Cyprus has had its travel corridor removed, giving hundreds of British holidaymakers on the island until 4am on Sunday to return home or face a two-week quarantine.
The move comes after the country’s seven-day infection rate crossed the threshold of 100 per 100,000 residents, after which the Government considers travel restrictions.
Lithuania was taken off the green list too, although it is already forcing UK arrivals to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival. However, Germany and Sweden, both of which have also hurdled the 100 barrier, were spared.
No new travel corridors were declared, despite a number of feasible options sitting short of the threshold – including Egypt, Mexico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.
The changes were announced on Twitter by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps following the Government’s weekly review of the travel corridors list.
It means Britons unable to self-isolate on their return to the UK now have just 19 feasible holiday options. Four – Sweden, the Canary Islands, Gibraltar and Greece – are entirely free from restrictions, but the other 15 involve a test either before departure or on arrival, and in some cases a short quarantine.
The loss of a travel corridor will hit Cyprus hard. Tourism is a driving force for its economy, with the UK a key market, and revenue from overseas arrivals already plunged by 90 per cent in the summer.
See below for the latest updates:
That's a wrap
A reminder of the big stories from today:
Cyprus has lost its travel corridor, but Germany and Sweden survive
France, Germany and Spain have announced new lockdown measures of varying severity
Nicola Sturgeon has refused to rule out a national lockdown as new travel restrictions loom
United Airlines has launched free – but mandatory – Covid testing on transatlantic flights
60 cruisers have tested positive for Covid after a yodelling cruise
We'll see you again tomorrow.
'I fled Britain for my own sanity'
We leave you with something to raise a smile. A masterful report from historian Guy de la Bédoyère, who has been sunning himself on the island of Rhodes. Here's a taste:
Our hotel, which we picked without much thought from our travel operator’s website, is filled largely with overweight high-risk over-60s Britons. Judging from the accents, most are Tier 2 and 3 refugees who’ve had enough of Project Fear. If death is indeed imminent, they’re determined to expire in the sun, stuffed with spoils from the glass panel-shielded all-you-can-eat buffet – topless, in the case of at least three growing-old-disgracefully guests we spotted by the pool.
Your only 19 holiday options
In all, there are now just four places on the travel corridor list that have no restrictions on UK arrivals, and a further 15 with limited restrictions that make holidays just about feasible.
Open for business
1. Canary Islands
5. Germany: Test on arrival
6. Jersey: Test on arrival
7. Madeira: Test before departure
8. Anguilla: Test before departure
9. Antigua and Barbuda: Test before departure
10. Barbados: Test before departure
11. Bermuda: Test before departure
12. Cuba: Test on arrival
13. Dominica: Test before departure and on arrival
14. Grenada: Test before departure
15. St Lucia: Test before departure
16. St Vincent and the Grenadines: Test before departure
17. Maldives: Test before departure
18. Mauritius: Test before departure and on arrival
19. Seychelles: Test before departure and on arrival
Britons face scramble to beat quarantine – or find a new holiday destination
The rush has begun for those Britons in Cyprus hoping to get home before the Sunday deadline. Others due to travel will be desperate to find an alternative.
@easyJet why do I have to wait for an email to amend my holiday when Cyprus has just been taken off the list. I go next week and need to amend ASAP to Tenerife so I can still go next week ? Or is it giving you just enough time to increase the price !?
— Nicola WilliamsFryer (@nicjwilliams) October 29, 2020
This was Cyprus last night. It felt safe, organised and everyone was following the rules. Madness all this. pic.twitter.com/0u3Knqdkx3
— Mark Hillman (@hillmania) October 29, 2020
Addition of Cyprus 'strange'
Ben McCluskey wonders why Cyprus has been removed but Germany spared.
Strange choice to add Cyprus 🇨🇾 to the quarantine list...
Germany 🇩🇪 has a higher positivity rate and has seen an exponential rise in cases.
Case growth in Cyprus 🇨🇾 has actually slowed down too.
If Germany 🇩🇪 were added, there would be more justification to add Cyprus 🇨🇾!
— Ben McCluskey (@BenkersBen) October 29, 2020
This week's changes at a glance
Cyprus has been removed, giving Britons until 4am on Sunday to return home or face quarantine
Lithuania is also out, but it is already forcing UK arrivals to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival
Germany and Sweden survive
No new travel corridors
The decisions haven't gone down well, with Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, calling them "highly questionable" and asking why no country in Africa has been granted a travel corridor.
The decisions made by #JointBiosecurityCentre are now highly questionable - #Germany is moving into mini-lockdown, seen a surge in infections in recent days, yet it’s deemed lower risk than #Iceland! And it’s indefensible that #Africa still has no travel corridor.
— Paul Charles (@PPaulCharles) October 29, 2020
No new travel corridors
We are NOT adding any countries to the list of TRAVEL CORRIDORS this week.
