Dismay as arrivals to UK told negative Covid test won't let them skip quarantine

Travellers will have to provide a negative Covid-19 test before arriving in the UK as part of an effort to prevent the spread of new coronavirus variants. Passengers, including returning Britons, will be required to show proof of a negative test result obtained less than 72 hours before departure for the UK, with GBP500 fines for those who flout the rules. Those arriving from countries not on the travel corridor list will still be required to self-isolate - even if they test negative - although they will be allowed to leave quarantine with a second negative test after five days.

Exemptions will apply for hauliers, children aged under 11, air and boat crews, and those "travelling from countries without the infrastructure available to deliver the tests". The new rule is expected to come into force early next week, and while the current plan only applies to England, the Scottish Government has confirmed that it will adopt similar measures "as soon as possible", without adapting the current policy that makes all 'non-essential' travel to Scotland illegal. Wales and Northern Ireland are also expected to announce their own testing requirements today. Heathrow airport chief executive John Holland-Kaye told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that this new measure should only be temporary. "We need to have a roadmap for how we get out of this because aviation is vital to us as a small island trading nation," he said.

The strict new border controls come amid mounting fears over the highly contagious South Africa Covid variant, and the Government has now banned arrivals from 12 southern African countries, including South Africa, Namibia, the Seychelles and Mauritius, to stop its spread. Scroll down for more updates.

4:34PM

That's it for today

Before I go, here's a recap of the main headlines:

  • Arrivals to UK will need to show a negative Covid test before entry
  • Pre-departure tests must be 'temporary' measure, says airport chief
  • Australia clamps down on testing rules as new strain emerges in Brisbane
  • Pandemic forces cruise giant Royal Caribbean to shrink its fleet size
  • Denmark to introduce vaccine passports
  • Cyprus goes into new lockdown from Jan 10
  • Foreign Office advice will have "catastrophic" consequences for cruise industry
4:28PM

British couple fined for breaking Covid rules at Barbados resort

A British couple staying at Barbados beach resort have been fined more than GBP4,000 after inviting another woman to their room for drinks. Security guards at the Treasure Beach Resort on the island's west coast caught the unnamed guest climbing over wall before promptly handing the matter over to the police.

The couple have been fined GBP2,200 each, and face a nine-month prison sentence if they do not pay within seven days.

4:14PM

Wizz Air plane stuck on runway after truck gets wedged in undercarriage

A Wizz Air jet was delayed from takeoff after a ground service truck got into a tight spot beneath the fuselage. The flight was due to depart from Gdansk in Poland earlier this week, but a vehicle that was there to fill the plane's water tank got wedged while reversing underneath it. A spokesperson for Gdansk's Lech Walesa Airport reported that nobody was injured in the incident.

6.01.2021 Aero Gdanks (Polonia), vehiculo de servicio con agua para avion WizzAir, HA-LJB, colisiona contra parte baja de fuselaje.
El Airbus A320neo, con apenas 6 meses de vida operativa permanece a espera de poder terminar los trabajos de reparacion.
Que picardia !!! pic.twitter.com/o1VQlU9TKK

-- Vuelos y Viajes (@flyezequiel) January 8, 2021 3:59PM

'No one will come to the UK if they still have to isolate' 

Joss Croft, CEO of UKinbound, has urged the Government to "stop turning a blind eye" to the travel industry's calls for quarantine to be scrapped.

He said:

Testing pre-arrival is a very positive step forward and something that the industry has been asking for since the summer. However this mechanic alone will fall woefully short when it's safe to travel again as no one will want to come to the UK if they have to isolate for a minimum of five days.

Under this new policy, arrivals from non-travel corridor countries still have to quarantine or isolate, an issue that could be eradicated by implementing a second test on arrival. For travel to recover we also need a common international standard of testing, and we ask ministers to work towards this.

