Australia to keep borders closed to Britons for the foreseeable future

·30-min read
Melbourne has eased its local lockdown, but the country remains closed to outsiders - Getty
Melbourne has eased its local lockdown, but the country remains closed to outsiders - Getty

Australia looks set to keep its borders closed to British visitors for the foreseeable future, the country’s prime minister has suggested.

Speaking in Cornwall at the G7 summit, Scott Morrison said he “[will] continue to take an Australian path on [border restrictions] which protects the lives and livelihoods and learn from the experiences of other countries”, adding that travel should only resume “when the medical advice suggests that we should”.

Australia, despite being on the UK’s green list, has kept its borders closed to British arrivals and has one of the tightest entry restrictions in the world. The country currently has fewer than 150 active cases but is seen to be pursuing a “zero Covid” strategy and set to keep its borders closed to the majority of international visitors until 2022.

Mr Morrison said: “We are already seeing here in the UK that the high level of vaccination is preventing those hospitalisations, which is its purpose and that's welcome, but we're also seeing very high numbers of cases and at this stage of the pandemic, it is not clear where it goes next.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a delay to the UK’s lockdown easing until July 19, with a wider resumption of international travel now unlikely until the end of July.

Scroll down for updates.

05:51 PM

What did we learn today?

That’s all for today, here’s a recap of the top headlines:

  • UK 'unlikely to reopen foreign travel to major European resorts until August'

  • Boris Johnson: Follow red, amber and green guidance as freedom day postponed

  • Australia to keep borders closed to Britons for forseeable

  • My advice if you’ve been uninvited from a summer wedding? Go anyway

  • Thailand cases rise ahead of planned tourism reopening

  • Sir Keir Starmer: ‘Pathetic border policy’ to blame for delayed freedom

  • Cornwall to enter running to become UK City of Culture 2025

Tune back in tomorrow for the latest travel news.

05:44 PM

Boris Johnson: Follow red, amber and green guidance

Asked whether Britons should plan holidays abroad or on home soil this summer the Prime Minister has called for people to follow the guidance.

"I think that the most important thing is to follow the red, amber, green guidance that we’re giving," said Boris Johnson.

"I wouldn’t want to give any more guidance than that at this stage," he concluded.

05:38 PM

UK 'unlikely to reopen foreign travel to major European resorts until August'

Britain is unlikely to reopen overseas travel to the major European holiday destinations until the beginning of August, UK ambassadors have warned foreign tourist chiefs.

With domestic unlocking delayed for four weeks, Toni Mayor, the head of the Hosbec association of Valencia region hoteliers, said he did not expect to see UK tourism take off until August, following a meeting with the UK ambassador Hugh Elliott.

Turkish tourist chiefs are also understood to have received a similar message after meeting with UK Foreign Office officials, and are not expecting any lifting of overseas travel restrictions out of the UK until the beginning of August.

It comes as airlines have also started shrinking their schedules until late July in face of the Government’s decision to push back Freedom Day by a month and the anticipated further delay in expanding the green list for quarantine free travel.

Charles Hymas has the full story here.

05:32 PM

Weddings to go ahead with more than 30 guest limit

Weddings "can go ahead with more than 30 people" from June 21, "providing social distancing is obsereved" says Boris Johnson.

Mr Johnson adds: "I'm sorry for the disappointment that this will certainly bring to weddings, to many businesses," but he adds that the four-week delay will be "worth it".

Are you at risk of being uninvited to a wedding in the next month? Lizzie Frainier has some advice: go anyway.

05:18 PM

What does the delayed reopening mean for your holiday?

The delay in lifting Covid restrictions in England until as late as July 19 has worsened an already extremely uncertain situation for holidaymakers. With only five weeks to go until the peak summer season begins, millions of us are still waiting to hear whether or not we will be able to take our summer breaks.

In theory, the delay shouldn't make a direct impact on the prospects for foreign holidays. But in practice there is a growing risk that the increasingly cautious mood in government will affect its willingness to take the brakes off international travel.

Nick Trend explains what the delayed reopening means for your holiday here.

greece
greece

05:12 PM

Boris Johnson: 'I think it is sensible to wait just a little longer'

The Prime Minister begins the Downing Street press conference this evening by saying that when we set out on "our roadmap to freedom" a few months ago, we wanted to make "cautious but irreversible" steps.

