Ongoing uncertainty over which countries British holidaymakers will be able to visit, when the UK’s ban on international leisure travel is lifted, has led to warnings that “now is not the time to book a summer holiday.”
Only this afternoon did Portugal, a green-listed country, announce that British tourists would be able to enter the country – giving less than three days notice.
Simon Cooper, the chief executive of On The Beach, told The Telegraph that the days of confusion around Portugal "illustrates precisely why now is not the time to encourage new holiday bookings for this summer right now.”
Earlier this week the company took the decision to take all holidays off sale until further notice due to the lack of “certainty or clarity” provided by the Government’s newly announced traffic light system.
Cooper said that it is “impossible for anyone to judge accurately the situation in holiday destinations at the moment.
“Until we have more confidence that holidays can go ahead without disruption, without significant extra cost and without inconvenience for customers we won’t be selling any more holidays for this summer.”
Tui, the UK’s biggest tour operator, which took the decision to use bigger planes for trips to Portugal this summer in order to keep up with demand, said: “We’re monitoring the situation closely and will provide a further update as soon as we have clarification.”
The main headlines from today
That's everything from us for today. Here is a reminder of the top stories:
New Zealand may welcome vaccinated travellers
UK tourism among hardest hit, says World Travel & Tourism Council
Greece reopens for tourism
British tourists can visit Portugal from May 17
Greece is to be green-listed, Greek Tourism Minister tells The Telegraph
Whizz Air cancels Tel Aviv flights
Balearic Islands hope to 'welcome Brits as soon as possible'
Join us again next week for the latest travel news as it happens.
PM: Travel green list will not grow rapidly
Boris Johnson, at this evening's Downing Street press conference, said it's "just too early" to tell what the summer will be like in terms of foreign holidays.
He that a "spirit of caution should be applied to people who are thinking of travelling abroad."
"There's a very limited list and we will certainly be making sure that people travelling abroad will subject to all the tests and constraints that people would expect to prevent the virus being re-imported.
"That's why it's such a tiny list of countries. I don't expect we will be adding to it very rapidly, indeed we will be maintaining a very very tough border regime for the foreseeable future."
Why you're wrong about the Algarve
Ignore the stereotype: there's so much more to the Algarve than its beaches and golf courses. You just have to know where to look, writes Amy Blythe.
This summer, the Algarve is our best chance of a sun-soaked European getaway, with Portugal planted firmly on the UK’s travel green list and the Portuguese government having now lifted its travel ban to allow British holidaymakers to fly to the country from May 17. No doubt you’ll gravitate towards the Algarve’s Blue Flag beaches and glitzy resorts, but look beyond and you’ll find a region full of surprises.
Where once people ventured only as far as pillow-soft sands backed by whitewashed fishing-villages-turned-tourist-traps, visitors are now being drawn out to the Algarve’s more diverse landscapes. Up in the pine-scented Monchique mountains, Roman spa towns and secluded eco-resorts await; while wetlands home to straw-legged flamingos beckon in the Ria Formosa. Elsewhere, the barely visited western coast of the Algarve shelters windswept walking routes through Vicente’s natural parks dotted with villages.
These fiercely protected ecosystems have become a haven for bird-watchers who flock, binoculars in hand, to see over 400 species. Further out to sea, past the Algarve’s coveted surf breaks, there’s a marine paradise to discover too, where bottlenose dolphins play in the wake of boats and humpback whales breach the surface on their annual quest to cross the Atlantic. Then there’s the Algarve vineyards – the secret sister of the mighty Douro Valley – that produce fine wines perfect for pairing with dishes in the Algarve’s new Michelin-starred eateries.
'Think twice' before travelling, warns PM
When asked whether people should travel from Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said people in areas with higher incidents of Covid-19 to recognise that there is an extra risk and a "threat of disruption to progress" and asks them to "exercise their discretion".
He said: "I do think it's important that in respect to the areas where we are seeing these spikes... given the caution that I think we have to exercise with this new variant, the risk of extra transmissibility, I would urge people just to think twice about that," he says.
Germany adds UK back to risk category list
The UK is back in Germany's lowest risk category according to the country's Robert Koch Institute (RKI), a month after they were taken off the list following a drop in new infections.
The RKI said in a statement: “The classification is due, despite (a low incidence rate), to the at least a limited occurrence of the B.1.617.2 variant in the United Kingdom.”
Earlier today the UK Government said the Indian variant was spreading “increasing rapidly” in parts of England.
Boris Johnson: No plans to delay lockdown roadmap
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said at this evening's Downing Street press briefing that the lockdown exit strategy is to continue as planned, with further easing of restrictions from Monday (including the return of overseas holidays and the reopening of hotels in England).