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) October 29, 2020
Cyprus is out
TRAVEL CORRIDOR UPDATE: We are REMOVING CYPRUS and LITHUANIA from the #TravelCorridor list.
From 4am Sunday 1st November, if you arrive into the UK from these destinations you will need to self-isolate. pic.twitter.com/qRsxSXMKJR
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) October 29, 2020
Five minutes until the big announcement
It's wet and windy in Cumbria
After a brief hiatus, our correspondent Simon Parker has resumed his two-wheeled journey across Britain from Shetland to the Isles of Scilly. Spare a thought for him.
— Simon Parker (@SimonWIParker) October 29, 2020
Travel ban will hit Scottish businesses hard, leaders warn
Conor Riordan of PA Scotland reports that the decision to place most of Scotland in Level 3 restrictions will have an "immediate impact" on the confidence and survival of businesses, according to industry representatives.
Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: "Whilst the First Minister did not announce a full national lockdown, the majority of Scotland has been designated within Level 3.
"This will have an immediate impact on businesses confidence and survival.
"In addition, the consequences of imposing additional travel restrictions between areas and levels will result in decreased tourism, also impacting on retailing and hospitality."
Andrew McRae, FSB's Scotland policy chairman, also criticised how limits to travel would impact companies.
He said: "The travel ban outlined by the First Minister has significant implications for many businesses, like rural firms dependent on visitors from the city."
Spain's new state of emergency to last until May
Spain will be under a state of emergency – originally supposed to last for two weeks – until early May, giving regions legal backing to decide curfews and restrict travel.
The government managed to gather enough votes for parliament to back the extension, but many are worried about the social and economy consequences in a country that is already suffering its worst recession since the 1930s civil war.
"It seems too much to me, people can't stand it," Madrid resident Angela Suarez, a chef who has already had her working hours reduced because of the crisis, told Reuters.
"We don't know what to do. And we pay rent, bills, we're thinking, what, what, what to do?"
Belarus shuts land borders with neighbours due to Covid-19
The gradual Europe-wide lockdown continues. Belarus has restricted some cross-border land travel with Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine due to the "epidemiological situation", its border committee said on Thursday. There are no restrictions on crossing the border by air, however.
Which countries face quarantine? A reminder
Germany, Sweden and Cyprus are of most concern
Lithuania is also at risk, but it is already forcing UK arrivals to self-isolate
Greece will be safe
Any changes will come into effect at 4am on Sunday.
Forty minutes until the big announcement
All eyes turn to the Twitter account of the Rt Hon Grant Shapps, MP for Welwyn Hatfield. Underrated bit of the country that. I go cycling out there most weekends.
Germany prepares for its next lockdown
Germany will enter a partial lockdown on Monday, with hotels, bars and restaurants set to close.
Full list of regions moving into Tier 2 this weekend
Today has seen a flurry of announcements setting out new Tier 2 restrictions. In case you've missed them, here's a full list of places which will see new measures introduced from 00:01 on Saturday:
East Riding of Yorkshire
North and north-east Lincolnshire
Telford and the Wrekin
Two British teenagers killed in parasailing incident on Greek island Rhodes
Two British teenagers have been killed and a third seriously injured in a parasailing incident after the rope to their parachute snapped on the Greek island of Rhodes, authorities have said.
“A 13-year-old girl and a young man of 15 were found dead on the rocks near the city of Lindos in Rhodes,” the Greek coastguard’s press office said.
The coastguard and firefighters found another 15-year-old with serious injuries in the same area and took him to a hospital in Rhodes.
The three – two brothers and their cousin – were attached to a parachute pulled by a boat but the rope broke and the wind carried them into the rocks, Greek media reported.
The accident happened on Wednesday at about noon local time and the two people connected with the speedboat have been arrested. The boat’s captain and co-captain were earlier questioned by the police, the coastguard said.
Qantas launches 'flight to somewhere'
Having been criticised by environmentalists for plotting scenic 'flights to nowhere', Qantas has launched the first in a series of scenic 'flights to somewhere'. With international travel banned for most Australians, the airline hopes the services will give travel-starved citizens a reason to fly – and generate some much-needed revenue.
The first will take 110 people from Sydney to Uluru on board a Boeing 737 on December 5. It will include a champagne breakfast, a tour of the giant monolith, an art workshop, and a night at the five-star Sails in the Desert hotel, among other treats, before the return flight to Sydney.
Economy class tickets will cost 2,499 AUD (£1,359) per person.
Mapped: Second lockdowns around the world
Hello Safe has shared the map below, which shows which countries have reimpose lockdown measures. Those countries in dark green – Sweden, Belarus, Nicaragua, Mozambique, South Korea – never had a first lockdown.
60 cruisers catch Covid on yodelling cruise
Dozens of passengers on board a folk-music themed river cruise – which featured hours of singing in enclosed spaces, as well as yodelling – tested positive for Covid after the seven-day voyage.
