All travel corridors suspended indefinitely

Greg Dickinson
·43-min read
All travel corridors will be scrapped from 4am on Monday, when all arrivals will need to take a test before entering the UK - Getty
All travel corridors will be scrapped from 4am on Monday, when all arrivals will need to take a test before entering the UK - Getty

The Government has suspended all of the UK’s travel corridors over concerns about new Covid variants.

The decision was announced at the daily briefing on Friday evening, just 24 hours after a ban was imposed on travellers from South America and Portugal.

It means all overseas arrivals must now self-isolate for up to 10 days.

While holidays are currently banned under lockdown rules, the move will affect those already abroad, business travellers, as well as expats planning to return to the UK. It also casts serious doubts about the prospects of post-lockdown spring holidays.

More than 50 countries deemed to have a low Covid risk are currently on the travel corridor list. However, all but nine (seven islands in the Caribbean, plus the Maldives and Bahrain) are not welcoming British holidaymakers, and most have closed their borders to all UK arrivals.

Since last month those returning from non-corridor countries have had the option of cutting their quarantine period if they take a Covid test five days after they return. From Monday, all arrivals will need to carry evidence of a negative test taken no more than 72 hours before departure, or face a £500 fine.

06:07 PM

What happened today?

Today's big travel news was that the Government will scrap all travel corridors from 4am on Monday. This means that everyone coming into the country will need to enter a ten day quarantine. The Telegraph understands this will be in force for at least four weeks.

The new rules on testing for arrivals will also come into force on Monday. Everyone coming into the UK will need to prove they have tested negative for Covid-19, 72 hours before travel.

All flights from Portugal have been halted, amid fears of the new Brazilian variant of Covid-19 - Getty
All flights from Portugal have been halted, amid fears of the new Brazilian variant of Covid-19 - Getty

Elsewhere:

  • Travel ban on South America, Cape Verde and Portugal comes into force

  • 'Don't take travel advice from me', says Transport Secretary on BBC Radio 4

  • France toughens testing rules for UK arrivals

  • EasyJet holidays cancels bookings up to March 24

  • Earthquake strikes Indonesia

Join us tomorrow, when we will bring you more live travel updates from around the world.

05:59 PM

Chris Whitty: 'Very likely' for situation to improve by spring

Professor Chris Whitty has said it is "very likely" that the situation will improve by the spring but cautioned that it would not be completely back to how it was before the pandemic.

"What no-one thinks is that suddenly in spring it is all over and that is the whole thing done. What we expect is things to be substantially better than they are at the moment," he told a No 10 press conference.

"The hope is that is a kind of reasonable timeframe to be thinking about. But if we try to put a hard stop on this we will be caught out by events.

"But I think that broad timeframe still feels to me a reasonable one, provided what we are not expecting is completely back to two springs ago."

05:55 PM

Ski season "still possible" says Ski expert

“We already have a travel ban from the UK to all the major ski nations, so this doesn't change anything in the short term for British skiers,” says Iain Martin, host of The Ski Podcast.

“We still have three months for the infection rate in the UK to fall sufficiently to allow ski holidays to take place before the end of the season. It's still possible, if looking less likely,” he adds.

Martin warns this won’t just impact skiers, but businesses in resorts, already hit hard by closures.

“At this time of year, many resorts are dependent on the international market. Sadly, I think we'll see many family run restaurants, shops and hotels going out of business,” said Martin.

05:48 PM

What are the new testing rules?

Anyone travelling into the UK will soon be required to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test, taken up to 72 hours prior to departure.

This comes as part of a significant toughening of border controls, as the Government attempts to control the rapid rise of Covid cases in the country.

Test
Test

So how will this work? How much will it cost? Who will need to take the test? And which countries will it apply to?

Here, we explain what we know about the UK's new testing requirements.

05:40 PM

"I fear that we'll be stuck with travel restrictions for years"

Even with the vaccine rollouts, it will be a long while until the rest of the world opens up to travel again, writes Guy de la Bédoyère.

Read his comment piece here.

05:37 PM

Government must issue "detailed information" on tests, says BTA

Clive Wratten, CEO of the Business Travel Association, says:

“The BTA recognises that public safety must come first. With all travel corridors closed from Monday, it is imperative that the Government issues detailed information on where essential travellers can get acceptable tests to meet the UK’s entry requirements.

There are many essential workers who need to travel - medical researchers, energy suppliers and humanitarians to name a few. They must be able to undertake their vital work with confidence in procedures, and safe in the knowledge they can return home.”

05:34 PM

Skiers should focus on next winter, says MD of ski agent

Travel restrictions are “necessary” to enable the UK to learn more about new variants of Covid-19 and vaccinate the vulnerable, says Richard Sinclair, managing director of ski travel agent SNO, who believe things might still change before the end of the ski season. Skiers are best off focusing on next winter, he says.

“The big effect this will have on customers is that next year’s holidays will continue to book up even quicker, and the volume of holidays available may continue to reduce, as some of the less strong operators may not make it to next winter, if they don’t trade much at all this season,” he said

05:31 PM

Boris Johnson: I want to get relaxations as soon as reasonably can

The Prime Minister has said "he wants to get to relaxations as soon as we reasonably can.

