Scottish island asks visitors to stay away ‘for now’

eigg - Getty
eigg – Getty

The Scottish island of Eigg has closed all self-catering, hostel and guest house accommodation until August 31 to discourage visitors. 

A majority of locals were in favour of not opening up the island when Scottish tourism resumed on July 15, a vote revealed.

The 110-strong community-owned island in the Inner Hebrides said it has “agonised” over the decision, which was taken to protect vulnerable residents and because of limited capacity on ferries.

Scotland is marking its first weekend of the tourism sector reopening, and Nicola Sturgeon has urged people to not “drop their guard”.

Hoteliers in Scotland complained earlier this week that a growing number of English guests are calling to cancel their summer bookings amid ongoing uncertainty over quarantine rules.

The Scottish government had suggested it could impose a 14-day quarantine  on travellers from England. 

Follow all the latest travel news below.

04:13 PM

Today’s biggest stories

Here’s a recap of today’s travel news:

  • Holidaymakers refunds guaranteed, Government confirms

  • Cornish village of St Mawes named best seaside in Which? survey

  • Britons heading for Brittany warned of coronavirus spike

  • Catalonia records 1,266 cases in 24 hours

  • France to make face masks mandatory in shops

  • Greece tests 6,000 British tourists for Covid-19

Catch-up with other developments below.

03:58 PM

Tour guiding returns to Britain

The ancient art has returned to Britain’s tourist hotspots. Fred Mawer, a Telegraph Travel writer and Blue Badge guide, describes what you might expect from a tour post-lockdown:

When I met up with the group in front of the Royal Crescent, rather than my normal break-the-ice chit chat about where everyone was from, I began by offering to wear a mask. No one wanted me to – the whole tour was outdoors, after all – and having been masked up all day at the hospital, the students were mask free too. I was quietly grateful, as guiding engagingly with my face half hidden, to a masked audience, would have been challenging.

I’d limited the group to six, the government’s current permitted group size for people from different households, and I’d got everyone’s contact details in advance, in case they were needed for track and trace purposes.

Read the full story.

03:50 PM

Icelandair sacks all cabin crew, replacing them with spare pilots

Icelandair has laid off all of its cabin crew, and will instead try to find “another party in the Icelandic [labour] market” to replace current staff.

From July 20, and until further notice, Icelandair will use pilots to replace flight attendants. The airline is only operating a limited schedule, leaving some pilots spare.

Icelandair, the country’s national carrier, had been negotiating with the Icelandic Cabin Crew Association for months over new contracts in response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

It said these negotiations had broken down and, as a result, it planned to “permanently terminate the employment of its current cabin crew members and permanently discontinue the employment relationship between the parties”.

03:26 PM

Greece tests 6,000 British holidaymakers for Covid-19

There’s good news for British holidaymakers coming out of Greece, according to one of Telegraph Travel’s destination experts, with numbers of high numbers of tests but very low positive results.

Athens riviera - Getty
Athens riviera – Getty

Heidi Fuller-Love said:

It started slowly – siga siga, as the Greek would say – with only 700 passengers aboard flights from the UK on July 15. Over the past few days, however, we’ve seen some 6,000 British passengers landing in Greece. Testing has been widespread – around 90 per cent [of arrivals] according to some sources – but only two cases have been recorded so far according to a report today from Greek newsgroup Skai.” One Greek newspaper, Protothema, said the results of mass testing “will determine if Greek borders remain open, or not, to Britain.

Can I visit Greece? The latest travel advice

03:21 PM

The best outdoor pools and lidos, ahead of July 25 reopening

Parts of the country are enjoying seasonably warm weather this weekend, and swimmers may be pining for a splash in their local pool. 

This will be possible again from July 25 (next Saturday) in England, when outdoor swimming pools can reopen. 

In the meantime, start planning next week’s swim with our guide to the UK’s best outdoor pools and lidos.

02:58 PM

France to make face masks mandatory in shops and markets

Visitors to France’s shops, indoor markets and banks will be required to wear face masks from July 20, the country’s health minister Olivier Veran said today. 

The French government has accelerated plans to make face mass compulsory in certain places after a series of indicators have suggested the virus could be gaining momentum, especially in areas in western and southern France. 

02:44 PM

Catalonia records 1,226 Covid-19 cases in 24 hours

The Catalonia region’s health department says it has recorded another 1,226 cases over the last 24 hours. This update follows Barcelona’s four million residents being asked to “stay at home” on Friday.

Of the cases recorded, 133 were in the Segrià region, 349 in Barcelona, and 894 in the entire metropolitan area.

Read our advice on travel to Spain.