Swiss newspaper Blick reported that 60 of the 92 passengers on Swiss Crystal, which sailed from Passau to Frankfurt between October 10 and 17, returned a positive test result.
The organisers, Hanspeter and Elsbeth Balsiger, defended the voyage, saying that social distancing was enforced and masks were worn until passengers sat down for dinner or in the lounge. Regular temperature checks were also carried out.
However, virologist Andreas Cerny told Blick that the outbreak was not a surprise as people “do not wear a mask while consuming and speak loudly with brass music and yodelling in the background.”
Britain's regional airports 'may not survive the pandemic'
Some of the potential longer term consequences of the pandemic are starting to come into focus for air travellers, says Telegraph Travel expert Nick Trend.
Europe faces the “prospect of the collapse of a significant part of its air transport system”, with up to 200 of the region’s airports face insolvency in the coming months, according to Airports Council International Europe (which represents airport operators)
It didn’t name individual airports, but said that the smaller regional hubs were most at risk. These airports are facing more than just a temporary shortage of passengers. The failure of Flybe in February was already a blow for several in the UK, but what could really sound the death knell is if the other no-frills carriers which operate the majority of their services at such bases decide to rationalise their route networks permanently and concentrate on operating only out of bigger airports.
These airlines – especially Ryanair and EasyJet – have had an ongoing love affair with smaller regional airports because costs are lower and turn-around times for aircraft are quicker and more reliable than in more congested hubs. Passengers seem to like the convenience too. It’s cheaper and easier to park, and much less hassle to get through security, and a great option if you live a long way from one of the main hubs.
But airlines will have to make some hard choices. If too many people remain reluctant to fly, then smaller airports may not be able to offer enough potential passengers to make services viable. The no-frills carriers may be forced to concentrate on Stansted, Gatwick, Luton, Manchester and Liverpool. And it may be years before regional flying, with all its conveniences, will recover.
Belgium is bottom of the Covid table
Remember when Matt Hancock said we needed to be more like Belgium when it comes to managing Covid?
More than a third of travellers wouldn't fly on a 737 Max
The editor of Which? Travel has polled his followers after it emerged that the 737 Max, which has been grounded for more than 18 months, could soon return to the sky.
The Boeing 737 Max looks set to be cleared to fly again by regulators. But would you be willing to fly on it?
— Rory Boland (@roryboland) October 29, 2020
Which countries deserve a travel corridor (part II)?
We've already put in a good word for Jamaica, South Africa, Egypt and Mexico (see below). Here are a few more worthy contenders:
Seven-day infection rate: 90.3 per 100,000
Is it open to Britons? Yes, so long as you take a PCR test no more than 72 hours prior to departure. You will need to fly via a third country, however, as there are no direct flights from the UK.
Seven-day infection rate: 29.8
Is it open to Britons? Yes. The Dominican authorities will administer a rapid diagnostic test to a percentage of randomly-selected passengers on arrival.
Seven-day infection rate: 16.3
Is it open to Britons? Yes, so long as you take a PCR test no more than 72 hours prior to departure.
Seven-day infection rate: 8.5
Is it open to Britons? Not yet, but it has plans to reopen to tourism in the coming months.
Will Cyprus lose its travel corridor?
On the face of it, Cyprus looks less likely to lose its travel corridor than Germany or Sweden. Its seven-day case rate is currently 71.5 per 100,000, while Germany's is 106.4 and Sweden's is 103.6. Furthermore, visitors to Cyprus must take a Covid-19 test to gain entry – surely a factor that works in its favour. However, Ben McCluskey, who has become something of a Twitter quarantine guru, points out that the island's test positivity rate is now 3.8%. Anything at 4% or above is thought to give Grant Shapps an itchy trigger finger.
Another much awaited Cyprus 🇨🇾 update! 👇
7-day case rate per 100,000 people: 111.1
Positivity rate (last 7-days): 3.8%
Cyprus 🇨🇾 is sadly at risk ahead of tomorrow's UK 🇬🇧 quarantine list review.
My thread 👇
— Ben McCluskey (@BenkersBen) October 28, 2020
Spain's Catalonia region closes its borders
Catalonia has announced a 15-day ban on entering and exiting its territory, the latest in a series of Covid restrictions taken by Spanish regions.
The northeastern region, home to Barcelona, has the second highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in Spain. Catalan officials said the new measures, which also include closing cinemas and theatres and extending a shutdown of bars and restaurants, were essential to make sure hospitals can cope.
"Our health system cannot deal with this level of stress. It can't take much more," Catalan health chief Alba Verges said.
During weekends, Catalonia residents will not only be banned from leaving the region but also their municipality.
The undiscovered region of Germany where you can get your wine fix
You might need to file this one under "nice option for next year", but Lebby Eyres has written effusively about Baden-Württemberg, Germany's scandalously overlooked answer to the likes of Chianti and Bordeaux.
