Repatriation flights begin for Britons overseas

Benjamin Parker
·42-min read
Tough new Covid-19 restrictions are leading airlines to axe flights into at least the middle of February - JOSEPH OKPAKO
Tough new Covid-19 restrictions are leading airlines to axe flights into at least the middle of February - JOSEPH OKPAKO

British travellers are being urged to return home immediately, as airlines begin cancelling flights. 

EasyJet, the UK’s largest airline, told Telegraph Travel that it would be "required to further reduce" flights, and focus on the repatriation of Britons who are currently abroad.

“We will be operating flights up to and including the 10th January focused on repatriating any customers who need to return to the UK. We urge customers needing to return to transfer onto these flights as soon as possible as options to travel after this date will be reduced,” a spokesperson said. 

England's third national lockdown begins today, with measures including a stay-at-home order. MPs are set to vote retrospectively on it later.

Thomas Cook and Tui have scrapped their flight schedules until the middle of February, with Virgin Atlantic running a reduced schedule for the time being. Virgin Holidays has cancelled all bookings until at least February 15 due to the "extraordinary circumstances".

Meanwhile, airlines flying into the UK will be required to stop passengers from boarding if they are unable to show a negative Covid test within 72 hours of departure. It will cover all countries, including those with travel corridors under which travellers are currently exempted from quarantine on arrival in the UK.

Scroll down for the latest travel updates

05:09 PM

Today's top stories

That's it from me today. Here's a recap of the main headlines:

  • Summer holiday accommodation shortage looming

  • Cruise sector in need of 'urgent' guidance from government 

  • Social media is full of celebrities on holiday in Dubai – are they above the law?

  • Stansted to close terminal overnight after flight cancellations

  • 'Vaccine passport' could become a requirement, says Fauci

  • Passengers to be banned from boarding flights to UK without negative Covid test 

We'll be back tomorrow morning with the latest travel news. 

04:59 PM

I escaped lockdown in Britain for sunshine in South Africa, and I don't regret a thing

David Turner found a two-bedroom penthouse apartment in Cape Town with a private pool on the roof for £1,350 a month.

Until Covid, living abroad simply wasn’t an option. For the moment, however, it doesn’t matter where I am and most of my contacts think it’s great someone is making the best of the situation.

I spent the summer in Chamonix and by mid-September I was working out where to go for the winter. I didn’t want to go back to the UK because further lockdowns seemed inevitable and being stuck in the dark and cold was singularly unappealing. I also suspected the ski season wouldn’t happen, either.

I’d been to South Africa before and have friends here, so it was the obvious choice. The cost of living is low, there’s fabulous food and it has in abundance all the things I love, like hiking, paragliding and kitesurfing. When they announced the border was opening on October 1, I found a two-bedroom penthouse apartment in Cape Town with a private pool on the roof for £1,350 a month.

The border opening was initially for those travelling on business. Before lockdown, as a sideline, I’d been setting up a paragliding business for UK pilots wishing to travel to South Africa, so produced evidence for that which got me into the country.

Read David's story here.

Cape Town beats Blighty  - GETTY
Cape Town beats Blighty - GETTY

04:50 PM

Wait for cruises continues for Carnival

Carnival Cruise Line has announced another extension to its sailing 'pause', cancelling cruises until March 31  – which means it have gone more than a year with no passengers by the time it resumes its cruises.

A number of other voyages have been scrapped until late 2021.

Christine Duffy, the president of Carnival Cruise Line, said:

We are sorry to disappoint our guests, as we can see from our booking activity that there is clearly a pent-up demand for cruising on Carnival. We appreciate their patience and support as we continue to work on our plans to resume operations in 2021 with a gradual, phased-in approach.

04:41 PM

Ireland's ban on British arrivals to end this week

The Irish government will end the ban on travellers from Britain at midnight Friday.

After that time, those entering the country must show a negative test on arrival, or face a €2,500 (£2,261) fine or up to six months imprisonment. This will be extended to other countries in time.

04:33 PM

In pictures: Our European holidays through the decades

Emma Featherstone looks back at 50 years of travel to the continent. 

Delve into the pictorial archive and you get a sense of how our options have increased and how far our tastes have evolved (or not) in the 50 years up to 2020. 

See all the wonderful images here.

Three British pensioners enjoying their SAGA holiday  - GETTY
Three British pensioners enjoying their SAGA holiday - GETTY
Passengers sunbathe and talk on the deck of the P&O liner Oriana moored off Portugal - STUART FREEDMAN/GETTY
Passengers sunbathe and talk on the deck of the P&O liner Oriana moored off Portugal - STUART FREEDMAN/GETTY
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales with Diana, Princess of Wales  - TIM GRAHAM/GETTY
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales with Diana, Princess of Wales - TIM GRAHAM/GETTY

04:22 PM

The latest Covid-19 figures

The United Kingdom recorded 62,322 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, and 1,041 deaths within 28 days of a positive test for the virus, according to official data.

This is the first time more than 1,000 deaths have been confirmed in the UK's highest daily toll since April.

Tuesday’s data had shown 60,916 new coronavirus infections and 830 deaths.

