On this same date self-catering accommodation, non-essential shops and outdoor hospitality are set to reopen in Scotland.
The First Minister said the “stay local” notice will end on Friday April 16, with people allowed to meet in groups of six in outdoor settings. People will also be able to travel across Scotland, so long as they do not stay away from home overnight.
Sturgeon confirmed a “very significant re-opening of the economy” from April 26, when Scotland will move into Level Three of Covid-19 restrictions.
This means shops will fully reopen and hospitality businesses will operate fully outdoors, and self-catering tourism accommodation will finally be able to reopen. On April 26, Scotland’s islands will be connected to the mainland for the first time in months, opening up the scope for a holiday getaway to a Scottish island.
“We expect to lift restrictions on travel to and from England and Wales on 26 April – something which I know will be welcomed by many individuals, and also by the tourism sector,” Nicola Sturgeon said.
However, the First Minister said “international travel remains a significant risk”, citing concerns over possible new variants.
Scroll down for more updates.
Summer report: What Britain’s holiday hotspots will be like this year
Are you planning for a Great British Summer? With domestic holidays back on in England and Wales, and little certainty provided on the resumption of foreign travel, UK tourist resorts are expecting a bumper season.
Norway to ease restrictions from Friday, Prime Minister announces
Norway will start to unwind some restrictions and allow more people to gather in private homes and at events from Friday.
Prime Minister Erna Solberg has announced that the easing of rules at the national level will not affect those in areas where infection rate is the highest, such as in the capital region.
Norway has had some of Europe’s lowest rates of infections and deaths since the start of the pandemic, but imposed stricter measures after a rapid increase in hospitalisations in March led by more contagious variants of the coronavirus.
The 10 most in-demand UK bank holiday destinations, according to Tripadvisor
The travel reviews site has revealed its top 10 most searched-for UK destinations for the second May bank holiday. These locations experienced the largest month-on-month increase in interest on the site.
While Cornwall appearing on the list is to be expected, it’s somewhat surprising that the top spot goes to the relatively small fishing village of Coverack. See the full list below.
- Coverack, Cornwall
- Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire
- Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria
- St Andrews
- Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria
A Cotswolds camping holiday in the snow? It was worth the wait
The crowds have returned to the famously beautiful Cotswolds, but it’s the simple things that will delight holidaymakers this summer, writes Lottie Gross.
I don’t really like camping, so it was clearly a lockdown fatigue-induced moment of madness that led to me sleeping with my mother and two dogs inside a beautiful VW campervan called Bluebell earlier this week.
With reports that self-catering properties were getting booked up fast and horror stories of families paying over the odds for a week in a tiny cottage in Kent, I took to Camptoo – a peer-to-peer campervan rental website – and sought out a more affordable option for our first holiday of the year. April 12 was our first day of real freedom, and what better way to do it than in a classic campervan?
For less than £400 I’d booked a home on wheels for three nights in the Cotswolds. It sounded romantic – to have our lives packed up in a van and hit the open road. Reality dawned, however, when I woke up to two inches of snow and a weather report that predicted overnight temperatures as low as -6C. Did I mention I don’t like camping?
Bermuda issues stay-at-home order after rise in Covid cases
The British Overseas Territory has put in place a stay-at-home order from today until April 20, due to a spike in coronavirus cases. According to Premier David Burt, the rise is primarily down to the spread of the more contagious Covid variant first discovered in Kent.
Guests staying at hotels and resorts on Bermuda will not be allowed to leave the properties but can move around the premises.
Israel to welcome vaccinated tourists from May – this is why you should go
From May 23, Israel will reopen to vaccinated visitors, making it among our best bets for a summer holiday. Here’s everything you need to know about taking a trip there.
When is the best month to go?
Israel has a Mediterranean climate – including a long hot summer between May and October. Temperatures can hit 30C in Tel Aviv in July and August, and can still be sizzling at around 27C in October. Thanks to its southerly Red Sea location, Eilat is even warmer – as high as 35C during the hottest months of the year.