He has confirmed that “by Monday 19 July we will aim to have doubled jab two thirds of the adult population” and there will be a four-week delay to lifting of all restrictions.

“By being cautious now we have the chance in the next four weeks to save many thousands of lives,” said Mr Johnson.

05:01 PM

Watch live: Boris Johnson to announce delay to June 21 lockdown lifting

04:52 PM

Upcoming: Boris Johnson to announce the decision on June 21 easing of restrictions at 6pm

At the Downing Street press conference this evening, Boris Johnson will be joined by England's chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, and the Government's chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance.

Stay tuned for updates from 6pm.

04:50 PM

Birmingham, Blackpool and Liverpool join list of ‘enhanced response areas’

Additional support including surge testing, tracing, isolation support and maximising vaccine uptake, will be rapidly deployed in six areas in the UK to tackle an increase in Delta variant cases.

The support will be introduced in Birmingham, Blackpool, Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Liverpool City Region and Warrington to suppress the dominant variant. This follows the introduction of further support in Greater Manchester and Lancashire last week.

Those living in the areas are advised to minimise travel in and out of the affected areas.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: "We are doing everything we can to stop the spread of the Delta variant, and working with local authorities, we are providing a strengthened package of support in areas where cases of the variant are increasing.

"I urge people living these areas to get tested, come forward for your vaccine as soon as you are eligible and make sure to get the all-important second jab - that is how we will beat this virus."

04:43 PM

How to master post-lockdown travel etiquette

travel etiquette
travel etiquette

Wondering what it’ll be like to go on holiday post lockdown? Aren’t we all? Here’s a sneak peek:

Tipping: It was awkward enough before, but this year you’ll have to perform the whole excruciating fandango without coming anywhere near each other. And now you can’t discreetly slip a few notes into a bell-boy’s hand (praying he doesn’t notice quite how small the denominations are until you’re out of sight), the only option is to place the money in a pile on the ground and retreat, like it’s some kind of offering to the gods. Or ask if they take contactless…

From airplane armrests to sunloungers, here’s everything you need to know about post-lockdown travel etiquette.

04:27 PM

Anguilla relaxes entry requirements

Tucked away in the northern Caribbean the island of Anguilla is a frontrunner in the race to get on the green list at the next announcement – expected next week. Ahead of the decision Anguilla, which has vaccinated 59 per cent of its population with a first dose, has changed the protocols for those entering the country.

Effective from July 1, entry to Anguilla is open to all those that are fully vaccinated (with last dose received at least three weeks before arrival). Guests will not be tested on arrival and do not need to quarantine, but will need to produce a negative test result three to five days prior to entry, along with proof of vaccination. Entry fees will not apply, but all visitors must still apply for entry permission at ivisitanguilla.com.

04:15 PM

‘It's not adventure travel if you don't have the scars to prove it’

Red ruffed lemur 
Red ruffed lemur

"I’ve been reflecting on how the most adventurous of trips – some might call them disastrous – can be memorable for all the right reasons if the group is open minded. This was the case in 1994 in Madagascar, which in those days spawned triumphs and disasters in equal measure. It was a pioneering trip, visiting two reserves only just opened to tourism," writes Hilary Bradt.

"It didn’t start well. The tour operator was based in South Africa so our flights were from Johannesburg, where I was to meet the group. I was bumped off the overbooked BA flight there from Heathrow having failed to convince the uninterested check-in staff of the necessity of my journey. The 20 clients headed leaderless to Antananarivo and started on the first leg of the trip with a Malagasy guide who forgot to feed them."

Disaster can make some of the best travel memories, says Bradt, recalling an drama-laden tour she led around Madagascar here.

04:03 PM

Notre Dame cathedral is fundraising

It’s one of Paris’ most popular tourist attractions, but the Notre Dame cathedral was nearly destroyed by a fire two years ago.

Now, as restrictions ease in France, the Catholic diocese of Paris is hoping to raise money to restore and modernise the landmark as part of a huge project ahead of the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

The fundraising campaign hopes to generate €5 to €6 million "to bring the cathedral into the 21st century, while ensuring the preservation of its identity in the spirit of the Christian tradition," according to Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit.

The funds would be used to update the tour layout for the six million visitors each year as well as new furniture and lighting and sound systems.