'This is dark day for fearful, furious France'
Our France expert Anthony Peregrine, a resident of Languedoc, says a "perfect storm of misfortune" has burst upon the country:
It’s fair to say that France has known better days. The country had nowhere near digested the prospect of its renewed national lockdown – which will start at midnight tonight – when, at around 9am this morning, an Islamist knifeman caused carnage in the cathedral in Nice. Latest reports suggest there were three deaths. One woman was beheaded. Thus a perfect storm of misfortune burst upon the country.
Unfortunately, France’s problem with what Nice mayor, Christian Estrosi, this morning called “Islamo-fascism” is not susceptible to an easily defined solution. On the other hand, President Emmanuel Macron clearly hopes that the coronavirus pandemic might be. As he put it in his 22-minute TV appearance on Wednesday night, it’s all about “applying the brakes brutally”.
The recently imposed curfew across half the country apparently hadn’t been sufficient. New cases were still running at between 40,000 and 50,000 a day – though National Scientific Council president Jean-François Delfraissy reckoned the real numbers were double that, allowing for undiagnosed and asymptomatic cases.
Whence a national lockdown, initially for four weeks – with reassessment after a fortnight. The aim is to bring new cases down to 5000 a day. This puts the kibosh on my birthday celebrations – generally, the only bright spot in the dire month of November. It has also kicked off a bout of panic-buying today – queues at hypermarkets and DIY stores snaked out into the car park around Montpellier this morning. Perhaps more pertinently, and this morning’s surge to the shops aside, lockdown is also not going to do much for the French economy. Estimates of lockdown’s monthly cost range from €12-€15 billion (£11-£13.5 billion).
Sir Rocco Forte slams Covid 'overreaction'
Outspoken lockdown sceptic and hotelier Sir Rocco Forte has once again aimed both barrels at the Government over its handling of the pandemic.
Speaking on the BBC's Today programme, the entrepreneur said: "They've overreacted, they've panicked in the first instance on the basis of a forecast of 500,000 deaths. We're now seeing new forecasts done by the same people who made the mistakes last time round, forecasting armageddon, and they're starting to panic again."
The former Tory donor added that he now doesn't have "any money to give" the Government due to the "grim situation" for the hotel industry.
Scenes from around Europe
How Greece's new 'colour-coded' areas system works
In a bid to clamp down on the spread of the virus, the Greek government has introduced a colour-coded map covering the country's 74 regions. It tells you at a glance which are safe and where to avoid, based on the number of daily cases per 100,000 of the population.
Britons can currently visit Greece without having to quarantine upon their return. What does the new map mean for your holiday? Heidi Fuller-Love has the answers.
Nicola Sturgeon refuses to rule out national lockdown as new travel restrictions loom
The Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has urged people to adhere to new travel restrictions from Monday.
Under the new five-tier system of restrictions, local authority areas in Level 3 or 4 are asked not to travel outside their local authority area. Those in lower level areas have also been asked not to travel into councils in the higher restrictions.
She said: "I know travel restrictions are unwelcome and can be controversial, but they are an absolutely essential part of any regional approach to tackling Covid."
Furthermore, Sturgeon refused to rule out a second nationwide lockdown if Covid-19 cases continue to increase. "That could happen if, for example, cases in parts of the county start to rise faster again, to the extent that controlling spread with travel restrictions will not be effective," she said.
'Britain's Covid response is utterly mad – here are 10 reasons why'
There is no reasonable scientific or medical justification for lockdowns, convoluted social distancing rules, masks or travel restrictions, says Dr John Lee, as he tries to explain how the world "lost its mind".
Current consensus on the infection fatality rate (which has been continually falling as better data arrives) is 0.2 per cent. When we look back at this period any visible mortality signal will be well within the envelope of the last 30 years when deaths caused by lockdown are excluded. The average age of death from Covid is actually above the average age of death from all causes.
So why are governments around the world persisting in, and indeed elaborating, responses that are progressively being seen, as evidence accumulates, to be fundamentally wrong?
You don’t have to listen too hard to hear the sound of many, many pigeons coming home to roost simultaneously. I think this is why it has been so hard to explain what is happening, and why so many people remain deeply unsure as to what the right course of action should be. Any given article or interview tends to deal with only one or two key points, leaving so many unanswered questions for most people that doubt and confusion fill the gaps. Neither governments nor their advisors seem able to see the big picture, let alone explain it. So here is my attempt to assemble, in one place, the most important of the very many drivers of the Covid response.
'No one cruises the east coast of Scotland – they don't know what they're missing out on'
Robin McKelvie has found a very unspoilt corner of Britain:
John MacInnes, at the helm of his sturdy Nova Spero, puts it plainly as we bash out into the North Sea breakers: “No one cruises the east coast. No one. People don’t realise what they are missing out on – the big skies, amazing wildlife and historic harbours.”