Inbound tourism will be vital to the UK's economic recovery, but today businesses in this industry are struggling to survive as they continue to be excluded from key support measures. The Government needs to stop turning a blind eye, act now and actually listen to the inbound tourism industry.

3:44PM

Covid in Europe: how does the UK compare? 

With several new variants of the coronavirus now causing considerable concern in the global health community, countries around Europe are beginning to reintroduce stringent measures in an effort to suppress rising infection rates. For an overview of the situation, here's how the UK's seven-day case rate compares with those of France, Spain and Italy.

The graphs give a good indication how each country has coped with the Covid outbreak over the course of the year. France: 127.2 per 100,000

Coronavirus France Spotlight Chart - Cases default

Italy: 187.3 per 100,000

Coronavirus Italy Spotlight Chart - cases default

Spain: 206.8 per 100,000

Coronavirus Spain Spotlight Chart - Cases default

UK: 602.6 per 100,000

Coronavirus UK Spotlight Chart - Cases default3:27PM

The view from Weymouth Beach

A fluctuating number of cruise ships have been idling off the Dorset coast since the pandemic forced the indefinite cessation of ocean voyages, and it appears they won't be leaving any time soon. There are currently five vessels anchored in Weymouth Bay.

Cruise companies sent them to this corner of the English Channel to avoid expensive berthing fees in south coast ports, although many were hoping that the Government would give the green light for cruising to restart this month. With this now looking extremely unlikely, it's predicted they will have to remain where they are until spring.

Credit:Getty Credit:Getty3:15PM

Air travel recovery came to "full stop" in November

The aviation industry's gradual recovery over the summer was stopped in its tracks by renewed travel restrictions and quarantine rules, according to IATA. Demand for international air travel had been steadily climbing in the preceding months, but November's figures saw a decline of 88.3% compared to those in November 2019 - worse than October's year-on-year shortfall of 87.6%.

European airlines were hit particularly hard: with an 87% year-on-year slump in demand in November a significant rise on the 83% posted in October. IATA's chief executive, Alexandre de Juniac, said: "The already tepid recovery in air travel demand came to a full stop in November. "That's because governments responded to new outbreaks with even more severe travel restrictions and quarantine measures.

"This is clearly inefficient. Such measures increase hardship for millions. "Vaccines offer the long-term solution.

In the meantime, testing is the best way that we see to stop the spread of the virus and start the economic recovery. "How much more anguish do people need to go through - job losses, mental stress - before governments will understand that?"

2:55PM

The new UK entry testing rules: what we know

Anyone travelling into the UK will soon be required to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test, taken up to 72 hours prior to departure, writes Greg Dickinson. This comes as part of a significant toughening of border controls, as the Government attempts to control the rapid rise of Covid cases in the country.

So how will this work? How much will it cost? Who will need to take the test? And which countries will it apply to?

Here's what we know so far about the UK's new testing requirements.

2:40PM

30 great active adventures for 2021, to shake off your post-lockdown cobwebs

Sarah Baxter writes: The most adventurous activities many of us got up to in 2020 involved erecting a dusty old tent in the back garden, finding a slightly new way to walk to the shops or wearing our safari clobber on the sofa while binge-watching Netflix (well, why not?). With greater restrictions enforced across the UK earlier this week, our horizons have shrunk yet again, along with our opportunities.

Our sense of adventure has been dampened, stifled; could it be in danger of being lost? Even though the immediate travel landscape might look bleak, advance planning is vital on a practical level, too: with so many bookings carried over from 2020, availability this year will be more limited than you might think. So we've sought out some of the best adventures to remind you what's out there, waiting, in 2021.