UK daily cases over time with postcode look up
UK daily cases over time with postcode look up

04:15 PM

Late-season ski deals

All hope is not lost for ski holidays this winter. Crystal Ski Holidays, one of the UK’s leading ski operators, is promoting deals to get skiers to the slopes this spring.

A week at the three-star Seehotel Sissi in Zell am See, Austria, costs from £539 per person, including breakfast, flights and transfers, departing March 20. Elsewhere, a week at Hotel du Glacier in La Thuile, Italy, which shares its slopes with La Rosiére in France, costs from £564 per person, including breakfast, flights and transfers, departing March 21.

Not sure about skiing in spring? Abi Butcher shares the virtues of fresh tracks in the sunshine here.

04:09 PM

Pilot in hot water over game of golf

A China Airlines pilot is under investigation over claims that he broke quarantine rules to play a round of golf.

He arrived at Taipei Taoyuan International Airport, Taiwan, on 13 November after flying a cargo plane from San Francisco, and was supposed to self-isolate at a hotel for three days.

However the pilot admitted heading to the gold course after only two days. The airline is deciding what action to take against him.

He had previously been in trouble for breaking rules and visiting a shopping centre after breaking covornavirus rules to visit a shopping centre after another flight from the United States.

03:56 PM

Requirement for all overseas arrivals to take a Covid test raises several worrying questions

By next week, the Government will introduce new border controls which go much further than any entry policy we’ve seen before, writes Paul Charles – but aren't UK citizens entitled to seamless access to their own country?

There are so many unanswered questions – how easy will it be to get a test when abroad? If you’re on a Maldivian island, is it realistic to get a PCR “gold-standard” test within 72 hours of travelling. Will you find a test facility at short notice easily in every destination? 

Furthermore, what would happen if your test result doesn’t come back quickly – or you test positive – and are forced to miss your flight because the airline won’t let you board. With airline schedules vastly reduced this year, there is no guarantee anymore of the next plane home being the same day or even departing within the next 48 hours. 

There is little doubt that the infrastructure is not yet built or capable of delivering for the millions of British travellers who go abroad each year, and it will take many months to put into place. 

Which surely makes it even harder for the Government to fast-track the introduction of inbound testing from every destination in the world?

 Read the full piece here.

03:49 PM

Nw travel restrictions for Britons visiting Ireland

Travellers arriving in Ireland from Britain will be asked to present a negative Covid-19 test. The measure, which comes into force on Saturday, will also apply to people arriving from South Africa.  

Anyone wishing to enter from those countries must be able to provide proof of a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test taken within 72 hours prior to their arrival.  

The ban on travel from Britain to Ireland, which had been due to end on yesterday, has also been extended until Friday.

03:43 PM

A Diamond of a godmother

Television presenter and journalist Anne Diamond has been named as the godmother of Viking Cruises new ocean-going ship.

Viking Venus, which is due to launch this spring, is currently undergoing the final stages of construction at a shipyard in Italy. The 930-capacity vessel was ‘floated out’ in June.

“On behalf of the entire Viking family, we are delighted and honoured to have Anne serve as the godmother of Viking Venus,” said Karine Hagen, executive vice Ppresident of Viking. 

Ms Diamond said:

I am thrilled and honoured to be entrusted as godmother to the Viking Venus and cannot wait until we can celebrate her inaugural cruise in a safer and happier 2021.

Anne Diamond
Anne Diamond

03:32 PM

Portugal sees record daily Covid figures

The daily number of Covid-19 cases in Portugal has reached a record high of 10,027 today, as the country of 10.2 million people prepares to extend its state of emergency in an effort to curb a worrying rise in infections.

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

03:25 PM

Everything you need to know post-lockdown skiing

Holidays are banned in England from today, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a third national lockdown to last until at least the middle of February. Similar rules apply across Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

For those planning their post-lockdown ski trip, there are lots of questions to consider:

  • Are ski resorts open?

  • Will ski holidays in February go ahead?

  • Should I book a late-season ski trip now?

Our ski expert, Lucy Aspden, has advice for you here.

03:21 PM

Stansted to close terminal overnight after flight cancellations

Stansted Airport, Essex, has confirmed that it will close its terminal overnight from next Monday after flight schedules were scrapped in the wake of England's third national lockdown.

Between 5pm and 5am there will be no access to the building, and travellers have been urged not to arrive any earlier than the early morning opening.

Yesterday, London Southend Airport made a call for more financial support during the third lockdown. While being fully supportive of the decision to enter a national lockdown again, they called for a more comprehensive financial package from central government.

03:08 PM

Why the Maldives is the perfect place to 'self-isolate' in style

Distancing comes naturally to the luxurious island resorts of the Maldives, writes Mark Easton.

King Brendan and his entourage stand in the gaping mouth of a white whale. They are waving as the seaplane manoeuvres beside the jetty, waiting to usher passengers through the arch that marks the boundary between reality and paradise.

Italian designers employed by an American hotelier supported by Japanese investors have taken an uninhabited coral dot on the Baa Atoll of the Maldives and created a whimsical world where the architecture echoes the creatures of the Indian Ocean, the giant clams and turtles, the mighty whale sharks that cruise just off the shoreline.