Notre Dame Cathedral Fire - Benoit Moser/AP
Notre Dame Cathedral Fire - Benoit Moser/AP

03:52 PM

Reaction: 'Further delay is unthinkable'

Boris Johnson’s decision to delay the final stage of his roadmap until July 19 has been attacked across the board, here’s some of the latest reaction:

Kim Rix of London-based specialist travel firm, Gemstone Detective:

A further delay is unthinkable, especially for a small one-woman business like mine, operating in the travel industry. Suffice to say, my travel business has suffered greatly, not to mention I've had no support from the Government for being a limited company.

Karen Watkins, Founder of Somerset-based Rowan Consulting:

There's a chance some businesses will throw in the towel if the easing of restrictions is further delayed. After a rollercoaster year, I wouldn’t blame them.

Jo Ferreday, Director of Market Harborough-based events company, Sheer Edge:

Further delays to lockdown easing will cause countless problems for businesses up and down the country. At the current rate, big parts of the hospitality sector could disintegrate before our eyes. We need clear, concise guidelines from the Government, nothing wishy-washy and ethereal.

03:38 PM

The ultimate UK bucket list

Isle of Harris
Isle of Harris

Whether we like it or not, this is the summer of staycations. Though our travel horizons have rarely felt narrower, we do have a bounty of beautiful countryside, coast and mountains right on our doorstep – with no passport, or PCR test, required.

Our expertly curated list of 21 incredible experiences covers some of the UK's prettiest scenery, wildest coastlines and historic landmarks that prove holidaying at home is not second best.

Start planning your bucket-list trip here.

03:24 PM

Prime Minister holds talks with Turkey

Boris Johnson met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the NATO Summit in Brussels today.

The Prime Minister and President discussed the fight against coronavirus and their countries’ respective vaccine rollouts. The pair reportedly agreed on the importance of working together to resume travel between the UK and Turkey, which is currently on the red list.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "They agreed on the importance of working together to defeat the pandemic and work towards the resumption of travel between the UK and Turkey.

"The leaders agreed to work to deepen the relationship between the UK and Turkey in a range of areas including trade and defence."

The seven-day case rate in Turkey is currently 50 per 100,000 and 31 per cent of the population have received their first vaccine dose – compared to the UK’s own case rate of 76 and first-dose vaccine drive of 75 per cent.

03:07 PM

Tell us about your favourite boutique hotel for the chance to win a prize worth £250

Forty years ago, the boutique hotel was born. But what does the term mean? Fiona Duncan gives some clues: “small-scale, gorgeous, refined and pampering, but on a human scale”.

Add great service, artisanal food and botanical toiletries and you get the picture. If you have a favourite British hotel of that ilk, tell us what makes it special and why you would recommend it.

The reader who sends in the best entry wins a privately guided tour for up to six people worth £250.

Find out more here.

How boutique can a hotel be? - The Witchery by The Castle
How boutique can a hotel be? - The Witchery by The Castle

02:46 PM

Businesses will 'disintegrate' if Freedom Day is delayed until July 19, Boris Johnson warned

Boris Johnson’s decision to delay the final stage of his roadmap until July 19 has been attacked across the board, with Tory backbenchers and industry bosses joining Labour in condemning the move.

The Prime Minister is this evening expected to confirm a four-week extension to lockdown, killing hopes that June 21 would be “freedom day”. Matt Hancock is due to appear in the Commons at 8:30pm, following Mr Johnson’s 6pm press conference.

But Tory MPs have already attacked the decision, with one former minister saying there was “massive upset” among colleagues, while another said the mood was “low”, with annoyance at Number 10's "mystery".

Sir Charles Walker, vice-chairman of the 1922 Committee, told the BBC he felt "overwhelming pessimism", adding: "If you can't lift restrictions at the height of summer, and we are in the height of summer, then you almost certainly are looking at these restrictions persisting and tightening into the autumn and winter."

Read more on the politics live blog.

02:29 PM

Cornwall to enter running to become UK City of Culture 2025

Cornwall is to bid to become the UK’s City of Culture 2025, the county has announced.

The news comes as the G7 summit finishes in Carbis Bay on Cornwall’s Atlantic coast, near St Ives.

The UK City of Culture title is awarded every four years, with the first host this year being Coventry.

