Spain refutes reports that holidaymakers will be unable to visit this summer

Emma Featherstone
·29-min read
beach mallorca
beach mallorca

Spain's tourism minister has said the country wants to "reactivate tourism" as soon as possible, clarifying reports that it may not full reopen to holidaymakers until after summer.

Reyes Maroto, minister of industry, trade and tourism, said on Friday that the availability of vaccines and the beginning of vaccination programmes in many countries gave hope of immunising the majority of the population so that they are in a position to travel safely.

She added: "Our priority in 2021 is to reactivate tourism and resume safe mobility on a global scale as soon as possible.

"We are working to adopt a common framework of a series of planned actions to give confidence to tourists. We hope that at the end of spring and especially during the summer, international travel will resume and travellers will choose Spain as their destination."

Ms Maroto's statement follows comments from Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez who said on Wednesday that "only mass vaccination will open the way to the normality we want."

Speaking at the meeting of the Executive Council of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), held in Madrid, Mr Sanchez said: "We are already the ninth country in the world in the vaccination process and one of the first countries in Europe.

"And we are going to advance with the vaccination at the highest rate until reaching 70 per cent of the population with immunity by the end of the summer. This will allow Spain to be progressively better prepared to receive international tourists."

Scroll down for the latest travel updates.

04:56 PM

What happened today?

The main headlines:

  • UK has banned arrivals from 30 countries

  • Hong Kong to impose first lockdowns

  • Quarantine hotels won't happen 'for now', says George Eustice ​

  • Denmark suspends UAE flights over virus test concerns

  • Thailand sees visitor number plummet, despite hotel quarantine packages

Catch-up with the rest below, and join us again on Monday.

04:40 PM

Why Romania is a better post-lockdown holiday option than the Seychelles

The two countries have said they will welcome vaccinated travellers – but Romania is my pick, writes Benedict Allen.

Rupea Citadel in Romania - Getty
Rupea Citadel in Romania - Getty

Romania is, of course, these days a proud member of the EU. Long gone are the days of Nicolae Ceauşescu, who razed the delightful old heart of Bucharest, and put there instead ‘socialist realism’ tat (not to forget his monstrous Palace of the Parliament, cost: €3 billion). In 1989, after a violent revolution and perfunctory little trial, three soldiers took Ceauşescu round the back for execution – he was still singing The Internationale – though there was no end of volunteers.

All in the past, as I say – gone that unfortunate stint of retro-medievalism, and gone too the last kleptocrat. I grant you there’s an absence of warm ocean around Romania – the Black Sea hardly counts. There’s no tropical breeze, I will happily acknowledge that too. But what you do get is a rural idyll – also, gypsy shacks, a large population of misplaced or displaced Hungarians (it’s complicated), and people grubbing about certain back roads while still harbouring grievances against Sacha Baron Cohen for filming Borat there.

Read the full story.

04:30 PM

Middlesex firm joins travel's list of pandemic-induced closures

Middlesex-based travel firm Skylink Travel and Tours has collapsed, the Civil Aviation Authority has said.

The company, which was authorised to carry 500 passengers, ceased trading today.

Details are scant and the CAA said it is seeking more information from the directors.

04:19 PM

Wintery scenes in Turkey and China

Snow-covered landscapes were captured in northeast China and Bursa, Turkey this week.

snow in turkey - Getty
snow in turkey - Getty
train china - Shutterstock
train china - Shutterstock

04:02 PM

Rio scraps 2021 carnival

Rio de Janeiro will not host its famous carnival this year, the city's mayor Eduardo Paes has announced.

Rio's samba schools, which organize the celebratory parades, had hoped to hold the signature event in July after it was postponed from its usual slot in February or March. This depended on a national vaccination campaign being well and truly under way.

However, Brazil's vaccine roll-out only started Monday with an initial six million doses available for the country's 212 million inhabitants.

The carnival draws millions of visitors, and their tourist dollars, to the beachside city each year.

But in a tweet on Thursday, Paes said it seemed "foolish to imagine at this point that the conditions will exist for us to hold the carnival in July" while hospitals - especially in Brazil's northern Amazonas state - scramble for beds and oxygen to treat coronavirus patients. In 2022, we will (all properly vaccinated) be able to celebrate life and our culture with all the intensity we deserve," the mayor said.