From the air, one can see the whole island is shaped like a fish. “Welcome to Miriandhoo,” a smiling King Brendan says, as I step into his dominion beside an illuminated sign flashing WESTIN. 

Read the full story.

Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort - Isabelle Thomas
Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort - Isabelle Thomas

 

03:05 PM

Puerto Rico to ease Covid restrictions

Puerto Rico’s new governor, Pedro Pierluisi has announced that he will reopen beaches, marinas and pools, eliminate a Sunday lockdown and shorten a curfew that has been in place since the pandemic began to control the number of Covid-19 cases. 

Though the news has been met with elation by many across Puerto Rico, Pierluisi  was keen to make clear that caution was still needed. Alcohol will be banned at beaches and other places, and social distancing is required between people who are not family members, with no large groups allowed to gather. A new curfew will run from 11pm to 5am and face masks remain mandatory.

Pierluisi will keep other measures implemented by former Gov. Wanda Vázquez in place, including the closure of bars and a limited capacity at gyms, restaurants and other places. “Our goal has to be to be able to return to a new normal,” the governor said. “We have to keep taking preventive measures in the meantime.”

The new measures go into effect on January 8 and will be in place for 30 days but can be amended any time if there’s a spike in cases.

The US territory of 3.2 million people has reported more than 127,000 confirmed and probable cases and more than 1,200 confirmed deaths.

02:53 PM

Life in Dublin under Level 5

Two Dubliners brave a dip in the sea on Killiney Strand during COVID-19 level 5 lockdown. - GETTY
Two Dubliners brave a dip in the sea on Killiney Strand during COVID-19 level 5 lockdown. - GETTY

02:44 PM

The psychological seal of lockdown compliance has been broken for good

We are becoming more and more adept at bluffing our way to getting some of what we’re missing, writes Rob Crossan.

Sometimes it works; such as the flocks of British skiers who fled Verbier just hours before a Swiss quarantine rule was imposed last week. Hoteliers only noticed that hundreds of guests had vanished when they saw their room service dinners had been left untouched outside of their doors. 

And sometimes, the ‘gaming’ doesn’t work; such as the example of the Londoners who decided to flee lockdown by flying to the Isles of Scilly over Christmas – the only part of the UK where pubs are still open. They were promptly turned back and placed on the next flight home.

But, these situations, coupled with a noticeable softening of public condemnation towards those bending or breaking the rules, suggest that the psychological seal of lockdown compliance has been broken for good.

Read the full story.

02:30 PM

Social media is full of celebrities on holiday in Dubai

Plenty of reality stars are still travelling despite restrictions, writes Lizzie Frainier.

If you don’t follow any reality television stars or celebrities on social media, you may have missed the avalanche of photos in glitzy hotspots including Dubai, Tulum and the Maldives over New Year. Who cares, you might say. 

Except for the fact that it has got many people riled up, asking the question of how UK-based celebrities have managed to avoid the rat’s nest of travel restrictions on home turf when the average Joe has been stuck within the confines of their own four walls thanks to the tier system and now a national lockdown. Some have used humour to express their outrage: there are memes, mocking tweets and even parody TikTok videos. 

Hayley Hughes of Love Island and Chloe Ferry of Geordie Shore have both posted their fair share of Instagrams in Dubai; Strictly Come Dancing star Nicola Adams and her girlfriend Ella Baig are enjoying the sunshine in the Maldives; TOWIE star Ferne McCann flew off to South Africa; the list goes on.

Read the full story.

02:15 PM

Audley Travel to launch three new European destinations

The latest tour operator to increase its focus on Europe – and away from long-haul – is Audley Travel who has announced it will be launching three new destinations within its Europe programme: Denmark, Sweden and Norway. 

The new trips have been launched to celebrate the company's 25th year, and come as part of an 'expansion of its European programme'.  Trips to Norway will cost from £2,240  per person (for a six day trip) and initially focus on Oslo, Bergen and the Norwegian fjords. Highlights include a gastronomic tour of Bergen, kayaking in the fjords,  and exploring the Unesco World Heritage site of Sognefjord and Nærøyfjord by open Zodiac boat.

The new Denmark trip focuses around Copenhagen, with day trips to Roskilde, north Zealand and southern Sweden, while the company's trips to Sweden will be centred around Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö and Swedish Lapland for now.

Guests can expect plenty of traditional Nordic activities, like sleigh rides, Smørrebrød cooking classes, cycling tours, shrimp and salmon cruises and  traditional Sámi experiences. 

For more information visit audleytravel.com.

Copenhagen
Copenhagen

02:01 PM

Changing tiers (and lockdowns) across England

tier changes october-december
tier changes october-december

01:57 PM

How far can I travel under Lockdown 3?

The actual law, which the police are there to enforce, is spelled out in the Covid legislation – and it’s subtly different from the guidance, explains Oliver Smith

There is nothing in the legislation about travelling or “staying local”. You may, legally, travel anywhere in Britain (or, indeed, overseas) so long as you are out and about for one of the above reasons. This doesn’t mean, of course, that the coming weeks won’t bring forth tales of rural constabularies erroneously ordering non-local ramblers to return home – or even issuing fines for “breaking” the rules. Indeed, the law enforcers of Chorley, a town in Lancashire, were doing just that last weekend. 