Cornwall said its plan has the backing of “creative personalities and cultural organisations across Cornwall and beyond, including actor and writer Dawn French, national Tate director Maria Balshaw, the Eden Project, Falmouth University, Hall for Cornwall, Newlyn Art & The Exchange Gallery and many more”.

Cornwall’s local enterprise partnership said:

Cornwall has long been a crucible of artistic excellence, with a concentration of creative activity usually only found in cities, fired both by the incredible landscape and a distinctive cultural identity borne out of its Celtic roots. For the last 25 years leaders in Cornwall have committed to supporting cultural regeneration as a means to improve the social and economic fortunes of the region. The City of Culture accolade would help to recognise that long term commitment to art and culture.

Actor, comedian and author Dawn French, who lives in Cornwall and is Chancellor of Falmouth University, said:

Cornwall is a place of huge creativity and culture and while it might seem strange that a rural area is bidding for City of Culture, it is usual for Cornwall to be challenging perceptions and rewriting the rules.

02:07 PM

Taj Mahal to reopen as cases fall in India

India's top tourist attraction the Taj Mahal will reopen this week, the government said Monday, two months after it was shut as a deadly surge in coronavirus infections swept the country.

Cases and deaths in the vast nation of 1.3 billion people soared to record levels in April and May, with state and national authorities imposing lockdowns and other restrictions to stem the spread of the virus.

Infections have declined in recent weeks, with major cities including the capital New Delhi and the financial capital Mumbai lifting some curbs on movement and activities.

Tourists will return to the Taj Mahal for the first time in months - AFP
Tourists will return to the Taj Mahal for the first time in months - AFP

One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal was shut down in March last year as India imposed one of the world's strictest lockdowns at the start of the pandemic.

The monument of love built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal reopened in September with restrictions on the number of visitors before shutting again in mid-April.

Covid-19 precautions mean visitors would not be allowed to touch the shining marble mausoleum, an Archaeological Survey of India official said.

"All Covid-appropriate precautions are being taken," the official told AFP. "Visitors will have to step on a sponge-like platform which will act as a sanitiser for shoes."

01:46 PM

Poll: Where do you like to surf?

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01:29 PM

The absurdly beautiful county you've wrongfully evaded year after year

Wandering in the footsteps of the pioneer of ley lines, you'll find much to admire in Herefordshire, writes Sophie Campbell.

This summer is the centenary of their discovery (or rediscovery) in June 1921 by the polymath and passionate Herefordian Alfred Watkins. The idea first hit him in Bredwardine, not far from Arthur’s Stone, and on June 30 Herefordshire will celebrate this date midway through a two-week Ley Lines in the Landscape festival of events, exhibitions, a new 40-mile walking route and a 106-mile driving or cycling route, the Watkins Way.

It’s a chance to examine the curious evolution of ley lines, which gripped the public imagination almost the minute they left Watkins’ pen. He saw them as navigation aids, prehistoric trading routes using landscape features as waymarks, but the idea soon took on a spiritual dimension as believers from dowsers to druids recast them as powerful lines of energy.

Read the full story.

The Mortimer Trail on Wapley Hill, Herefordshire - Alamy
The Mortimer Trail on Wapley Hill, Herefordshire - Alamy

01:07 PM

'Welcome to Perth' sign misleads Sydney passengers

Well, this is entertaining. Someone has painted in large letters "Welcome to Perth" on a rooftop near Sydney airport, giving arriving passengers a brief scare. The two cities are 2,000 miles apart.

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12:47 PM

Need to know: Key dates

key travel dates
key travel dates

All eyes are on Downing Street today as Boris Johnson is set to delay the final step of lockdown reopening. June 21 was the date everyone had circled in their diaries – but what are the key dates for travel rule changes – and what do they mean for your holiday?

These are the major milestones you need to know in order to be able to book your summer holiday this year as we await the next green list update and news from Number 10.

12:37 PM

Reaction: Bosses welcome Government plans to boost UK tourism

A Government-back campaign to boost the recovery of the UK’s tourism sector was announced last week, including a new rail pass and discount voucher scheme. It’s news many in the industry have been waiting for.

Merilee Karr, Chair of the UK Short Term Accommodation Association (STAA) and CEO of UnderTheDoormat, said:

We welcome the Government’s recognition of the UK’s tourism and accommodation sectors’ value to the economy and that they need a number of measures and support to recover fully.