He said: "We have seen further clusters of the Indian variant especially in Bolton, Blackburn and Darwen. It is more transmissible but we don't know by how much.
"I am told that if it is marginally transmissible we can continue as planned. We have no evidence that vaccines will be less effectiveness against serious illness and hospitalisation caused by the variant.
"I do not believe enough present evidence to delay roadmap out of lockdown."
Italy to scrap mandatory quarantine for visitors from some countries
Italy will scrap mandatory quarantine from Sunday for visitors from the European Union, Britain and Israel who test negative for Covid-19, the government said on Friday as it looks to give summer tourism a boost.
With vaccine roll-outs picking up pace in the EU, more countries are looking to ease travel curbs and restrictions on the hospitality sector to help it recover from the pandemic.
"We have been waiting for this move for a long time and it anticipates a Europe-wide travel pass," Tourism Minister Massimo Garavaglia said.
The EU plans to start a unified system recording Covid-19 vaccinations, tests and recovery from June to allow more movement.
Watch: Greek islands have UK green list hopes
Alaska might see cruise ships this summer
Cruise ships should return to Alaskan ports this summer after the US Senate passed the Alaska Tourism Recovery Act.
If approved by the House of Representatives, ships would not be bound by the Passenger Vessel Services Act, which requires foreign flagged vessels to make a stop outside of the US between ports.
Industry body Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) welcomed the move:
Singapore tightens Covid-19 measures
Singapore further tightened its Covid-19 measures as it seeks to control an increase in untraceable infections in the city-state.
From Sunday until June 13, gatherings will be limited to two people, and restaurants can only provide delivery or takeout services. Companies will have to make working from home the default for employees who are able to do so.
"A pattern of local unlinked community cases has emerged and is persisting," Singapore's Ministry of Health said in a statement Friday. "This is worrying as it suggests that there may be unknown cases in the community with possible ongoing community transmission and that our earlier and ongoing measures to break the chains of transmissions may be insufficient."
Infections not linked to identified cases have risen to 15 in the last week, more than double the week before. The number of new cases has risen to 71 in the last week, from 48 the week before, as infections rise from a cluster tied to Changi Airport.
An expert cruise guide to Porto
The 'green light' status bestowed on Portugal is welcome news for its pretty waterfront city Porto, anchor point for all Douro river cruises. Cruise writer Jeannine Williamson has an expert guide to the city.
Situated at the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean, it was from Porto that Prince Henry the Navigator set out in 1415 bound for Africa, heralding the Portuguese ‘Age of Discovery’. Modern-day Douro sailings begin and end in Portugal’s second city, which is divided in half by the waterway named ‘River of Gold’ by the Romans.
Covid in the UK: Latest figures
The Government has said a further 17 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Friday, bringing the total number of deaths in the UK to 127,668.
Separate figures published by the UK's official statistics agencies show that there have been 152,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
The government also said that, as of 9am on Friday, there had been a further 2,193 lab-confirmed cases in the UK.
This brings the total to 4,446,824.
No easing of restrictions for Glasgow and Moray
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced that Moray and Glasgow are to stay at level three restrictions for another week.
Ms Sturgeon said Moray was improving but that case numbers were still double the national average in Scotland, and that similar reasoning has been applied to the situation in Glasgow, which is "causing even more concern at this stage".
Evidence suggests the outbreak which is heavily centred in the south side of Glasgow is being driven by the Indian variant.
The National Trust readies itself to reopen
National Trust houses and other properties in England and Wales will start to reopen their doors to visitors from Monday as Covid-19 restrictions ease. Northern Ireland properties are expected to follow on May 24.
Some small properties or rooms which can’t accommodate social distancing will reopen later once further restrictions are lifted or when repair or redisplay work is completed.
Hilary McGrady, the director-general of the National Trust, said:
This is a big moment that we have all looked forward to for months as we welcome people back safely, to spend time together at their favourite properties. Hundreds of our parks, gardens and countryside locations have already reopened, but we know how much our members and supporters have been looking forward to returning to see our houses and collections again.
Our places are nothing without our visitors there to enjoy them and our staff and volunteers have been working hard behind the scenes, cleaning chandeliers, polishing floors and dusting books, to get everything ready. It is a matter of huge relief, pride and gratitude that the places in our care can start to reopen following closure due to the pandemic. Not a single place will be lost to the public. The cultural treasures that are our shared inheritance are waiting – for everyone.
Read more: The best National Trust hotels in the UK
Balearic Islands hope to 'welcome Brits as soon as possible'
Iago Negueruela, Minister of Tourism for the Balearic Islands, has been speaking about working behind the scenes ahead of tourism returning to the Balearics.