Human rights barrister Adam Wagner patiently unpicks the rules for his Twitter followers, addressing not just travel, but important issues such as childcare (he also points out, remarkably, that the closure of schools is only guidance). He said: “Every time I have spoken to a police officer about what powers they think they are exercising, they cite a mishmash of guidance and law to me. Never accurate so far.

“Police don’t tend to sit down and carry out a careful analysis of the differences between the law and guidance and so sometimes try and enforce guidance which isn’t law.”

Read the full story here.

01:47 PM

Summer holiday shortage looming

As Britain's hotels and self-catering properties book up months in advance, there are concerns that accommodation will be in short supply.

Thousands of holidaymakers were forced to postpone their bookings last year, and this is expected to clash with the many others now booking ahead for summer. While this booking hangover from last year will affect all holidays, it is expected to hit staycations especially hard, as uncertainty regarding international travel remains. 

Some accommodation providers are reporting bookings as far in advance as 2023.

“We've had people on the phone begging for rooms, when we didn't have any to offer, which was difficult,” said Danny Dagan, the owner of Belvue Guesthouse Holy Island on Lindisfarne, speaking of the booking boom after the first lockdown last year. “One person even asked if they could camp in our garden.”

Emma Cooke has the full story here.

01:42 PM

Moscow in the snow

Muscovites enjoy the snow during the Christmas holidays. 05 January 2021. Russians are preparing to celebrate the Christmas, which is observed on January 7 according to the Eastern Orthodox Julian calendar. - MAXIM SHIPENKOV/EPA-EFE
Muscovites enjoy the snow during the Christmas holidays. 05 January 2021. Russians are preparing to celebrate the Christmas, which is observed on January 7 according to the Eastern Orthodox Julian calendar. - MAXIM SHIPENKOV/EPA-EFE

01:30 PM

Cruise sector in need of 'urgent' guidance from government

Major trade bodies in the cruise industry have sent a letter to the UK Government emphasising the “urgent need” for “clarity and confidence” if the sector is due to restart in the first quarter of 2021, reports Benjamin Parker.

In extracts of the letter seen by The Telegraph, Cruise Lines International (CLIA) and the UK Chamber of Shipping write that they “believe now is the right time to begin preparations for a restart so that it can take place efficiently” and that “acting now is absolutely crucial”.

The operational resumption of sailing could take up to three months, the letter adds, and the organisations urge UK authorities to update cruise travel guidelines which currently advise against all trips on sea-going vessels.

Andy Harmer, CLIA’s UK and Ireland director, said:

As we head into 2021, our hope is that the Government will recognise our uncompromising commitment to public health and act now to help protect the tens of thousands of jobs that depend on a successful UK cruise industry.

01:17 PM

New UK entry testing rules: Everything you need to know

Anyone coming to the UK will need to take a test no more than 72 hours before they travel, and my colleague Greg Dickinson has the answers to your questions, including:

  • Which countries will it apply to?

  • Will I still need to quarantine on arrival?

  • How much will it cost?

  • Does this apply to the whole of the UK?

All the details are here.

01:09 PM

UK Government causing 'wholly avoidable stress' for travel sector

The British Government’s indecision on a testing regime for UK arrivals is causing "wholly avoidable stress and uncertainty" for the entire travel industry, the Business Travel Association (BTA) has said.

Chief executive Clive Wratten has accused ministers of "trailing" a position on testing rather than taking action on the issue. Many other countries have already implemented their plans.

Mr Wratten said:

As we enter the first full day of our third national lockdown, the BTA supports the government in prioritising public health.

However, trailing an announcement on the introduction of testing for travellers arriving in the UK and further international travel restrictions, that then doesn’t happen, is causing wholly avoidable stress and uncertainty at a time when our industry is already fighting for survival.

12:59 PM

A West Country reminder for celebrities

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has asked celebrities and public figures to “lead by example” by not travelling to the region during England’s third lockdown.

They should use their profiles to help influence others to follow the rules and contain the spread of coronavirus, said Alison Hernandez.

During previous periods of lockdown, there have been reports of people travelling to the area to visit second homes. 

Ms Hernandez said:

We know Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are absolutely beautiful and it’s totally understandable that people would want to spend time here.

I would particularly like to appeal to celebrities and high-profile social media stars. By not conducting unnecessary trips to the region you will be setting a fantastic example to the wider public and, in doing so, encouraging more people to stick to the rules.

I would urge you to lead by example and together we will come through this.

Welcome to Cornwall - GETTY
Welcome to Cornwall - GETTY

12:51 PM

'State orders are one thing and faith is another' in Greece

Greek Christian churches have held Epiphany services today, openly defying government coronavirus restrictions that banned public gatherings including religious ceremonies on one of the most important days of the Orthodox calendar.

Despite a plea by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis for Church authorities to set an example during a crisis that has killed more than 5,000 in Greece, worshippers attended morning services – although limits were placed on the number allowed into churches at one time.

Police patrolled outside a number of churches but said they would not interfere with services and would use “mild” measures to persuade people not to crowd inside.