‘I was a guinea pig on Eurostar’s first test-run, back in 1994’
As Eurostar teeters on the brink of collapse, the man who knows it best pens a love letter to the train that brought Europe closer.
You never forget your first time. In September 1994 I entered a spanking-new Waterloo International terminal, clutching a boarding pass that I wouldn’t have swapped for a fistful of Willy Wonka’s golden tickets. Public service was still months off and I was one of a few hundred lucky rail staff selected as guinea pigs for a Eurostar training run from London to Brussels.
We, the chosen ones, boarded our train, a quarter of a mile of gleaming blue and white. It had that ‘new train’ smell. This first generation Eurostar was close cousins to France’s record-breaking TGV, but with an iconic British-designed bullet nose at each end, the face of Eurostar for the next 20 years. Doors slid shut and our Eurostar edged oh-so-smoothly out of Waterloo, passing sedately through Vauxhall and climbing the flyover to join the traditional ‘boat train’ route to Folkestone.
Read Mark Smith’s (The Man in Seat 61) full report here.
France suspends all flights to and from Brazil
France has announced plans to suspend all flights to and from Brazil, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said in parliament.
“We take note that the situation is getting worse and we have decided to suspend all flights between France and Brazil until further notice,” Castex said.
Yesterday Brazil reported a further 1,480 coronavirus deaths.
Do you miss gliding through the airport on a moving walkway?
Further to Virgin’s ASMR video below, the airline has released the results of a survey on what sights and sounds passengers miss most about the flying experience. The 1,000 person poll suggested the pilot’s dulcet tones were most longed for.
Most missed sights and sounds
- 82% The pilot speaking over the PA
- 78% The tinkling sound of the drinks trolley
- 76% Inflight TV and films
- 73% Being welcomed onboard by cabin crew
- 72% The inflight meal experience
- 57% Gliding through the airport on the travelator on the way to their boarding gate.
Up to 80 per cent of Sicily residents refusing AstraZeneca jab
Earlier, we reported that Italy’s islands are jostling to vaccinate their populations so they can reopen to tourists as ‘Covid-free’ havens. However, there is one snag that could further risk the summer season.
Up to 80 per cent of people offered the AstraZeneca jab in Sicily refuse it out of fears over its safety, according to the southern Italian region’s president Nello Musumeci.
Missing flying? Virgin Atlantic releases ASMR flight video
The airline has created an ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response ) video which immerses viewers in the sights and sounds of a flight experience.
From the click of a seatbelt to the pop of a champagne cork (admittedly, not representative of the typical plane journey), the video was designed to remind passengers of “moments they have missed the most”.
10 things we learnt on the first day of domestic holidays restarting
Telegraph Travel had roving reporters all over the country yesterday for the #GreatUnlock. You can follow their antics as they unfolded on yesterday’s live blog. And here are some lessons we garnered from their explorations…
- Morning drinking is now socially acceptable
- The English are welcomed back into Wales
- The traffic out of London was awful
- Caravans are back on the road
- Shared toilets are permitted at campsites
Turkey to increase Covid restrictions
Turkey will need to tighten Covid restrictions to curb a “third peak” of the virus, says the country’s health minister.
Fahrettin Koca said more contagious variants made up the majority of cases and that recommendations would be presented to the cabinet today.
Turkey has among the highest rates of new Covid cases in the world, with numbers five times higher than early March.
‘I found a microcosm of China that most tourists never see aboard the country’s slow trains’
What the country’s slow trains lack in comfort, they certainly make up for in charm, writes Gemma Knight.
Although China – powerhouse of industry that it is – might prefer the wider world to envisage only sleek metal beasts bolting through its vast countryside, the reality of rail travel in the Middle Kingdom is a world away from the reclining seats and digital displays of its swankier trains.
The truth is that the common man (or, in my case, the financially challenged expat) does not travel in style. True, they might find themselves occasionally riding the Shanghai maglev, the levitating silver bullet linking Pudong International Airport with central Shanghai, hurtling through the fields at 431km/h (268mph) for a few brief seconds, or the fast-expanding network of high-speed trains, with their elongated white noses and soothing hum.