However he cautioned that any relaxations would be dependant on the "vaccine program working well" and "no new big changes in the virus as well as the results from the current lockdown.

05:23 PM

"This must mean tailored support is given" to travel companies, says Which? travel chief

05:21 PM

Patrick Vallance: Possible some future variants will 'get round' vaccines

Asked about the new variant of the virus and plans to contain a new strain, Mr Johnson said that the Government has made great progress and "we don't want to see that progress undone by a new variant,"

Tough measures at borders and airports will reduce the risk, Mr Johnson said.

Commenting on the effectiveness of vaccines with regards to the new variant, Patrick Vallance said there is nothing to suggest a big change in disease severity with the new variant despite an increased risk of transmission.

However he said it is possible that some future variants will "get round" vaccines.

05:20 PM

Measures must be temporary to "save the summer season"

UKinbound CEO Joss Croft said:

“Consumer safety is paramount and although the removal of all travel corridors is regrettable, given the current trajectory of the virus it’s an understandable decision. With our borders effectively closed, the Government needs to provide urgent, tailored support for the inbound tourism industry. It simply cannot afford to continue excluding it from support channels, given its propensity to aid the UK’s economic recovery when we can travel again.

“To save the summer season, it’s also imperative that Government signals that these new measures are only temporary, and that the Government consults with industry to put in place a clear roadmap to reopen the sector, when it’s safe to do so.”

05:18 PM

"We support this latest measure" – Airlines UK

Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK, the industry association representing UK-registered carriers, said:

“Travel corridors were a lifeline for the industry last summer and the Government were right to bring them in when they did. But things change and there’s no doubting this is a serious health emergency and Ministers need to act to keep borders safe and the public protected. We therefore support this latest measure, on the assumption that we will work with Government – when the time is right – to remove these restrictions when it is safe to do so and start to open up our sector again, to support the UK’s economic recovery.”

05:13 PM

"It's impossible to predict" where the new variants will come from – Grant Shapps

Grant Shapps has Tweeted to explain the new tougher measures.

05:10 PM

Travel corridors suspended from 4am Monday

The Prime Minister describes the new measures as "vital", as "day by day, hour by hour" progress is being made in vaccinating people.

He adds that 3.2 million people across the UK have received vaccines.

04:47 PM

Italy ski resorts closed until Feb 15

The opening of Italy’s ski resorts has been postponed until mid-February, as the country remains in the grip of a pandemic that has killed more than 80,000 people, Nick Squires reports.

Ski resorts were originally meant to open on January 7 but that was postponed until January 18.

A closed chairlift is seen at the ski resort of Passo Tonale in the Dolomites which has become a virtual ghost town - Getty
A closed chairlift is seen at the ski resort of Passo Tonale in the Dolomites which has become a virtual ghost town - Getty

The government decreed on Friday that they will not be allowed to open until February 15 and even that may not be set in stone.

“I think it is unlikely that the ski season will resume on February 15,” said Valeria Ghezzi, the president of a national association of lift operators.

"There is an all too real risk that the entire season will be lost. We will only start to recover next Christmas. It is a disaster without precedent."

04:26 PM

Lift-off!

Jeff Bezos's space exploration company Blue Origin could start taking passengers on a trip to the edge of space within the next few months.

The company is aiming to launch its first crewed flight by early April, according to CNBC, which said a test flight on Thursday was one of two which would be taking place before the end of February.

These flights are reportedly "stable configuration" flights, which mean that most of the major components of the space tourism rocket will remain the same. It trialled its upgraded capsule in Thursday's flight, and is expected to test the crew getting in and out of the ship in the next flight.

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos

Signs that Blue Origin is nearing its first human flight comes after a series of delays, including last year when staff pushed back over plans for them to travel from Washington to Texas in the midst of the pandemic.

It marks a major step forward in Blue Origin's space tourism plans. Once it starts flying customers, up to six people are expected to be able to fit into one rocket. The journeys, which will be to the edge of space, are expected to last minutes.

Read the full report, here.

04:08 PM

Grand Canyon helicopter crash that killed five Britons caused by 'violent gust of wind', report concludes

A probable cause in the Grand Canyon helicopter crash that killed five Britons was the pilot losing control due to tailwind conditions, a report has concluded.

The aftermath of the helicopter crash in the Grand Canyon
The aftermath of the helicopter crash in the Grand Canyon

The pilot told investigators that the aircraft encountered a "violent gust of wind" and began to spin, according to the report by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the US.

Read the full report here.

04:05 PM

Caribbean remains best bet for a holiday, after lockdown

The Caribbean remains the best bet for a post-lockdown holiday, with eight destinations welcoming British travellers (but plenty of testing required).

Open

Antigua and Barbuda

All passengers 12 years and older must provide evidence of a negative test taken no more than seven days before arrival. Only tests administered by health care professionals are valid. Home tests are not permitted. Tourists with pre-booked hotel accommodation from the Government of Antigua and Barbuda’s Approved List will normally be permitted to travel to their accommodation after screening and be allowed to move around the country providing they adhere to local social distancing measures.