03:49 PM

Malaysia Airlines to restore 'significant proportion' of international schedule

A “significant proportion” of Malaysia Airlines’ international schedule is due to be reinstated by the end of 2021, the country's national carrier said.

Malaysia Airlines is the only carrier offering non-stop flights to Kuala Lumpur from the UK and plans to offer one flight a day from London to Kuala Lumpur, come July.

Increased flights from Kuala Lumpur to Australia and New Zealand are also planned.

UK and Europe regional manager Daniel Bainbridge said:

Malaysia Airlines is now the only airline flying directly from the UK to Malaysia with excellent onward connections to Asia and Australasia.

We are excited to announce plans to resume much of our international flight schedule for 2021.

After the challenges of 2020, our customers tell us there is strong pent-up demand especially for leisure travel for a well-earned break and we look forward to welcoming more passengers back on board soon with warm Malaysian hospitality once travel restrictions permit.

03:37 PM

The prefab hotel set to change the future of where we travel

Like many of the best ideas, the inspiration for sustainable hotel brand Habitas came about by accident, writes Jane Mulkerrins.

Habitas Tulum
Habitas Tulum

Oliver Ripley, an Eton and Oxford-educated entrepreneur, had spent 15 years building real estate companies and a private jet firm, before dipping his toe into tech, while in his downtime he was part of a community of Burning Man enthusiasts who attended the festival every year.

When the opportunity arose to help two fellow “Burners” throw a three-day pop-up New Year’s Eve event in Tulum, he saw it “not as a business, just as great friends coming together”.

The event was a sell-out – so they saw the potential for something more permanent. “Our aim was to build an elevated Burning Man camp on the beach. Then we got a little carried away, and ended up with a nice hotel,” Ripley tells me.

Each one of the 35 beachfront rooms at Habitas Tulum (from $300/£220 per night), which opened in 2017, is on stilts with a thatched roof, and were constructed by local carpenters and artisans using sustainable materials.

Read the full story.

03:22 PM

'Business travel is worth £220bn, we need a plan to restart it'

Clive Wratten, chief executive of the Business Travel Association (BTA), told Telegraph Travel:

We are in the early stages of working on a roadmap for the Government, to restart travel in a safe way – because we don't see one coming from them. We felt as an industry body we should put one together, because there didn't seem to be plans from the Government to put one together as quickly as the industry needs it [...]

Business travel brings around £220 billion to the UK's GDP, so it's essential now, post-Brexit, that we have a plan to restart it. There's a terrible image that business travel is just high-flying executives jetting around the world to sign business deals – it's not. It's humanitarian aid, construction workers, marine and ships' crews, students. There are countless reasons that people travel for business, and it has stopped for almost a year now.

03:05 PM

Why Cuba is perfect for a family adventure

A cross-country ride in Parque Nacional de Viñales leaves teenagers spellbound, finds Kate Wickers.

Vinales Valley - Getty
Vinales Valley - Getty

“Yeah, I’m gonna take my horse to the old town road. I’m gonna ride till I can’t no more,” is playing from my 19-year old son’s iPhone as we trot through a valley of immense mogotes (limestone karst hills), deep in the Unesco-listed Parque Nacional Viñales in the Pinar del Rio province of western Cuba. When I’m not shouting “Más lento!” (slower) to Lucero, my horse, which is either at a standstill chewing grass or at a trot to catch the other horses up, I am drinking in the view of the Sierra de los Órganos mountain range, dotted with ranches and farms growing pineapples, potatoes, coffee, and tobacco.

The vista could not be more quintessentially Cuban (it is said to have been Castro’s favourite) and is one of few places left in the world where tobacco is grown using traditional methods. Alexis, our Cuban cowboy guide, is a huge hit with my sons, Josh, 19, Ben, 18, and Freddie, 14, as he leads them to a gallop across the fields (calling Freddie a natural “gaucho” as they ride). They are clearly having the time of their lives.