But it is the humble T-, K- and Z-class trains – slow, boxy contraptions that wheeze and creak their way between the country’s backwaters – which carry a microcosm of the masses most tourists never see; workers, migrants, farmers, students, the new middle class itching to explore its own country, and the heavily-laden hordes returning to their families ahead of Lunar New Year, the world’s single largest human migration.
Nicola Sturgeon’s comments on travel, in full
“We expect to lift restrictions on travel to and from England and Wales on 26 April – something which I know will be welcomed by many individuals, and also by the tourism sector.
“It may still be necessary in future to have temporary travel restrictions to and from places with high rates of Covid – either within Scotland or other parts of the UK – but from 26 April, we intend that people in Scotland will be able to travel anywhere across Britain.
“Travel restrictions to and from other parts of the common travel area – including the Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands – will also be kept under review.
“We also hope to agree rules for international travel on a four nations basis across the UK. I should stress however that international travel remains a significant risk – particularly given the possibility of new variants of the virus being imported into Scotland.
“It may be the case that we have to endure restrictions on international travel for a bit longer, as the price for much greater normality here in Scotland. However, from Friday, we will be able to travel more freely within Scotland, and to meet up in larger groups outside.”
Test and trace visits for holidaymakers in quarantine crackdown
Travellers in self-isolation after a trip abroad will be visited by Test and Trace staff this summer as part of a Government crackdown on quarantine dodgers.
The strict new service will use NHS workers to ensure that anyone required to stay at home after international travel is doing so. The checks will be in addition to those already carried out by police offiers, who the Government says make up to 1,000 home visits a day.
Currently, holidays overseas remain illegal and those entering the country must quarantine for 10 days at home, or at a managed facility if they are arriving from a “red list” country. But more and more Britons are expected to go abroad next month in line with a new “traffic light system” when international travel resumes.
NHS Test and Trace staff will not have any enforcement powers, but a referral will be made to the police if they believe that an individual may be breaching quarantine rules. Those who fail to comply face fixed penalty fines of £1000, rising to £10,000 for repeat offenders.
As well as potential house visits, incoming travellers are called and sent text messages to check they are staying at home. Quarantine measures will remain in place when international travel restarts at the end of May for “red” and “amber” countries, with only arrivals from a few “green list” countries exempt from the measure.
How to get a Covid test for your summer holiday
While huge question marks linger over summer holidays abroad, one thing is clear: there will be Covid tests.
Most countries require arrivals to show “gold standard” PCR test results, which are lab-analysed and generally provide results within 48 hours. However, an increasing number of destinations, such as Italy, also accept certain rapid tests which offer results in minutes and are usually cheaper.
Breaking: Israel to welcome vaccinated arrivals from May 23
From May 23, Israel will open its doors to vaccinated foreigners.
Groups from a limited number of countries will start to arrive on May 23. The number will be increased based on the health situation and progress of the country’s vaccination program. Individual travellers will be allowed into Israel at a later date.
All visitors will be required to undergo a PCR test before boarding their flight to Israel, and a serological test to prove their vaccination upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport. Discussions will continue with various countries to reach agreements for vaccine-certificate validation, so as to cancel the need for the serological test.
Minister of Tourism, Orit Farkash-Hacohen said:
“I am pleased to give this important first step to the tourism industry. It is time that Israel’s unique advantage as a safe and healthy country start to assist it in recovering from the economic crisis, and not only serve other countries’ economies. Only opening the skies for international tourism will truly revive the tourism industry, including restaurants, hotels, sites, tour guides, busses and others looking to work and provide for their families. I will continue to work for the full opening of tourism to Israel, which will greatly assist the Israeli economy and create workplaces for many Israelis.”
Scotland’s tourism industry responds to lockdown easing
Tourist businesses have welcomed Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement that parts of the hospitality sector will reopen across Scotland on April 26.