12:41 PM

Inside the world’s first 'Coralarium'

Travel writer Grace Holliday reports from Fairmont Maldives, where she has visited the Coralarium, an underwater gallery in the Maldives.

Anika was having a late breakfast and ignoring me. I watched her for a while, willing her to come and introduce herself. Eventually, she did; gliding past, she rose to the surface to take a few sips of air. Then the hawksbill turtle glanced at me, unperturbed, and retired lazily to the bottom of the Indian Ocean.

Accompanied by marine biologist Sam Dixon, I was adjusting to the water – and my snorkelling gear – ahead of my tour of the Coralarium at Fairmont Maldives. Situated 100yd from the white sand beaches of Sirru Fen Fushi, the world’s first semi-submerged art installation is a museum not of the long dead, but of the living.

Many hotels lay claim to sustainability and environmental interest, but not many truly follow through. Things are different at Fairmont Maldives; here, the specially commissioned Coralarium serves as a beacon of literal, tangible action to save the environment.

You'll find the full story here.

The Coralarium comprises ‘towering pillars of ceramic starfish designed by sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor’, housed in a steel shell
The Coralarium comprises ‘towering pillars of ceramic starfish designed by sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor’, housed in a steel shell

12:31 PM

Campaign for hospitality minister to be debated in Parliament

Hotelier Robin Hutson, the man behind The Pig group and Lime Wood, is continuing to call for the creation of a dedicated minister of hospitality, with the issue due to be debated in Parliament next by Monday.

The Seat at the Table campaign, spearheaded by Mr Hutson alongside a number of high-profile industry figures, including TV chefs Tom Kerridge and Angela Hartnett, has already gathered 200,000 names on its petition.

He said:

I’ve long held the view that the hospitality sector requires really focused representation in government. This is about the future of our industry and the campaign and petition showcases the strength of feeling across the country on this issue. Hospitality is a sector that deserves a seat at the top table.

Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of UK Hospitality, which is backing the campaign, added:

When the country emerges from the pandemic, hospitality businesses will be pivotal in restoring a sense of normality, by providing experiences for a nation that has sacrificed much during the pandemic.

If adequately supported, hospitality can play a vital and significant role in driving economic recovery across the UK, as it did following the 2008 financial crisis. A hospitality minister will ensure the needs of our sector are heard loud and clear in government.

12:26 PM

New UK itineraries selling out, says Riviera Travel

Riviera Travel has expanded its UK holiday programme with four new itineraries, as well as four other solo tours.

New tours include trips taking in Somerset, the coast of Devon and Dartmoor, and the Peak District. Destinations for the new solo tours include the Lake District and Cornwall. Riviera’s new solo tours, meanwhile, focus on outdoor experiences and walking; destinations include Cornwall and the Lake District.

 Joanne Lynn, the head of short-haul product, said: 

Our selection of [UK] itineraries became our fastest selling holiday range, with a large number of departures in 2021 already sold out.

We’ve responded to this demand by adding four exciting new itineraries, showcasing even more of the best culture, history and scenery that Britain has to offer, as well as adding dedicated solo options to four of our original collection.

12:14 PM

Hope for a spring getaway?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is currently speaking on the House of Commons, has been asked by Tory MP Chris Grayling asks if he will commit to reviewing restrictions before the end of March.

Mr Johnson replied: "I hope substantially before the end of March".

Perhaps it’s time to consider a UK break in the spring?

Three Mile Beach in Cornwall, which opens at Easter, is more boutique hotel than holiday camp  - ELLIOTT WHITE
Three Mile Beach in Cornwall, which opens at Easter, is more boutique hotel than holiday camp - ELLIOTT WHITE

 

12:12 PM

'It's the changing rules that have really devastated travel'

12:06 PM

'Ski resorts are about more than simply Alpine skiiing'

Some resorts are reporting surprisingly busy festive periods.

“Even with careful social distancing throughout, our village still felt lively during the period, with a lovely festive atmosphere,” a spokesperson from the Megève tourist board. While a representative in Morzine revealed operators in the resorts “had very good reservation levels, with some of our accommodation providers full for New Year week.”

This is largely thanks to the resorts ability to adapt to the situation, many have offered alternatives to traditional lift-accessed skiing.

“Morzine put into place lots of activities that could be done without needing lifts. Ski resorts are about more than simply Alpine skiing,” said a representative.

But remaining hopes for the resort of the season rest on tomorrow’s decision. “It's the French Government that will decide when resorts will reopen – the resort would open today if we could,” said a spokesperson from Val d’Isere.

12:04 PM

Will French ski resorts reopen this week?

Tomorrow is D-day for ski resorts in France, as the French government is set to announce whether ski lifts will be allowed to begin turning, for the first time this winter, reports Lucy Aspden.

Lifts in the country have been closed since the end of October, meaning many haven’t welcomed a single visitor this season. While resorts have been open for other activities such as ski touring, hiking, sledding and snowshoeing, only a fraction of people have visited while lifts stand dormant.

“French ski resorts are open, we are still waiting to know if the ski lifts will open on January 7,” Jean-Marc Silva, director of France Montagnes, the association for French ski resorts, told The Telegraph.