The region’s main town, Viñales (meaning vineyard, named after the vines that were planted by settlers from the Canary Islands in 1607), consists of one main strip with a handful of minor roads shooting from it. It is filled with pastel-hued one-storey casas with porches, where, come evening, the creak of rocking chair can be heard. Some surprisingly stylish restaurants and a daily craft market with panama hats and paintings of vintage American cars cater to passing tourists.

Read the full story.

02:33 PM

Carnival Cruise Line extends sailing suspension

Carnival Cruise Line has suspended sailings until later into 2021.

Departures from the US have been cancelled until the end of April and Australian itineraries will not depart again until at least May 19, 2021.

The line had previously suspended cruises up to the end of March.

It has postponed its European itineraries from Barcelona on Carnival Legend, which were to begin this May, through until October 31, 2021.

The start date for Carnival's new ship Mardi Gras has also been pushed back: it is now set to sail from Port Canaveral from May 29, 2021, rather than April 24.

02:17 PM

Covid-19 outbreak in tiny French village after group of 'irresponsible' British skiers test positive

A group of 26 British skiers is in isolation in a French resort after 16 tested positive for Covid.

Villagers in the tiny commune of Vallorcine, in the Chamonix Valley, have branded the party “irresponsible” for escaping UK lockdown to go skiing.

The Brits, described as gap-year students who paid £8,900 each for the 10-week ski course, arrived in France by road, air or train between January 13 and 17.

Some were delayed after they were stopped from boarding a Eurostar train at London St Pancras in breach of coronavirus restrictions and were forced to find other means of travel or forgo the trip.

Read the full report here.

01:57 PM

Four countries we predict will be open to Britons this summer

Everything could change, of course, but these four seem to be among the safest bets, writes Oliver Smith.

Montenegro is already open to UK arrivals - Getty
Montenegro is already open to UK arrivals - Getty

01:46 PM

IOC denies claims Tokyo games have been cancelled

01:37 PM

Infection rates fall across UK

The numbers of people infected with coronavirus appears to be falling week-on-week.

An estimated one in 55 people in private households in England had Covid-19 between January 10 and 16 2021, the Office for National Statistics said - the equivalent of 1.02 million people, or 1.88 per cent of the population.

That compares with an estimated one in 50 people, or 1.12 million, for the period December 27 2020 to January 2 2021.

Yesterday the Imperial College's React report suggested that lockdown was not bringing infections down, however during the Downing Street press conference last night, NHS medical director Dr Vin Diwakar said he was seeing a "glimmer of light" in case reductions.

01:22 PM

Should travel only be allowed if you've had the vaccine?

Saga Holidays has announced that they will make the Covid-19 vaccination a mandatory requirement for all customers travelling with them in 2021.

Though they are the first UK cruise line and tour operator to do this, it looks like they may not be the last. Two of our writers debate the case for and against vaccine requirements in order for people to be able to travel this year.

Read the arguments for and against.

12:48 PM

Britons top list of travellers planning overseas holidays, study suggests

One in nine consumers has already booked an overseas holiday for this year with nearly half making plans to travel overseas in 2021, according to a Trip Advisor study.

Research conducted in six countries, including the UK, found 47 per cent of people surveyed were looking into an international holiday.

"While recent returns by governments to lockdowns in Europe and the United States means travellers are likely grounded through much of the first quarter, we anticipate significant recovery across the industry heading into the summer months," the Trip Advisor report states.

"Already, the majority of hotel clicks on Trip Advisor for trips taking place from May onwards are to international destinations as opposed to domestic destinations.

Britons and Germans are the most eager to head to head abroad, the research found, with 85 per cent of users searching for international breaks.

12:38 PM

What holidays in the 1970s were really like

'One joined squaddies and students on motorway slip roads, trying to look as unlike a murdering rapist as possible,' writes Anthony Peregrine.

john cleese - Getty
john cleese - Getty

Contemplation of the 1970s is breaking out all over, possibly as a refuge from the awfulness of the 2020s. In general, it is treated with levity, a cartoon decade of lava lamps, Bay City Rollers, disco balls, bean bags and all the gaiety that was Hugh Scanlon. That said, it was also my heyday, partly because I roared through it fuelled by Party Sevens, Players N°6, and the fact that I looked pretty good in loon pants.

Read the full story.