Marc Crothall, Chief Executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance said:
The First Minister’s announcement of a significant easing of restrictions in terms of the reopening of our tourism industry across all parts of Scotland on April 26 will, I know, come as a huge relief and be welcomed by thousands of businesses across the sector.
This is positive and critically important news, particularly for our island communities who have had an extremely anxious and concerning period awaiting news on whether or not their easing of restrictions would be aligned with the mainland. As the First Minister was making the announcement the STA received a flood of emails from tourism businesses in our island communities conveying relief that they can now plan and accept bookings from April 26.
Canadian ski resort at centre of Brazil variant outbreak
Canada’s most popular ski resort, Whistler Blackcomb, has been identified as being at the centre of the world’s largest outbreak of the highly infectious P1 variant of coronavirus, outside of its origin country Brazil.
The province of British Columbia reported 974 cases of the variant on Monday (4,111 cases in total). Of the P1 cases reported across the province, 693 were reported by the Vancouver Coastal Health authority and, according to local reports, nearly a quarter have been linked to the ski resort, which had been open for most of the winter season.
The resort announced it was closing for the season at the end of March, amidst local lockdowns. Its owner Vail Resorts had brought in a number of strict rules, including a compulsory reservation for skiers wanting to hit the slopes, but unfortunately this was unable to curb recent outbreaks of the variant, despite a “significant percentage” of the resort’s workforce being vaccinated.
“While the Provincial Health Order caught us all by surprise, we fully support the government’s direction and we’re doing our part to comply. At this time, we believe the best thing we can do to support the order is to begin winding down winter operations,” said Geoff Buchheister, VP and chief operating officer of Whistler Blackcomb in a statement.
There have also been reports of an outbreak in Sun Peaks, Canada’s second largest ski area also in British Columbia, as skiers begin to celebrate the end of the season.
Company halves cost of travel PCR test to £60
Test provider Randox, which works with a number of airlines including Tui and EasyJet, has announced it’s slashing the prices of the PCR swabs to £60. The current average price for an at-home PCR test is around £120.
Randox managing director Dr Peter FitzGerald said: “In recognition of the needs of both the travel industry and the British public at this unprecedented time, Randox will reduce the all-inclusive cost of PCR testing for those in the UK undertaking international travel to £60 per test.
“We can see the pressures faced by both the travel industry and the general public and are committed to effective and economical testing to support holidaymakers and those undertaking international travel.”
In order to secure the discounted rate, which is limited to those undertaking international travel, purchasers will need to apply a discount code which can be obtained from airlines when booking travel.
Scotland travel restrictions to be lifted earlier than expected
Coronavirus travel restrictions within Scotland are to be eased from Friday, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
It comes as “significant progress” has been made in reducing the number of Covid-19 cases in Scotland.
Addressing the coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh, the First Minister said figures were now at their lowest since September, and have fallen by 40 per cent in the past two weeks.
But she warned against complacency as Scotland continues to tackle the virus, saying: “We’ve got to be careful not to do too much all at once, because we don’t want the virus quickly gaining ground again, particularly because this new variant is we know more infectious and setting us all back.”
Boris Johnson: No reason for roadmap dates to change
Prime Minister Boris Johnson again insisted that “at the moment I can’t see any reason for us to change the road map, to deviate from the targets that we have set ourselves”, but he urged people to be cautious.
He also warned that despite the vaccination rollout, hospitalisations and deaths were likely to rise as lockdown measures eased.
For travel, a key date is May 17, when hotels in England are set to reopen. This is also the earliest date that international leisure travel could restart.
Dutch government expected to delay lockdown easing
Measures were set to be relaxed next week, but the office of prime minister Mark Rutte has said “it is still too early” to allow more people to meet in public places.
Plans were in place to reopen outdoor hospitality, which has been shut for around six months, next week but pressure on hospitals is said to be too high.
Airlines could use EU Covid certificates this summer
A senior EU official has suggested that airlines could check the proposed Covid certificates before allowing passengers to board planes this summer.
Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders today told a EU parliament committee: “What we want is to give to citizens and member states a tool that provides the necessary trust and confidence. A tool that competent authorities can rely on wherever needed to facilitate free movement.
“An airline company could verify the validity of the certificate in a simple way at the check-in.”
He added: “Long discussions at the gate should be avoided.”
The bloc’s proposed document would contain information on vaccination, tests or previous infections and would be in use until the WHO declares the pandemic over.
Russia suspends flights to Turkey, jeopardising plans of half a million tourists
Russia’s travel industry is in “shock” after the government on Monday suspended flights to Turkey for at least a month and a half due a coronavirus scare, throwing the plans of at least half a million holiday-makers in disarray, Nataliya Vasilyeva reports.
The Russian government announced the decision on Monday night, citing both a skyrocketing rate of new infections in Turkey and a high number of positive coronavirus tests that Russians have to take upon return.
“That decision came as a shock,” Maya Lomidze, head of Russia’s Association of Travel Agencies, told the Ekho Moskvy radio station Tuesday morning. “The market is already on the brink of collapse and a nervous breakdown.”
Comment: I can’t celebrate this token return of freedom
Trips to the pub have been transformed into highly-regulated episodes in state-sanctioned fun, writes Ross Clark.
Much as I admire the stoicism of the nation’s publicans, I’m sorry but I don’t feel like turning out for frozen pint. With more of the economy and society now open, it might feel like there is cause for celebration. But I worry that many people are showing the symptoms of advanced
Stockholm syndrome, the phenomenon where hostages end up sympathising with their captors. Why should we be grateful towards the Government for what is a mere token return of our liberties?
Are you celebrating the return of outdoor hospitality and self-catering holidays? Let us know in the comments below.
Times Square vaccination site opens
A vaccination centre has opened in popular tourist spot Times Square.
The site was opened by Hamilton musical creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and the Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, who said that it will prioritise theatre workers, in hopes that Broadway shows can reopen in September.
The hub will be run by a company manager for the musical Wicked, with Mr Miranda commenting that “if anyone knows how to make a show run on time it’s Broadway stage managers. So you’ll be in good hands.”
Edinburgh Festival to move outdoors this summer
Edinburgh Festival will hold its shows in huge marquees this summer to limit Covid risk.
The festival, which runs from August 7-29, will put on shorter performances with no intervals. Some shows will also be streamed free online for those who aren’t able to travel.
Festival director Fergus Linehan said: “We appreciate that these first steps back to live performances will be for audiences closer to home but are delighted to offer a parallel programme of digital work for those further afield.”
Germany green-lights controversial changes to national infections control law
The German government agreed Tuesday on controversial changes to a national infections control law, a government spokesman said, handing Berlin more power to impose tougher measures such as night-time curfews to halt the raging coronavirus pandemic.
The adjusted law, which still needs to be approved by parliament, would allow Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to impose curfews from 9pm to 5am and close schools and businesses in areas with high infection rates.
‘I’ve spent the last fortnight sailing from Holland to France, visiting harbour ghost towns’
Sadie Whitelocks spent the final weeks of lockdown hopping between abandoned French and Belgian port towns.
Looking on the tourist board’s website, Vlissingen is described as “a lively seaside resort and a popular tourist destination,” but on our visit the squawking seagulls outnumbered people, with the pandemic keeping all jovial human activity at bay.
After a day of being battered on the North Sea, we were on the hunt for fish and chips. We’d spotted a lone fishmonger by the harbour but he’d already packed up his van by 5pm. We ran into a mother and daughter and enquired about ‘viswinkels’ (Dutch for fish shops) and I just about made out
rechtsaf (right) and
links (left) amid the guttural stew. We eventually found a restaurant that had lights on and was offering takeout, before hurrying back to the boat with a haul of freshly-crisped cod.
India reports world’s highest daily tally
India reported 161,736 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, hitting the world’s highest daily tally once again, for a total of 13.69 million cases, health ministry data showed.