The demand for holiday accommodation in this country is an important source of income for hosts and communities across the country… The sector now has a chance to rebuild and many of the hosts and operators in the market will have the chance to resume earning much needed income, as will the businesses in the local communities in which they are located.

12:26 PM

Airlines move to replace collapsed Irish routes

Following the collapse of Stobart Air, Air Lingus has confirmed it will now operate the lost daily routes from Belfast City to Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham as well as Dublin to Edinburgh and Manchester.

British Airways City Flyer is set to take over Stobart’s old routes between Belfast City and Exeter and Leeds Bradford.

Aer Lingus said: "All impacted customers are being directly contacted and offered details of an alternative flight where feasible. All impacted customers also have the option of a full refund."

However, there are still several routes yet to be replaced, including Dublin – Newquay.

Aer Lingus said: "Alternative operations for the outstanding routes are still being determined."

12:15 PM

Disposable barbecues taken off sale in National Parks

Disposable barbecues will no longer be sold in Co-op stores in the UK’s National Parks after a Lake District anti-litter campaign pushed to help clean up the area.

In a post on Instagram, the Lakes Plastic Collective, which works hard to clear away rubbish left by visitors – including vast amounts of single-use barbecues – confirmed that after a volunteer sent a letter to the high-street chain the company has confirmed it will no longer sell the disposable products in any of the country’s National Parks, with immediate effect.

The group is now urging other supermarkets and convenience stores to follow suit to help tackle the littering issue that plagues popular holiday spots.

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12:01 PM

Sir Keir Starmer: ‘Pathetic border policy’ to blame for delayed freedom

Sir Keir Starmer has blamed the Government's "pathetic" border policy for a delay to lockdown easing that is widely predicted to be announced later.

Speaking to LBC, Sir Keir said: "June 21 was supposed to be 'Freedom Day', and why are we not going to hit it? It looks like we're not because of the Government's pathetic borders policy."

Sir Keir criticised the Government for delays to introducing hotel quarantine, the confusing traffic light system for foreign travel, and the decision to delay putting India on the red list until late April.

"The net result of (the Prime Minister's) pathetic approach is that we're going to have four weeks more of this."

11:48 AM

Mauritius to open from July 15

Mauritius is to welcome overseas tourists from July 15, the island has announced, with vaccinated travellers able to enter if they are staying for longer than 14 days.

In the first phase of a reopening fur to last until the end of September, fully vaccinated adults must return negative PCR test results before departure, on arrival and on day seven and 14 of their holiday.

Anyone unvaccinated must be subject to two weeks of "in-room quarantine", the island said.

All tourists must be booked into a resort for the duration of their trip.

Guests be booked into a resort, like the St Regis - St Regis
Guests be booked into a resort, like the St Regis - St Regis

11:18 AM

Thailand cases rise ahead of planned tourism reopening

A series of coronavirus outbreaks in Thai factories is raising concerns that the country's planned reopening to international tourists could be derailed.

The virus has swept through over 130 factories, including those supplying international brands, with more than 7,100 cases across 11 provinces, making manufacturing one of the top sources of infections along with prisons and construction camps.

The affected plants are just a fraction of about 63,000 factories in Thailand that employ 3.4 million, government data shows, but officials worry about the impact on exports that have kept the struggling economy moving as income from tourism has collapsed.

Phuket is one of the country's key destinations - Getty
Phuket is one of the country's key destinations - Getty

The government has been trying to contain the outbreak with a "bubble and seal" policy, which takes effect when 10% of factory workers are infected. The confirmed cases are then sent for treatment while the remainder are kept at the factory for 28 days.

The country plans to reopen the island of Phuket to tourists next month, but a rise in cases around the country, including the capital, Bangkok, has put the plan in doubt.

A government official defended the bubble and seal policy, saying it allows businesses to continue operations and limits the outbreak.

“Those with symptoms will be sent for treatment, others will be in the bubble, if it spreads it will spread in there and not outside," health official Taweesap Siraprapasiri told Reuters.

10:50 AM

London's 'heartbeat' to suffer with roadmap delay, says theatre impressario

Theatre impresario Sir Howard Panter has said the industry will suffer "significant damage" if the final lifting of coronavirus lockdown restrictions in England is put on hold.