We feel encouraged to see that international travel will be allowed to restart in the United Kingdom, after travel being off the cards for months. We hope we can welcome Brits as soon as possible and for this reason, we wanted to update you on our work behind-the-scenes in the Balearics Islands over the last few weeks.
Firstly, we are proud to say that we managed to control the pandemic in the islands, and now we have one of the lowest COVID-19 rates in Europe. As we continue to ease restrictions and roll out the vaccine, we are looking to restart international tourism in the Balearic Islands, based on the highest standards of safety.
As part of this, our government has approved the "Tourism Reactivation Plan", with an investment of € 11 million (£9.5 million). The plan will facilitate the safe reopening of our islands to international tourists, encouraging tourist arrivals and extending the summer season. As part of the plan, we are launching the ‘Safety Pack’, an updated safety protocol to protect the tourism workers, and showcase the safety in the destination, with various guides aiming at reducing the spread of Covid-19 in the archipelago.
Furthermore, we also identified the costs of the PCR tests as a major barrier to travel for many people so we have just approved a decree-law to make travel to the Balearic Islands more affordable limiting the costs of PCR tests for those who require one when returning to their home countries. The maximum price for a PCR will be €75 (£65), and for an antigen test, it will be €30 (£26). A huge effort is taking place behind the scenes to start once again receiving tourists. We look forward to opening our doors to British visitors very soon
Germany planning to classify Britain as coronavirus risk region
Germany plans to classify Britain as a coronavirus risk region due to the emergence of the Indian variant, government sources said on Friday.
A final decision could be made as early as Friday, the sources told Reuters.
Reminder: The traffic light system
On Monday we’ll be allowed to go on holiday again (finally!) But it’s not quite as simple as we’d have hoped – the Government’s traffic light system will come into force, meaning different rules for different destinations and a plethora of tests.
Get up to speed with the system here:
Ryanair calls for Irish restrictions to be dropped
Ryanair is calling on the Irish Government to lift travel restrictions on travel to and from the UK and EU, and scrap hotel quarantine. The country’s largest airline cites low cases in Ireland and the UK and good vaccination progress as reasons to drop all travel restrictions by the end of May.
Ryanair’s CEO Eddie Wilson said:
Ireland’s travel restrictions are now outdated, inappropriate and unnecessary for air travel to/from the UK, and the European Union, where successful vaccination programs have eliminated any risk to our hospitals and health services. It’s time our Government got the country and our tourism industry back to work, and we call again on Minister Eamonn Ryan to action the Aviation Task Force Report he received in July 2020 – 10 months ago – which has been gathering dust on his desk for 10 months with no action taken whatsoever.
Passengers all over Europe have been booking Ryanair flights in huge volumes over recent weeks as travel restrictions are lifted. It is inappropriate and unnecessary for Ireland to maintain its unique, and ineffective hotel quarantine system for EU visitors, the majority of whom will now be vaccinated, coming from the UK and Europe. Let’s end the travel restrictions on EU travel from the end of May.
Portugal holidays: Top tips
Abta, which represents the UK’s travel companies, has responded to today’s news with top advice for holidaymakers who may well be preparing to travel abroad for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
A spokesperson said: “It is fantastic that, from Monday, people will be able to travel to Portugal for a well-earned break. It is a popular destination with UK holidaymakers – 2.8 million Brits travelled there in 2018. It offers beautiful beaches, fantastic cities and lovely countryside, not to mention a vibrant café and restaurant culture. UK tourism is a really important part of the Portuguese economy, contributing half a billion pounds a year in normal times.”
Its top advice for travellers to Portugal includes:
Check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office travel advice before departure to find the latest entry requirements and local rules relating to coronavirus
Make sure you have all of your travel documents up to date including passport and travel insurance
Book a package holiday through an Abta Member for the greatest level of protection
Understand the latest travel rules for Portugal: when boarding you will need to show a negative RT-PCR test, which was taken 72 hours before departure, you may be subject to health screening when you arrive, when travelling home, travellers will need to take a test before they leave Portugal and another PCR test on or before day two of their return to England, Scotland and Wales and finally, travellers will need to complete a Passenger Locator Form before they return to the UK.
UK’s National Parks launch campaign to welcome new visitors
The UK’s National Parks have today launched their first ever national television advert that aims to entice new and young visitors to the nation’s natural spaces.
"The nation is embracing the healing properties of nature as the lockdown comes to an end, and National Parks see this as a chance to help whole new sections of society fall in love with the outdoors and a great opportunity for us to make a connection with younger visitors that might not have been to a National Park before," said John Packman, CEO of the Broads National Park.
