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Travel news: Britons beat French quarantine deadline 'by minutes'

Hugh Morris
Travellers queue for the ferry on Friday before the deadline - AP
Travellers queue for the ferry on Friday before the deadline - AP

Thousands of Britons returned from France late last night, with some beating the 4am deadline for quarantine by minutes.

The UK Government’s decision to add the country to its ‘red’ list on Thursday evening sparked a frenzied rush across the Channel, with ferries, Eurotunnel and Eurostar all fully booked; air fares from France soared with demand.

One traveller told how he arrived into Dover at 3.58am, two minutes before the quarantine measures - requiring arrivals to self isolate for 14 days - came into force. “The ship announced ‘everyone go to your cars’ and at that point there were a few people shoving and pushing to get to the front of the queue,” he told BBC Radio 5Live. 

Kate Bussmann, who cut short her holiday to return on Friday evening, said of the queues for the Eurotunnel: “Some very bored and frustrated people - even if we’re basically the lucky ones. I can hear crying children but no crying adults.”

France had its “travel corridor” with the UK removed along with the Netherlands, Aruba and the Malta after a sustained rise in coronavirus cases.

Follow the latest news below.

04:06 PM

Five stories you need to know about today

  • Majorca bars concerned about future as tourists stay away

  • We need quarantine alternative, says travel insider

  • Europe's summer unravels as numbers rise across Continent

  • I welcome quarantine to protect my French village, says British expat

  • Could Greece be next for quarantine measures?

Scroll down to read more

03:55 PM

Austria warns against travel to Croatia

Austria is warning against travel to Croatia, a major holiday destination and home country of many Austrian immigrants, effective August 17, the foreign ministry said on Twitter.

The highest-level travel warning means that the government advises Austrians not to travel to the country, and urges those still there to return to Austria as soon as possible, according to the ministry.

Austria already has a travel warning for most of the former Yugoslavian countries, but had left off fellow European Union member states Croatia and Slovenia so far.

Croatia's 14-day cumulative number of Covid-19 cases per 100 000 is 27.5. France's is 36.2. 

03:47 PM

Travel boss criticises 'tone deaf' MP

03:40 PM

'To hell with it' 

One Telegraph Travel writer did not think twice about staying in France despite the threat of quarantine. 

Jeremy Head writes:

There was no way I was abandoning it. We'd booked back in early July when Government communications were all about 'welcome back to holidays'.

Now they'd given just 30 hours' notice for the introduction of quarantine. That's hopelessly short for changing travel plans, particularly when the announcement comes at 10pm. We were due to leave at 7am next morning. What to do? Give up on our holiday and risk losing all our money too? No insurance policy covers you if you cancel in these circumstances. And frankly at that time of night it's not as if we could have contacted ferry company and accommodation providers to even discuss postponement

So to hell with it.

Quarantine is a complete pain, but we'll do it of course. 

Read the full story

03:20 PM

'We are not afraid of the virus, but we are afraid for our livelihoods' 

Germany's health minister on Saturday criticised "party holidays" and defended a decision to declare nearly all of Spain, including the tourist island of Majorca, a coronavirus risk region following a spike in cases there.

"I know how much the Germans love Spain ... But unfortunately the infection rates there are rising sharply, too sharply," Jens Spahn told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

"Whoever goes to Spain despite the warning should protect themselves and others while on holiday. Party holidays are irresponsible in this pandemic."

People returning to Germany from designated risk regions face a coronavirus test or two weeks' compulsory quarantine.

Bar owners in Majorca, a popular destination for German holidaymakers, feared the news would be the death knell for their already-struggling businesses.

"We live in fear here. We don't know what tomorrow will bring," said Gelinde, from Munich who owns Casa Baviera bar. "We are not afraid of the virus, but we are afraid of what our livelihood will be like."

Spahn's comments came as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany rose by 1,415 to 222,828, the biggest increase since late April, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases.

"If I close I will be unable to reopen again... I have no help. How are we supposed to move on from this?" said Antonia Gost, owner of La Tapita bar in Palma, in response to TUI's decision to cancel all holidays from Germany to the island.