The greatest journeys, deepest immersions, wildest escapades. When we can explore once more, these are some of the hikes, bikes, rail rides, flights, cruises, canters and overlanders we most want to take

Sri Lanka offers beautiful beaches as well as ample wildlife spotting opportunities Credit:Getty2:25PM

'The focus must be on returning travel to normal'

Responding today to the announcement by the Government that air passengers will be required to take a Covid test before travelling back to the UK, Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, the industry association representing UK-registered carriers, said:

We recognise the UK Government's need to act now and support the introduction of pre-departure testing in order to keep the country safe and borders open. However, this should be a short-term, emergency measure only and once the roll-out of the vaccine accelerates, the focus must be on returning travel to normal as quickly as possible in order to support the UK's economic recovery.

This includes removing the need to quarantine or test as the UK population is vaccinated and the virus is brought under control at home and abroad.

Ultimately, cheaper and quicker testing is required to ensure travel can be accessible while testing is required but then needs to be unwound once vaccinations and the overall threat of Covid recedes.

2:21PM

Denmark to introduce vaccine passports

Denmark is to introduce vaccine passports from this month, the country's ministry of health and the elderly has confirmed.

According to Danish broadcaster TV2, the ministry said the following:

The purpose of a Danish vaccine passport is to ensure that you as a citizen can document in a simple and safe way that you have been vaccinated, eg if you are going abroad, and documentation is required. 2:13PM

Send yourself to Coventry, Britain's underrated Capital of Culture, in 2021

Can the original Ghost Town, bombed into oblivion and left on the post-industrial scrap heap, pull off a City of Culture year, asks Chris Moss.

The ruins of the old cathedral Credit:Getty

Coventry has the misfortune to be the UK's City of Culture for 2021 - a four-yearly extravaganza that typically involves lots of enthusiastic locals putting on dozens of social, arts and entertainment events, and many visitors coming to town to join the party. Covid-19 throws a spanner in the works, to say the least.

However, take a closer look and there are plenty of reasons to make a visit to the city (when restrictions allow).

1:54PM

Cyprus goes into new lockdown from Jan 10

Cyprus will introduce a new lockdown to quell rising Covid-19 infections from Jan.

10, its health minister said on Friday, the country's second since the start of the pandemic. Retail businesses such as hairdressers, beauty parlours and large department stores will shut until Jan.

31, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou told a news conference.

People will be allowed to leave home just twice a day for specific reasons such as buying groceries or medicines and taking exercise, while a current curfew banning movement from 2100 to 0500 daily will remain in force.

1:45PM

The surprising slice of Italy in southeast London

Dawson Heights has become a place of architectural pilgrimage, writes Abigail Blasi.

The architect, Kate Macintosh, designed Dawson Heights aged only 26 Where I live in southeast London, a pair of asymmetrical housing blocks dominate the horizon. They peek over hilltops and around corners. They're like a portrait whose eyes follow you around a room. The past year has provided the lemons (no travel) to create lemonade (exploring close to home), thus I set out to discover more about Dawson Heights (1964-72), a pair of ziggurats built on a spoil heap.

Less well-known than other modernist masterpieces, they've become a place of architectural pilgrimage, described as resembling battleships, Italian hilltop towns, castles, and Inca pyramids. 

Read the full story.

1:34PM

British Airways new short-haul menu: reviewed

Before Covid-19, travel journalists were often invited to preview airlines' new menus on actual flights - or at least at ritzy launch parties, writes Hazel Plush.

But times have changed... Yesterday afternoon, British Airways announced its collaboration with Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge via video conference - with a mysterious package delivered to my front door beforehand.  'Don't open the box until the call,' the accompanying note instructed - adding that I was to skip lunch, and preheat my oven to 180C.

A regular launch party this was not.  And yet, it was a jolly affair - not least because chef Tom Kerridge proved an affable host on the video call, despite the inevitable wifi hiccups. "Developing the menu during a global lockdown wasn't easy," he admitted, "but it certainly kept me and my team busy while hospitality was closed." We popped our pies in the oven, as Kerridge extolled the virtues of celery in sandwiches (crunchy, refreshing), and described the "perfect" brioche buns for his chicken and bacon sub ("pillowy and soft - so you can squeeze it all together"). 

