Barbados is about to tentatively reopen to tourism, the lifeblood of the country's economy. The first commercial flight, from Canada, arrives this Sunday, July 12, with the first flight from the UK, with British Airways, landing next Saturday, July 18. Barbados is one of the countries on the UK Government's "travel corridor" list – so no requirement to self-isolate on your return – and the Foreign Office is not advising against travel there. The Caribbean island, with a population of around 286,000, has to date had just 98 cases and seven deaths related to Covid-19. To have a holiday there, travellers will need proof they are Covid-19 free. Visitors are being strongly advised to take a Covid-19 PCR test before flying, with testing required to have been done within 72 hours of travel. It will also be possible to have the test on arrival. This can be either at the airport free of charge, or in a more relaxed environment at a satellite hotel for US$150 (£117). Until the result comes through – expected to be within 24 hours – visitors need to remain in designated accommodation: either at a government property for free, or, more likely for tourists, at the hotel where you were tested, at your own expense. The hotels chosen for satellite testing and awaiting results are The Hilton Barbados and The Crane Resort. Travellers arriving from countries deemed low risk, which include most other Caribbean islands, and who have not visited a high-risk country in the previous 21 days are exempted from the testing requirements. The UK is currently identified as medium risk (find more information here: barbadostravelprotocols.com). Paul Cleary, managing director of specialist tour operator, Caribtours, said: "You definitely want to to be tested beforehand. No one in their right mind wants to sit on an eight and a half flight with the uncertainty of whether they'll test positive on arrival. We are in the process of coordinating contacts for regional private clinics in the UK where you can get tested." Tourist accommodation on Barbados is now subject to a very long list of Covid-19 protocols. Among many other things, guests will be encouraged to wear masks in public areas when they are likely to be in close proximity to staff and other guests, congregating at bars will be discouraged, at buffets staff will serve diners, and watersports equipment will be sanitised after each use. If guests want to snorkel, they will need their own equipment. Spas are permitted to operate. Not many hotels will in fact be open next week. As well as the Hilton and Crane, those that will be include Little Good Harbour, a secluded west-coast property offering self-catering only for the next few months, and Little Arches, a boutique hotel on the south coast. Other recommended places to stay that have announced they are opening in the next few weeks include Waves Hotel & Spa and Beach View, excellent for families. Classic, high-end west-coast hotels, such as Cobblers Cove, the Coral Reef Club and Sandpiper, are mostly not reopening until October. This is partly due to late summer/early autumn being peak hurricane season and always very quiet, and therefore a time when some hotels close every year. While Caribtours says it has recently had a few Barbados bookings for August, Elegant Resorts, a tour operator specialising in luxury holidays to the island, says its bookings so far have all been for later in the year. Another option to consider is a villa: along the west coast are some very desirable ones to rent. Blue Sky Luxury (blueskyluxury.com), an agency with a large portfolio of villas that have undergone the rigorous Covid-19 accommodation protocols, has lots of availability this summer. Life on Barbados is moving towards some semblance of new, socially-distanced normality. Shops, bars, restaurants and beaches are open, and the tourist board reassuringly says "visitors will be welcome to participate in all aspects of Barbadian life". To explore, holidaymakers can ride on the buses (face masks necessary) and rent cars. Physical distancing requirements are set at three feet (just under one metre). Flights from the UK are resuming very cautiously. The British Airways flight, from Gatwick, will initially be twice weekly. Virgin Atlantic is starting a weekly service, from Heathrow, on August 1, then increasing to three times a week in October. In pre-Covid times, BA and Virgin operated daily London-Barbados flights. Caledonia Jets is planning to start first-class-only flights on a 100-seater Airbus A340 for £7,500 per person return, weekly from Stansted to Barbados, with pre-departure Covid-19 testing arrangements for £300pp. However, it is waiting Atol approval from the Civil Aviation Authority.
I finally left Seville, from where I sent my last postcard, as Spain entered what the government are calling the new normal. However, passing through Ronda I saw that the people do not necessarily agree. The term ghost town has, by necessity, been vastly overused in these pages, but what else can one say? The lovely old historic restaurants like Hermanos Macías, opposite Spain’s most historic bullring, and the classic Almocabar, named for the gate in the Moorish battlements it sits beyond, are both closed.