Barbados

Travellers from the UK must arrive with a negative PCR test taken by a certified or accredited laboratory within 3 days of arrival. On arrival, you will be required to quarantine at government-approved facilities (a designated holding hotel or approved villa at your own expense, or a government facility free of charge), and undertake a further test 5 days after the first accepted negative test. You will need to stay in your hotel room and may be required to wear an electronic tracking bracelet until you receive the results of your second test. If this second test is negative you will no longer be subject to quarantine.

Bermuda

Arrivals must show evidence of a negative test taken no more than 5 days before travel. Anyone arriving in Bermuda from the UK, or who has travelled through the UK within the 14 days prior to their arrival in Bermuda, must also quarantine for 4 days upon arrival. They will need to receive another negative test on or after the 4th day to leave quarantine.

Cuba

Arrivals must have a certified proof of a negative result of a PCR test taken within 72 hours before travel at an accredited testing centre in the UK. Tourists arriving on holiday charter flights will have a PCR test on arrival and will be transferred to their holiday resort. Tourists staying in casas particulares should not leave the casa until they receive a negative PCR test result (this usually takes less than 48 hours).

Dominica

Arriving passengers must complete an online questionnaire 24 hours before arrival, and have a PCR swab test with a negative result taken up to 72 hours before arrival. On arrival a Rapid Diagnostic Test will be taken. If negative tourists must spend the first five days in their government-approved hotel.

St Barthélemy

All travellers over the age of 11 must undertake a test for Covid-19 within 72 hours before departure for St Martin & St Barthélemy. However, the only flight options available are via France, which is not on the travel corridor list.

St Lucia

All travellers must provide certified proof of a negative PCR test taken seven days or less before travel to St Lucia. All international visitors must stay at an approved hotel or resort for the duration of their stay.

St Vincent and the Grenadines

Arrivals must have a negative result of a PCR test done no more than 72 previously. They may be retested on arrival, must remain in an approved hotel, and will be retested on days 4 and 7.

Open (with severe restrictions)

British Virgin Islands

Arrival must show evidence of a negative test no more than five days old, quarantine in an approved location for a period of 14 days, take further tests on days 7 and 14, and wear a tracking bracelet.

St Kitts and Nevis

Travellers from the UK are required to quarantine for 14 days.

Closed

Anguilla

Anguilla’s ports, sea and air, are closed for all regular inbound passenger movements.

Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands Government has closed its airports to all scheduled international passenger flights until further notice.

Grenada

Flights between the UK and Grenada have been temporarily suspended.

Montserrat

Entry into Montserrat is restricted to residents.

Turks and Caicos

Anyone arriving to the Turks and Caicos Islands is required to obtain pre-travel authorisation via the Turks and Caicos Islands Assured Portal. This requires evidence of a negative COVID-19 test from a reputable facility taken less than five days prior to arrival in the Turks and Caicos Islands, proof of health/travel insurance with Covid cover and a completed health screening questionnaire. However, currently the only flight options are via the US, which is not open to non-residents.

03:28 PM

The New York State wilderness that is perfect for family adventures

The Adirondacks, once a refuge for New York’s elite, will appeal to junior thrill-seekers, writes Sally Warren.

Great Camp Sagamore, Adirondacks
Great Camp Sagamore, Adirondacks

After a while, we stopped telling people we were spending summer in the Adirondacks. More often than not, it drew blank faces, even from our American friends. This vast wilderness a few hours’ drive north of New York City remains largely unknown outside the United States, and even within it, which is truly confounding given all it has to offer.

The Adirondack Park is big even by American standards. The second largest publicly protected area in the country covers six million acres and encompasses peaks, lakes, virgin forest and miles of rivers. It is larger than Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon and Everglades National Parks combined. The landscape is so kingsize we found we could walk or kayak for days without encountering another soul. The emptiness was startling, coming from our crowded little island.
The beauty of the Adirondacks is in no small way thanks to a heroic clause in the New York Constitution, which has decreed since 1894 that large chunks of it should remain “forever wild”. And so it is that this landscape enjoys the highest degree of protection anywhere in the US.
After two days in New York City, we took the Amtrak train early one morning from Penn station to the state capital Albany (only two hours and 40 minutes away). From there we hired a car and drove for two hours through miles of woodland and forest into the Adirondack Park. We felt like astronauts who had travelled to Mars.

Read the full story.

03:12 PM

Carnival says it can survive 2021 without cruises

The world’s largest cruise line has announced that it would be able to survive the year, 'even in a zero-revenue environment’.

In a fourth-quarter results call, Chief Arnold Donald told investors and analysts that the company’s stable position was due to pragmatic business decisions.

He said: “We accelerated the release of 19 ships and negotiated the delay of 16 ships on order. We reduced capacity by 13 per cent. As a result we will be less reliant on new-to-cruise customers.”

Mr Donald remained optimistic due to “pent-up demand evidenced by booking patterns.”

He added: “We’re well positioned to benefit. We are going to have smaller fleets.”

Carnival has lost around $10.2 billion since the onset of the pandemic, but ended 2020 with $9.5 billion in cash, largely due to selling off ships and shares.