Sir Howard, co-founder of theatre operator Trafalgar Entertainment, said theatre producers had "mobilised a whole industry" on the condition they would be able to reopen on June 21, but "now we are being told, apparently: 'Oh no, it's not that date. It may be some other date, we don't really know'.

"The ramifications for the theatre industry are extremely serious," he added. "But also the ramifications for all the industries which frankly work with and collaborate with the theatre - restaurants, hotels, hospitality, transport, taxis - you name it. There is a huge industry that relates to theatre.

"Theatre is the heartbeat of London and of many major cities. You take that away and those places may not open anyway, but they certainly not going to open without theatres."

10:33 AM

How does the UK's vaccine rollout compare to other nations?

10:24 AM

The world in pictures

A ranger on patrol in the Congo's Virunga National Park - AFP
A ranger on patrol in the Congo's Virunga National Park - AFP
Dancers from Shee'z's group perform in front of the Eiffel Tower, Paris - AFP
Dancers from Shee'z's group perform in front of the Eiffel Tower, Paris - AFP
Tourists have returned to the shores of Venezuela - AP
Tourists have returned to the shores of Venezuela - AP
A flower trader at New Covent Garden Market in London ahead of British Flowers Week - PA
A flower trader at New Covent Garden Market in London ahead of British Flowers Week - PA

10:00 AM

What would a delayed reopening mean for your holiday?

The delays to the final easing of Covid restrictions on June 21 could affect your travel plans this summer, writes Nick Trend.

The expectation that the Government is to postpone the lifting of Covid restrictions in England on June 21 is worsening an already extremely uncertain situation for holidaymakers. With only five weeks to go until the peak summer season begins, millions of us are still waiting to hear whether or not we will be able to take our summer breaks.

In theory, the delay shouldn't make a direct impact on the prospects for foreign holidays. But there is a growing risk that the increasingly cautious mood in government will affect its willingness to take the brakes off international travel.

Read the full story.

09:45 AM

'Half of holiday Britons to clean on arrival'

Nearly half of Britons plan to "carry out their own cleaning" on arrival at a holiday destination, according to new research.

GAMA Healthcare commissioned YouGov to poll UK travellers on their new hygiene habits and founds that seven in 10 plan to pack hand sanitiser and disinfectant wipes. A fifth plan to bring their own cleaning products on holiday, the polling company found.

The research found that eight in 10 British adults are planning to go on holiday this year, either in the UK or abroad, with 47 per cent saying they will clean their accommodaiton on arrival.

In terms of other post-pandemic changes, nearly a third will limit their use of public transport, a fifth their use of hospitality venuces and nearly half will "avoid busy places".

How will your behaviour change on holiday? Tell us in the comments below.

09:17 AM

My advice if you’ve been uninvited from a summer wedding? Go anyway

When I found out that I no longer made the cut for a friend’s nuptials in the Lake District, I decided to carry on (almost) as planned, writes Lizzie Frainier.

At first, when it was confirmed a group of friends and I were no longer on the guest list, the gut reaction was to see if we could get our money back from our Keswick Airbnb. Then a question simmered to the surface, would it be awkward if we still went for a holiday? The answer from the bride was a resounding ‘of course not!’.

And so we decided to hop on the train, and make the most of the spectacular Lake District surroundings. Once there, we spent our days climbing to the top of fells, and being rewarded with views of sun-dappled lakes and great green expanses. We swam in the freezing freshwater, downed pints in pubs, and feasted on great plates of steak.

Lizzie and friends in the Lakes
Lizzie and friends in the Lakes

Read the full piece.

08:55 AM

South Korea to resume concerts and ease travel restrictions

South Korea began easing restrictions on large concerts and sports events on Monday after announcing last week it would loosen a series of coronavirus curbs as the country pushes ahead with its vaccination drive.

Up to 4,000 people will be allowed to attend K-Pop concerts and other cultural shows from Monday, up massively from a capacity limit of below 100 people since late last year, according to measures announced by health officials on Friday.

Sports stadiums will be able to operate at a 30% to 50% capacity, depending on the districts, up from 10% previously.

While South Korea has fought small clusters of coronavirus infections in recent months, the daily infection number hit a two-month low on Sunday while the government has pushed through with its vaccination drive.

The government has also said it would loosen some quarantine restrictions for fully vaccinated overseas visitors.