Rome has been slowly awakening from its coronavirus lockdown slumber since June 3, when Italy reopened its borders to international tourism.
Hotels in England have begun to reopen – but not quite as we knew them. Almost without exception, their websites have added tabs detailing extensive coronavirus-prevention measures. Guests might be subject to temperature checks, one-way systems and pre-arrival questionnaires enquiring about travel history – rather than the usual pillow preferences. All of these measures aim to halt transmission of the virus, but what actually happens if a guest does test positive? Here we detail how hotels are dealing with the challenges of operating during this difficult time and what systems they are putting in place to keep guests safe.
Masked up and brimming with excitement, I’m heading for lunch in the Rio neighbourhood of Leblon, eager to enjoy a restaurant meal for the first time in three months – and support a local business at the same time.
Wizz Air has dismissed critics of its decision to restart its UK flights in May at the peak of the pandemic as “naysayers”. Owain Jones, the low-cost airline’s UK managing director, also said accusations that the carrier resumed services early to avoid paying out refunds for cancelled flights are “nonsense”. The airline was branded “hugely irresponsible” for launching services from London Luton while the UK was still under lockdown. Consumer group Which? said it was a “cynical cash grab” as Wizz would not need to pay out refunds to services that went ahead. “There will always be naysayers,” Jones told Telegraph Travel, adding that Wizz wanted to resume flights as soon as possible to help repatriate stranded foreigners and assist essential workers. He said the accusations that the airline was trying to avoid paying out refunds was “fanciful thinking from people who might not understand how to run a business”. “If you fly an airline to avoid making refunds you would probably quite quickly use all your money up. It’s nonsense,” he said. “What we did was during April, we were looking very much at how we could get things back in the air as soon as possible, that’s what our customers wanted.” The airline has been one of the fastest-growing in Europe in recent years, shifting from its focus on eastern and central Europe to more popular leisure destinations in Spain and Portugal. Jones said Wizz’s early restart meant it became a blueprint for other carriers in Europe. He said his cabin crew and customers have become accustomed to the “new normal” in terms of face masks and social distancing, but he does not believe the guidelines are here to stay. “We are still having hotspots of Covid-19,” he said. “But hopefully when things improve, I’m not sure these things will be required forever after.” While many of the world’s airlines grounded their fleets amid the global lockdown, Wizz Air took the opportunity to recalibrate, grow its network and expand its offering. It has launched 170 new UK routes this year. Jones said despite the crisis, Wizz remained focussed on growth. “Every single country has had some sort of restrictions in place at one point or another,” he said, “the trick is being nimble enough to adjust your capacity to meet the type of demand there.” He said he estimates Wizz will be at 80 per cent of pre-pandemic passenger numbers by the end of the year, adding: “[Demand] will be coming back, in some places it will be quicker than others. We have a very different outlook to any airline saying it will take five years to get back to pre-Covid levels.” While Jones is optimistic for Wizz’s future, he says some airlines may not survive the pandemic. “It’s a tough business,” he said. “It’s one thing to stop your aircraft flying, it’s another to get them back in the air. “You will see some airlines maybe not expanding, and maybe some consolidation in the European market.”
It has finally happened: outdoor pools in England can officially reopen from July 11, and indoor pools from July 25. Make the most of the warm temperatures sweeping the country and dive straight in - whether that's an exclusive and slinky rooftop pool, or a beautiful clifftop natural pond for a dip with an ocean view. Make a splash in enormous creations on country house estates, or paddle about in family-friendly spots. From Cornwall to the Cotswolds and Hampshire to Hertfordshire, discover the best hotel pools for this summer. Cliveden, Berkshire It's not too often a swimming pool can be partially blamed for bringing down the government. This pool can. In 1963 on a hot summer's day, 19-year-old model Christine Keeler peeled off her clothes and went for a dip. John Profumo (the then Secretary of State for War) spied her naked body, and so began their subsequent affair – resulting in his resignation and further political turmoil. Today, the listed pool is equally as refreshing, and is reopen from Saturday 11 July for residents. The indoor pools are open from July 25 for residents and members, and will open to day guests from September. Read the full review: Cliveden
Just as we are told we can visit 75 destinations without needing to self-isolate when we get home, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) goes and gives the cruise industry a kicking, warning against all holidays afloat.