02:51 PM

Hard Rock hotels in Mexico and the Caribbean to offer free Covid tests to UK guests

RCD hotels, which runs all the Hard Rock hotels in the region, plus Nobu Los Cabos in Mexico, has announced that it will provide UK guests at its properties with two rapid free Antigen tests during their stay. Additional rapid tests can be purchased for $50 (£36) or $99 (£73) for a lab-analysed PCR swab.

The offer is a direct response to new UK Government rules coming into effect on Monday that require all arriving passengers to provide evidence of a recent negative Covid test.

The encouraging news comes after fears were raised that holidaymakers could be charged hundreds of pounds for tests this summer. RCD have said the offer will run until the end of this year, or until restrictions are lifted.

02:28 PM

Travel corridor update: Asia

Just two of the 15 destinations in Asia on the travel corridor list are open to UK arrivals, and both of them still have a 14-day quarantine requirement. No holidays here.

Open (with severe restrictions)

Cambodia

All travellers to Cambodia will be tested on arrival and then required to quarantine for 14 days at a facility designated by the Cambodian government. This may be at a hotel (at your own expense) or at a government facility.

Thailand

All travellers to Thailand, including all British nationals, are required to complete 14 days quarantine at a State Quarantine or Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) facility.

Closed

Bhutan

Bhutan’s borders are currently closed to foreign nationals.

Brunei

Entry to Brunei is severely restricted. Anyone seeking to enter or exit Brunei must apply for a permit from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Hong Kong

Travellers who have visited the UK for more than two hours within the past 21 days will be denied entry to Hong Kong. This includes those transiting the UK if they disembark the aircraft.

Japan

Entry to Japan by foreign nationals from the majority of countries, including the UK, is currently not permitted.

Laos

The government of the Laos has suspended the visa on arrival service at all international entry points, and no visas are being issued to people travelling from a country with Covid-19, including the UK.

Macao

All travellers who are not residents of Macao, Hong Kong, Taiwan or mainland China will be denied entry to Macao.

Malaysia

Entry to Malaysia for all British nationals is prohibited. Some exemptions may apply, including: British nationals with permanent resident status, resident pass, My Second Home Programme (MM2H) pass, expatriates of all categories, including professional visit passes as well as dependents pass, spouse to Malaysian nationals (spouse visa) and students and temporary employment passes.

Mongolia

It is currently not possible for British nationals to enter Mongolia due to restrictions imposed by the Mongolian government except in limited circumstances.

Singapore

Travellers who have been in the UK in the previous 14 days before travel, including for transit, are not permitted to enter or transit Singapore.

South Korea

Flights from the UK have been suspended, as have visas for UK arrivals. All arrivals, regardless of nationality and length of stay, are also required to be tested for coronavirus and to undergo quarantine for 14 days after arriving in South Korea.

Sri Lanka

Entry to Sri Lanka is currently prohibited for all non-nationals.

Taiwan

Foreign nationals are not permitted to enter Taiwan.

Vietnam

Vietnam has suspended visa waivers, issuing of visas and the entry into Vietnam for all foreign nationals.

02:20 PM

The four hottest family travel trends for 2021

Travel experts predict how family holidays may evolve this year, from outdoor city glamping to solitary sailing trips and even spa trips for the whole clan.

Read the full story.

Hong Kong Glamping
Hong Kong Glamping

02:08 PM

Tripadvisor to launch online platform to help tourists avoid crowds

The travel reviews site, together with engineers from the likes of Amazon and Slack, has created the tool so that users can assess how busy certain attractions are at various points of the day.

The website, called crowdfree.me, aims to aid social-distancing during the pandemic but could well endure long term, as tourists look to find quieter times to visit top attractions.

Among the areas assessed are parks and beaches, but users can also track how densely packed restaurants or stations are at any given time. Tripadvisor says it is using "anonymized and aggregated 'crowd data’ to show people’s presence in various spaces.”

Currently in its ‘beta’ stage, the platform so far only tracks New York City but will soon expand.

01:52 PM

Travel corridors in Oceania

There are 10 destinations in Oceania on the travel corridor list... alas, all are closed to UK arrivals.

Closed

Australia

Australia is closed, except for Australian citizens and permanent residents or those with an exemption.

Micronesia

Federated States of Micronesia has declared a “state of public health emergency”. No passengers are allowed to disembark any air or sea vessel originating outside of Federated States of Micronesia.

Fiji

The Fiji border remains closed to British tourists. Only residents and Fijian citizens are allowed to return to Fiji.

Kiribati

Kiribati will deny entry to any travellers who have been in or transited countries with confirmed local transmission within 14 days immediately prior to entering Kiribati. A list of countries covered by these restrictions is available from the Kiribati Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

New Caledonia

Only travellers who can prove that entry is for urgent family/work reasons will be allowed to enter, and they will be expected to fill in a travel certificate and provide proof.

Samoa

Samoa’s international borders are currently closed under an ongoing State of Emergency, unless approved by the Samoan government due to exceptional circumstances, e.g. repatriation.

Solomon Islands

All countries with the exception of Australia, New Zealand, China, Taiwan and neighbouring South Pacific island nations (none of which are open to UK arrivals) have been designated by Solomon Islands as ‘high risk’ for Covid-19. Prospective travellers who have been in a ‘high risk’ country must spend 28 days in a low risk country before being considered eligible to enter.