All great fun, but really we were all just over the moon to be covering a story that doesn't involve 'travel corridors', quarantine or PCR tests.

In the old days, a new menu launch was an excuse for a get-together with industry friends: enjoyable but not exactly thrilling. Now, though, we hoovered up every crumb of the good news - and quite a few sandwiches, too. Here's what I thought of them:

Ham Hock & Smoked Cheddar Sandwich (GBP4.10): A meaty, flavourful doorstep sandwich - the most filling option on the menu.

Brie Ploughman's Sandwich (GBP4.20): A revelation! Brie works perfectly in a Ploughman's, and the chutney was sweet and spicy.

Chicken & Bacon Baguette (GBP4.50): Lovely brioche, but the filling was too creamy for my liking - a bit of salad would've lightened the load.

Steak & Ale Pie (GBP4.50): Deep-filled, with buttery pastry: everything you could wish for in a steak-and-ale. My only criticism?

Too small. 

The Speedbird Menu launches soon.

1:28PM

Sweden flirts with lockdown as Covid cases rise

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Sweden has stood out from other countries for its refusal to declare lockdown or order the use of face masks. But a gradual shift in the Swedish government's strategy has stirred speculation that a full-scale lockdown could be on the cards as Covid infections in the country steadily rise. The national seven-day case rate is comparatively high 440.9 per 100,000 people.

Coronavirus Sweden Spotlight Chart - Cases default

Sweden's parliament has now voted in favour of a new law which grants the government power to close businesses, or limit visitor numbers and opening hours.

It follows a number of rule changes made three weeks ago, when it became compulsory to wear a face masks while on public transport in rush hour, limits were placed on the number of people allowed to sit together in restaurants, and the sale of alcohol was banned after 10pm.

1:13PM

In pictures: Was life better back in the 'Roaring Twenties'?

Britain could be set for another 'Roaring Twenties' after the pandemic, if people move to splash the cash they have saved during lockdown, writes Greg Dickinson. Torsten Bell, a leading economist at the Resolution Foundation, says: "History in the shape of the 1920s told us, once the [Spanish Flu] pandemic came to an end, also the war to be honest, people were desperate to get out and have a good time. "It is called the Roaring Twenties for a reason.

So there are possibilities out there for upside scenarios, even if we shouldn't be counting on it." We take a leap through time to see how we lived and looked back in the 1920s.

Credit:Getty Credit:Getty Credit:Getty Credit:Getty12:58PM

Watch: Negative Covid tests must be temporary says Heathrow boss

The CEO of Heathrow Airport, John Holland-Kaye, has stressed that the "belt and braces" approach of pre-departure testing and quarantine will deter people from travelling, and that the Government must plan for a reduction in travel restrictions in the coming weeks and months.

[embedded content] 12:47PM

'We are living on a knife edge': French ski resorts devastated after reopening is postponed

With the holidays over and the scant few French tourists back home, ski resorts in France are frighteningly empty, writes Nicola Williams. This week's return to lockdown in England killed off any bookings from British skiers, including for February half-term, in one fell swoop.

Now French prime minister Jean Castex's announcement last night that ski lifts won't open this weekend as suggested back in December, is prompting struggling businesses in the Alps to question if they'll get any season at all.  "Covid has reduced us to having no staff and no business. We are open, but no one is coming.

It is devastating." Former intensive-care and hospital ward sister from Yorkshire, Jane Sayer, 62, and partner Robert Mewton, 67, have called Les Gets home for 27 years. Prior to the pandemic, their successful airport transfer business SkiTransfers.com and fully-catered Chalet Bluebell employed 16 drivers and chalet staff.