The campaign’s message, #LoveYourNationalParks hopes to encourage people to plan ahead for their visits and has an emphasis on encouraging people to take their litter home with them.
Packman explains: "If you’ve not been to a National Park before it’s difficult to know what to expect and the access to facilities will vary hugely. No one plans to drop litter, but if you plan to take your litter home then you’ll know to pack a bag you can store it in. Caring and taking action for nature is so important, and by helping to look out for nature you feel good in return – it’s a virtuous circle."
48 hours in… Porto
6,000 British football fans are set to flock to Portugal’s second city for the Champions League on May 29 – but did you know Porto also makes for a great city break?
Lisbon’s quieter sibling is currently undergoing a magical moment of rejuvenation. Centuries ago, British merchant ships would cluster in Porto’s medieval harbour to ferry the region’s eponymous port wines back home. Now, the city’s river banks are crowded with hip new bars and cool pavement restaurants.
Discover the best of Porto and how to spend 48 hours there with the help of our expert guide.
Ready for the ultimate post-lockdown party?
Back on home soil, hotels in England are preparing to reopen on Monday, and friends and family are ready to celebrate the easing of restrictions together indoors for the first time.
John O’Ceallaigh has revealed the perfect place to do it – the London boutique hotel available to hire for the ultimate post-lockdown party. Take a look inside here.
Portugal: Plan your trip with the latest advice
Britons have long been asking, can I travel to Portugal? And now, finally, the answer is yes (from Monday).
If you’re planning a trip make sure you’re up to speed with all the latest travel advice, including when you need to take a test, what Covid restrictions are in place and how to get travel insurance, here.
Israel unrest: Whizz Air cancels Tel Aviv flights
Whizz Air has cancelled all flights to Tel Aviv this weekend, due to the escalating conflict.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has warned airlines to monitor heightened tensions in Israel, including exchanges of rocket fire and air strikes. "The situation in the region remains a matter of high concern for commercial aviation," it said in a bulletin.
The airline joins the likes of British Airways and American Airlines to cancel flights to the Israeli city, home to Ben Gurion Airport, Israel's main airport. Some carriers have chosen to reroute flights to Ramon Airport, some 200 km (125 miles) to the south, near the Red Sea city of Eilat.
The news comes as the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office updates its advice for travel to the country – it now advises against all but essential travel to all parts of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It advises against all travel to Gaza, the Sheba’a Farms and Ghajjar, within 500m of the border with Lebanon east of Metula, including the northern edge of the town and east of Route 98 along the Syrian border. Israel is one of just 12 countries to be on the Government’s ‘green list’ but it is unlikely holidays there will go ahead until tensions have settled.
Portugal: Bookings have tripled
Thomas Cook has confirmed that bookings for holidays to Portugal over the past week are triple the amount of those in the previous seven days, with May and June making up more than 80 per cent of trips.
Following today’s news Alan French, the tour operator’s CEO,said:
It’s great to get confirmation that Portugal is set to welcome British holidaymakers next week once international travel resumes from the UK. We have hundreds of customers with their cases packed and sun lotion at the ready excited to enjoy the beaches of the Algarve and Portugal’s fantastic cities.
We can see just how much people have been waiting for confirmation of the traffic light system with bookings more than triple what they were only a week ago making Portugal the most popular holiday destination at the moment. People are booking last-minute breaks to get their first taste of summer sun and rest and relax after these past few months.
Greece: 'We are eligible to be green-listed'
Greece, already open to foreign visitors, has pledged to vaccinate its islands by the end of June. All it needs now is the green light.
In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharris said: “This is not a laissez-faire ‘anything goes’ reopening – we want to make sure the person next to you is tested or vaccinated under the same condition as you are.”
Read the interview and find out what to expect from your Greek escape this summer here.
France adds Bahrain, Colombia, Costa Rica and Uruguay to list of risk countries
France has added Bahrain, Colombia, Costa Rica and Uruguay to its list of countries deemed as Covid-19 high risk zones.
This means that people arriving from those countries will have to undergo protocol measures such as quarantining on arrival.
The French Prime Minister's department added on Friday that those quarantine measures for travellers from those countries would take effect from May 16, as France aims to ensure that its third-wave of the virus recedes.
In April, France had put Brazil, Chile, Argentina, South Africa and India on its list of Covid-19 high-risk countries, requiring people arriving from those countries to undergo a 10-day quarantine upon arrival in Franc
Portugal reaction: ‘All systems go’
The industry continues to welcome the news from Portugal.
A statement from easyJet said:
We welcome the decision from the Portuguese government meaning that those travelling from the UK will be allowed to travel safely to Portugal from Monday. We look forward to reuniting friends and family and taking customers on a long awaited holiday this summer.