Timor-Leste

The Government of Timor-Leste has extended the temporary closure of its airports, ports and land borders.

Tonga

Tongan borders are closed to entry by all foreign nationals, except if authorisation is granted by the relevant Tongan Government authority.

Vanuatu

The borders are closed and it is not possible to travel to Vanuatu, unless you are a Vanuatu citizen or returning permanent resident.

01:51 PM

Brazilian variant: what is the new Covid strain and should I be worried?

Hot on the heels of the UK variant and the South African variant, coronavirus has mutated again, this time morphing into an even more worrying version of the virus, known as the Brazilian variant.

Ministers are so concerned they have banned travel from Portugal and South American countries.

Here is everything you need to know about the Brazilian variant.

01:34 PM

Boris Johnson to hold press conference at 5pm

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will hold a Downing Street press conference alongside England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific officer Sir Patrick Vallance at 5pm, No 10 said.

No 10 said it acted "as quickly as possible" to impose the ban on travellers from South America, with the concerning Brazilian strain possibly posing a "significant risk to the UK".

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "It's obviously right that we continue to look at different variants and take action accordingly.

"As soon as we identified this variant our teams were quickly working on this and, given that we know this could pose a significant risk to the UK, we acted as quickly as possible, which is why you've seen this travel ban from those countries enacted quickly."

01:30 PM

Sweden registers 4,703 new Covid-19 cases and 138 deaths

Sweden, whose unorthodox pandemic strategy placed it in the global spotlight, registered 4,703 new cases since Thursday, Health Agency statistics showed on Friday.

The country of 10 million inhabitants registered 138 new deaths, taking the total to 10,323.

The deaths registered have occurred over several days and weeks with many from the Christmas period being registered with a significant delay.

Sweden's death rate per capita is several times higher than that of its Nordic neighbours but lower than several European countries that opted for lockdowns.

01:14 PM

‘There is light’ – Meet the Virgin Atlantic cabin crew member who's now administering the vaccine

Pre-pandemic, a normal working day for Lisa Holt might have seen her jetting off to New York with her fellow Virgin Atlantic cabin crew but, in an unlikely twist, yesterday she was at London’s ExCel centre administering the Covid vaccine.

Lisa Holt
Lisa Holt

Speaking shortly after her first shift at the mass vaccination centre, which only opened on Monday, she was still “buzzing” from being part of what has been described by Health Secretary Matt Hancock as “one of the biggest civilian projects in history.” Summing up the day, she says: “It was fantastic.”

Read the full report here.

01:01 PM

20 dream trips for frustrated skiers to book now

We all need something to look forward to, if only to provide a speck of light at the end of a very long tunnel. So check out Leslie Woit's pick of the 20 best holidays for winter sports enthusiasts.

We will ski again - Getty
We will ski again - Getty

12:53 PM

Travel corridor update: Africa and the Indian Ocean

The recent loss of Namibia and the Seychelles means there are now only two countries on the travel corridor list in Africa and the Indian Ocean: the Maldives and Rwanda. Both are open to UK arrivals, but all routes to Rwanda currently require a stop in a non-corridor country.

Open

Maldives

All visitors must present a negative PCR test, issued no more than 96 hours prior to departure. All travellers must fill in a Traveller Health Declaration form 24 hours before departure.

Rwanda

All arrivals must present a negative PCR test result taken within 120 hours of departure. However, all routes to Rwanda require a stop in a non-corridor country, such as the Netherlands, Ethiopia or Turkey, so you will still need to self-isolate on your return.

12:52 PM

YouGov poll suggests Britons are not afraid of the Covid vaccine

Only Thailand residents are more keen on getting their Covid jab, according to a YouGov poll.

12:47 PM

In pictures: Mardi Gras, Carnival's new £1 billion cruise ship

Who knows when cruise holidays will be back. But when they are, you'll be able to enjoy the first roller coaster at sea.

Read the full story.

12:42 PM

Frankfurt and Paris have more arrivals from South America than Lisbon

Earlier we pointed out that Portugal seems to have been unfairly targeted by the Government, with Madrid welcoming 12 flights from South America today compared to Lisbon's two. Nevertheless, travellers from Portugal, not Spain, have been banned.

And there are other European cities with more extensive South American flight connections than the Portuguese capital.

Frankfurt is expecting four flights from South America today:

  • Sao Paulo x2

  • Buenos Aires x1

  • Bogota x 1

Paris will welcome three:

  • Rio de Janeiro x 1

  • Buenos Aires x 1

  • Sao Paulo x 1

12:36 PM

Comment: I fear that we'll be stuck with travel restrictions for years

Historian Guy de la Bédoyère is feeling pessimistic. He writes:

Far from planning for emergence into the post-Covid sunlit lands, governments are only turning, increasingly, to enhanced restrictions like stricter border precautions, with wide support from their general populations. It could all abate very quickly, but for the moment I see no signs at all of matters changing.