So, finally, we can hit the road again. The unexpectedly broad – if inconsistent – removal of quarantine and Foreign Office restrictions for more than 70 destinations (including most of Europe and as far afield as Australia) last week transformed the world of travel at a stroke.
Eurostar's decision to cancel its direct service to the slopes next winter has left skiers without their much-loved eco-friendly alternative to flying
Malta knows a thing or two about invasions. For more than 7,000 years, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, French and Brits, 14 cultures in all, came, saw and bunkered.
It was a trip to Berlin in 2008 that awakened in me a love of the city break. I was 20, on summer holidays from university, and in the German capital for five days with two friends. We did not stop, drinking in everything the city offered us. We split our time between two different hostels, east and west, went to bed with the larks and woke for noon.
The white sands of Bo Phut Beach on Koh Samui, a popular tourist island in the Gulf of Thailand that usually sees more than two million visitors a year, lie deserted. A couple of jet skis and kayaks bake in the sun, looking more like beached whales than sports equipment waiting for sunbathers.
It reopened on July 4, and now's an ideal time to visit – with a surfeit of cost-effective accommodation and activities
Fontsanta isn’t the sort of hotel that ever gets really buzzing. It’s the kind of understated five-star property that always seems half empty, even when it’s full, because it offers so much space. There is no need for face masks in the vast, gallery-like lobby, and if it weren’t for the widely available hand sanitiser at every door or desk, I’d be hard pressed to find evidence of a pandemic here. Even the spa is open, and as I’m face down on the treatment bed being pummeled within an inch of my life, I’m blissfully unaware that my masseuse is wearing a face mask.
The UK Government has updated its guidance for cruise ships, advising all British people to avoid travelling on them.
There is barely a clearer example of the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on global air travel: an Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger aircraft, has been stripped of its seats to make way for cargo.
A coastal campsite in northern Spain has created a so-called “safe” area, where guests do not have to follow strict social distancing measures if they test negative for Covid-19.
Those with cash to spare are seeking a slice of calm in a country that has been praised for its handling of the crisis
There are maybe three main worries causing potential travellers to be wary about venturing over the Channel right now. Firstly, are they likely to be in contact with disease? Secondly, and conversely, will precautions taken against the disease render a holiday artificial, like party-time in the ICU?
Holidaymakers returning to the UK are being forced to quarantine for 14 days despite flying in from countries declared safe by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). Angry passengers have hit out at the Government’s “illogical” decision to lift its warning against non-essential travel to around 70 countries last Saturday but then to delay the ending of quarantine rules for people returning from those destinations until tomorrow. It had been suggested by Government sources last week that those who returned to the UK after the FCO changed its advice would not need to self-isolate, or would only be required to do so until Friday. That now appears to have been wrong. The Department for Transport (DfT) said today: “People returning to England before July 10 will be subject to the current legal requirement to self-isolate for the full two weeks.” One passenger trapped in limbo described how he had flown in from Australia on Saturday after the FCO lifted the restrictions on non-essential travel but was now being told he had to quarantine until July 18, eight days after UK quarantine is lifted for 74 countries and territories including Australia. “It seems completely illogical that I may have to self isolate until July 18 when a person who returns from Melbourne (which is currently under lockdown) today (Friday) will not have to self-isolate,” he told The Telegraph. “That can’t be right? “The [Government] should have imposed quarantine/self isolation back in March. Now, it’s just a PR stunt. My family and friends in Australia think the UK’s response to the coronavirus has been a joke. “On a related matter, on arrival at Heathrow I noticed several people with the completed contact locator forms in their hands go through the gates with their e-passports with nowhere to deposit their forms. I don’t think the Border Force were that interested.”