He is right on both counts. This is a pioneering adventure and we are indeed bound for a spirit soaring world of lingering sunsets, encounters with everything from porpoises to minke whales, and working harbours that are an untouristed joy.
Germany tipped for quarantine – but Jamaica could get the green light
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, believes Germany is bound for the red list, alongside Lithuania (which is off-limits to Britons anyway). Jamaica, however, could get a travel corridor.
Thurs update: our predictions are #Germany and #Lithuania will be added to the quarantine list in the weekly review later today. #Jamaica should be taken off quarantine. It would be logical to give #SouthAfrica a corridor. #Cyprus will be spared any changes. #COVID @ThePCAgency pic.twitter.com/cvckXlRvRr
— Paul Charles (@PPaulCharles) October 29, 2020
British Airways announces November schedule
Spare a thought for the world's airlines. November is supposed to mark the start of the lucrative winter sun season. Instead, the likes of British Airways are battling to survive in the face of lockdowns and ever-changing travel restrictions.
Nevertheless, BA says it will operate 52 long-haul routes alongside its short-haul network this November.
Services will continue to operate to US gateways including New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Miami and San Francisco, while there will be flights to quarantine-free Caribbean destinations including Barbados, Antigua and St Lucia. Services to Dubai, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Santiago and Riyadh will also be offered.
Short-haul destinations will include Paris, Munich, Geneva, Amsterdam, Lanzarote, Tenerife and Gran Canaria.
Sean Doyle, CEO of British Airways, said: "We continue to connect Britain with a substantial number of destinations across the globe and customers tell us they are reassured by the safety measures we’ve put in place, including personal protection packs, screens, sanitiser stations, adapted meal services and customers and colleagues in masks.
"The risk of contracting Covid-19 during a flight is incredibly low. IATA, the global aviation industry body, suggests that since the start of 2020 there have been as few as 44 cases of Covid-19 linked to flights. Over the same period some 1.2 billion passengers have travelled. This figure amounts to one case for every 27 million travellers."
French ski resorts cancel winter openings as country goes into second lockdown
Ski resorts in France have been forced to postpone the start of the winter season as the country prepares to go into a second national lockdown, Lucy Aspden reports.
On Wednesday night French President Emmanuel Macron announced new rules that prohibit people from leaving their homes unless for essential work or medical reasons. Travel outside their local region is also banned, while non-essential businesses, including restaurants and bars, must close.
Val Thorens, the first major resort to open in the world’s largest ski area, Les Trois Vallées, has announced it has cancelled its opening weekend celebrations and postponed the start of the winter season.
“Tonight the French government announced a national lockdown until December 1. This lockdown does not allow us to open Val Thorens and its ski area as we had foreseen on November 21,” read a statement from the resort last night – it is now contacting all guests due to travel in November.
'Enough with the travel shaming, I refuse to avoid visiting my family'
The Telegraph's McKenna Grant hasn't seen her American mother for more than a year – and refuses to let ever-changing guidelines, or travel shaming, stop their reunion. Read the full story.
The situation in Sweden
Having been snubbed for months, Sweden finally got its first travel corridor in September. Since then positive tests have crept up, however, and the 1,980 on October 27 was a record. The rise has not been as dramatic as we have seen in other European countries, and deaths remain rare, but its travel corridor is still at risk.
Read more: A dose of the old normal in mask-free Sweden
Which countries deserve a travel corridor?
Enough of the countries that might be ditched – which countries should be added to the green list?
We'd argue that every country on the planet with a lower infection rate than Britain should be on the green list, but short of this common sense approach, here are a few nations that should be at the very front of the queue:
Seven-day infection rate: 1.2 per 100,000
Is it open to Britons? Yes, so long as you take a PCR test no more than 96 hours prior to departure.
Seven-day infection rate: 31.2
Is it open to Britons? Yes.
Seven-day infection rate: 19.7
Is it open to Britons? Only those staying for three months or more. However, this rule may be relaxed by December.
Seven-day infection rate: 13.8
Is it open to Britons? Yes, but you must first get authorisation to enter from the Visit Jamaica website and may need to present evidence of a negative test.
The world's best city? London, apparently
Not when there's a 10pm curfew, obviously, but London has been named the "best" city on Earth by a leading advisor in tourism, real estate and economic development.
Resonance's Best Cities rankings "quantify and benchmark the relative quality of place, reputation and competitive identity" in major cities with populations of one million or more.
"The World's Best Cities rankings are composed of experiential factors that people consider most important in choosing a city to live and visit, as well as empirical factors that business decision-makers consider important for business or investment," said Resonance President & CEO Chris Fair.
Based on each city's performance in the 25 factors, here is the top 10:
New York City
See BestCities.org/Reports/2021-Worlds-Best-Cities for the full ranking.
A last look at the Mona Lisa
Visitors in a deserted Louvre today. The museum will close its doors this evening at 6pm for an indefinite period.