The virus has put us in a tight corner alright, but we are steadily dismantling our entire way of life in the belief we only face one risk and that everything must be subordinated to exterminating it. I saw a chap on telly a few weeks back, afflicted with major kidney disease, overjoyed at having had his Covid vaccination. "Now I can see my grandchildren next Christmas," he exclaimed. Well, great, and I really hope he does, but at what point did he think the enormous risks of his very serious life-threatening underlying condition disappeared? He had the jubilant expression of a man who had discovered eternal life. If that’s really what some people believe we’re going through all this for, they’re going to be very disappointed.

Read the full story.

12:29 PM

Two Middle Eastern countries on the travel corridors list

The removal of Qatar and the UAE means there are now only two countries in the Middle East on the quarantine-free corridor list: Bahrain, which is open to UK arrivals, and Saudi Arabia, which is not.

Open

Bahrain

Bahrain International Airport remains open, including for transit and transfer passengers, and visas on arrival have been reintroduced for 68 nationalities including the UK. All arrivals into Bahrain will be required to undergo and pay for the enhanced arrivals testing procedure for COVID-19 and need to self-quarantine until test results have been received.

Closed

Saudi Arabia

The Saudi authorities require anyone who is travelling from a country where the new strain of Covid has spread to spend at least 14 days outside the affected country before entering the Kingdom. This includes travellers from the UK.

12:16 PM

Prepare for an over-50s travel boom

“This month, so far we have had more bookings for those aged over-50 than in any full month since we relaunched in September,” said Hayley Chambers, head of customer operations at Thomas Cook. “It’s clear there’s been a return in people who will benefit the most from the vaccine roll-out booking their holidays for this summer and beyond.”

There's also been a steady increase in interest among older customers for Unique Caribbean Holidays, the UK tour operator for Sandals and Beaches Resorts. This week, 68 per cent of its bookings were made by customers in the 50-plus age bracket, compared to 35 per cent in October 2020, before any vaccine had been approved.

Kenneth and Pamela Elborn are among those itching to travel overseas 
Kenneth and Pamela Elborn are among those itching to travel overseas

Many mature travellers are opting for long-haul adventure this year, according to John Telfer, managing director of Explore. Georgia and Bhutan among the destinations seeing an uplift in new bookings. And Kerry Golds, managing director of Abercrombie and Kent, said the luxury operator has seen enquiries from the over-50s bracket double week-on-week. Africa and Indian Ocean trips are helping to fuel the demand.

We spoke to people in their 50s and beyond about their upcoming travel plans.

12:04 PM

Travel is a privilege – but it should not just be for the privileged

The gulf between those who have and those who have not is more likely than ever to widen when it comes to travel, writes Jade Conroy.

Read her comment piece here.

11:51 AM

Brazil hospitals 'run out of oxygen' for virus patients in Manaus as hundreds wait for beds

Hospital staff and relatives of Covid-19 patients rushed to provide facilities with oxygen tanks just flown into the Amazon rainforest's biggest city as doctors chose which patients would breathe amid dwindling stocks and an effort to airlift some of them to other states.

Cemetery workers bury a body at the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery in Manaus
Cemetery workers bury a body at the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery in Manaus

Read our dispatch from Manaus, here.

11:45 AM

Earthquake strikes Indonesia

A strong, shallow earthquake shook Indonesia’s Sulawesi island just after midnight, causing landslides and sending people fleeing from their homes in the nighttime darkness.

At least 34 people have been killed and hundreds injured, authorities said.

"The latest information we have is that 26 people are dead, all in Mamuju city," said Ali Rahman, head of the local disaster mitigation agency, referring to a city of some 110,000 in West Sulawesi province.

"That number could grow but we hope it won't... Many of the dead are buried under rubble."

Read the full report here.

11:30 AM

Only 11 European countries remain on the UK's travel corridors list

The removal of the Azores and Madeira on Thursday means there are now only 11 destinations in Europe on the UK's travel corridor list. Only four of these are open to non-essential travellers, and these four are all imposing severe restrictions.

Open (with severe restrictions)

Greek islands: Corfu, Crete, Kos, Rhodes, Zakynthos

All arrivals into Greece need to provide proof of a negative PCR test no more than 72 hours old. Anyone entering from the UK will also be asked to undergo a rapid test on arrival. Arrivals from the UK are currently required to self-isolate for 7 days in the event of a negative test result. In the event of a positive test result, travellers will have to isolate for at least 14 days. In either case, travellers will need to undertake a further PCR test at the end of their period of self-isolation.

Guernsey

All persons arriving in to The Islands of Guernsey from anywhere in the world must self-isolate for 21 days on arrival, unless opting to take a test following 13 days of self-isolation and receive a negative result thereafter.

Ireland

All arrivals (except those from Northern Ireland) must show evidence of a negative PCR test carried out in the previous 72 hours. UK arrivals should self-isolate for 14 days.

Jersey

All UK regions (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales) are classified with red travel status. Arrivals must take a test on arrival, a second on day 5, and another on day 10. During this time they must self-isolate. If all tests are negative that can leave their quarantine on day 10.

Closed

Faroe Islands

Those resident in the UK are not able to enter Denmark (including the Faroe Islands) unless they have a worthy purpose (holidays don’t count). See the FCDO entry requirements for more information.