“Christmas and New Year have been two fairly quiet weeks, with an average occupancy rate of 25 per cent, down 70 per cent compared to last winter. Most of the people who came to enjoy the snow were French... We hope to welcome more British tourists later in the season for them to ski and maybe to discover other activities and the benefits of the mountains’ fresh air,” he continued.

12:00 PM

We lost 100 per cent of our income – but continue to be left behind by Rishi Sunak

Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent laments on how the travel industry is being largely forgotten by the UK Government.

Like seeing a flurry of snow become an avalanche, we’d watched Covid gathering pace but hoped, somehow, that it would stop. It didn’t. For us, the avalanche struck in March – on Friday the 13th – the day our first guests of the year were due to fly to Uzbekistan. Three of them cancelled just hours before they were due to fly. The others had their plane turned around in mid-air when Uzbekistan, sensibly, closed its borders to UK arrivals.

The next two weeks were among the worst of my life. Our phones rang off the hook with postponements and cancellations – each call undoing another painstakingly crafted tailor-made itinerary – and, bit by bit, we saw the year’s business reduced to ashes. It felt like being pushed off a cliff and not knowing if and when we’d land, or whether we’d make it out in one piece. 

Perhaps the worst part of it was dealing with the airlines, many of whom, in direct contravention of EU law, refused to give refunds – leaving travel businesses like ours to shoulder the financial losses. 

The full piece can be read here.

11:49 AM

Call for testing at airports

The chief executive of Advantage Travel Partnership believes that airport testing for Covid-19 could boost consumer confidence after the “turmoil” of 2020.

Julia Lo Bue-Said told BBC Breakfast is calling for help from the UK Government to get systems in place for what is usually a peak booking period.

She said:

We have been calling on [the] Government since March to introduce testing because we feel it would enable people to travel confidently, safely, in the knowledge that testing is required, so it’s frustrating that 10 months later we had a very vague comment from our PM.

It is “really, really important the government talks to us and liaises with the travel industry”, she added.

11:42 AM

A postcard from an eerily empty Heathrow Airport

Yesterday Terminal 5 was 'a shell' of its pre-pandemic hustle and bustle – but over at T2, crowds are clamouring to leave the UK, reports Lottie Gross.

I watched on as a father with his two children, each connected to his waistband with a leash, pottered about just outside the security repacking area of Terminal 5. They were happy, all smiling, delighted to be here. Or perhaps, actually, they were delighted they soon won’t be here. He ferried them through the gates, showing their boarding passes to staff in visors, and disappeared into the airside section of London Heathrow. 

For a moment, I felt a red-hot pang of jealousy. Yesterday, I was stuck landside, with a smattering of masked travellers occupying the benches, examining the state of travel in Terminal 5. That state being near silent, of course. 

It was an unfortunately familiar sight. Just as I reported last November, Heathrow's T5 is, yet again, reduced to a shadow of its former self. The British Airways hub had just 20 international flights showing on its departure boards at lunchtime yesterday, and only a handful of check-in desks welcoming passengers to hand over their bags.

“It’s been like this since the last lockdown,” the staff in WH Smith told me. “It’s going to get worse,” the foreboding server said in Boots.  

Read the full story here.

Heathrow - LOTTIE GROSS
Heathrow - LOTTIE GROSS

11:35 AM

NHS department overwhelmed with requests for health insurance cards

11:30 AM

Ryanair's "jab and go" advert under investigation

Low-cost airline Ryanair is being investigated by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) after its "jab and go" advertising campaign, promoting air travel as coronavirus vaccinations are rolled out, garnered more than 1,000 complaints.

The advert features an image of a syringe and a "vaccine," alongside the "jab & go" phrase, accompanied by promotions for budget flights.

Confirming that it was looking into the matter, the ASA said in a statement that the complaint related to “misleadingly suggests that the vaccine will have been successfully rolled out across the population by spring/summer and that travel restrictions won't apply by then.”

11:24 AM

Boris Johnson to address the House of Commons

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to stand up in the House of Commons in around 20 minutes to address MPs.

You can watch live and follow the latest news on our politics blog.

11:20 AM

What's the situation in France?

France is "two months behind England" regarding the spread of the new Covid variant, according to a top expert, as the country's sluggish vaccination rollout was on Wednesday blamed on a woeful lack of logistical foresight, Henry Samuel reports from Paris.

France officially has registered between 10 to 15 cases of the new, more contagious variant that is ravaging the UK.

However, Yazdan Yazdanpanah, a member of France’s scientific council, which advises the government, said:

The true number is probably far higher than the 10 to 15 announced. True carriers are no doubt dotted around the country.

11:11 AM

'Vaccine passport' could become a requirement, says Fauci

It is “quite possible” that proof of having had the Covid-19 vaccine in the form of a ‘vaccine passport’ will be required for travel in the future, according to Dr Anthony Fauci.

The director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease said in an interview with Newsweek that “everything will be on the table for discussion”.

In November, Telegraph Travel reported on concerns over the introduction of such measures.

Human rights advocacy group Liberty said the plans “raise more questions than they answer”, and “could pave the way for a national ID system”.

