the country is already spiralling:

There is no Government support or unemployment benefit in countries like Namibia, and the enormous detrimental effect of no tourism across the world is affecting far more people than have been infected by Covid-19. The subsequent mortalities to come, through suicide, starvation, chronic poverty, loneliness and mental health issues, will be massive.

We would prefer to see governments putting protocols in place, such as testing, to ensure safe travel can return. Covid is here to stay, so we need to change the way we think and deal with it, and get life back on track. Closing borders, hiding in our homes and stopping the joy of being alive has not worked so far.

Read the full story.

09:53 AM

Travel bans won't stop new strains, says Sage adviser

Sir Jeremy Farrar said travel restrictions "buy you time" but will not prevent new variants from arriving eventually.

He told Today: "Travel restrictions have to be comprehensive, they have to be in place for a long time and in the end they buy you time, they won't prevent new variants arising."

He said he did not think the current travel restrictions should stay in place for the rest of the year.

"The way to avoid that," he stated, "which would be very damaging for all of us - economics and finance as well - the way to avoid that is to get vaccines to the world, reduce the amount of transmission around the world, reduce the chance of new variants, and protect the world."

09:40 AM

List of nations bound for quarantine hotels to be reviewed today

Senior Cabinet minister Michael Gove said a list of nations from which travellers must quarantine in hotels on arrival in the UK is to be reviewed.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We will be reviewing today how extensive that list of countries needs to be and we will be guided by advice from our scientific advisers and we will be reporting back later on where the line will be drawn."

Pressed whether greater border measures should have been imposed in March, he said: "There has been a lively debate about what we should or should not have done then. I don't intend to add my voice to that debate.

"I think there will be an appropriate moment to review all the decisions this Government and others have taken during the pandemic."

09:28 AM

Comment: It is needless and cruel to keep overseas families separated for any longer

Regardless of a vaccine, the only way to protect against new virus variants is to shut our borders forever, writes Annabel Fenwick Elliott.

The only countries to have found success with the Fort Knox approach are Australia and New Zealand. Both have indeed managed to largely tackle the virus from behind their tall walls, but to what end? Neither have a strategy for reopening. Britain has one of the best-connected global economies in the world; not only would such an approach have been unrealistic in the first place, but our window has long since passed.

Even now, even with one of the most concerning new Covid variants already endemic on our island, our Government's late-to-the-party implementation of these expensive, logistically-fraught quarantine hotels won’t necessarily catch the potentially more dangerous strains of the virus. We’re only quarantining arrivals from countries, South America and South Africa among them, that have found new variants by actively looking for them. That leaves the floodgates half open; a plan that has failed for us time and time again in causing maximum disruption for minimum gain.

We are teetering on the edge of a slippery slope. Once these quarantine hotels are up and running, it will be very difficult to ever justify dismantling them. That list of ‘risky’ countries will only lengthen. More industries will tank. More families will be kept apart. More milestones will be missed; the sort that make life worth living in the first place. And amid all this misery, the threat of infectious disease will never diminish.

Read the full piece here.

09:18 AM

Portugal deemed ‘high risk’ for Brazil strain – but it’s the UK variant driving country’s third wave

The news that Portugal is to be classed as a “high risk” nation and its citizens subject to two weeks hotel quarantine when arriving in the UK has hardly registered in the Iberian country, which is fighting a devastating third wave of the virus.

Although the new measures, announced by the Prime Minister, have been put in place in a bid to prevent the new Brazilian variant of the virus from reaching Britain, it is the fast-moving UK variant that is driving the crisis in Portugal.

Record death tolls from the pandemic were set each day last week, rising steadily from 152 on January 17 to 275 on January 24, while on Saturday 15,000 new cases were registered in just 24 hours.

The local news is full of pictures of exhausted medics and ambulances forming long lines outside hospitals, and the government was considering a formal request to the EU to provide extra medics.

Paul Nuki has more detail on this story.

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

09:12 AM

Quarantine hotels will be a 'death knell' for travel

"The introduction of quarantine hotels is another death knell – for the travel industry as a whole, but especially for business travel," says Clive Wratten, CEO of the Business Travel Association.

"Public safety must come first, but we question the timing of this announcement and the lack of investment in a long-term strategy to get the UK travelling again such as pre-departure testing."

Speaking to Telegraph Travel, Wratten empasised that business travellers "are not just people in suits – they are key workers, humanitarian workers, scientists, students."

He added: "Placing the burden of proof for the validity of travel onto international carriers is an untenable situation for companies and staff that are already at breaking point.

"The Government must offer targeted financial support to our industry beyond April, as we are handcuffed by these latest restrictions."

09:04 AM

The 30 'red list' countries confirmed by Home Office

The Home Office has confirmed that the hotel quarantine rules will apply to the following 30 countries:

  1. Angola

  2. Argentina

  3. Bolivia

  4. Botswana

  5. Brazil

  6. Cape Verde

  7. Chile

  8. Colombia

  9. Democratic Republic of Congo

  10. Ecuador

  11. Eswatini

  12. French Guiana

  13. Guyana

  14. Lesotho

  15. Malawi

  16. Mauritius

  17. Mozambique

  18. Namibia

  19. Panama

  20. Paraguay

  21. Peru

  22. Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores)

  23. Seychelles

  24. South Africa

  25. Suriname

  26. Tanzania,

  27. Uruguay

  28. Venezuela

  29. Zambia

  30. Zimbabwe

08:47 AM

What happened yesterday?

Here's a quick recap

  • Visitors from 30 countries to face 10-day hotel quarantine

  • Travelling Britons 'will be asked if their journey is essential'

  • Sturgeon: Hotel quarantine plan 'does not go far enough'

  • Aviation needs help to prevent 'massive' job losses, says MP

  • Boeing 737 MAX 'safe to return to skies'