Finland

Entry to Finland is prohibited for non-resident foreign nationals entering, with limited exemptions. If you’re eligible to enter Finland from the UK, you will need to self-isolate for 10 days after arrival.

Gibraltar

Only specified categories of people are currently permitted to enter Gibraltar by air – these include registered Gibraltarians, residents of Gibraltar, Spanish nationals and residents in transit to Spain, and those working in Gibraltar. Full details of all those eligible to enter Gibraltar may be found here.

Greenland

Those resident in the UK are not able to enter Denmark (including Greenland) unless they have a worthy purpose (holidays don’t count). See the FCDO entry requirements for more information.

Iceland

All non-essential travel is not permitted, unless you are resident in Iceland or fall under their exempt category of traveller.

Isle of Man

Closed to non-residents.

Norway

UK nationals cannot enter Norway unless they meet certain exemptions. These are available from the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration.

11:19 AM

New York City bus left dangling from bridge after crash

Eight people were left injured after a New York City bus crashed and was left hanging over an overpass, New York Emergency Management said on Thursday.

The bus, which crashed on the Cross-Bronx expressway, was split along the articulation joint, which left the front half hanging off the bridge, while the back remained in place.

Bronx Bus
Bronx Bus
Bronx bus
Bronx bus

Read the full report here.

11:13 AM

EasyJet holidays cancels bookings up to March 24

Matt Callaghan, easyJet holidays customer director, said: “We know this news will be disappointing. But we want to give our customers as much flexibility and choice as possible so they can decide what is best for them. We’re really proud that, where we’ve needed to cancel holidays, we’ve been able to process refunds in an average of 12 days.

There is "light at the end of the tunnel," says easyJet
There is "light at the end of the tunnel," says easyJet

"We’ll continue to do the right thing for customers. And for any customers wanting to change their holiday or make a new booking, we’ve got holidays on sale all the way through to March 2022. We know there is light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine. We can’t wait to take people on well-deserved holidays just as soon as it’s possible for us to do so.”

11:08 AM

'Avoid crowded situations' at train stations, says Shapps

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has warned people to avoid busy train stations:

11:03 AM

Watch: Heavy snowfall covers parts of northern England

11:01 AM

Brazilian variant found in UK

Professor Wendy Barclay, head of G2P-UK National Virology Consortium, a new project set up to study the effects of emerging coronavirus mutations, said one Brazilian variant of coronavirus has been detected in the UK.

She said: "There are two different types of Brazilian variants and one of them has been detected and one of them has not."

She added: "In the databases, if you search the sequences, you will see that there is some some evidence for variants from around the world, and I believe including the Brazilian one, which probably was introduced some time ago.

"And that will be being traced very carefully."

10:56 AM

Are Brazilians allowed to fly to Portugal?

The number of people flying from Brazil to Portugal is likely to be extremely limited.

The Portuguese Immigration Service website explains: "Air traffic to and from Portugal of every flight from and to non-EU countries or which are not Schengen associated countries is authorised for essential travelling only, under the EU Council Recommendation 2020/1551 of 22 October. Essential travelling is those to allow transit, entry or exit from Portugal of nationals from the European Union or from Schengen associated countries, and their family members, and foreign nationals legally staying in a Member State of the European Union, as well as those for professional purposes, of study, family reunion, health or humanitarian reasons."

10:42 AM

More flights from South America to Madrid than to Lisbon

Commentators have questioned why Portugal has been added to the South America travel ban, but not Spain, so Telegraph Travel took a peek at the arrivals boards of both Madrid Airport and Lisbon Airport to see which country has more air links with South America.

It seems the confusion is understandable. Today (January 15), Lisbon will welcome just two services from the continent (flights from Recife and Sao Paulo), but Madrid will see 12.

Madrid

  • Bogota x4

  • Medellin x3

  • Sao Paulo x2

  • Guayaquil x1

  • Santiago x1

  • Buenos Aires x1

Lisbon

  • Recife x1

  • Sao Paulo x1

10:36 AM

France toughens testing rules for UK arrivals

France will only allow non-EU nationals to enter with a PCR test, rather than the quicker, readily-available rapid antigen/lateral flow test.

The new rules will come into force on Monday (January 18).

The quicker tests have been used by truck drivers transporting goods across the Channel between Britain and France.

Asked about reports France would not recognise the "red circle" antigen test for people trying to enter the country from Monday, Grant Shapps told BBC Breakfast: "I think this is in reference to the French requiring what they call the PCR test.

"First of all, no one should be going to France. No one should be travelling.

"Secondly, we have a particular arrangement with the French regarding the hauliers, this is the lorry drivers, with tests which are called the lateral flow tests.

"And that remains in place at the moment."

10:26 AM

South America travel ban 'a little late'

Epidemiologist Dr Mike Tildesley suggested the South America travel ban which came into force at 4am on Friday is slightly late but will still "minimise the risk" of the new coronavirus variant found in Brazil from entering the UK.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Dr Tildesley said: "We always have this issue with travel bans of course, that we're always a little bit behind the curve.

"With Covid we need to remember that when you develop symptoms you could have been infected up to a couple of weeks ago.