Today they are just two, with three of their original 14 minibuses on the road and no hope of recuperating this season's lost revenue. Read the full article

The reopening of French ski lifts has been postponed12:37PM

Bookings surge for domestic holidays this summer

UK holiday operators Hoseasons and Cottages.com have reported a steep rise in 'staycation' bookings for 2021. The holiday rentals brands, both of which belong to the Awaze group, have jointly seen a 10% increase in bookings over the summer when compared to this time last year, while bookings for the May half term have risen by 39%.

Awaze's chief commercial officer, Simon Altham, said: "Following recent Government announcements, online summer searches have surged as people look to guarantee their peak season break this year, with many clearly motivated by being locked down at home and needing something to look forward to. "This situation is different from the first lockdown in 2020, when we saw an immediate drop in searches, as people were unsure when they would next be able to take a break. "It is clear from our data that holidaymakers are feeling much more confident about things returning to normal by the Spring, following the Prime Minister's recent comments about the 'end being in sight' - and this is inspiring them to look and book now."

12:25PM

British Airways partners with Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge for in-flight food  

British Airways has announced a new onboard menu across its Euro Traveller flights, designed by Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge.

The airline's new 'Speedbird Menu' includes a range of gourmet sandwiches and pies created by the celebrated restaurateur. Passengers on its short-haul flights will be required to pre-order food and drink items at least 12 hours before departure, with main meals priced from GBP4.10. The on-board offering, which launches soon, will also include tapas boxes designed by renowned Spanish chef Jose Pizarro (GBP5.95) and Brew Dog's Jet Stream beer (GBP4.50) - also exclusive to British Airways flights.

Tom Kerridge

During the pandemic, the airline has introduced complimentary bottled water and snack items on its short-haul flights - a service which will continue alongside the paid-for menu, a spokesperson confirmed to Telegraph Travel. 

At the launch of the Speedbird Cafe offering, Tom Kerridge said: "I am truly happy to be working with British Airways again, and to have the opportunity to champion the best of British to so many people. A sandwich, made with care and great flavours, can be a perfect meal and I hope the passengers enjoy my short haul menu." Telegraph Travel's Hazel Plush has sampled a few of the new onboard offerings; she'll be sharing her review on the live blog later today.

12:15PM

Watch: "We simply cannot take chances," says Shapps

[embedded content] 12:08PM

Pandemic forces cruise giant Royal Caribbean to shrink its fleet size

The world's second largest cruise line has announced the sale of two of its ships to an undisclosed buyer in Asia, as the cruise industry continues to struggle through the rough waters of the coronavirus crisis, reports Kaye Holland.

Royal Caribbean's two oldest and smallest ships, Empress of the Seas and Majesty of the Seas, will depart its fleet later this month. As a result the cruise giant has cancelled all upcoming sailings on both vessels. Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, said: "Empress and Majesty of the Seas made indelible marks on the cruise industry with their revolutionary design and size.

"Touted as the cruise industry's most ground-breaking ships when they were introduced, they continued to make history throughout their more than three decades of service. Saying goodbye to these two beloved ships is a major moment in Royal Caribbean's history - one that is difficult but necessary." Read the full story

Royal Caribbean's two oldest ships will depart its fleet later this month11:56AM

Travellers who miss flight due to test delay 'will not be covered'

A great number of countries are now demanding to see negative Covid test results from travellers before they are permitted entry, mainly stipulating that the test be carried out within 72 hours prior to departure.

But a delay in obtaining the results could not only leave many people stranded at the airport, but also unable to reclaim the costs through their travel insurance. One insurer, AXA UK, has confirmed that it does not cover passengers who are prevented from boarding their flights due to delayed results, leaving consumers to bear the costs of their cancelled holidays, and possibly the fee for the useless Covid test. While the majority of insurers now cover medical expenses, accommodation and food costs for customers who contract the virus while abroad, travellers have also been warned thay they may be left out of pocket if forced to cancel or cut short their holidays due to changes in FCDO travel advice.