The Maldives, Cuba and Mexico could be included on a second list of ‘air bridge’ countries as the Government considers permitting UK travellers to visit more destinations without needing to self-isolate on their return to Britain. The Foreign Office (FCO) lifted its warning against trips to 66 destinations last week, and announced ‘travel corridors’ with 59 countries where quarantine rules, from tomorrow, no longer apply. The two lists, which the Government says are determined by a variety of factors, including infection rate, are under constant review, and edits made to the FCO website this week suggest a new batch of exemptions for one or both is being prepared. An amendment to the advice page of more than a dozen countries reads: “Editorial review to remove ‘Return to the UK’ section and improve ‘Coronavirus’ section”. This is the same note that was added to each of the countries included in the first batch of exemptions in the days before last Friday’s official announcement. So far the amendment has been attached to the following destinations: Cuba, Russia, Sweden, Tanzania, Armenia, Cape Verde, Maldives, Ukraine, Ivory Coast, Myanmar, Mexico, Nepal, Azerbaijan, Sudan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova and Pitcairn. Should the list prove correct, the likes of the Maldives, Cuba and Cape Verde would be of particular interest to holidaymakers. The presence of Belarus would almost certainly raise eyebrows, however, given the criticism it has faced for its handling of the crisis. Armenia also has one of the highest per capita infection rates in the world. Sweden, too, would be an interesting addition; its laissez-faire approach has won both opponents and admirers, but new cases there are falling fast. The most high-profile absentee from the first batch of air bridge countries was Portugal. This week an analysis by two Portuguese doctors raised doubts about the science behind the UK’s snub, which they claim is penalising the country for identifying many light and asymptomatic cases. The FCO has also been accused of confusing holidaymakers by releasing two separate exemption lists. The first contains 59 destinations where arrivals are no longer required to self-isolate for 14 days; the second features the 66 territories where the FCO blanket advice against non-essential travel no longer applies. However, some countries, including Canada and Thailand, appear on one list but not the other. Furthermore, the inclusion of a country does not necessarily mean holidays are possible. New Zealand, for example, appears on both but looks likely to remain closed to all foreign tourists until 2021.
The scheme for remote workers could boost an economy heavily reliant on tourism British holidaymakers’ favourite Caribbean island is offering a 12-month remote working incentive to entice foreigners. Prime minister Mia Amor Mottley proposed the “Barbados Welcome Stamp” scheme, which would give visitors the option to work remotely in the country for a year at a time, during a speech last week. Ms Mottley said the stamp would allow travellers to “come and work from here overseas, digitally, so that persons don’t need to remain in the countries in which they are.” This could be an ideal opportunity for Britons to immerse themselves in Bajan culture, which it is hard to fully experience during a one- or two-week stay. It would also offer a short-term solution to the island’s loss of tourism spending, which accounts for 40 per cent of its GDP. Some 30 per cent of the workforce is employed by the industry. “You don’t need to work in Europe, or the US or Latin America if you can come here and work for a couple of months at a time; go back and come back,” said Ms Mottley. The concept is now being refined by the Barbados government. The island’s tourism industry has been hard hit during the pandemic with flights grounded and the cruise industry at a standstill – no major lines are returning to the Caribbean until August at the earliest. Barbados is included on the British Government’s list of countries exempt from UK quarantine. It is also excluded from the Foreign Office warning against all but essential overseas travel. Commercial flights to Barbados are resuming on July 12, from Canada, with British Airways offering direct flights from Gatwick starting on July 18, initially once a week. Virgin Atlantic, the other airline that runs a direct service from the UK, is set to restart flights from Heathrow on August 1, again with a weekly service. Arrivals to Barbados are required to take a PCR antigen test for Covid-19 within 72 hours of their visit and to present a certificate confirming that they are Covid-19 negative (passengers from CARICOM countries – 20 states in the Caribbean region – can take the test up to one week prior to travel). Travellers that arrive without having been tested will be checked for the virus at Barbados airport. Hotels, bars, restaurants and shops have reopened on the island, while final curfew restrictions were lifted on July 1. Barbados is among the islands least affected by the Caribbean’s hurricane season – which runs from June to December – and is hit, on average, by one hurricane every 20 years. The country has recorded 98 cases and seven deaths as a result of the virus among its population of 287,000.