Tom Harding, co-founder of online tour operator Nemo Travel, said:
All systems go and we’re delighted by this confirmation that Portugal is going to be open for UK travellers. We’ve had a brilliant week planning some incredible bespoke trips to Portugal’s lesser-known destinations, this news should act as a further boost to traveller confidence, bring it on!
Watch: Heathrow Airport prepares for international travel
With restrictions on international travel set to be lifted on Monday the UK’s airports are readying themselves for the return of holidaymakers. Take a look at the preparation at Heathrow:
New York is ready and waiting for you...
"It is absurd that America did not make the green list for travel," writes Zoe Strimpel. Especially since cities from New York to Miami have been open for months – and safe, thanks to excellent Covid precautions and an even better vaccination drive.
"Everywhere I went on arrival, back in March, I saw signs and heard voices saying, 'New York Is Back'."
Find out why the Big Apple has put a fight against Covid and is now just waiting for the green light for British travellers to return here.
Portugal reaction: British visitors were 'missed last summer'
One of Portugal’s most popular destinations is ‘delighted’ by the news that Britons will be able to return, restriction-free, from next week.
João Fernandes, President of Algarve Tourism, said:
We are of course very ready to welcome British visitors to the Algarve. With 48.5% of our international visitors arriving at Faro airport from the UK in a typical year, the absence of British visitors was noticed and missed last summer.
Flights are resuming and British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair are all adding extra flights to Faro to meet demand. Our hotels are prepared and offering some great packages.
We also want to reassure visitors that tourism businesses are operating with health and safety protocols in place. Most have signed up to our ‘Clean & Safe’ Campaign, which means they follow our guidelines for keeping staff and customers safe.
Over 30 Everest climbers test positive as Nepal attempts to salvage mountain tourism industry
More than 30 Everest climbers have now tested positive for Covid-19 as the Nepalese authorities try to keep the lucrative mountain trade open through the country's coronavirus spike, Ben Farmer reports.
Nepal's government claims no one has caught the coronavirus on the mountain, but the biggest tour company arranging climbs told CNN that more than 30 of its clients had been infected.
The Himalayan nation has issued a record of more than 400 permits to scale the world's highest mountain this year. Last year's climbing season was cancelled by the pandemic, depriving the poverty-stricken nation of millions in revenue.
Hundreds of climbers, sherpas and staff have gathered at Everest base camp awaiting good weather for the climb and bloggers have reported that many are not sticking to social distancing precautions.
Nepal is being battered by a wave of infections brought by migrant workers returning from neighbouring India.
Portugal: The latest Covid-19 and vaccination figures
Reactions to Portugal news
Figures in the travel world have welcomed news that Britons can enter Portugal from Monday.
Julia Lo Bue-Said, the chief executive of Advantage Travel Partnership, said:
It is wonderful news that Portugal has now confirmed it will be welcoming back British visitors, including those for leisure travel from midnight on 17 May 2021. Portugal is a key summer destination for the UK market and it is a hugely important destination for many of our members who now have some product that they can sell for imminent travel.
This goes to show that the discussions and decisions on whether countries will allow visitors in, despite them being on the UK’s ‘Green List’ are incredibly complex, and the speculation around these decisions creates a lot of anxiety and distress for both consumers and our travel agent members. We remain positive that this is the first step to safely reopening travel and hopefully more destinations will be classified as green so that the industry can make the most of the forthcoming summer season.
Paul Charles, chief executive of The PC Agency took to Twitter:
Confirmation from Portuguese officials about British holidaymakers being allowed to enter comes comes after the Algarve's MP said he didn't know whether they would be allowed to travel there from Monday.
Cristovao Norte had said: "The message is clear, there are no reasons, nor political or scientific reasons to maintain restrictions for travel from the UK to Portugal."
Yesterday Portugal's government had confirmed that Porto will host the Champions League final on May 29, with space for 6,000 British fans. There was a huge spike in bookings for Portgual following the announcement that it had made the UK's green list last week, and airlines have not been cancelling flight.
'More than ever, holidaymakers need clear advice'
Reacting to the news that British tourist will be able to visit Portugal from next Monday, Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said:
The confusion over whether holidays booked to Portugal will be able to go ahead illustrates how unhelpful some holiday companies, airlines and the Portuguese government have been since the green list launched, with very little warning that holidays may not go ahead because UK residents were barred entry.
More than ever, holidaymakers need clear advice about all of the risks involved before making a booking. If holidays cannot go ahead because of this disruption, package holiday providers should cancel Portugal trips, meaning holidaymakers will be offered a refund. Airlines may not do the same though, leaving passengers the option of a voucher or changing their dates, which may cost more money.