03:05 PM

Locals enjoy weekend trips to Barcelona beach

We might not be able to take holidays in Spain but that doesn't stop the Spanish from enjoying their own coastline. 

Here is a photo of Barcelona's Nova Icaria beach today.

Nova Icaria beach on Saturday - Shutterstock
Nova Icaria beach on Saturday - Shutterstock

02:58 PM

Ireland's tourism chief resigns after Italy holiday

The chairman of Ireland's tourism authority, former Ryanair Chief Operating Officer Michael Cawley, resigned on Saturday after going on holiday to Italy, contrary to government advice to avoid non-essential travel abroad.

Cawley, a Ryanair director who also served as finance chief and deputy CEO at the airline, faced calls from opposition parties to quit after he confirmed to the Irish Independent newspaper on Saturday that he was holidaying in Italy.

Cawley is the first senior official in Ireland to resign for flouting coronavirus guidance. Scotland's Chief Medical Officer resigned in April after she ignored her own advice to stay at home during its COVID-19 lockdown.

Italy is one of 10 countries on the government's green list, meaning anyone arriving in Ireland can avoid a 14-day quarantine requirement that applies to travellers from anywhere else.

However official travel advice since Ireland's coronavirus outbreak began in February has remained that non-essential travel abroad should be avoided and people have been encouraged to holiday at home to support the hard-hit tourism sector.

Failte Ireland, the tourism development authority, has been giving extra funding to promote domestic tourism.

02:49 PM

Holidaymakers react to stress of French quarantine

02:28 PM

Pressure grows on French government to ramp up rules on masks

In France, pressure is growing on the government to require masks in all workplaces and in public as coronavirus infections surge.

Paris police stepped up mask patrols today as the French capital expanded the zones where face coverings are required in public, including neighborhoods around the Louvre Museum and Champs-Elysees shopping district.

With cases in Paris rising particularly fast, police can now shut down cafes or any gathering of more than 10 people where distancing and other hygiene measures aren't respected.

Masks are currently required outdoors in hundreds of French towns, but rules vary widely.

In an appeal published in the daily Liberation, a collective of medical workers urged a nationwide return to working at home, which France largely abandoned after two months of strict lockdown.

France recorded more than 2,800 new cases yesterday, up from a few hundred daily cases a month ago. While the rise is partly attributed to increased testing, the rate of positive tests is also growing, and is now at 2.4 per cent. However, the number of virus patients in French hospitals and intensive care units has not risen so far.

Related: Second wave looms as France reports more than 12,000 new coronavirus cases

02:10 PM

Quarantine: which countries are next?

01:54 PM

 Cruises to resume in Italy for first time in months

Italy will welcome its first cruise ship in months tomorrow, after the ban on arrivals lifted today. 

The operator’s flagship, MSC Grandiosa, will return to service on August 16 offering voyages to Rome, Naples and Palermo in Italy and Valletta, in Malta, from Genoa.

A second MSC ship, the slightly smaller MSC Magnifica, will resume sailings out of Italy on August 29 with seven-night departures from the Italian ports of Bari and Trieste to the Greek ports of Corfu, Katakolon and Piraeus.

“We are very pleased to be able to start welcoming back guests for full-experience cruise holidays this summer, on board two of our most popular ships including our flagship MSC Grandiosa, and in the Mediterranean, the very region where our company’s roots are,” said Gianni Onorato, the chief executive of MSC Cruises.

Despite the restart, British travellers will not be welcome on board yet – the line is only open to residents of countries in the Schengen Area, which does not include the UK.

01:30 PM

'We are going to clean up Acapulco'

Mexico's Pacific coast resort of Acapulco is putting its hopes on a return of tourists as the number of coronavirus cases drops and the violence that drove travelers away slowly declines.

Associated Press reports:

The governor of the state of Guerrero said Friday that hotels will now be allowed to accept guests at 40% capacity, up from 30 per cent previously under pandemic restrictions. Gov. Hector Astudillo bragged that Acapulco has reduced the number of Covid-19 deaths to an average of 9.6 per day and alleviated the overcrowding that plagued the city's hospitals earlier in the pandemic.