11:40AM

Those exempt from quarantine will still need to be tested

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said people whose jobs mean they qualify for travel quarantine exemptions will be required to take a coronavirus test before travelling.

The Government lists dozens of jobs that qualify for exemption from completing the passenger locator form or self-isolating, including some defence personnel, elite sportsmen and women, and health workers. Mr Shapps told ITV's Good Morning Britain that, despite not needing the quarantine, they "won't be exempted from taking the Covid test".

11:34AM

Israel back into lockdown as UK government closes travel corridor

The Government stripped four more countries of their travel corridors yesterday: Botswana, Mauritius and the Seychelles (all subject to blanket travel bans in response to the South Africa coronavirus strain), but also Israel. Israel has seen a large spike in Covid infections in the last couple of weeks, and its seven-day caseload has risen to 358 per 100,000 people.

Coronavirus Israel Spotlight Chart - Cases default

 The Israeli government has now approved another national lockdown (the last one ended in September), with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu laying blame on the "British mutation".

11:21AM

The best walks in the Thames Valley to beat the lockdown blues

A motorway is not the obvious place from which to spy the perfect walk - one of our few remaining freedoms as another lockdown begins, writes Phoebe Smith.

They funnel through monotonous scenery, lined with concrete and metal, giving nothing away to what lies beyond the tarmac strip of snaking headlights in our rearview mirrors. Yet, to find a stroll in the Thames Valley, veined by the M25, M40, M4 and the M3, it's one of the best places to start looking.  Here are the top picks

The meandering river at MedmenhamCredit:Getty11:12AM

Rip-off websites target GHIC applications

With UK travellers no longer entitled to a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) following Brexit, a new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) is being rolled out, affording Britons free or reduced-cost healthcare in the EU's 27 member states.

The GHIC is free to claim from the NHS, but a number of rip-off websites have already popped up in Google, offering to process applications for administration fees of around GBP30, according to consumer champion Which?. One website ranking high on Google search, e111ehic.co.uk, offers a 10-14 day service (the NHS takes around seven days to process applications), but does guarantee it will "indentify" spelling errors. Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert, has warned: "Never pay to get [your GHIC or EHIC].

Both these cards are free and you can order one from the official NHS website. "Don't Google it because some shyster sites advertise it and will make you pay when you don't need to."

10:58AM

New rules will be 'a challenge' for passengers 

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said many airports around the world do not have the same scale of testing facilities. He told BBC Breakfast: "So, if you're caught out in one of those countries, and you now have these new requirements, then you'll find it quite difficult to get the tests that are needed in order to come back home again.

"And that's going to be a real challenge for a lot of passengers." He said varying rules in different countries are currently "confusing" for passengers. Mr Holland-Kaye added: "We've had a lot of disappointed travellers who thought they'd done the right thing and were then turned away when they tried to board their plane."

10:45AM

Rare snowfall hits Spanish capital

Madrid has been left blanketed in snow as 'Storm Filomena' sets in.

Much of Spain is braced for up to 10 days of icy conditions and sub-zero temperatures, particularly regions in the north and centre of the country. Forecasters are expecting snow in the capital city to reach levels unseen since the 1980s.

Credit:Getty Credit:AFP 10:30AM

Foreign Office advice will have "catastrophic" consequences for cruise industry

The advisory against cruising issued by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) will cause the UK cruise industry to shrink, the chairman of Carnival UK has warned. David Dingle said:

We've worked really hard with the Department for Transport (DfT), with the Foreign Office and with Public Health England to create an operating framework, to manage every aspect of Covid.

It has been endorsed by the DfT. It's got approval from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

But when we try to work with the Foreign Office to lift its advisory against cruising, we cannot get that lifted. This is a travel advisory not about a destination but about a means of transport, which is unprecedented.

Speaking at a Travel Weekly event, Mr Dingle added:

The Foreign Secretary seems to have reservations about our ability to repatriate any British cruise passenger affected by Covid.