Most importantly though, people should not cancel their bookings themselves, as they may lose their right to a refund – instead, wait to hear from the operator for more information on your options.
British tourists can visit Portugal from May 17
British tourists can visit Portugal from Monday, the Portuguese Minister of Foreign affairs has confirmed today, reports Emma Featherstone.
The decision follows widespread speculation that UK travellers would have to cancel trips to the country ahead of May 30.
It had been widely expected that Portugal would lift its rules against non-essential travel in time to welcome back Britons, but yesterday's extension of the country's "state of calamity" until May 30 had created fresh uncertainty – although this does not affect decisions on allowing people in and out of the country.
“[This] will revoke the essential travel restrictions [that are in] place until the 16th of May,” said the Portuguese National Tourist Office in a statement that confirmed the country would be reopening to Britons.
Those arriving in Portugal from the UK will still be required to present a negative PCR test result taken within 72 hours of departure.
Portugal is the only major European holiday destination on the green list and Porto is due to host the Champions League Final between Chelsea and Manchester City on May 29.
“People from the United Kingdom have visited Portugal and celebrated our culture, traditions, landmarks, history, and enjoyed our warm hospitality for decades. We look forward to welcom[ing] all travellers coming from the UK”, said a spokesperson for the tourist office.
Japan expands virus emergency ahead of Tokyo Olympics
Japan expands virus emergency ahead of Tokyo Olympics Japan on Friday further expanded a state of Covid emergency, currently in Tokyo and five other prefectures, to nine areas, as Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's government is determined to hold the Olympics in just over two months.
Japan has been struggling to slow the infections ahead of the Games. The three additions include Japan's northern island state of Hokkaido, where the Olympic marathon will be held, as well as Hiroshima and Okayama in western Japan.
The three areas on Sunday will join Tokyo, Osaka and four other prefectures already under the restrictions, until May 31, Suga announced at a government taskforce meeting Friday.
Bars, karaoke parlors and most entertainment facilities are required to close. Business owners who comply will be compensated; those who don't could face fines.
10 dreamy hotels in Devon that still have availability this month and next
Seeking a last-minute hotel stay ahead of reopening ? Don’t discount Devon, says Laura Fowler.
Lush and lovely Devon is a county of beauty in abundance. Its riviera has a timeless allure, and its south-coast sandy coves are heaven for sea swimming, sailing and family-and-friends beach breaks. Inland, there’s a gentle bucolic charm to its rolling hillsides and forested valleys, rivers winding down to the sea, and the wild beauty of Dartmoor National Park. Fishermen and farmers are bringing their produce to the kitchen doors of revitalised country-house hotels and spruced-up inns-with-rooms, who are embracing all that is local and seasonal, and welcoming everyone from foodies to families. Here's our pick of the best spots you can still book for May and June – if you're quick!
Find out more: Here are 10 places you can still book for May and June.
People 'waiting for the starting pistol' on travel
Ahead of international travel (gently) opening up again for people in England on Monday, Cyril Ranque, the president of Travel Partners Group at Expedia Group has been speaking about search trends in the UK.
UK travellers are on their marks and waiting for the starting pistol. There is clearly a lot of pent-up demand – in the past week, we have seen more interest in the last two weeks of May than for the whole month of June, suggesting that travellers have itchy feet and are eager to get away as soon as restrictions are lifted.
The increased interest has been steadily building over recent weeks, but during the week that the UK Government confirmed its plans for May 17th, interest went up sharply, with a 55 per cent week on week increase for dates between May 17th and the end of August.
In the short-term staycations are still the top choice for UK travellers, with 80 per cent of interest for late May dates being for domestic destinations. This steadily decreases to 55 per cent in August, suggesting that while there is a thirst for international travel in the summer holidays, consumers are biding their time and waiting for the details of further changes in restrictions.
In pictures: Holidays are back in Greece
Greece has reopened to tourists today and the first lucky holidaymakers have landed on its shores this morning. Hotels, beaches, restaurants and museums are open and keen to welcome back visitors, who have had to provide proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test to enter.
The country is on the UK’s amber list, meaning, from May 17 when holidays are permitted, any visitors are required to self-isolate on their return home and take a series of paid-for tests.
Will you splurge or save?
It’s finally here: the restart of overseas holidays. After a long lockdown, and a lengthy ban on foreign breaks, May 17 tempts with a handful of green-list options.
But will you splurge or save on your first trip? In a snap poll of around 500 Telegraph readers, some 72 per cent said they would splurge on their next holiday, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t economical options which pack in plenty of adventure.