02:32 PM

A view from Barcelona: locals head to the coast

Barcelona officials recommended on Friday that locals ‘stay at home’ amid an outbreak of the coronavirus.

However, pictures show that residents are still heading to the city’s beaches today.

barcelona beach - Getty
barcelona beach – Getty
cylists - Getty
cylists – Getty

02:11 PM

Holidaymakers guaranteed refunds for canceled trips

Britons who are issued refund credit notes for cancelled package holidays will get their money back even if a travel firm collapses, transport secretary Grant Shapps confirmed today. 

The Government will underwrite credit notes for customers whose trips are, or have been, disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The protection will be backdated to March 10 and will extend to September 30. Travellers will be able to cash in or use their refunds up until September 30, 2021. 

British holidaymakers are owed as much as £4.6 billion as a result of coronavirus cancellations, down from a peak of around £7 billion.  

01:36 PM

Which countries can you travel to now? 

Overseas holidays to some destinations were made possible again when the Government published its list of travel corridors and lifted FCO guidance against non-essential travel for certain countries. 

However, the lists do not entirely match up and some countries included on both still have restrictions in place for Britons. So we’ve drawn up a list of places you can visit without restriction, including Greece, Croatia, Italy and Spain. 

croatia - Getty
croatia – Getty

See the full list. 

01:14 PM

France watching Spain’s coronavirus outbreaks ‘very closely’

France is monitoring Covid-19 outbreaks in Spain very closely, Prime Minister Jean Castex said today, less than a month after the border between the two countries was reopened.

Spanish health officials are tracking more than 150 outbreaks across the country, including in Catalonia, just weeks after it ended one of the world’s toughest lockdown regimes.

“We are monitoring this very closely, here in particular, because it is a real issue that we also need to discuss with the Spanish authorities,” Mr Castex said in response to a question about the possible closure of borders.

01:01 PM

Transport secretary becomes first UK minister to commit to holiday abroad

Grant Shapps has become the first senior politician to break ranks and declare he is taking a summer holiday abroad this year.

The Transport Secretary said he and his wife Belinda had decided to take advantage of the relaxation of Foreign Office guidance on non-essential overseas travel.

“My wife looked at all of these new changes that were made and has now booked a break for the first time for a couple of years,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

12:47 PM

South Korean mud festival goes online

The Boryeong Mud Festival, halted this year because of the pandemic, has been celebrated online. 

People from around the country have enjoyed mud pools and mud packs in their homes, while streaming it over the internet.

Usually held in Boryeong on the coast 80 miles southwest of the capital Seoul, the mud festival is South Korea’s most popular among international visitors. Usually, revelers head to the beach for mud slides, mud wrestling and more.

mud bath - Reuters
mud bath – Reuters

12:33 PM

Nantes cathedral saved from Notre Dame-style fire after arson attack

A major fire in the western French city – reported here earlier today – was brought under control by firefighters this morning. 

Stained glass windows were blown out and a grand organ was destroyed in the blaze, officials said.

Prosecutor Pierre Sennes told reporters three fires had been started at the site and authorities were treating the incident as a criminal act. 

Read the full story.

12:25 PM

EasyJet pilots pass no confidence vote in airline boss

The budget airlines’ pilots voted overwhelmingly to express no confidence in the company’s chief operations officer, Peter Bellew, over plans to cut more than 700 pilot jobs. 

More than 2,000 pilots backed the no-confidence vote in a ballot that was run by British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) earlier this week. 

Balpa represents 90 per cent of easyJet’s 2,300 pilots in the UK.

EasyJet also plans to shut its bases at Newcastle, Southend and Stansted

12:10 PM

A postcard from Eastbourne, a seaside resort desperate for visitors to return

The seaside resort has lost its two biggest annual events this year – the international tennis tournament and the air show. The latter usually brings in£27 million of spending.

Paul Miles, whose father lives in Eastbourne, reports from his first post-lockdown trip to the town: 

Events may have been cancelled but Eastbourne’s natural assets remain as attractive as ever – its high sunshine hours (the sunniest in the UK is the claim), the South Downs National Park and the sea. The combination is hard to beat.

Although the admittedly low number of Covid-19 cases has doubled in the last week, from 10.7 to 21.3 per 100,000, locals are keen that holidaymakers return.

Read the full story.

11:57 AM

Chinese province launches emergency response after new cases

China launched mass health screenings in Xinjiang on Saturday after a spike in coronavirus cases raised fears of a fresh outbreak in the far western province.

The country faces continuing difficulty in stamping out the virus, which emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

The new testing regime comes a day after authorities curtailed most flights into regional capital Urumqi and shut down local subway and public transport services.