"So it's really important that these travel bans come in quickly so that we can prevent any risk. My understanding is that there haven't really been any flights coming from Brazil for about the past week, so hopefully the immediate travel ban should really minimise the risk."

He added that scientists will know "in the next few days" whether the ban has had "a significant effect".

10:13 AM

Germany passes 2 million cases

Germany has reported 22,368 new cases of coronavirus, taking the country over the two million mark.

Angela Merkel is pondering a tougher lockdown as Germany exceeds two million cases
Angela Merkel is pondering a tougher lockdown as Germany exceeds two million cases

There have been 44,994 Covid-related deaths in the country.

10:06 AM

The first country I'll visit after lockdown?

There's no contest, for Oliver Smith.

"My dream destination is a place where Britons are always welcomed with open arms, where the sun always shines, and which doesn’t involve a long flight. What I want is unspoilt island life, unpretentious food and accommodation, quiet beaches, walks through green, mountainous interiors, and a complete removal from the stresses of modern life."

Oliver Smith is dreaming of one place in particular
Oliver Smith is dreaming of one place in particular

Allow Oliver to transport you to his dream destination, here.

09:56 AM

'Don't take travel advice from me', says Transport Secretary

The Transport Secretary has insisted the British public should not take travel advice from him as growing pressure mounts on the Government to make sure the Brazilian strain does not derail the UK's vaccine plan.

Pressed on whether it was wise for pensioners who have had the vaccine to book summer holidays, Grant Shapps told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I am the last person you should take travel advice on this from.

"I remember about this time last year, or a little bit later, being asked whether I would book a summer holiday. We then had the travel corridors and I did book, I went to Spain with my family.

Grant Shapps
Grant Shapps

"And, within an hour of getting there, I, myself, put Spain... took them out of the travel corridor, meaning that I needed to come home and start my quarantine, leaving my family there.

"So, don't take any travel advice from me."

Questions have been raised about whether or not the Government acted quickly enough to ban travel from South America and Portugal.

Mr Shapps said they had been brought in because "we do not want to be tripping up at this last moment".

09:40 AM

How are cases looking in Brazil?

Brazil
Brazil

How are case numbers looking?

  • 8,326,115 cases

  • 207,160 deaths

  • January 14 new cases: 68,656

  • January 14 new deaths: 1,151

Coronavirus Brazil Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus Brazil Spotlight Chart - Cases default

09:24 AM

Brazilian Covid variant may infect people who have recovered from virus

The Brazilian coronavirus variant may infect people who have already recovered from Covid, scientists said as they called for urgent investigations into whether the new mutation can escape previous immunity.

Research published last year suggested that 76 per cent of people in Manaus had contracted coronavirus by October, which should have severely limited onward spread of the virus. However, the city saw an unexpected surge of new cases last month and has now declared a state of emergency, with hospitals reaching 100 per cent capacity.

Read the full report here.

09:21 AM

If we're banning arrivals from Portugal, then why not Spain?

Travel expert Paul Charles, CEO of the PC Agency, told Telegraph Travel:

“There needs to be consistency if infection rates are to be driven down and new strains prevented from taking hold. Spain should be added to the travel ban list at this time as Madrid is a major transit point for visitors from Argentina and other South American countries banned from today. If now is the window for stemming the potential new strain’s flow into the UK, then now is the time to ensure every possible entry point is plugged – and that includes Spain. At the moment, it’s a glaring omission, especially as there is so much traffic between Portugal, where entry from is banned, and Spain.”

09:19 AM

It's time to cancel your holiday to St Eustatius

Grant Shapps Tweeted last night to update the UK's travel corridors list. Chile, the Azores and Madeira lost their corridors due to the South America/Portugal travel ban. Qatar, Aruba and Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba lost their corridors too.

Not that this particularly affects British residents right now, as all non-essential travel is banned while the country is in lockdown.

09:14 AM

Which countries have been banned?

Anyone who has visited the following countries over the past ten days will no longer be granted access to the UK (excluding British, Irish and third country nationals with residence rights in the UK).

  • Argentina

  • Bolivia

  • Brazil

  • Chile

  • Cape Verde

  • Colombia

  • Ecuador

  • French Guiana

  • Guyana

  • Paraguay

  • Panama

  • Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores)

  • Peru

  • Suriname

  • Uruguay

  • Venezuela

09:09 AM

'This travel ban cannot be kicked down the road endlessly'

Danny Callaghan, chief executive of the Latin American Travel Association, said: “It is vital that this travel ban is reviewed on an ongoing basis subject to the epidemiological situation and the associated risks and not just forgotten about or kicked down the road endlessly.

“There is no doubt that the region’s tourism sector has been hit hard by the economic fallout which has meant that travel to the region, for the most part, has ground to a halt. This development will further have a knock on effect in terms of consumer confidence.”

09:01 AM

What happened yesterday?

A recap of yesterday's top stories.

  • New test for arrival rules pushed back till Monday

  • British skiers turned away from French border

  • 'Vaccine-confidence' fuels holiday boom among the over-50s

  • Airport temperature scanners 'not reliable' at detecting Covid, say scientists

  • Norwegian axes long-haul flights

  • Jet2 adds 700 extra flights for summer 2021

Now, on with today's news.