United Airlines launches free – but mandatory – Covid testing on transatlantic flights
US carrier United Airlines is to offer free rapid Covid tests to all passengers over two years old, as well as crew members, on selected flights from Newark Liberty International Airport to London Heathrow Airport.
The pilot scheme, to run from November 16 until December 11 – on flight UA14 departing Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, seeks to demonstrate how testing can "play a vital role in safely reopening travel around the world". However, it will not yet allow travellers to bypass a 14-day quarantine when they reach Britain.
Anyone who does not wish to be tested will be placed on another flight, guaranteeing that everyone on board, other than children under two, will have tested negative before departure.
“We believe the ability to provide fast, same-day Covid-19 testing will play a vital role in safely reopening travel around the world and navigating quarantines and travel restrictions, particularly to key international destinations like London,” said Toby Enqvist, chief customer officer for United. “Through this pilot program, we’ll guarantee that everyone on board has tested negative for Covid-19, adding another element to our layered approach to safety. United will continue to lead on testing, while at the same time exploring new solutions that contribute to the safest travel experience possible.”
French lockdown won't apply to elite sport
France's highly-paid sports stars need not worry about losing their livelihoods – elite sport will continue despite a nationwide lockdown announced by President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday, sports minister Roxana Maracineanu has said.
“The coming weeks will be tough economically but also humanely. This is why I wanted to confirm to you that the continuity of the sport which is practised as a profession is today assured,” Maracineau told the French parliament.
Maracineanu's comments will come as welcome news for France's top soccer league, Ligue 1, as well as French rugby, with the national side set to host Ireland on Saturday in their Six Nations finale. The Paris Masters tennis tournament is also due to begin on Monday.
'I only went on two holidays as a kid – and one of those was to Blackpool'
Our celebrity interview this week is with Fran Healy from Travis. What's wrong with Blackpool, I hear you cry.
Tunisia bans internal travel
Reuters reports that Tunisia has banned travel between the country's regions, suspended schools and public gatherings and extended a curfew, as it tried to contain a rapid rise in Covid-19 infections.
Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi has said Tunisia cannot afford a second total lockdown with the government already fighting the central bank over a projected deficit double what it had originally foreseen.
However, after successfully containing the coronavirus in the spring and summer, Tunisia is now experiencing a very rapid spread of the disease with more than 55,000 cases and intensive care units full in some regions.
As well as banning internal travel in most cases, the new rules include a suspension of schools until November 8, a two-week suspension of universities and a ban on protests and public gatherings of more than four people.
A night curfew already in place in several regions has been extended across the country and brought forward to start at 8pm instead of 9pm on weekdays, while remaining at 7pm on weekends.
The situation in Greece
Greece reported 1,547 new positive tests on Wednesday, the highest daily increase since the beginning of the pandemic and a second straight record day. However, it's seven-day infection rates is 64.9 per 100,000, meaning quarantine restrictions are highly unlikely for the time being.
Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble may start next month
A planned air travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong may begin in November, the Business Times reports, citing comments from Singapore Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung.
Ong said discussions have been going well and that he shared the “assessment” of Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam about the arrangement, according to the report.
A travel bubble between London and New York has been discussed in recent weeks, but no firm plans have been announced.
Countries that offer long-stay visas for remote workers
If you have ever dreamt of swapping the cramped commutes, missed breakfasts and strobe-lit offices for early morning walks on the beach, breakfast in bed and a desk overlooking paradise, you are not alone – and now is the time to go for it, writes Charlotte Johnstone.
Options include Croatia, Spain and – our favourite – Barbados. Read our guide to see how to do it.
The situation in Cyprus
It seems that the infection rate in Cyprus has steadied, leaving it highly unlikely to face quarantine restrictions this week.
Jose Mourinho flies Ryanair
In other news... it seems that the Tottenham manager has no qualms about flying on the budget airline. Perhaps he has also realised that you need not wear a face mask if you slowly work your way through an enormous bag of crisps.
when you get lucky and land one of the emergency exit rows with extra legroom, then crack into your favourite movie pic.twitter.com/1o445N9hzj
— Ryanair (@Ryanair) October 29, 2020
'Testing failures are leaving British airports behind'
The Telegraph says London’s vital post-Brexit position as the world’s leading international air hub is now under threat thanks to Government incompetence.
One consequence of the slump in international travel as a result of coronavirus restrictions has been Heathrow’s eclipse as Europe’s busiest airport. It has been overtaken by Paris Charles de Gaulle and is rapidly being caught up by Amsterdam Schiphol and Frankfurt. In the first nine months of the year, some 19 million passengers used Heathrow, while the French airport saw 19.3 million through the gates. Most of that traffic was in the first three months before the lockdowns across Europe saw a collapse in business, but the fall was greater in London.