12:19 PM

Comment: Closing the borders might work for Australia, but it won't work for us

The argument for shutting all routes into the country doesn't stand up to scrutiny, writes Matthew Lynn:

Ten months into the epidemic, the Government, as it struggles to keep a lid on Covid, is finally succumbing to the temptation to put restrictions on people moving in and out of the country.

Travel corridors have been closed. Bans are being placed on specific countries. And forcing people to isolate in hotels for up to two weeks after landing in the UK, at their own expense, is moving up the agenda. At this rate, it will soon be easier to get into Fort Knox than Britain.

Of course, it is not hard to see the logic in that. After all, this is an island. Unless you want to take your chances on a dinghy, there are relatively few ways of getting into the country.

We have seen in Australia and New Zealand, where strict quarantines and border controls have been enforced, how the virus has been kept under control and economies have remained largely open. If they can do it, why can’t we?

Unfortunately, the argument doesn’t stand up to serious scrutiny. We might be an island, but we also have one of the most globalised economies in the world.

Read Matthew's piece in full.

12:05 PM

Thailand's hotel quarantine packages fail to prevent overseas arrivals falling by 99.9%

Despite the launch of ‘Amazing Thailand Plus’, the country welcomed just 3,065 arrivals in November, reports Mark Stratton.

Shuttered shops in Phuket - Getty
Shuttered shops in Phuket - Getty

Phuket’s heavenly beaches are empty, barely anyone is browsing the spices and handicrafts of Bangkok’s famous Chatuchak Market. The Covid crisis has taken a heavy toll on a tourism sector contributing about one-fifth of Thailand’s GDP.

Even since tentatively relaunching tourism late last year with 14-day quarantine hotel packages – under the banner of ‘Amazing Thailand Plus’ – visitors have stayed away.

In November 2020 Thailand welcomed just 3,065 arrivals, mostly those visiting friends and family. Down 99.9% on the same month the previous year when 3.3million arrived. The creation of a long-stay Special Tourist Visa (STV) – permitting visits of up to 45 days inclusive of hotel quarantine – has only seen an average uptake of 346 overseas visitors per month since November, well below a government target of 1,200.

“We’ve seen zero interest in Thailand,” says Sam Clark of Experience Travel Group. “The idea of being imprisoned in one hotel for 14 days is just not an option for travellers. I believe the Thai public remains against opening up, though this might shift as the economic toll bites”.

Read the full story.

11:59 AM

Princess Cruises sells off its smallest ship

Princess Cruises has announced the sale of Pacific Princess to an undisclosed buyer, in line with what parent company, Carnival Corporation, plan to "to accelerate the fleet's removal of less efficient ships."

The 670-passenger ship was the smallest in the current Princess fleet, and had sailed with the line since 2002. She has covered more than 1.6 million nautical miles and sailed 11 world cruises.

"Pacific Princess holds so many memories and cherished experiences to all who sailed upon her," said Jan Swartz, the president of Princess Cruises.

"Pacific Princess offered a traditional style of cruising to unique destinations. While it’s difficult to say goodbye to our 'Love Boat,' our world cruise and exotic itineraries continue onboard our Medallion Class-enabled Island Princess and Coral Princess.

11:57 AM

MPs call for urgent support for travel sector

More than 80 MPs have backed a call for the prime minister to “urgently support” the aviation, travel and tourism industries following closure of all travel corridors, reports Travel Weekly.

They have called for a comprehensive ‘Aviation, Travel and Tourism Recovery Package’ to provide immediate financial and additional support alongside a route to enable aviation to come out of these restrictions when safe to do so.

The call came in a letter to Boris Johnson from the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Future of Aviation.

While acknowledging that the latest restrictions are a necessary measure, the cross-party group highlights that these industries need help to recover from the devastating impacts of the pandemic.

The letter, which was organised by the group and its chair Henry Smith MP, is also signed by former aviation minister Paul Maynard, ex-transport minister Stephen Hammond, DUP Westminster leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP, and SNP transport spokesperson Gavin Newlands.

11:36 AM

German minister warns against relaxing Covid-19 measures too soon

Germany's coronavirus infection numbers are encouraging but remain too high, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Friday, dampening expectations that restrictions to curb the spread of the virus could be lifted.