10:58 AM

Travel television has been hijacked by celebrities, to the detriment of new talent and diversity

The British imbecile abroad format seems to do really well these days, writes Simon Parker.

Dear the travel TV industry, it’s early 2021 and I’ve got a couple of ground-breaking new formats I’d like to pitch you. They’re really out there – so bear with me. 

How about we do something on trains? You know, those long screechy cars on tracks thingies? They’re just so on trend – and there’s nothing else out there like it. We could knit together a few shots of out-of-date aerial train footage we’ve got hanging around on a few hard drives in the store cupboard. Don’t worry if the exteriors and interiors don’t really match up, the people that watch these shows are morons. 

Then we could lay over a bit of generic world muzak. Anywhere in Latin America (panpipes). Australasia (didgeridoo). Asia (Oriental Riff). Each scene transition could just be a gong SFX. 

Again, don’t concern yourself with all that cultural appropriation tosh – it’s all Leftie nonsense. Japan, China and South Korea are all just the same place, basically. 

Here is Simon's piece in full.

10:48 AM

Malaysia could welcome back tourists

Steps of Batu Caves -  FAZRY ISMAIL/EPA-EFE
Steps of Batu Caves - FAZRY ISMAIL/EPA-EFE

Some of the 272 temple steps at Batu Caves, a major Hindu shrine and tourist attraction in Malaysia, are cleaned by workers.

The Malaysian government is considered opening its borders to help the country’s tourism industry, said tourism minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri.

However, for the time being this won’t extend to Britons, with all British nationals currently prohibited from entering.

She said:

We are now working at negotiating with countries such as Singapore, Brunei, Korea, Japan, Taiwan and New Zealand which have been identified as 'Green Zones

10:35 AM

Covid cases reach new levels in Japan

Japan has seen a new daily record of Covid-19 cases today, as the government faced mounting pressure from health experts to impose a strict state of emergency for the Tokyo greater metropolitan area.

New infections nationwide reached 5,307, a new daily record according to a tally by national broadcaster NHK. Tokyo reported 1,591 cases, also an all-time high.

Tokyo and the three surrounding prefectures have asked residents to refrain from non-essential, non-urgent outings after 8pm from Friday until at least the end of the month, and said restaurants and bars must close by that time.

10:31 AM

Cruise ships expected in US port next month

At least 24 cruise ships are expected to make calls at California's World Cruise Center next month, however no passengers will be onboard any of the vessels.

The stops will instead be to change crew members, refuelling and taking on supplies.

Will the industry is still 'paused' due to coronavairus, this news is a step in the right direction for the badly hit industry, with operators gearing up for sailing as early as spring 2021.

10:16 AM

Why skiers shouldn’t lose faith in 2021 ski holidays

Plans for a ski holiday may be on hold until spring, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, writes Abigail Butcher.

I’ve got a bit of a dirty secret. Yes, I’m a hardcore, die-hard skier and start my season as early as I can (November most seasons), finishing in May and sometimes skiing in the summer, too. But, I don’t like the cold. Yes, a skier who doesn’t like the cold. 

Don’t get me wrong, cold weather doesn’t stop me — I opened my season last winter in Siberia, of all places — but I really do just endure the harsher winter days because there is always the promise of sunshine and spring skiing ahead.

Huddled next to a radiator while your gloves dry out? Meh, as they say, not my favourite pastime. Give me picnics on the snow, long sunny lunches on a terrace while sitting in sunglasses and a t-shirt over long, cold chairlift rides, head bent against the wind and snow, any day of the week. Sorry, controversial I know, but I love nothing better than a spot of sunbathing.

Read the full piece here.

Skier
Skier

10:08 AM

Denmark closes border to South Africans

Residents of South Africa are to be banned from entering Denmark over fears of the spread of a new strain of coronavirus identified by South African authorities in the middle of last month.

A statement from Danish officials reported by AFP said: “This means that foreigners residing in South Africa generally will be refused entry to Denmark during this period”.

The South African strain, and another which has emerged in Britain, are said to be more infectious versions of the virus, and have prompted widespread concern.

10:01 AM

UK music festivals ask for help

Already planning your trip to a festival this year?

Britain’s music festivals will have to start pulling the plug on events for the second year in succession if they do not get government support to give them the confidence to book acts and contractors, the head of the music industry trade body has said.

Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, the chief executive of UK Music, said event organisers needed a date for when live music could resume. Live music contributed £1.3 billion directly to the British economy in 2019, UK Music said.

Earlier this week, Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis said: “There’s no news this end yet, we haven’t cancelled. Will let you know right here as soon as we have an update.”

09:54 AM

French ban on UK travellers due to end

We are waiting to find out whether France's ban on those travelling from the UK will be lifted today, or whether it will be extended.

The restrictions were introduced on December 20 in response to the spread of a mutant variant of Covid-19, and applies to all air, car, ferry and train passengers (with limited exceptions, such as French nationals).

Of course, overseas travel is currently heavily restricted – in England you must not leave home including to travel abroad, unless you have a legally permitted reason to do so, such as for essential work purposes. 

According to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the "health situation in France remains severe".