The city, once ranked as the fifth most deadly in Mexico, has fallen to 44th place. Homicides were down about 20 per cent in the first half of 2020, compared to the same period of 2019.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador visited the once-glamorous resort Friday and pledged to fix pollution problems that affect the resort's famous bay.

"We are going to clean up Acapulco, we are going to clean up the bay so that there is no more pollution. That is my commitement," he said. In June, heavy rains caused storm drains to overflow, sending sewage and waste into the bay.

Unlike most experts, Lopez Obrador predicted a quick end to the pandemic.

"What I feel _ my prediction _ is that soon, very soon, we will return to normality," the president said. "Economic activity is returning, tourism is returning to Acapulco, but I predict that in a month, two months, we will have very favorable conditions."

Acapulco, Mexico - Getty
Acapulco, Mexico - Getty

01:16 PM

Delay for Down Under bubble

Plans for a trans-Tasman travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand have been paused, a government minister has confirmed. As Victoria works to lower cases, Auckland – New Zealand’s largest city – has been shutdown after an outbreak that ended more than 100 days without a new infection in the community.

“The trans-Tasman bubble’s on pause for a little bit, but as soon as we are able to get policy commitment to it, we want to be administratively ready. New Zealand has indicated that there will be a short pause on that but they are committed to the outcome,” said Alex Hawke, Australia’s minister for the Pacific.

The pause may last until after the New Zealand general election. It is due to be held on September 19 but the government is facing calls from the opposition to delay it. This is “an issue,” said Hawke.

“They might take some time to get through that, which of course disrupts government, and so that [a potential travel bubble] may be off until after the election.”

12:56 PM

Is the West Country "full"?

Natalie Paris has been in North Devon this week, where she’s struggled to find the packed beaches officials had been warning about.

She said:

“It had only been a couple of days since Devon and Cornwall police declared the South West “full” and yet, on a morning that once again proved sweltering, I couldn’t find anyone who had seen this family-run beach overcrowded.

“‘When photographers show a side-on view of the beach it always looks worse than it is,’ said Suzie Parkin, of The Beachcomber Cafe.”

Despite this, a spokesman for Visit Devon confirmed that booking in advance is now essential in these parts: “North Devon is incredibly busy,” she said.

Read our postcard from Woolacombe here.

Surfer heading to Woolacombe - Getty
Surfer heading to Woolacombe - Getty

12:43 PM

Holiday party pooper

Germany’s health minister has labelled party holidays as “irresponsible” as he defended his government’s decision to declare mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands as Covid-19 risk areas. 

Jens Spahn told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper:

“I know how much the Germans love Spain ... But unfortunately the infection rates there are rising sharply, too sharply.

“Whoever goes to Spain despite the warning should protect themselves and others while on holiday. Party holidays are irresponsible in this pandemic.”

People returning to Germany from designated risk regions face a coronavirus test or two weeks' compulsory quarantine.

Infections in Spain have spiked in recent days after, further bad news as the country looks to salvage what remains of the 2020 summer season.

12:27 PM

Chart: How Italy's pandemic is playing out

Italy, despite being the first European epicentre of the virus, now seems to have one of the best handles on its pandemic.

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, its 14-day cumulative average of new cases is at just 8.7, compared to UK's 19.8, France's 36.2 and Spain's 115.7. 

Coronavirus Italy Spotlight Chart - cases default
Coronavirus Italy Spotlight Chart - cases default
Puglia, anyone? - istock
Puglia, anyone? - istock

12:14 PM

Jet2 pushes ahead with job losses

The holiday airline is the latest to announce cuts brought on by the pandemic. 

PA has the details:

More than 100 pilots are to be made redundant at Jet2 after the airline rejected alternative proposals, a union has said.

In June, the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) union said the Leeds-based carrier was proposing cutting 102 pilot jobs after flights were grounded due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Saturday, the union said Jet2 was pressing ahead with the cuts despite a range of alternative options put forward by Balpa.

Several other airlines have announced job cuts after a collapse in demand caused by the pandemic, including British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair.

Balpa general secretary Brian Strutton said: "This announcement is yet another which shows the desperate state of the British aviation sector.

