Fears are mounting that Spain’s Balearic Islands are destined for the red list on Thursday, as Covid cases sky-rocket.
Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca, all of which have been on the green ‘watchlist’ for two weeks, are recording a case rate that has tripled in just two weeks to 402 per 100,000 citizens.
“Balearics will go amber in Thursday’s traffic light review, but could go straight from green watchlist to red. Ministers concerned by high test positivity at 9% and daily infections reaching second-highest ever level,” warned travel expert Paul Charles this morning.
Coronavirus rates are roaring across Europe, with three of Britain’s favourite holiday destinations topping the charts.
Along with mainland Spain, Cyprus and Portugal are seeing the highest infection rates, according to the ratings used by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
All three destinations are on the UK’s amber list meaning that from July 19, double-jabbed Britons will be permitted to skip quarantine upon their return but should any turn red, visitors will be faced with hotel quarantine.
Scroll down for more of the latest.
Grant Shapps: Holiday uncertainty is ‘a fact of life’
More from Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who told BBC Breakfast:
We review these every three weeks. I hope we have made very clear to everybody when booking trips at the moment there is always the chance that countries will move around.
Some countries may go to the red list, some countries may go to the green, but some may move the other way to the amber list. It is a fact of life that they will continue to move around as the virus continues to develop and change globally.
Comment: Why Cannes is not as glamorous as you might think
The idea of ‘chichi’ Cannes is a myth, writes Anthony Peregrine – beneath the festival’s fizz, foam and froth, there’s not much else:
For years, I got Cannes wrong. I suggested that, were the Riviera resort to slide into the sea, mankind would be little the poorer. I charged the seaside town with weightlessness. And, as the place is showing right now at festival time – with its processions of posh frocks, tuxedos and pandemic of photographers – it is pretty frothy. Weightless, indeed. So I was right. But also wrong. In Cannes’ case, weightlessness isn’t a charge. It’s a virtue. There are quite enough weighty places elsewhere. I should have realised this earlier.
It was, though, an easy mistake to make. For two weeks every year – usually in May, this year in July – the Cannes film festival chucks stardust in our eyes. In recent days, Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard and Jodie Foster have been among those grinning under the Mediterranean sun, a sun which has highlighted the extreme pinkness of the suit worn by festival jury president Spike Lee.
Deborah Meaden calls for ABTA to brand marine parks ‘unacceptable’
Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden fired off a letter on PETA’s behalf to Chief Executive Mark Tanzer of travel association ABTA urging him to add visits to marine parks to its list of unacceptable practices, writing:
The more we learn about these complex and highly intelligent animals, the more abhorrent their captivity for human entertainment looks. The evidence is clear: whales and dolphins, whether wild-born or captive-bred, do not – and cannot – thrive in captivity.
In her letter, Meaden also notes that ABTA has listed direct contact between elephants and tourists as an “unacceptable” practice since 2019 and asks that cetaceans receive the same consideration:
Orcas in nature form complex relationships, traverse up to 140 miles of ocean each day, and live in close family groups that share a culture and language. But at marine parks like SeaWorld, the animals are housed in cramped tanks in incompatible groups and denied everything that’s natural to them.
Following talks with PETA, a long list of companies have stopped promoting SeaWorld, including Your Co-op Travel, British Airways Holidays, Virgin Holidays, STA Travel, Premier Holidays, and TripAdvisor.
Could this explain the Malta situation?
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has suggested a reason for why Britons are being refused boarding due to the Indian-made AstraZeneca vaccine.
I think there could be some confusion because the Serum Institute also manufactures Covishield version, which is not as it happens MHRA approved and there may be some confusion about that.
The Covishield version is not distributed in this county and no one, no UK vaccinated person, has received that particular version, and I think that may clear up.
Head to our coronavirus live blog for more.
BA launches inflight ordering service direct to seat on short-haul flights
British Airways has today unveiled its new ‘inflight digital ordering platform’, giving customers travelling in Euro Traveller the option to order additional snacks and drinks mid-flight, directly to their seat.
It means passengers no longer have to pre-order meal options ahead of the flight.
The service launches from July 19 on selected routes before it is rolled out on most short-haul flights from Heathrow Airport.
Tom Stevens, British Airways’ Director of Brand and Customer Experience, said:
We know that customers like being able to purchase their food in advance of travel and guarantee their first choice, however we also understand the importance of an extra cup of tea or a gin and tonic, in the moment. We think that this new digital ordering proposition, coupled with our pre-purchase option is a winning combination, catering for everyone’s needs.
Indonesia overtakes India to become new Asian Covid epicentre
Indonesia has overtaken India to become the new Asian epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic as its latest surge of infections rages out of control, writes Asia Correspondent Nicola Smith.
The Southeast Asian nation – the world’s fourth most populous with 270 million people – now has around 132 cases per million compared to India’s 26, reported Nikkei Asia. The daily death count per capita on average is about 3 per million compared with less than one in India.
Indonesia’s alarming figures, fuelled by the Delta variant, are already believed to be vastly underestimated due to poor rates of testing and contact tracing.
Each day, official figures show new record highs. On Tuesday, 47,899 new infections were reported, up from 40,427 the previous day. India’s cases dropped to 32,906 from 37,154, although cumulatively its tallies are still the highest in Asia.
