Travel news latest: Face masks no longer required for sunbathers on Spanish beaches after backlash

The Spanish government has sought to calm tensions over its strict new outdoor face mask rules, after they were interpreted by many as meaning they must be worn on the beach at all times. 

Health officials released a statement attempting to allay fears and confirmed that face coverings would not have to be donned while sunbathing or swimming, if beachgoers were careful. 

It clarified that masks could be removed on the beach “when a person remains in a specific place and respects a minimum distance of 1.5 metres from non-household members”.

Face coverings must still be worn when walking to the beach or using communal facilities, and are even required outside restaurants except when patrons are eating. 

The tourist industry in Spain reacted strongly when the draconian rules were announced at the end of March, fearing that it would put off potential holidaymakers this summer. 

José Luis Zoreda, vice-president of Exceltur, an organisation that represents Spain’s tourism industry, told El País at the time: “We’re going through hell with thousands of jobs and businesses threatened and now they want to turn the beaches into open-air field hospitals.”

Scroll down for the latest travel updates.

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3:18PM

How to find true isolation (by the seaside) 90 minutes from London

Paul Miles has spent the final leg of lockdown in “essential” accommodation – a spectacular council house by the sea.

Beachy Head

Beachy Head

Credit:
Getty

For the past fortnight, my father and I have been the first guests in the only self-catering accommodation on Beachy Head. Black Robin Farm cottages are three early 20th-century farmworkers’ quarters nestled in a fold of the 
South Downs, hidden from any roads.  Our stay is ‘essential’ as my octogenarian father would otherwise be homeless, mid house-move. So here we are in what must be one of the most spectacularly sited council houses in the country. Yes, Black Robin Farm holiday cottages – and the farm – are owned by Eastbourne Borough Council.

Read on here

3:08PM

Bangkok Covid outbreak could take two months to control

Bangkok is dealing with a Covid outbreak

Bangkok is dealing with a spike in Covid cases

Credit:
Weerakarn Satitniramai

A Covid-19 outbreak in the Thai capital could take more than two months to control, a health official said today.

In a statement, Kiatiphum Wongrajit, the health ministry’s permanent secretary, said: “The main source of the infections is in Bangkok’s entertainment venues, which could take longer to contain, depending on measures.”

Nightspots will now be closed for at least two weeks. 

The outlook could dampen Thailand holiday hopes this summer. The country was aiming to partially reopen to tourists from July.

2:51PM

The lockdown rules from April 12: what you can and can’t do

Outdoor dining will return from Monday

Outdoor dining will return from Monday

Credit:
Getty

As lockdown restrictions are set to ease further on Monday, new data released shows that cases have plummeted to a level not seen since July.

Here’s what is permitted from April 12, from day trips to self-catering cottage stays.

Read the full story. 

2:44PM

Traffic-light announcement leaves questions unanswered, says Abta

The UK Travel Association Abta has described Monday’s traffic light announcement as ‘scant’ on detail and leaving many questions unanswered.

Mark Tanzer, Abta chief executive, wrote today:

In the absence of the detail, there are some substantial questions. Not least is the indication that pre-departure and post-arrival Covid tests will be required even for visits to low-risk ‘green’ countries.  In our submission to the Taskforce, we stated that UK nationals who have been vaccinated should not also have to undergo testing or self-isolation unless evidence around variants of concern dictates otherwise.  Ultimately, travel to and from green countries should be unrestricted but – if testing is to be used in the meantime – it must be at lowest possible cost so as not to deter people from booking a holiday. The Prime Minister has said he is looking at this and we urgently need to understand the outcome.  

2:30PM

How to guarantee yourself a foreign holiday this summer

Is there some way we can turn the current situation for holidaymakers into a positive? A ploy to work around the frustrations so that we can enjoy looking forward and make our travel plans with a bit more excitement and confidence?

Nick Trend thinks there is. We just need to change our expectations a little.

As we await the details of the report from the Government’s Travel Taskforce he reveals the four things that will help us readjust our brains, to better cope with the uncertainty surrounding our future holidays.

Read his report here.

beach

2:18PM

Virgin Voyages to launch in the UK – but only for fully vaccinated Britons

Virgin Voyages, the new adult-only cruise line from Sir Richard Branson, will finally make its debut with a series of cruises in British waters this summer, The Telegraph can reveal.