Partly this is because Heathrow, as a hub airport, is particularly vulnerable to a slow-down in travel. But the UK’s apparent inability to introduce a coherent Covid testing regime at airports has also put overseas passengers off. France and Germany have introduced airport testing while British ministers insist it will make little difference because it does not pick up asymptomatic or recently infected passengers.
If Heathrow is to regain its pre-eminence, it will need a similar regimen to those seen in its main competitors. Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, has promised a post-arrival testing system by the start of December, reducing the 14-day quarantine to around a week. What is also required is an internationally agreed pre-departure test that can obviate the need for lengthy quarantine on arrival. This should have been done months ago. Why is it taking so long to set this up with no guarantee even now that it will happen?
Any more procrastination and London’s post-Brexit position as the leading international air hub will be supplanted by European cities. Is that what the Government wants?
Carpe Diem: Rocco Forte hotels is offering cut-price stays for long-term visitors to Italy
For those able to work remotely, and for whom money is no object, a few weeks at a luxury hotel in Italy sounds like a far nice proposition that a few weeks in a London flat.
So, in an attempt to woo flexible Britons, Rocco Forte hotels has launched Carpe Diem, inviting guests to travel to Italy and stay for a month or more, “embracing slow travel, a cultural refresh and the opportunity of working remotely from two of the most beautiful cities in the world.”
It adds: “Rocco Forte’s properties in Rome, Hotel de Russie and Hotel de la Ville, as well as The Savoy in Florence, from November 1 will be offering the new bespoke package welcoming guests to live in residence for a few weeks to enjoy an Italian escape. The offer includes breakfast and dinner, to be individually programmed with the hotel chefs according to preferences, and a spa treatment each week for extra relaxation.
“Carpe Diem guests will have a dedicated Residence Concierge to tailor each residency according to individual taste and wishes from length of stay and in suite bar preferences to extra services such as art history visits or language courses. Guests wishing to work remotely from the hotels can arrange to have access to business facilities and individual printers.”
The only stumbling block is likely to be the bill: £9,500 a month. See www.roccofortehotels.com.
Australia's pandemic travel ban brings family heartbreak
An Associated Press report has highlighted the heartbreak caused by Australia’s Covid travel ban. Under current rules, Australians must apply for permission to leave the country. In nearly all cases, applications are unsuccessful.
Astrid Magenau wasn’t able to keep a promise to hold her father’s hand at his deathbed in Germany because of Australia’s extraordinary pandemic restrictions that make her feel like a prisoner in her adopted country.
Australia has sought to prevent new coronavirus cases from reaching its shores by banning most of its residents from leaving in the first place. But the ban on overseas travel creates a heartbreaking burden on a multicultural nation such as Australia, where around half the people were born abroad or have an immigrant parent.
“I always wanted to move to Australia because it felt like a free country,” said German-born Magenau, who became an Australian citizen this year. “It makes the whole feeling of living in Australia quite different because, personally, it makes me feel like I’m trapped... because I can’t travel as I want to.”
Terror attack in Nice
A woman has been decapitated, and two others have been killed, during a knife attack near the Notre Dame Basilica in the French city of Nice.
The mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, tweeted that the incident is a "terrorist" attack.
The countries at risk of quarantine restrictions
Denmark, Germany and Sweden have all crossed the 100 per 100,000 barrier, after which the Government considers quarantine restrictions. Meanwhile, Italy's rising infection rate has now seen it leapfrog the UK.
Sri Lanka's capital is going back into lockdown
Sri Lanka, a country of 21.7m people, reported a relatively tiny 335 Covid infections on Wednesday. Nevertheless, its government has declared a second lockdown for its capital, Colombo.
Around 5.5 million people living in the city, as well as two neighbouring districts, will only be allowed to travel for essential services, health officials said, while a midnight curfew will be enforced by police and the military.
The lockdown is for three days, but could be extended depending on the pace of infections, they added. The last one, in the spring, lasted three months.
The last 10 countries with no Covid cases
After Covid finally reached the remote Marshall Islands, there are now just 10 countries with no confirmed cases. Whether you believe authorities in North Korea and Turkmenistan is another matter.
How cases are rising in France
Macron took drastic action last night after infections soared in recent weeks. The country has also seen a steady increase in deaths.
Dispatch from Paris: 'It's not a case of too little too late, but too much too late'
There's both resilience and resignation as France faces its second lockdown, reports Eleanor Aldridge.
Parisians barely had time to adapt to the couvre-feu (curfew) before Macron’s latest measures took the city by surprise last night. No-one predicted the government’s response would be so forceful.
The new regulations reflect the severity of the situation: 73% of intensive care beds in Paris are now occupied by coronavirus patients. The country risks being “overwhelmed by a second wave that no doubt will be harder than the first”, he declared. Arguably, the second wave is already well and truly underway.