Indonesia is now experiencing similar bed and oxygen shortages seen in India during its crisis earlier this year.
Health Minister Budi Sadikin said on Tuesday that Covid-19 bed occupancy rates in the nation’s capital, Jakarta, was close to 90%.
He warned the government is preparing for a scenario where cases could increase 30% over the next two weeks and accelerate in other regions.
Grant Shapps: ‘We do expect that countries will move from one category to another’
There will be changes to the traffic light system tomorrow, the Transport Secretary has implied – unsurprising given the raging case rates across Europe.
When quizzed by the BBC this morning over speculation that the Balearics could lose their green status, Grant Shapps said:
I don’t have the information for you, we’ll make that decision once we’ve looked at the latest data and when we make the decision [on the] review due this week.
But it is entirely true to say that we do expect that countries will move from one category to another, and I hope we’ve been very, very clear, including by introducing things like the green watch list, that when you book, you must make sure that your flight is refundable that your, your hotel booking is amendable because we are living still unfortunately in a world where things can and do change quite quickly.
Allison Pearson: I’m still going on a red list holiday – it’s safer than going to Blackpool
It would make sense to put Turkey and other countries which are safer than the UK on the amber list next week… so they probably won’t, argues Allison Pearson:
Turkey is still on the UK’s red list for reasons that are hard to fathom. The number of new cases on Monday was 5,404, barely a fifth of our own although they’re probably testing fewer people than Bonkers Blighty (who isn’t?). A country of 82 million people has recorded 50,278 Covid deaths, making it considerably safer than Blackpool. Or Bedford.
The funny thing is, I got there in the same week last year without any problem and when no one was vaccinated. It’s not that easy to get a virus when it’s 35C and you’re in the shade outside or in the sea. Now that I am double-jabbed and present little risk to anyone, let alone myself, suddenly it’s like Where Eagles Dare meets Mission Impossible (Himself will keep singing the theme tune to taunt me as I pack).
Watch: British tourists with Indian jab taken off flight to Malta
Steve and Glenda Hardy, 64 and 63, were turned back at Manchester Airport at 3.30am on Friday when they tried to board a flight to Malta, where they were set to visit their son, whom they have not seen for more than a year.
UK travellers with Indian-made AstraZeneca vaccine barred from holidays
British holidaymakers are being barred from boarding flights after receiving an Indian-made version of the AstraZeneca vaccine that is not licensed in the EU.
The Telegraph revealed this month that up to five million Britons had received the version of the jab without being told.
There is nothing wrong with the vaccine, which has been authorised by the World Health Organisation, but it is yet to be approved by the European Medicines Agency and so is not accepted by the EU vaccine passport scheme.
Although some European countries have individually agreed to accept the jab, The Telegraph can reveal that Malta, one of the few countries on the Government’s green list, will not.
Lockdown in Sydney extended by two weeks
Australian authorities on Wednesday said they would extend a lockdown of the country’s most populous city, Sydney, by two weeks after reporting a rise in new Covid-19 cases as it battles an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant.
The state of New South Wales, which had a lockdown in Sydney scheduled to end on July 16, reported 97 new cases of the virus in the prior 24 hours, up from 89 new cases the previous day.
State premier Gladys Berejiklian said at a televised news conference:
We need to extend the lockdown at least a further two weeks, from Friday 16th of July to Friday the 30th of July. The current settings in terms of what people can’t do won’t change for at least two weeks.
Venice finally bans cruise ships
After years of hesitation, Italy has at last banned cruise ships from entering the Venice lagoon.
The government signed the decree after UNESCO threatened to blacklist Italy for dragging its heels on protecting the World Heritage site, cabinet sources said.
As of August 1, all liners over 25,000 tonnes will no longer be permitted to enter the waters off St Mark’s Square or the Giudecca Canal.
“This intervention could be put off no longer,” Dario Franceschini, the culture minister, said.
At a glance: Spain’s Covid situation
Cases are rising fast…
But it’s the same story in the UK…
Recap: yesterday’s top stories
Before we go any further, let’s have a quick review of yesterday’s key travel developments:
- Cruise industry hopeful of Scotland restart
- FCDO lifts travel advisory against Cyprus
- France to tighten borders with UK over Delta variant
- Cayman Islands plan full reopening… for January, 2022
- Adventure operator Dragoman suspends operations
- Too early to be talking about freedom as virus is still ‘troubling and dangerous’, warns WHO
Cruise ship returns to Singapore after suspected infection
Singapore‘s tourism board said on Wednesday a cruise ship operated by Genting Cruise Lines had returned to the city-state after a 40-year-old passenger was suspected to have contracted Covid-19.
“On July 13, the passenger was identified as a close contact of a confirmed case on land, and was immediately isolated as part of onboard health protocols,” the tourism board said in a statement.
It said the passenger tested positive to a PCR test onboard and had been conveyed to hospital for further confirmatory testing.
All on-board leisure activities on Dream Cruises’ World Dream ship had ceased and passengers had been asked to stay in their cabins until test results are out and contact tracing was complete, the tourism board said.
Balearics to lose green status? What Government sources are saying
The Sun, which first reported the alleged travel change, quoted a source saying: “It’s all still up for discussion, but the figures aren’t great which is why it was on the watch list in the first place.”
The Department for Transport said there was “nothing to say at the moment” on changes to the Balearic islands’ travel status.