"Despite enormous efforts to work with Jet2 to find ways of saving these jobs, the airline is insisting on 102 redundancies.

"This will be a particular kick in the teeth as many of those who may lose their jobs have recently joined the airline after having been dismissed from Thomas Cook which went into administration last year."

12:13 PM

Why would anyone want to go to Mars?

Griff Rhys Jones writes:

Are we all getting a little loose in the brain thanks to this lockdown business? One minute we can’t visit the local boozer, the next everybody is off to Heathrow, enduring misery and contagion in order to drink sweet alcoholic goo at a beach bar in Magaluf.

But, tell me, what is this thing with Mars now? I daily count myself lucky that I am not the distracted owner of billions and billions of dollars.

Take Elon Musk. When he has finished his cage-fight with Mickey Rourke he plans to get on with his declared mission to provide holiday breaks on another planet. It used to be sufficient for the hyper-rich to buy a slab of New Zealand and run away to bleat with the sheep, but Kiwi wonder woman Jacinda Ardern put a stop to all that, so Mars appears to have become the next favoured destination of the super-rich. It is also proposed as a modish eco-solution (though I would have thought the flaming rockets required for blast-off would struggle to be carbon neutral).

Even filthy-rich Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has been reaching for his moon-boots on behalf of the United Arab Emirates. 

I haven’t been to the Red Planet myself, (obviously, doh) but a cursory examination of the holiday brochure seems to indicate that the surface of Mars already resembles what our own planet is supposed to look like after a few more decades of global warming.

Read the full story

11:44 AM

'We need quarantine alternative for travel to survive'

Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency and vocal opponent of quarantine, has called for the Government to consider alternatives.

He told Telegraph Travel:

“The latest data shows France is now on the same trajectory of higher cases as Spain was when it was added to the quarantine list. With the resurgence of cases in parts of Europe, the government has to introduce an alternative to 14-day quarantine so it doesn’t block the vast majority of people who are healthy from going back to work, or even visiting the UK from overseas.

"We need to see urgent trials of swab and saliva testing at UK ports of entry, with results back within 8 hours as other countries such as Rwanda are doing. Then there can be a second test seven days later and, in the meantime, arrivals are required to wear face masks in public and indoors and follow social distancing.

"If we’re to rebuild confidence in travelling, we have to be innovative for the long-term survival of the travel and hospitality sectors.”

11:31 AM

Watch: Britons' France holiday plans in ruins

Of course, the French quarantine news does not just affect those racing back from the country to the UK, but also those due to travel (including myself). We spoke to some holidaymakers whose plans are now in tatters.

11:10 AM

The last ferry out of France

The Telegraph was on hand to capture the moment the last ferry before the quarantine deadline arrived into Dover last night, just before 4am.

eetr
eetr

10:54 AM

Europe’s summer unravels with covid spikes and travel chaos

If this summer was supposed to offer hope that coronavirus was under control in Europe, spikes in cases across the continent and ensuing travel chaos have given governments a worrying reality check, reports Bloomberg.

From France to Ukraine, the number of positive tests for Covid-19 is rising sharply as more people seek vacations and after lockdown measures were eased to allow citizens to congregate. Germany reported the most new cases since May, while France said the situation is worsening, particularly in the cities of Paris and Marseille. Greece is also seeing the highest daily increase in infections since the start of the pandemic.

The British government added France and the Netherlands to a list of countries from where people must quarantine for 14 days on arrival in the UK Travel stocks slumped. In Eastern Europe, which had been hit less hard, some countries approached near record number of daily cases.

French Health Agency chief Jerome Salomon said large family reunions, such as weddings, and work places are prevalent places of infection. “One can only be worried as hundreds of new people are hospitalized,” Salomon told France Inter. He urged people to socially distance to avoid the crisis of March and April that “no one wants to go through again.”

It was always going to be a gamble as countries sought to open up their economies in an attempt to mitigate the unfolding financial collapse. Closing businesses and ordering people to stay at home again is something political leaders remain reluctant to do given the dark economic forecast and millions of jobs at risk, particularly in tourism.