11:54 AM

The view from California, where reopening plans are on hold

Locals in San Diego were pictured dining  and socialising in outdoor areas yesterday. 

California rolled back its reopening plans Monday as coronavirus cases surged across dozens of US states.

san diego
san diego
san diego
san diego

11:30 AM

Royal Caribbean extends sailing suspension to October

Royal Caribbean has confirmed it won’t be sailing again until at least October 1, reports Benjamin Parker.

The announcement was widely expected after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended it’s ‘no-sail’ order until the end of September, preventing ships carrying more than 250 people (crew and passengers) from sailing in US waters.

The cruise line already had a voluntary suspension of operations in place until September 15 – in line with US members of the industry body CLIA.

“The health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we visit is our top priority,” Royal Caribbean said in a statement.

Read our full guide to when cruise ships will be sailing again. 

11:26 AM

Pakistani pilots working for Vietnamese airlines all have valid licences, say authorities

All Pakistani pilots working for Vietnamese airlines have valid and legitimate licences, the country’s government said today.

Last month Vietnam grounded all Pakistani pilots working for local airlines amid concern that some pilots may have been using dubious licences, Reuters reports.

“All licenses administered by the Pakistani aviation regulator are legitimate and valid. There are no fake licenses, as mentioned by the media,” a government statement said, citing a note from the Pakistani Embassy to the Vietnamese government.

11:05 AM

What if Covid-19 spoils my holiday? Key questions answered

The complications of local lockdowns, quarantine and isolation measures, and the potential for last-minute cancellations, are raising some important questions for holidaymakers. Our guide to the key issues includes: 

  • What to do if there is a resurgence of cases in your destination

  • What to do if your flight is cancelled

  • If your insurance will cover Covid-19

  • What happens if you get ill and don’t have cover

Read the full story.

10:53 AM

Face masks to become compulsory in Valencia region

Face masks will be mandatory in public places, the minister of health of the Valencian Government, Ana Barceló, announced today.  The measure will not affect beaches, swimming pools or natural spaces

This means Madrid and the Canary Islands will be the only parts of Spain where face masks are not required.

Here are 10 holiday destinations where you don’t have to wear a face mask

10:34 AM

World reports record number of coronavirus cases in 24 hour period

A record number of new cases were recorded yesterday, according to the World Health Organization tally.

A total of 237, 743 new infections were reported in the last 24 hours, the highest rate of new infections since the outbreak began.

The Americas made up the largest portion of new cases, with 137, 989 new infections and 3, 554 deaths reported on 17 July. 

10:31 AM

Major Barcelona attraction remains open despite ‘stay at home’ advice

Around four million residents of Barcelona were advised not to leave their homes except for essential journeys after authorities brought in new restrictions on Friday to try to halt a surge in coronavirus cases.

Cinemas, theatres and nightclubs were closed and gatherings of more than ten people were prohibited to stem the tide of infections. 

However, one of the city’s best-known attractions, La Sagrada Familia, is still welcoming visitors today. 

10:16 AM

England’s best secret beaches: where to avoid the crowds

Temperatures are set to reach 29 degrees in some parts of the country this weekend, which is sure to lure people to coastal hot spots. 

But if you’re looking for somewhere a little more serene, Daniel Start has some suggestions – swap Southend, Brighton and Woolacombe for these lesser-visited treasures. 

land's end - Getty
land’s end – Getty

Read the full story.

10:04 AM

Australia’s ‘looseness’ is preventing travel bubble with New Zealand, says NZ deputy prime minister

New Zealand’s  deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister Winston Peters said “looseness” caused Australia’s second-wave of coronavirus to get out of control.

Mr Peters said it is “awfully frustrating” and addressed the “very terrible” situation in the Australian state of Victoria. 

“I do hope you get on top of things in Melbourne. It’s a great city, it’s a great state but boy, what can we say? If we can help, give us a shout,” he told an Australian news show.

Read our latest advice on travel to Australia. 

09:53 AM

In pictures: the view from Finland

People were pictured enjoying food and drinks in Helsinki in Finland on Friday evening. It was start of the first weekend since Covid-related restrictions were lifted. 

The restrictions concerning the opening hours, licencing hours and numbers of customers of food and drink businesses were lifted completely from 13 July.

helsinki groups of friends - Getty
helsinki groups of friends – Getty

09:41 AM

Scots ‘very unlikely’ to fly abroad this summer

Despite the relaxation of quarantine restrictions, Scottish consumers are still unlikely to take a foreign holiday this summer, research suggests. 