From blowout, bucket-list trips to more affordable options, Emma Featherstone reveals how to make the most of your next quarantine-free trip here.
Portugal reaction: ‘It will become very clear, very soon’
The confusion over Portugal’s reopening continues this morning.
Speaking to BBC News, Sean Tipton from Abta, which represents the UK’s travel companies, said: "We’re waiting for official clarification… It will become very clear, very soon."
For holidaymakers concerned by their future plans, Tipton advised: "For the majority of people going on holiday if they find they can’t travel at the very least they will be given the option to rebook or receive a refund." Those travelling independently would be subject to their airline’s and accommodation provider’s terms and conditions if Portugal does not lift the ban on British arrivals before trips resume.
Greece reopens for tourism as Portugal holidays in doubt
Greece has reopened to vaccinated tourists today, as the popular holiday destination attempts to gain a place on the Government’s green list.
There is, however, growing concern that holidays to already green-listed Portugal will not be able to resume from Monday, when the ban on international leisure travel is lifted, as the country’s has extended its “state of calamity.”
In Greece beaches and museums have reopened, while its Aegean islands have begun to prepare for the return of visitors. The first tourist flights will arrive at the nation’s 14 regional airports today and travel between Greek regions is resuming as the government says "we are putting lockdown behind us".
This week Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharris told Telegraph Travel that the country has pledged to fully vaccinate the population of its 6,000 islands by the end of June, in a further bid to kickstart tourism.
In Portugal, the key holiday destination on the UK's green list, a continued state of emergency will remain in place until at least May 30, meaning Britons will not be allowed to enter. According to the BBC, Portuguese Cabinet office minister Mariana Vieira da Silva said in a briefing on Thursday she had "no information to give yet" when asked if restrictions on travel from the UK would soon be lifted.
The news adds further uncertainty to the future of overseas holidays for Britons, as the UK Government remains in discussions with the European Commission about how to safely reopen travel on the Continent. Tour operators may be forced to cancel holidays unless the roadmap to easing restrictions becomes more clear.
UK tourism among hardest hit
New data from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) reveals that the UK dropped out of the top five biggest tourism markets in 2020.
The nation’s tourism GDP fell by 62.5 per cent and was one of the biggest declines on the list, landing the UK in eighth position overall.
The US remains to be the biggest tourism market, followed by China – both saw declines of 41 per cent and 59.9 per cent in GDP respectively.
"The UK was one of the most heavily impacted of the major markets, due to the damaging and ineffective quarantines and unhelpful continuing travel restrictions," said Gloria Guevara, WTTC President and CEO.
The Greek National Tourism Organisation has launched a new campaign to promote the virtues of a holiday on its shores this summer, as the nation reopens to tourists today.
Whether you want sun, a natural tan, peace, or a well-aged glass of wine, according to the new campaign “all you want is Greece.”
Earlier this week Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharris told Telegraph Travel that he has high hopes that Greece will be added to the UK’s green list within weeks, stating: “We are disappointed not to have made the first round, but we feel comfortable that our arguments and data support our eligibility to be green-listed on the next round, either as a whole or regionally.”
Football fans face price hikes
Despite ongoing uncertainty over whether Portugal will allow Britons to visit from Monday, Manchester City and Chelsea fans hoping to attend the Champions League final are being hit with sky high flight prices.
The city of Porto is set to host the match on May 29 after it was moved from Istanbul due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Each club will get 6,000 tickets, which have not been allocated to supporters yet, but due to the huge demand the cost of flying to Porto has rocketed. Flights from Mancester to Porto next weekend – the week before the final – cost just £27 return with Ryanair.
However the price jumps to £573 with Air Portugal for the weekend of the final – an increase of 2,022 per cent – flying out on the Friday and coming back Sunday. On Skyscanner the ‘recommended’ flights cost £467. Cheaper options include a stopover and a total journey time of 22 hours and 20 minutes.
Chelsea fans face a similar dilemma. Flying to Porto from London the week before the Champions League final costs just £19. However, going out for the match, supporters are being hit with £522 for the fastest flights – a hike of 2,647 per cent.
It has been reported, if the entry ban remains in place, that fans will be expected to fly on organised charter planes and arrive and leave on the same day.
The key dates of the travel roadmap
We may now be “free” to travel. But – whether you have already booked, or are planning to – never before has the situation looked quite so complicated, writes Nick Trend.
All hopes and expectations are that the fog of uncertainties will slowly lift and by July we should be in a much clearer position, with most of the key European holiday destinations promoted to the government’s green zone.
Want an idea of the travel calendar currently looks like?
May 17 Opening day
May 28 Half term
May 30 Portugal re-opens?