Six sailings will be on offer in August aboard Scarlet Lady – the cruise coming more than a year since the £500 million, 2,770-passenger ship was due to take her maiden voyage, which was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The three- and four-night itineraries, which will all depart from Portsmouth, are only available to UK residents who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

There won’t be any ports of call but instead each cruise along England’s southern coast will be a “staycation-at-sea”, according to the operator. Cabins can be booked from Tuesday, April 13. Sir Richard, the founder of Virgin Group, said he was “so excited” to be able to offer UK sailings, and that the “team has curated such a fantastic experience” for passengers.

As well only permitting vaccinated passengers to board, capacity will be limited on the ship, with additional testing and health protocols confirmed closer to departure dates, the line said.

2:10PM

In pictures: Oxford Street prepares for reopening

The capital’s most famous street, Oxford Street, is preparing to spring back to life on Monday when non-essential retail shops can reopen.

In anticipation, staff at Selfridges have begun to put the finishing touches to its window display and stall holders have lifted their shutters.

selfridges


Credit:
Chris Jackson/Getty

Oxford Street


Credit:
Chris Jackson/Getty

selfridges


Credit:
Chris Jackson/Getty

stall holder


Credit:
Dan Kitwood/Getty

 Are you keen to visit the capital of cool for your post-lockdown break? Here’s how to spend 48 hours in London.

1:57PM

UK’s longest indoor ski slope gets new owner

Chill Factore in Manchester, home to the UK’s longest indoor ski slope, has been bought by the owners of The Snow Centre.

The Snow Centre group, which operates the Snow Centre in Hemel Hempsted (the closest indoor snow facilities to the capital), will take the reigns of the BEYOND complex four miles outside of Manchester city centre – which includes two ski slopes, the longest of which is 150m in total, and a snow park.

chill factore

Chill Factore is home to the UK’s longest indoor real-snow ski slope

“For more than a decade, Chill Factore has built a reputation as one of the most iconic leisure brands in the UK. It complements our existing business extremely well and was the most obvious way to expand our role in the growing UK Snowsports industry,” said Ian Brown, managing director of the Snow Centre.

“We are hugely excited by the prospect of working with a highly accomplished Chill Factore team and building on their considerable success to date. We look forward to welcoming guests back to Chill Factore when we re-open the doors on April 12.”

The Telegraph visited the Manchester site last summer when it first reopened after lockdown – find out what to expect when skiing on home soil this summer here.

1:41PM

Situation in France remains ‘serious’

A spokesperson for the French government has said the situation in the nation’s hospitals remains “serious” but there are some signs of improvement in regions where a fresh lockdown has been imposed.

“We have the first encouraging signs in the 16 departments where we had imposed restriction measures,” said Gabriel Attal.

France is hoping to ramp up its vaccination drive as its residents remain in lockdown – Attal did warn the number of people in intensive care will likely continue to increase, however. 

As a popular summer destination for British holidaymakers many will be hoping it can regain control of the latest outbreak. Let’s take a look at the numbers…

1:28PM

Holidaymakers in the North deserve another major airport — at the expense of London

The decision to delay development of Leeds Bradford airport is yet another stick in the spoked wheel of northern development and soft devolution, writes Chris Moss.

As summer holidays loom, we need a solution to help the whole country travel overseas. Isn’t it time to close one of London’s four airports – Gatwick or Stansted are the obvious candidates – and allow the north of the country to offer a second major international gateway on a permanent basis? 

If the Government really believes in the regions, it is going to have to demonstrate more than hesitancy and green-tinted havering. Sacrifices will need to be made.

Read his argument and have your say here.

1:15PM

Kayak sees flight search spike after roadmap update

It may not have been that revealing, but following the Government’s roadmap update on Monday, Kayak, the travel search engine, reported  a large spike in searches for international flights and car hire: 

  • International flights increased by 73% for departure dates after May 17.
  • International car hire increased by 113% for departure dates after May 17.
  • International searches were up by 70% for travel after June 21.
  • International car hire searches spiked 108% after June 21. 
12:57PM

Take our Twitter poll: What does the term ‘staycation’ mean?

A particularly contentious question today. Let us know your thoughts on what ‘staycation’ means in the comments below. 

12:48PM

Lunchtime read: A turbulent road trip through the Canadian wilds of my childhood

Away from school and Playstation, Doug McKinlay found an ideal way to bond with his son – adrenaline-filled adventures in British Columbia.