09:42 AM

The best January sales for summer holidays

According to Nick Trend and Emma Cooke, this will be the strangest ever January for the holiday sales. 

Normally it is a time when families start thinking about their summer break and tour operators and agents try to tempt us with discounts and special offers. That is still happening – we’ve included some of the better deals for you. But this year it is harder than ever to work out whether we are being offered a bargain which we should snap up, or whether  prices may drop further if we wait a little longer.

  • 20 of the best January sales for summer holidays

09:34 AM

When will mandatory testing on arrival begin?

 Paul Charles, the chief executive of The PC Agency travel consultancy, makes his prediction.

09:26 AM

Vaccine to be available in Australia earlier than planned

Australian health authorities are bringing forward the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines by two weeks to early March, even as recent outbreaks in the country’s two largest cities appeared to stabilise.

An email from the office of Health Minister Greg Hunt said: “We will continue to follow the safety and medical advice and will update our plans where new evidence or advice is available [...] our number one priority is safety,”

Australia's borders were shut in early 2020 in response to the pandemic. The country has seen 28,519 cases of Covid-19, with 909 deaths.

09:20 AM

Train services to be cut

It’s not just airlines feeling the effect of the latest lockdown. Rail services in Britain are likely to be cut by around half over the coming weeks, with the Government to speak to train operators as it seeks to cut the running costs of the railway.

Rail firms expect that the rules introduced on Monday, which instruct people to stay home for work wherever possible and ban non-essential travel, will mean journey drops to the levels of the first lockdown.

At that time, passenger numbers were down to as little as 4 per cent of pre-Covid levels and many trains ran effectively empty.

An eerily quiet Victoria Station in London - RICHARD BAKER
An eerily quiet Victoria Station in London - RICHARD BAKER

09:14 AM

Metropolitan Police: Expect to be fined if you're not wearing a mask

Londoners breaching lockdown are increasingly likely to face fines as the new national restrictions come into force today, Scotland Yard has said. 

The Met has issued refreshed instructions to officers to issue fines more quickly to anyone committing obvious, wilful and serious breaches.

In practice this will mean:

  • All those attending parties, unlicensed music events or large illegal gatherings, can expect to be fined – not just the organisers of such events

  • Those not wearing masks where they should be and without good reason can expect to be fined - not reasoned with

  • With fewer “reasonable excuses” for people to be away from their home in the regulations, Londoners can expect officers to be more inquisitive as to why they see them out and about

  • Where officers identify people without a lawful reason to be away from home they can expect officers to move more quickly to enforcement

09:10 AM

Passengers to be banned from boarding flights to UK without negative Covid test

Airlines flying into the UK will be required to bar passengers from boarding if they do not have a negative Covid test within 72 hours of departure, reports Charles Hymas.

Every traveller coming into any UK port or airport will be expected to have a negative PCR test in order to enter the UK as part of a significant toughening of border controls.

It will cover all countries, including those with travel corridors under which peoples are currently exempted from quarantine on arrival in the UK.

Although the policy has yet to be finalised, it is expected that travellers coming from "red list" countries with high rates of Covid will still have to quarantine on arrival even if their 72-hour test is negative. Those required to self-isolate will be able to leave quarantine if a second test, which can be taken from the fifth day, proves negative.

Read the full report.

09:07 AM

Germans to remain under lockdown

Germany extends lockdown to end of January and adds stricter measures Germany is extending its nationwide lockdown until the end of the month and is introducing new tougher restrictions in a bid to get control of surging coronavirus infections, Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced.

“We need to restrict contact more strictly... We ask all citizens to restrict contact to the absolute minimum,” she told journalists following a meeting with the leaders of Germany’s 16 federal states.

Coronavirus Germany Spotlight Chart - cases default
Coronavirus Germany Spotlight Chart - cases default

09:05 AM

Covid stops work in Slovakia

Those living in the Nitra region of Slovakia have been banned from working without a negative Covid test amid a surge in cases.

The new rules come as the area’s main hospital was inundated with Covid patients and deaths were high, officials said.

The central European country of 5.5 million has seen record numbers of new cases and hospitalisations in the past days, with 3,146 people in hospitals as of Monday, despite a partial national lockdown.

08:56 AM

What the new national lockdown means for travel

During the England’s latest lockdown, only essential trips are permitted, including travelling abroad. Scotland, meanwhile, entered a national shutdown at midnight on Monday January 4, while Wales has been in lockdown since December 20. 

Holidays are currently off-limits for most Britons, and the new restrictions will entail wider travel curbs.

But what might happen next? Could the UK close its borders? And what about the borders of its devolved nations? Here, we look at the new restrictions – and what they mean for travel.

Telegraph Travel has the answers for you here.

08:35 AM

What happened yesterday?

Good morning, and welcome to our live travel news coverage.

Here's a recap of the main stories from Tuesday:

  • Holidays banned until Spring under lockdown 3

  • Tui cancels all holidays until mid-February

  • Sandals' founder Gordon 'Butch' Stewart has died

  • Fresh lockdown a 'devastating blow' for Scottish ski resorts 

  • Lockdown could 'save Easter bookings,'  say UK tourism chiefs

Follow us here throughout the day as we bring you the latest news.