June 1 Spain re-opens?
June 7 First traffic light changes
We reveal the milestones which, as things stand, we have to pass on the road back to normality here.
Portugal reaction: ‘We’re monitoring the situation closely’
Chaos looms over the resumption of holidays to Portugal next week. In response to today’s news the UK’s leading operator, TUI, said:
We’re aware of reports regarding flights and holidays due to depart between 17th and 30th May 2021 to Portugal. We’re monitoring the situation closely and will provide a further update as soon as we have clarification from the Portuguese Government. All holidays to Madeira and Porto Santo will continue to operate as planned. We would like to reassure customers that we will contact them directly if their flight or holiday is impacted to discuss their options, this includes offering a full refund or the chance to change the holiday for free. We would like to thank them for their understanding.
In numbers: the pandemic in Greece
As Greece reopens to tourists, let’s take a look at how the pandemic is progressing there.
The current seven-day case rate is 156 per 100,000.
And 2.5million people have had their first vaccination.
Partying off the menu in the Balearic Islands
Holidaymakers hoping to travel to Ibiza and the other Balearic Islands this summer can expect to have a few earlier nights than usual, as the head of government Francina Armengol plans to significantly reduce partying.
“Only with a higher vaccination rate can we reopen the nightlife,” Armengol told German media. Instead “responsible tourism” is now a priority.
“Corona has once again shown us the need for responsible and respectful tourism,” said Armengol.
“The nightlife will follow later, probably not this summer.”
New Zealand may welcome vaccinated travellers
The measure would be a potential reversal of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s stance that borders would remain largely closed until New Zealand’s population was vaccinated.
New Zealand's strict border controls have kept the country largely Covid free and it has seen a tiny fraction of the cases and deaths seen for example in Europe and the Americas.
But the restrictions have also isolated the country and meant it has been out of bounds to most international visitors for more than a year.
The country is also now less vaccinated than much of Europe, with only around 6 per cent of people having had one or more jabs.
Ms Ardern said: "The first question we are asking, is: do we need to have completed our vaccine rollout in order to open up our borders beyond the bubble arrangements we already have? The answer is possibly."
Watch: 'We don't know' if British tourists can visit
Portugal holidays in jeopardy
According to the BBC, Portuguese Cabinet office minister Mariana Vieira da Silva said in a briefing on Thursday she had "no information to give yet" when asked if restrictions on travel from the UK would soon be lifted.
"Work is going on and as soon as there is a decision it will be announced, but no decision was taken in this cabinet meeting," she said.
Follow The Telegraph’s coroanvirus live blog for all the latest news.
Wales residents urged to hold off foreign holidays
Wales will move to alert level two on Monday, prompting the reopening of indoor hospitality, holiday accommodation and entertainment venues, however residents are still being advised to only travel abroad for “essential” reasons for at least three more weeks.
First Minister Mark Drakeford is expected to confirm today that international travel can resume from Monday, in line with plans in England and also using a traffic light system, but there will be “extra safeguards” in place and Welsh ministers are urging for caution.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Mr Drakeford admitted the travel advice was not a rule because it would be "unenforceable", but urged caution against "importing" coronavirus from other parts of the world.
"We know most people who travel from Wales will be doing it from Bristol, Manchester, London, so once those airports are open and travel across the UK is allowed, then people from Wales will be able to travel," he said.
Instead of opting for a foreign break the First Minister suggests there are “fantastic opportunities” to take a holiday in Wales instead.
The traffic light system
Need a reminder of which countries are on the ‘green list’? Here’s the full list.
'Britons are going to be beaten to the sun loungers' as travel chaos continues
British holidaymakers could be “beaten to the sun loungers” as ongoing restrictions mean very few destinations will open once international travellers from Monday.
Portugal's decision to extend its ‘state of calamity’ has cast fresh doubt over whether holidays to the Mediterranean country will be able to resume next week.
Johan Lundgren, chief executive of easyJet, told The Daily Mail that tougher rules meant “not only are Brits going to be beaten to the sun loungers by the Germans, Dutch and Swiss but this will leave them picking up a bigger bill for their holiday, coupled with an onerous, expensive and unnecessary testing regime for low-risk countries.
“We don't want Britons to be left behind in the race to the sun when the huge success of our vaccination programme does mean travel can safely reopen.”
What happened yesterday?
Only 11% of Britons confident of a foreign holiday this year
New Zealand PM sets out plans explore more travel 'bubbles'
easyJet increases capacity to Portugal this summer
BA to pilot new Covid test with results in 25 seconds
16 million Britons have booked a holiday abroad
Last-minute cancellation chaos feared as Britons double-book their holidays
Now, on with today’s news.