Spahn told a news conference that new, more transmissible strains of the virus made it imperative to reduce case numbers further.

"It's like an antibiotic: if you stop too early, stop too soon, resistance can develop," he said. "We don't want to be accused of having relaxed too soon."

Germany, in lockdown since early November, reported over 800 deaths and almost 18,000 new infections on Friday. The 7-day incidence fell to 115 cases per 100,000, its lowest since Nov. 1.

11:20 AM

UK bans arrivals from 30 countries

Arrivals from 30 countries are now subject to UK travel bans after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps added two more to the list on Thursday.

“To help to stop the spread of the COVID-19 variant identified in South Africa, we are banning all arrivals from Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo from 4am tomorrow,” Shapps announced via Twitter.

“All passengers from these countries except British & Irish Nationals and third country nationals with residents rights will be denied entry,” he added, explaining that the Government is keeping a close watch on new strains of the virus.

All people travelling to the UK are already required to produce a negative Covid-19 test before departure and to self-isolate for up to 10 days on arrival.

In a press briefing on Thursday, Home Secretary Priti Patel was questioned about future plans for international travel restrictions. She said that it was “far too early” to be speculating if people should be booking a summer holiday adding that “when it comes to borders and travel, it's right that the Government does everything we can right now to protect the roll-out of this vaccine.”

However, criticism of the UK’s border measures has come from World Health Organisation consultant Alvaro Garbayo who, after arriving in the London on Thursday, tweeted Health Secretary Matt Hancock to say: “Border control at Heathrow a complete mess, a crowd queuing for more than one hour with not enough space to keep safe distance. Just making sure we all get infected before entering the UK? Proactively pushing for herd immunity?”.

11:12 AM

Cruise lines see spike in bookings for 2022

Cruise lines remain confident that there are calmer waters ahead, with strong bookings reported for 2022 sailings and a focus on long-haul and exotic destinations.

cruise ships - Getty
cruise ships - Getty

Carnival Corporation – the world’s largest cruise company whose portfolio of cruise brands includes Carnival Cruise Line, Costa Cruises and Cunard among others – said it has already booked more cruises for the first half of 2022 than it did in 2019, despite minimal advertising or marketing.

Speaking during a fourth quarter earnings call, Carnival’s chief financial officer, David Bernstein revealed: “Our cumulative advance bookings for the first half of 2022 are ahead of a very strong 2019, which was at the high end of the historical range.”

Mr Bernstein added: “We are seeing good demand in all of the various cruise markets, whether it be Caribbean itineraries, Europe itineraries, there is good demand for Australia, world cruises, et cetera. It's broad-based and across all the brands.”

Read the full story.

10:56 AM

We need 'a proper testing scheme that works alongside vaccination passports,' says tour operator

Erin Johnson, director of marketing at tour operator Sovereign, said:

Until now, travel has been the last thing to go from people’s priority lists when times have been tough. Having that freedom taken away this last year has made us all realise the importance of travel. As a tour operator, we have the ability to give people something to look forward to, but importantly, with the reassurances they can book with confidence and know that we will look after them.

We recommend small hotels and private villas, along with providing private transfers as standard. We are working closely with our local ground teams to ensure that hotels are maintaining strict hygiene and cleanliness standards and our customers’ money is protected and refundable should a holiday need to be cancelled.

It’s paramount that we have a proper testing scheme that works alongside vaccination passports so that everyone is able to return to the travel that they love, when they are ready.

10:36 AM

'Travel isn't just about holidays, it's about changing the world'

Travel has long been about pushing limits, not just airport trolleys, writes Lucy Aspden:

Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay rewrote the history books in 1953 - Getty
Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay rewrote the history books in 1953 - Getty

Travel is banned – these three words have crept uncomfortably into the daily lexicon of the nation. And while on the surface this means holidays, whether they be of summer or ski orientation, are currently on ice, it also threatens to freeze the progress of our planet.

Travel is life- and world-changing, it’s not just about holidays – the longer we stand still, the longer we risk leaving endless blank pages in history.