Doug McKinlay and his son Charlie enjoyed running the Nahatlatch River rapids

Doug McKinlay and his son Charlie enjoyed running the Nahatlatch River rapids

Credit:
Doug McKinlay

This might be my worst nightmare. I’m clinging to my son’s leg, knuckles white from clutching at the spongy fabric of his wetsuit as another wave of icy water lashes our raft and propels us ever closer to the Jaws of Death. I’ll do anything to prevent us going overboard. It’s not just being plunged into the turbulent white water; it’s the fear that, if I let go, his mother will kill me.

As father-son expeditions go, rarely can you find an adventure with more bonding potential than tackling the wilds of Canada, especially in the province of British Columbia. It’s the western-most province of the country and covers more than 350,000 square miles, much of its mountainous terrain unchanged from the days when the first humans walked across the land bridge from Asia some 16,000 years ago.

Read the full story.

12:40PM

More EU countries to be added to Ireland’s hotel quarantine list, says minister

Arrivals in Ireland from more EU countries could soon be subject to mandatory hotel quarantine, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said today.

Last week, Ireland added 26 countries to the list of arrivals who must spend up to two weeks self-isolating in government-managed accommodation but did not include the US, Germany, Italy and France, despite recommendations by health officials.

Mr Coveney told RTE: “What this is about is ensuring that when we – because I think it’s when, not if – extend the list of countries and that is going to include more EU countries that we are ready for that and can deal with the capacity issues that are undoubtedly going to flow from it.”

12:23PM

French Open postponed by one week

The Grand Slam tennis tournament has been pushed back a week in the hope that more spectators will be able to attend. It will now start on May 30.

France is currently under a third national lockdown, with strict measures expected to be in place until mid-May.

12:12PM

Comment: The secret to making friends abroad and at home? I’ve got it

A proliferation of hobby groups – such as mudlarking and bin-hoking – is emerging as people make the most of our new liberties, writes Anna Hart.

Three mudlarks searching along the foreshore of the River Thames in London

Three mudlarks searching along the foreshore of the River Thames in London

Credit:
Istock

In the past, when I travelled to far-flung destinations alone, I used sites like meetup.com or Facebook hobby groups to connect me to locals with a shared interest. Most online groups – runners, cyclists, lindy-hop dancing – are wonderfully welcoming to international travellers, and my travels have been dramatically upgraded this way. On one trip, I flew solo into Detroit on Friday night, and the next morning I was running along the banks of the river with 11 members of a social runners’ group. I joined their regular post-run brunch, and left with a few phone numbers and a notebook full of advice for the best bars in Corktown. I’ve similarly swing-danced my way into Auckland, kick-boxed myself into Chiang Mai and wine-tasted into new friendships in Tuscany.

But now, much closer to home, we’re seeing a proliferation of hobby groups emerging, as small gatherings try to make the most of our new liberties. After all, we’ve had plenty of time to rekindle pursuits and passions that have lain dormant since childhood. Myself and my workout buddy Amber discovered we have a shared love of fossil-hunting.

Read on here. 

12:00PM

Walt Disney World: Face masks can come off for photos 

The Florida theme park has announced that as of today visitors will be allowed to remove their mandatory face masks for photos. 

The website states: “You may temporarily remove your face covering while actively eating, drinking, or taking an outdoor photo, but you must be stationary and maintain appropriate physical distancing during this time.”

It is unclear if the new rule will apply at Disneyland California when it reopens on April 30.

Masked-up visitors at Walt Disney World Resort, Florida

Masked-up visitors at Walt Disney World Resort, Florida

Credit:
Getty

11:46AM

Comment: Driving to the Alps will always be better than flying

Many are claiming self-drive is the future of ski holidays in the pandemic age and for good reason, says Iain Martin.

Driving is the only way you can travel directly from your home to your accommodation in the Alps without being in contact with a single person. Crossing the channel by Eurotunnel in particular cuts out any risk of contact. “All our clients have Flexiplus, which means they can completely bypass the main terminal buildings at Folkestone and Calais,” said Jane Bolton, managing director at Erna Low. 

Travelling by car to a ski resort also gives you complete control over when you travel. Much of the Alps are easily reachable in a single day of driving, with many French ski resorts, including popular winter boltholes
Chamonix,
Flaine and
Morzine, between eight to 10 hours from Calais. 