Scotland announced the lifting of quarantine on return from most major European destinations, apart from Spain, on July 8 when the Scottish Tourism Index completed its latest consumer study.

The July research suggests no major increase in intention to travel. Only 17 per cent of respondents said they would reconsider taking an overseas holiday this summer.

  • 78 per cent said they would be “very unlikely to travel by air” for a holiday this year

  • 87 per cent said they had been put off taking a holiday in England following scenes of crowded beaches and seafronts

  • 53 per cent were considering a domestic holiday in Scotland this year.

09:28 AM

Welsh first minister asks for responsible behaviour on first weekend of pubs reopening

Some pubs, restaurants and cafés in Wales were allowed to reopen outdoor areas from July 13, under Welsh Government plans. 

09:21 AM

Could hazmats suits be the future of safe air travel? 

With face coverings now compulsory on most flights, one Canadian tech firm has taken things to the next level by developing a ‘haute hazmat’ suit to be worn in public and on planes.

09:04 AM

Consumer group responds to holiday refunds announcement

The consumer group, Which?, which since the start of the coronavirus crisis has called for the Government to confirm if refund credit notes are financially guaranteed, has responded to today’s announcement. 

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said:

This announcement will be a huge relief to the countless customers who have accepted one in place of a cash refund […] people can now be confident their money is protected if they decide to support their tour operator by accepting a refund credit note, but it later goes bust. But package travel companies should not use this as an excuse to continue forcing credit notes onto their customers and must make clear when they have the right to a cash refund.

This is a positive step towards restoring trust in the travel industry. Holiday providers must do right by their customers – and the law – and return any outstanding refunds for cancelled holidays. Otherwise, the regulator must be ready to take strong action against those continuing to flout the law on refunds.

08:54 AM

London ponders its future as pandemic turns capital into a ghost town

The capital has transformed from the country’s economic powerhouse to a ghost town devoid of activity, according to a plethora of live growth signals tracked by economists, reports Tom Rees

It is suffering a deeper downturn and slower recovery than all other towns and cities in the UK and capitals in Europe.

Last week footfall in central London was down 73 per cent compared to a year earlier, worse than anywhere in the UK.

Read the full story. 

08:39 AM

Visiting the beach boosts wellbeing, government research finds

People spending time by the sea reported increased happiness, better general health and were more physically active during their visit, compared to visits to other types of environment, according to a new review. 

The government is planning to build on this research and find out whether this increased level of activity would improve obesity levels and reduce vitamin D deficiency.

Read the full report.

08:31 AM

A fire has broken out at Nantes cathedral

Firefighters are battling a blaze at Nantes cathedral in western France after a fire broke out early this morning. 

Pictures from the scene show a substantial fire and smoke coming out of the 15th century building. This comes just a year after the major fire at the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, which destroyed its roof and main spire.

08:26 AM

US coronavirus cases rise by 70,000 for second consecutive day

Coronavirus cases in the US rose by at least 70,674 on Friday after climbing by a record 77,499 on Thursday. 

This was largest increase recorded by any country since the pandemic started, according to a Reuters tally.

Coronavirus cases are rising in 41 of 50 states, according to a the news wire’s analysis. 

08:14 AM

Cornish village named best seaside town

The tiny Cornish village of St Mawes has been named Britain’s best seaside destination as places with seafood delicacies outperformed traditional holiday hotspots.

Consumer group Which? asked 4,000 holidaymakers their favourite seaside towns and ranked them on a series of measures including food and drink options, beaches and value for money.

Making up the rest of the top five were:

Read the full story. 

08:08 AM

British tourists heading for Brittany warned of a spike in coronavirus cases

British holidaymakers heading to Brittany this summer were warned on Friday about a sharp coronavirus spike that could signal a second deadly wave of the virus in the hugely popular French region.

At least 110 new cases of Covid-19 have been detected since July 10, and the disease’s reproduction – or R – value rose from 0.92 to 2.62 in the four days up to July 14.  An R value of less than 1 is needed to gradually contain the disease, as the French thought they were doing since slowly coming out of lockdown from May.

The mayors have also warned arriving holidaymakers, including ones from the UK, to be extremely wary, and to self-isolate if necessary. 

Read the full story.

08:04 AM

What happened yesterday?

Here’s a recap of Friday’s major travel news: 

  • British Airways to retire entire fleet of Boeing 747 jumbo jets

  • Spain’s most popular beaches empty despite easing restrictions

  • UK ‘very unlikely’ to be on Ireland’s green list for quarantine-free travel

  • FCO confirms ban on UK cruises

  • Barcelona could be on the cusp of lockdown as virus returns

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