That’s why we should celebrate the achievement of 10 Nepalese mountaineers last weekend, when they became the first people to ever successfully complete a winter ascent of the world’s second tallest mountain, K2. Their momentous effort is a reminder of the importance of travel to our evolution and our understanding of the world, culture and diversity.

Read the full story.

10:28 AM

Denmark suspends UAE flights over virus test concerns

Denmark is suspending flights from the UAE for five days over suspicions that virus tests and checks are not rigorous enough, the Nordic nation's transport minister said on Friday.

All air passengers arriving in Denmark need to show a negative virus test from the previous 24 hours, but Transport Minister Benny Engelbrecht said Danish authorities want to be sure there were no botched screenings or tests that had been bought in Dubai.

"All commercial flights from the United Arab Emirates are cancelled for five days," he said in a statement, adding that it would give officials time "to ensure that the required negative test is a true screening that has been carried out correctly".

The flight ban will run from Friday until Wednesday, during which time Denmark will not accept any negative tests from the UAE.

10:17 AM

Quarantine hotels won't happen 'for now', says George Eustice

Quarantine hotels will not be implemented "for now" as part of stricter border measures for travellers arriving in the UK, a Cabinet Minister has said.

George Eustice said the idea was considered last week but that a decision was taken not to force people to self-isolate in a hotel for two weeks after landing in the country.

"We have considered these matters last week and the judgment was, that for now, the right thing to do is to require pre-travel testing, " he told the Today programme.

It comes after it emerged Government officials had begun talks with hotel groups over using their facilities as quarantine centres as part of tighter border controls.

Whitehall sources told the Telegraph this week that “early discussions” had been held over adopting an Australian-style border system.

Read more on the Coronavirus Live blog.

10:10 AM

Robust testing regime vital to restart travel, says industry boss

Clive Wratten, chief executive of the Business Travel Association (BTA), spoke to Telegraph Travel about the latest border restrictions under discussion within the Government and the question of whether a Covid vaccination should be required for travel.

Vaccination is secondary to having a robust testing regime. We've been arguing since March that testing is the way forward: clearly vaccination is a good thing, but with the roll-out being at such a different pace around the world and still having no globally-standardised vaccination approval, we must still rely on testing.

The idea of quarantine hotels is very concerning. As it stands, any quarantine is a barrier to travel – but if you throw in an additional requirement to spend those ten days in a hotel, with potentially the individual paying for it themselves, you are essentially closing the borders. We understand why it is on the table, but it is very concerning. We have to have a plan out of this: a plan to reopen those travel corridors, to get people in and out of the country, and to get the economy moving again.

We fully support having both testing and quarantine requirements for travel right now, because it befits the scale of this public health emergency. But looking long-term, it is not sustainable: quarantine is a huge barrier against both business and consumer travel, and it must be removed.

It is not for us as an industry to say whether vaccinations should be mandatory for all travellers. From our point of view, we will comply with whatever the Government deems necessary.

10:00 AM

The Standard West Hollywood closes

The Standard Hollywood has closed its doors for good after 22 years. The hotel, on the Sunset Strip, was the seen-and-be-seen spot for Hollywood in the Noughties – investors included Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz.

The pool at the Standard West Hollywood
The pool at the Standard West Hollywood

Its nightclub was always full of the A-list, its blue astroturfed swimming pool preceded the social media age, and an art installation behind the reception desk featured real-life models reading or listening to iPods in a glass box. It also featured in an episode of Sex and the City.

“It is with a heavy heart that we must announce the closure of The Standard, Hollywood, which will shut its doors indefinitely on Friday, January 22nd,” said a post on the company’s Instagram.

“Despite 22 years of unconditional love for our hotel, our guests, our team and our community, the hotel was unable to prevent a significant increase to its lease, which makes operating the property impossible.”

“While there are and will be more Standard hotels, there will never be another Standard, Hollywood. And though it is painful to say goodbye, we know that the community we inspired will live on."

Read our review of the hotel.

09:53 AM

UK could be included in EU 'dark red zone' for travel restrictions

An EU council meeting has proposed adding a new 'dark red zone' category for areas where the virus is circulating at very high levels.

People travelling from these areas could be required to take a Covid test before departure and then quarantined after arrival in the EU, it said.

The UK could be included in this higher risk category depending on infection rates.