We don't know why.

It's critical for us because 35% of all cruises are booked in January and early February. If we lose that period, our 2021 financial results will be catastrophic. That won't necessarily send the UK cruise industry to the wall, [but] it means the global corporations whose chief executives sit in Miami and look at where they are going to deploy their fleets will look at the UK as not a good place to do cruise business.

We'll see the UK cruise industry shrink because ships will steadily be deployed elsewhere.

10:18AM

Negative tests for travellers "much more urgent" as new coronavirus strains emerge

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said introducing the requirement for passengers to have a negative test before arrival into England and Scotland became "much more urgent" because of new coronavirus strains. He told Sky News:

This is an extra check and we're doing this now because there are these variants that we're very keen to keep out of the country, like the South African variant, for example.

There are the concerns about the South African one in particular about how effective the vaccine would be against it so we simply cannot take chances. So today because of that variant it has become much more urgent.

10:12AM

'We need a path towards easing travel restrictions at the earliest opportunity' 

The Board of Airline Representatives in the UK (BAR UK) has greeted the Transport Secretary's announcement of new pre-departure testing requirements for international arrivals to England with some optimism, but provided these emergency measures are only imposed for the short term.

Dale Keller, chief executive, said:

Airlines have widely supported the introduction of pre-departure testing for many months and we recognise that the public will welcome this critical measure at the current time.

However, it is vital that the lockdown period is utilised to develop a well-coordinated path towards easing travel restrictions at the earliest opportunity once the threat recedes, in particular the requirement to self-isolate for 10 days after arrival in the UK, and to review the 'Test to Release' option after five days. As the vaccination programme gathers pace and the most vulnerable are protected, it is vital that international travel is normalised through removing layered or conflicting measures that do not achieve the necessary balance to protect public health, restore confidence and rebuild the aviation and travel sector.

10:02AM

Australia clamps down on testing rules as new strain emerges in Brisbane

Australia will demand all travellers show proof of a negative Covid-19 test before they are allowed to enter the country after a Brisbane cleaner was discovered to have the highly contagious UK coronavirus variant (see below). "A negative test is not foolproof, but a positive test - they're not coming," said the Australian government's chief medical officer, Paul Kelly.

The Australian border has been closed to all non-citizens since March, with arrivals capped at just 6,000 per week, with all travellers are required to quarantine at a government-sanctioned hotel. While some cases of the UK strain have been detected among those already in isolation, a cleaner at a Brisbane quarantine facility has become the first case detected outside the quarantine system, prompting a three-day lockdown in Australia's third-largest city.

Shoppers queue outside a Woolworths in Brisbane after a city-wide lockdown was declared earlier todayCredit:Shutterstock9:44AM

'A negative test result should remove the need to quarantine' 

While pre-departure testing for travellers coming to the UK has broadly been welcomed by aviation companies, the news that arrivals will still have to self-isolate has been met with dismay. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has warned that combining testing requirements with mandatory quarantine spells further disaster for those working in the travel industry.

A spokesperson said:

The aviation industry supports pre-departure testing, but this should be to facilitate the safe opening of borders and lifting of travel restrictions. It should not be introduced simply to create a further barrier to travel. Presentation of a negative test result should be sufficient to enable those passengers that need to travel to cross borders safely and efficiently without quarantine.

In IATA's passenger survey 81% of people in the UK said they would not travel if they would be quarantined, meaning unless quarantine restrictions are removed, the industry cannot recover.

Adding a new layer of testing to the existing regime without looking again at the existing arrival measures such as mandatory quarantine means putting at risk more than 850,000 aviation and travel jobs in the UK, and will further entrench the UK's collapse in global connectivity, damaging British competitiveness at a time when it is most needed.