Read the full story here.

11:33AM

British Airways launches new routes to Jersey and Gibraltar 

British Airways has today announced the launch of two new routes to Jersey and Gibraltar from London City Airport.

Both routes will start on June 25 and initially operate in the summer months only. There will be two flights a week to each destination – on Mondays and Fridays.

The move adds weight to the presumption that British travellers may have very specific destinations to choose from this summer.

Tom Stoddart, managing director of BA CityFlyer, said: “It’s great to be able to launch these two new services to Gibraltar and Jersey – it’s something customers have been asking us to do for quite a while. Whether it’s for a holiday or visiting friends or relative when the time is right, customers will benefit from direct flights to and from the extremely conveniently located London City Airport.”

Gibraltar

Are you hoping to visit Gibraltar this summer?

Credit:
Getty

Gibraltar’s minister for business, tourism and transport, Vijay Daryanani MP, said: “This is excellent news and continues to show the confidence that the industry has in Gibraltar as a destination. ”

Fares start from £42 to Jersey and £43 to Gibraltar, each way.

11:19AM

Cambodia shuts Angkor temple complex due to Covid spike

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Credit:
Getty

The Cambodian government has shut the country’s key tourist attraction for two weeks to help contain rising coronavirus infections.

All visitors will be banned from the outdoor archaeological site until at least April 20.

The Angkor complex is hugely important to the Cambodian economy and attracted 2.2 million foreign tourists in 2019.

Today, Cambodia reported 113 new Covid-19 cases and two deaths. The country has recorded a total of 3,028 cases, including 23 deaths.

11:03AM

The best restaurants, spas and fun things to do at UK hotels from April 12

Hotels in England are not able to reopen until May 17 at the earliest, but there is a loophole of sorts. With other parts of hospitality back in action from April 12, many are seizing the opportunity to offer ‘hotel-lite’ experiences in the intervening five weeks, from restaurants to self-catering pivots and even spas.

Here are some of the best.

A leisurely afternoon on the 14th floor of the Hoxton Southwark is just the tonic

A leisurely afternoon on the 14th floor of the Hoxton Southwark is just the tonic
10:53AM

President Biden in talks with airlines on vaccine passports

The White House is in discussions with US airlines to provide guidance for vaccine passports, industry officials have revealed.

However, the administration has stressed it will not require US businesses or citizens to use a universal digital Covid-19 health certificate.

At a briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration would provide guidance “that provides important answers to questions that Americans have, in particular around concerns about privacy, security, or discrimination, soon.”

Reuters reports that airline chiefs have privately said that even if the US does not introduce vaccine passports, other countries may demand it or require all air passengers to be fully vaccinated.

10:39AM

‘Red list’ reminder (the countries from which UK arrivals face mandatory hotel quarantine)

Four countries – the Philippines, Pakistan, Kenya and Bangladesh – will be added to the ‘red list’ from tomorrow, taking the total to 39. Direct flights from the red-listed nations are banned; Britons currently in these countries must fly home via a third nation. 

Hotel quarantine rules apply to all British citizens who have been in or transited through red list countries in the previous 10 days. Any non-Britons who have been in a red list country within the past 10 days will simply be denied entry to the country. Read more details here.

10:27AM

Vaccine blood clot risk equivalent of taking long-haul flight, says Matt Hancock

The Health Secretary said the risk of a blot clot after taking the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is comparable to taking a long-haul flight.

He told BBC Breakfast: “The safety system that we have around this vaccine is so sensitive that it can pick up events that are four in a million – I’m told this is about the equivalent risk of taking a long-haul flight.”

10:17AM

The five things we know for sure about holidays this summer

We do not know where, or when, we will be going on a holiday abroad – but we can say these five things are for certain:

  1. There will be a traffic light system
  2. UK holidays will go ahead
  3. To go abroad, you’ll have to take a test
  4. Flexibility will be guaranteed by your tour operator
  5. Your destination will have changed

Find the full details here.

10:09AM

In pictures: Scarlet Lady – the Virgin Voyages ship offering UK summer sailings

The highly anticipated first Virgin Voyages cruise ship will launch in British waters this summer.

Here’s a look inside the swish ship:

Sit out on your cabin's terrace

Sit out on your cabin’s terrace

One of the swish suites 

One of the top suites 

The stylish design may well appeal to millenials, but will they be vaccinated in time to board?