Most EU countries have already imposed restrictions on UK travellers due to the Kent Covid variant.

09:32 AM

UK quarantine hotels would be 'a nail in the coffin for the travel industry'

Karl Thompson, managing director of Unique Caribbean Holidays, Sandals and Beaches Resorts’ UK tour operator, comments on the new travel curbs being considered by the Government:

A quarantine hotel model wouldn’t make a huge difference to our business and our customers whilst the country is on lockdown as people can’t travel. If this proposal comes into fruition and lasts beyond April, when we are hoping people can travel again, it will be a nail in the coffin for the travel industry. No-one will go on holiday overseas if they must foot the bill for a two-week stay in an airport hotel that they’re not allowed to leave, on top of paying for Covid tests before they depart and, in some cases, isolating in the destination when they arrive, too.

The Test and Release scheme is not only much cheaper, but it allows returning holidaymakers to cut their quarantine time down to five days if they test negative for Covid. More efficient tracking and stronger enforcement of quarantine regulations for retuning passengers would ensure that everyone is following the rules and keep transmission low. Once the most vulnerable people have been vaccinated which, according to Government claims, will be by the Spring, the country should be in a much better place. The priority must, of course, be on public health but there also needs to be a focus on establishing a blueprint for safe and responsible travel to help rebuild the UK economy and the battered travel industry.

09:25 AM

Hong Kong to impose first lockdowns

Hong Kong will place tens of thousands of its residents in a lockdown to contain a new outbreak of the coronavirus, the first such measure the Chinese-ruled city has taken since the pandemic began, a local newspaper reported on Friday.

woman in hong kong - Getty
woman in hong kong - Getty

South China Morning Post, citing unnamed sources familiar with the situation, said the new measure will target the Jordan and Sham Shui Po districts which cover a small, but densely populated part of the Kowloon Peninsula.

The districts are home to many ageing, subdivided flats in which the virus could spread more easily.

"Persistently high and spreading infection [in the areas] and sewage surveillance suggest the outbreak is not yet under control, and many silent sources still exist within the area,” a source was quoted as saying.

09:16 AM

Biden to impose quarantine on arrivals to US, executive order confirms

Travellers arriving the US will be required to quarantine as part of the latest executive order signed by new president Joe Biden.

The president did not include detail on the length of the quarantine requirement.

In the executive order, it just says that the quarantine period will be in accord with Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. The CDC recommends that travellers stay home for seven days after arriving from abroad in most cases.

The self-isolation measure will come alongside pre-travel testing rules that were already due to be introduced on January 26.

Anyone arriving into the US will be required to produce proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure.

09:08 AM

Cabinet and Treasury in battle over borders as UK tries to keep Covid variants at bay

The two sides will determine how far to go in tightening restrictions on international travel, which could include a blanket ban, the Telegraph reports.

It is a battle over the UK’s borders that will pitch the Cabinet “doves” of Matt Hancock, Priti Patel and Michael Gove against the economic “hawks” of the Treasury and Department for Transport.

The Cabinet’s coronavirus operations committee (Covid O) will see the two sides determine in the coming days how far the Government should go in further tightening the restrictions on international travel to combat the spread of the new highly-infectious Covid strains.

After Boris Johnson closed the 63 travel corridors last Friday, on top of compulsory pre-departure Covid testing for all arrivals to the UK, the status quo is the most “hawkish” of the options on the committee’s agenda.

Read the full story.

09:00 AM

Shapps announces travel ban for Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced via Twitter on Thursday that all arrivals from these countries, aside from British and Irish nationals, would be denied entry to the UK due to a Covid variant found in South Africa.

Some 30 countries under now under travel bans issued by the UK Government.

08:45 AM

What happened yesterday?

The main headlines from Thursday:

  • Vaccine passports for travellers ‘unavoidable’

  • Netherlands to ban UK flights and debate national curfew

  • Dubai orders new restrictions as Covid cases rise

  • Travellers may have to pay for two weeks in hotel quarantine

  • Norwegian Cruise Line 'exploring' possibility of compulsory passenger vaccines

  • Romania scraps quarantine for vaccinated visitors

  • EU considering travel bans to combat Covid variants

​Now onto today's news.