9:35AM

British chalet operator Le Ski cancels 2021 season

British-run ski chalet operator Le Ski has cancelled all remaining ski holidays this winter, in a move unlike any other in its 38-year history, reports Lucy Aspden. After being left with "no option but to be decisive," the operator, which runs catered chalet holidays to Courchevel, Val d'Isere and La Tania in France, is now focussing all efforts on next winter, with the majority of its guests choosing to transfer their bookings to secure their space on the slopes in 2021/22. It cites "too many obstacles to operating  our usual high quality catered chalet holidays" as the catalyst for the decision.

Managing director Nick Morgan said: "For the first time in 38 years Le Ski will not take any guests to the Alps this winter. While this is sad, we felt we had no choice but to  display some certainty and clarity for our guests, staff and suppliers. "The vast majority of our amazingly loyal guests are happily deferring to next winter, which is already looking busier than ever.

We are immensely grateful to our guests and chalet owners for their understanding, which enables Le Ski to remain a strong company."

Le Ski runs catered chalet holidays to Courchevel, Val d'Isere and La Tania in FranceCredit:Getty9:23AM

Government criticised for 'chaotic' communication over testing rules

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, has expressed his frustration with the Government 'drip-feeding' information on new testing requirements:

We already have gov ministers dripping bits of info on TV and radio. So chaotic if you are an airline or traveller.

-- Rory Boland (@roryboland) January 8, 2021 9:14AM

Brisbane to enter three-day lockdown after UK Covid strain detected

The Australian city of Brisbane will be locked down for three days after a cleaner in an official quarantine hotel became infected with the new UK variant of Covid-19.

It is the first time the highly transmissible strain has been detected in Australia outside quarantine, and the entire Queensland city will go into lockdown from today in an effort to prevent it from taking hold. The state premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said: "I think everybody in Queensland... knows what we are seeing in the UK and other places around the world is high rates of infection from this particular strain," she said. "And we do not want to see that happening here in our great state."

9:06AM

11 African countries added to UK travel ban list

The Government banned travel from 11 African countries yesterday in response to the new, highly contagious South Africa strain of coronavirus, two weeks after banning travel from South Africa itself.

All those who have been to, or transited through, the following countries in the last 10 days will now be denied entry to the UK:

  • South Africa
  • Namibia
  • Zimbabwe
  • Botswana
  • eSwatini
  • Zambia
  • Malawi
  • Lesotho
  • Mozambique
  • Angola
  • The Seychelles
  • Mauritius
8:57AM

Testing rules could come into force on Thursday

Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency, understands that the new pre-departure testing requirements for travel to the UK will come into effect on Thursday 14 January.

I understand, from next Thursday, all international arrivals into the #UK will need to show proof of a negative test taken up to 72hrs before. Airlines/Eurostar/ferries to check proof before departure or will refuse entry. GBP500 fine for anyone not complying. @ThePCAgency #COVID19

-- Paul Charles (@PPaulCharles) January 7, 2021 8:50AM

Pre-departure tests must be 'temporary' measure, says airport chief

The CEO of Heathrow Airport, John Holland-Kaye, has cautiously welcomed plans to make negative Covid tests mandatory for international travellers coming to England, but said they must be a "temporary" measure.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said:

We have always argued for pre-departure testing as an alternative to quarantine and because we're now going to have both this is a really belt and braces approach.

And it can only be a temporary measure, very few people will travel with this in place.

Now, of course, we're locked down currently, so very few people are travelling, but we need to have a roadmap for how we get out of this because aviation is vital to us as a small island trading nation and a lot of our supply chain and our exports go by air largely in the holds of passenger planes.

And unless we can get those passenger planes moving, we are really not going to be able to get the UK economy moving as well.

8:33AM

Good morning

Before we start, here are the main headlines from yesterday:

  • UK travel ban for Southern Africa
  • Britons warned of summer holiday shortage
  • France indefinitely extends travel ban for passengers from UK 
  • New UK entry rules could price millions of Brits out of holidays
  • Jet2 launches its summer sale... for 2022

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