10:24 AM

'I welcome a quarantine that will protect my French village from infected Britons'

Here is an alternative view on the French quarantine. 

Gillian Harvey, a British expat in France, writes:

When I heard that Boris Johnson had introduced a two-week quarantine period for those returning from France, I was pleased. When Macron followed suit and reciprocated, I was overjoyed.

As a British immigrant who’s lived in a quaint French town in Limousin for a decade, I usually look forward to the summer. I enjoy spending time with my family at the sun-drenched lakeside beaches, absorbing the atmosphere at the day markets or buying homemade ice-cream from the local patisserie.

In particular, I look forward to the days in July and August when tourism swells the population and my sometimes trop tranquille town explodes with welcome life and chatter and colour.

But not this year.

Read the full story

10:01 AM

In pictures: Life goes on in Paris

paris - Shutterstock
paris - Shutterstock
paris - Shutterstock
paris - Shutterstock
paris - shutterstock
paris - shutterstock

09:46 AM

The dash from the Netherlands

Britons returning from France were not alone in trying to beat quarantine; those coming back from the Netherlands were in the same race, which explains the actions of this seadog...

The captain of a giant North Sea ferry ordered full speed ahead today so that hundreds of passengers returning to the UK from Europe won't have to spend two weeks in isolation.

The scheduled night sailing on the Hook of Holland to Harwich usually takes eight and half hours to make the 120-mile crossing arriving in the UK at 6.30am.

But operators Stena line ordered the captain to increase speed to beat the 4.00am deadline - and the 64,000 tonne ship which can carry up to 1,200 passengers, made it with just 30 minutes to spare, docking at 3.30am

There had been some initial confusion about whether the passengers would have to quarantine because, while the ferry officially ties up at Harwich at 6.30am after leaving the Hook at 10pm, it sails into UK territorial waters at 3am. But officials at the Department for Transport insisted the deadline referred to the time the ship arrived at the docks, not when it entered UK waters.

09:33 AM

What the French quarantine means for your holiday

09:21 AM

The answers you're looking for

It is quite clear looking at Telegraph Travel's most read stories yesterday what was on the minds of British holidaymakers...

08:57 AM

'160,000 Britons made it home on Friday'

Some more details on yesterday's Great Escape, from Press Association. 

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps insisted the Government had taken "a practical approach" to the new restrictions. He estimated 160,000 holidaymakers were attempting to return to the UK from France on Friday.

Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, the train service which carries vehicles through the Channel Tunnel, was fully booked on Friday. A spokesman said 12,000 people tried to book tickets in the hour after the new rules were announced at about 10pm on Thursday, compared with just hundreds normally.

Some air fares were more than six times more expensive than normal.

British Airways was selling tickets for a flight from Paris to London Heathrow on Friday night costing £452.

The same journey on Saturday could be made with the airline for just £66.

The cheapest ticket on a Eurostar train from Paris to London was £210, compared with £165 on Saturday.

Travellers in the south of France and the Netherlands faced a struggle getting back to the UK on Friday as many direct fights were sold out.

08:38 AM

Graph: How Greece's pandemic is playing out

Coronavirus Greece Spotlight Chart - cases default
Coronavirus Greece Spotlight Chart - cases default

08:35 AM

So, where are we now?

France has followed Spain and Portugal onto the 'red' list, so where's next?

Greece is one contender, according to a report by Nick Squires.

He writes:

Greece could be added to Britain’s mandatory two-week quarantine list if the number of Covid-19 cases in the country continues to surge.

Greece is experiencing its highest daily increase in infections since the start of the pandemic and on Friday the government ordered the quarantining of the country’s third-largest migrant camp, on the island of Chios, after a Yemeni asylum seeker and a staff member tested positive for the disease.

If the country is added to the list, it would throw the travel plans of tens of thousands of British tourists into chaos, as it already has for Britons in France, Malta and the Netherlands, who must now go into quarantine for two weeks on their return to the UK.

Greece, which was keen to open up tourism to revive its battered economy, reported 262 new infections on Wednesday, its highest daily tally since the start of the outbreak. On Thursday, another 204 cases were reported.

Read the full story