India: Millions of pilgrims gather on banks of Ganges despite surging Covid infections
In the middle of a surging second wave, with the number of Covid cases hitting more than 150,000 a day, millions of Indian pilgrims are gathering at Kumbh Mela, one of the biggest religious festivals in the world.
Around a million people a day will take a ritual dip in the Ganges this month, with the total expected to hit 30 to 50 million by the end of April. On Monday, a particularly auspicious day, more than five million bathed in the holy river, with crowds seen surging on the banks and limited social distancing.
Southampton airport runway given green light, despite opposition
A runway extension at Southampton airport has been given the go-ahead despite environmental concerns and opposition from campaigners such as broadcaster Chris Packham.
Eastleigh Borough Council approved the plan after hearing it could create around 1,000 jobs.
Southampton airport operations director Steve Szalay said:
This is the news we have been hoping for and working so hard to achieve. By listening to the overwhelming public and business support, as well as the planning officer’s recommendation to approve, the councillors have safeguarded the future of the airport.
The decision also ensures we are well placed to provide employment and support the region as we seek to recover post pandemic.
The seven destinations likely to feature on the holiday ‘green list’ this summer
The ‘traffic light’ system is likely to dictate where we can holiday for some time to come. The Government has, as yet, given no clear indication as to which countries will be green, amber or red, but Telegraph Travel has crunched the numbers to assess which destinations look highly likely to get the go-ahead for the green list:
- The Caribbean
Hong Kong struggles with vaccine uptake
The Hong Kong government is struggling to convince the public to be jabbed against Covid-19, despite securing over three times the number of vaccines needed to immunise the entire population, reports Karina Tsui.
Vaccine hesitancy is tied to the public’s mistrust of authorities, fuelled by a deep suspicion of the Chinese-produced CoronaVac vaccine, which was administered for emergency use in February after receiving approval from a small panel of health experts in Hong Kong.
In a move to inspire confidence, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam and her cabinet members took their first doses of Sinovac in a live broadcast. However, the government’s public relations campaign did little to convince the public.
Italy’s islands in vaccine row as they battle to save summer season
A row has broken out between Italy’s popular tourist islands as they bid to become ‘Covid-free’ to save their summer seasons.
Officials on smaller islands such as Capri and Elba are hoping to vaccinate all residents by the end of this month, in a move that mirrors Greece’s initiative to inoculate its island populations to help restart holidays.
Italy’s government is now debating an official plan to prioritise its small islands, with tourism minister Massimo Garavaglia commenting: “It can be done and should be done because if others do it and we don’t, the disadvantage will be enormous.”
However, leaders of larger islands Sicily and Sardinia are protesting the move, arguing that their populations should be first in line as their substantial tourism capacity would “aid the recovery of the national economy more significantly”.
Elsewhere, the president of the Emilia-Romagna region, Stefano Bonaccini, has argued that holiday islands “cannot be prioritised at the expense of others”.
Holidaymakers being ‘ripped off’ by 20 per cent VAT on Covid tests
Holidaymakers are being “ripped off” by being forced to pay 20 per cent VAT imposed on PCR tests, reports Charles Hymas.
The Treasury is raking in hundreds of thousands of pounds from taxing PCR tests conducted by Government-approved private testing firms on travellers coming into the UK.
The charge has been introduced by the Treasury despite an EU recommendation last year that testing kits should be exempt from VAT, as is the case with personal protective equipment.
In the EU, the average cost of PCR tests is less than half the price in the UK, where they average around £130 apiece compared with just £60 in most EU countries.
Pubs and bars face being punished for Covid rule-busting queues
Pubs and bars face fines or the removal of their licences over queues on the street after officials threatened to crack down on the most popular venues as they reopened on Monday.
What happened yesterday?
Monday was a big day for travel as domestic holidays restarted. Here’s a recap of the top stories:
- Wildlife parks welcome back visitors
- Pubs and restaurants reopen for outdoor guests
- Self-catering holiday businesses enjoy fully-booked calendars
- Spas reopen in England Malta to pay tourists who visit this summer
- Private firms charge holidaymakers £300 a Covid test
Now, on with today’s travel news.