While rumours have been circulating all week – thanks to a screenshot of a Mairie employee’s private message hinting at a 7pm curfew and limited movement at the weekends – few thought the whole country would return to the drastic measures enforced in the spring. Indeed, it’s the news many of us were dreading. As I sat on a packed terrace in the 1st arrondissement, eating steak and drinking a Côtes du Rhône as any good adopted Parisian should, the gasps were audible. Glasses were put down and cigarettes temporarily stubbed as the livestream from the Elysée, broadcast from less than a mile away, echoed between smartphones.
Remote Marshall Islands reports first Covid cases
The Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean were one of the few places in the world not to have seen a single Covid-19 infection.
However, they have now recorded two cases of the virus with workers on a US base having tested positive after arriving from Hawaii.
The local government said these were "strictly border cases" detected while the two workers were in quarantine, with no threat of community transmission.
Switzerland cuts it quarantine list as infection rates rise
Switzerland announced on Wednesday that it will be reducing its list of countries from where arrivals must quarantine as its own infection rate has now reached 515.4 per 100,000 people.
As it stands, there are 90 nations or regions from where people must quarantine on arrival in Switzerland. From 29 October 2020, this list will be reduced to six.
UK travellers will no longer be subject to 10 days of self-isolation on arrival to Switzerland. However, Switzerland remains on the UK's travel red list, so they will face 14 days of quarantine on their return.
Up to one in five people suspected of breaching quarantine escaped fines
One in five people investigated for suspected breaches of quarantine after arriving back in the UK could not be found by police, official figures showed on Wednesday, reports Charles Hymas.
Police discovered some 380 people had given the wrong address when they went to their property after being alerted to potential breaches by Public Health England (PHE) and could not take any further action.
Another 629 were out when officers attended, according to the National Police Chief Council (NPCC) figures. Under the protocol, police visited a second time but they were still not in so no further police action was taken and the information passed back to PHE and Border Force.
The disclosure raises questions over the enforcement of test-and-trace, which is seen as critical to combating the increasing pandemic.
Covid-19 variant from Spain accounts for more than 80pc of UK cases
A coronavirus variant that originated in Spanish farm workers now accounts for the majority of new Covid-19 cases in several countries — and more than 80 per cent in the UK.
An international team of scientists that has been tracking the virus through its genetic mutations has described the extraordinary spread of the variant, called 20A.EU1, in a research paper to be published on Thursday.
It suggests that people returning from holiday in Spain played a key role in transmitting the virus across Europe.
The new variant emerged among agricultural workers in north-east Spain in June and moved quickly through the local population, according to the study.
It accounted for more than eight out of 10 cases in the UK, 80 per cent of cases in Spain, 60 per cent in Ireland and up to 40 per cent in Switzerland and France. The researchers concluded that the “risky behaviour” of holidaymakers in Spain — such as ignoring social distancing guidelines — who “continue to engage in such behaviour at home” helped the spread of the new variant.
Prices fall for Canary Island holidays, despite travel corridor
The cost of a Canary Islands holiday has fallen by up to a third year-on-year as the travel industry faces reduced demand, new research reveals.
The average cost of a seven-night package to Fuerteventura departing between November 1 and the end of 2020 has dropped by 33 per cent.
Prices to Tenerife are down by 27 per cent, Lanzarote by 24 per cent and Gran Canaria by 14 per cent, according to searches via holiday price comparison site Travelsupermarket across a number of operators.
Emma Coulthurst from Travelsupermarket, said:
"Despite significant increased demand for holidays to the Canaries on the back of last week’s announcement, a lot of the travel industry is reporting that traveller numbers are less than half where they would be normally.
"A lot of competition in the market for business means you can find a seven-night package holiday from the UK to Tenerife starting from under £150pp at the moment."
How have rates risen in Germany?
Germany's infection rate has risen rapidly over the past two weeks. In response, Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced new lockdown restrictions. However, its numbers are well still behind the UK's (230 per 100,000 people) and France's (414).
France goes into second lockdown
France will be plunged into a second lockdown on Friday after Emmanuel Macron said Europe was being "overrun" by a second wave of coronavirus that would be "harder, more deadly than the first."
The French president ordered the closure of non-essential shops, along with bars and restaurants, and people must stay at home unless they have documentation showing why they need to go to work or make other journeys.
Britons will be banned from entering the country unless they have a signed certificate saying why they need to travel.
"The virus is circulating at a speed that not even the most pessimistic forecasts had anticipated," Mr Macron said. "Like all our neighbours, we are submerged by the sudden acceleration of the virus. We are all in the same position."
What happened yesterday?
Here's what we learnt on Wednesday:
Boris Johnson has been told to cut quarantine to five days, down from 14
Flying may present a lower Covid risk than grocery shopping, a study has claimed
Heathrow is no longer Europe's busiest airport, with quarantine blamed
Royal Caribbean is planning to test new Covid-19 protocols on 'cruises to nowhere'
Costa Rica has scrapped the requirement for visitors to present evidence of a negative test
Now onto today's news.