From July 1, some of those travellers can apply for exemptions from having to observe South Korea's mandatory two-week quarantine if they are visiting family or travelling for the purpose of business, academics or public interest, health authorities said on Sunday.

08:28 AM

Pandemic boom in Dubai yachting scene

Dubai earned a reputation for delivering luxury for those with cash to splash years ago, but amid the Covid-19 pandemic, a new mode of travel has become popular - yachts.

AFP reports:

"It's more private, you're with only family and friends, and it's the ideal outing during a pandemic," said Nada Naeem, a 36-year-old Saudi citizen living in Dubai.

Dozens of white yachts are seen every day zipping through the emirate's bays, canals and islands, while others are docked along the coast in Gulf waters overlooking the skyline of high-rise towers.

A luxury yacht in Dubai Marina Beach - Getty
A luxury yacht in Dubai Marina Beach - Getty

"You feel like you can breathe," Naeem said, adding that she had not left Dubai since the pandemic began last year. "It's like you've travelled."

Unlike so many parts of the world, Dubai opened its doors wide open to tourists just a few months after the coronavirus pandemic took hold last year.

Life in the Gulf emirate - one of the first destinations to welcome visitors again last July - returned to largely normal, with restaurants and hotels up and running and beaches open to the public.

The UAE, made up of seven emirates including Dubai, launched an energetic vaccination drive with some of the highest inoculation rates worldwide, and continues to enforce strict rules on wearing masks and social distancing.

Charter companies have seen an increase in interest - Getty
Charter companies have seen an increase in interest - Getty

For those who can afford the price tag, yachts are seen as a safer bet.

"When they eased the lockdown... people preferred something secure and safe with regulations," said Mohammed al-Sayyed, manager of Royal Star Yachts charter company. "We are providing them with the proper customer service, following all the rules, sanitising the yacht."

08:14 AM

Health minister on India: 'I think we acted swiftly'

Health minister Edward Argar has defended the Government's delay on adding India to the travel red list, amid the spread of the variant first identified there within the UK.

Critics say the spread of the variant was already apparent before the Government took action, with some suggesting the only reason it was kept off the red list was because Boris Johnson was due to travel the country to discuss a trade deal.

Argar told Sky News: "We have some of the toughest border regimes in the world when it comes to tackling coronavirus and I think we acted swiftly and decisively when that was put on the list of variants of concern."

07:58 AM

15 of the best 'tiny hotels' in Europe – where you are the only guest

Small is beautiful, especially this year. Discover these truly exclusive stays and cross your fingers for a late summer stay, writes Justine Gosling.

One, for example, is this delight in Norway...

At just 43 sq ft, this very tiny hotel has room for only a double bed, but wins with big views of the surrounding fjord. The shed was originally a relay station for radio and telecommunications. These days, guests can enjoy breakfast on the little veranda after an early morning hike or swim in the fjord. However, the shed is a good 650ft from the bathroom, so for night-time, there’s a potty between two big boulders.

From 2,990 Swedish krona including breakfast; florli.no/product/radioshed

Radio Shed, Lysefjord, Norway - Radio Shed
Radio Shed, Lysefjord, Norway - Radio Shed

Read the full story.

07:38 AM

Spotlight: How many cases does Australia have?

Australia has kept its cases relatively low throughout the pandemic, but has pursued a strict lockdown regime.

The country has vaccinated around a quarter of its population.

07:29 AM

Boris Johnson to urge public to accept ‘one last heave’ to freedom

Boris Johnson is set to urge the public to accept “one last heave” to freedom as he delays the final step of lockdown reopening.

On Sunday night the Prime Minister was finalising his plan to push back the June 21 reopening in England by up to four weeks owing to a surge in Covid cases. Earlier in the day he had refused to rule out further delays in the future.

It means rules ordering the wearing of face masks, limiting groups to six people indoors and 30 outdoors, and keeping nightclubs shut are set to remain in place.

The cap on weddings being attended by only 30 people is expected to be relaxed, but the exact details of what new rules would replace it were still being debated in Government on Sunday night.

Mr Johnson's message to the nation at a Downing Street press conference on Monday evening is expected to be that sticking to the rules now is worth it to avoid a future lockdown.

Follow the story here.

07:20 AM

The stories to keep an eye on today

Good morning. The main story today is Boris Johnson's announcement later on the plans to delay the end of all pandemic restrictions.

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