The stylish design may well appeal to millenials, but will they be vaccinated in time to board?

The pool area 

The pool area complete with twin hot tubs and a bar
9:51AM

Cruise: Carnival reports booking levels higher than 2019

The cruise giant said that bookings were up 90 per cent during the first three months of 2021 compared to the final quarter of last year.

Encouragingly, it also reported that 2022 bookings were exceeding 2019 numbers.

President and chief executive Arnold Donald said that booking numbers showed “significant pent-up demand and long-term potential for cruising”.

9:38AM

Virgin Voyages ‘ecstatic’ to announce UK summer sailings

A little more detail on the news that Virgin Voyages will finally launch with a series of UK cruises.

Virgin Voyages’ chief executive and president, Tom McAlpin, said that the line was “ecstatic to announce these new sailings”.

“We look at our UK summer voyages as a homecoming to pay homage to our British roots, and what an excellent way to kick-off our sailing season,” he added.

9:23AM

Hong Kong residents encouraged to holiday at home with $500 vouchers

On Twitter, Telegraph travel expert Lee Cobaj is sharing details of Hong Kong’s new scheme to encourage holidays at home:

9:13AM

Complaints against Covid-19 test supplier after quarantined travellers left waiting days for kits

East Yorkshire-based Latus Health has been accused of providing an “appalling” service, with customers claiming they received their £175 coronavirus tests late – potentially delaying their exit from quarantine.

The healthcare firm, which is on the Government’s official list of test suppliers, said there had been “some delays” with Royal Mail and that it pays for a 24-hour next day delivery service.

However, some 70 people have joined a Facebook group to complain about the firm, which is listed as a test provider on the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) website.

People returning to the UK from non-red list countries are required to quarantine for 10 days at home and take two Covid-19 tests – one on day two and another on day eight – before they can leave, depending on a negative result.

Read more on our coronavirus live blog.

9:02AM

Barbados flights fully booked until mid-August, says private jet company

Here’s an insight into the privileged world of private jets, which have seen a rise in popularity during the pandemic:

Darren Ashley, Diamonte Jets head of UK charter, told the Telegraph:

We have hundreds of flights and holidays already booked and aircraft on hold for May 17. The most popular destinations are Spain, Portugal, Greece and Turkey. London to Palma Mallorca is the most requested in recent weeks at an average cost of £9,200 for six passengers one way or £16,000 return (£2667 per person).

We’ve also seen an unprecedented rise in the number of requests for longer haul travel destinations by private jet, mainly the Caribbean. The cost is £89,000 for a return flight from the UK to Barbados on a 14 passenger Global 6000. These flights are fully booked until mid-August.

Barbados breaks via private jet are in demand this summer

Barbados breaks via private jet are in demand this summer
8:48AM

Which countries will be green, amber and red in the new holiday traffic light system?

A holiday ‘traffic light system’ will hopefully make foreign holidays possible again. Here’s how it could work.

8:39AM

New Zealand suspends entry for travellers from India 

New Zealand has temporarily suspended entry for all travellers from India, including its own citizens, for about two weeks following a high number of positive cases arriving from the South Asian country.

The move comes after New Zealand recorded 23 new positive coronavirus cases at its border on Thursday, of which 17 were from India.

India is battling a second wave with daily infections this week passing the peak of the first wave seen last September

8:35AM

Scrap costly tests for those returning from ‘green list’ countries, Boris Johnson told

Costly tests for holidaymakers returning from “green list” countries must be abandoned, Tory MPs have told Boris Johnson.

The Prime Minister’s global travel taskforce is due to announce on Friday that travellers from “safe” countries will have to take a gold standard PCR test on or before the second day of their return – a move that would add £480 to the cost of a holiday for a family of four.

This is said to be the preferred option, with holidaymakers allowed to use the cheaper rapid lateral flow tests only to confirm their Covid status before they leave their destination to return home.

Read the full story.

8:14AM

What happened yesterday?

Here’s a recap of the main headlines: 

  • New passports may not be issued until June
  • US rules out Covid passports
  • One third of Scottish island tourism businesses ‘unlikely to survive an extension to travel ban’
  • Legoland Windsor prepares for reopening
  • Malta plans to ease restrictions amid successful vaccine drive 
  • International passenger traffic down 89 per cent in February
  • Travel restrictions have cut £148 billion from the UK economy

Now, on with today’s travel news.

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