Catalonia extends coronavirus restrictions as second wave looms

Catalonia has ordered the closure of nightclubs across the region amid fears of a second wave in Spain. 

Fresh restrictions are imposed for at least 15 days, with late-night bars shut and opening hours reduced for gambling halls, casinos and bingo halls.

Areas with the highest number of Covid-19 infections in recent days will also see opening hours cut for restaurants, bars and terraces. 

Spain recorded 2,255 new cases of the virus on Friday compared to a daily average of just 132 in June. 

However, British holidaymakers can continue to fly to Spain’s worst affected regions, including Catalonia, Aragon and the Basque country, as Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, confirmed yesterday that Spain would remain on the UK Government’s “safe list” of countries exempt from UK quarantine. 

As of July 28, five new countries will be added to the list: Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Estonia and St Vincent and the Grenadine. Portugal, however, is still excluded, a decision that Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva said “is neither substantiated nor backed by the facts.”

Follow the latest travel news below. 

01:00 PM

Greece to require negative Covid-19 tests for travellers from Bulgaria and Romania

Travellers arriving in Greece by air from Bulgaria and Romania will need to prove they have tested negative for coronavirus to gain entry, Greece’s Civil Protection authority said today.

This requirement will be in place from July 28 to August 4 and will not apply to Greek nationals.

“Based on an analysis of epidemiological data, arrivals to Greece via air connections from Bulgaria and Romania will be required to provide a negative test result for the coronavirus that has been done up to 72 hours before their arrival,” the authority said.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Bulgaria passed 10,000 on Saturday, with 270 confirmed new infections in the past 24 hours, official data showed.

12:56 PM

Mapped: Which regions of Spain are seeing a second outbreak?

Cases of Covid-19 have surged in parts of Spain, causing fears that localised lockdowns could ruin holiday plans.

On Thursday, the town of Totana in the region of Murcia was the first to be placed in a ‘Phase One’ lockdown after a spike in cases linked to a nightclub. Catalonia and Malaga have also seen recent rises. The government of Catalonia has ordered nightclubs and late-night bars in the region to close for two weeks from today (Saturday).

Greg Dickinson has taken a closer look at which regions are seeing the biggest spikes in cases.

12:29 PM

In pictures: the farm honouring NHS key workers

In the village of Tarbock near Liverpool, farmer Olly Harrison has created a maze and a large-scale flower installation in honour of key workers.

Visitors can explore the sunflower installation with half the tickets sale proceeds being donated to NHS charities. 

maze - Getty
maze – Getty
sunflowers - Getty
sunflowers – Getty

12:15 PM

Thousands of stranded Filipinos crammed into baseball stadium

Thousands of Filipinos were crammed into a baseball stadium in Manila today, Reuters reports.

Officials had reserved the stadium as a place to test people before transporting them back to their home provinces under a program to help people who had lost their jobs in the capital return to their families elsewhere.

The plan was for 7,500 people to arrive at the stadium from Friday, but were caught out when another 2,000 people who were not yet scheduled to travel headed there anyway.

Many of those at the stadium had got stuck in the capital when it imposed one of the strictest and longest lockdowns in mid-March in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

12:09 PM

Listen – Clara Amfo: ‘I have more fun at Notting Hill Carnival than I do at Christmas’

When global travel was largely on pause, the world’s great adventurers were all at home. And Greg Dickinson managed to get their phone numbers for a podcast series, Postcards.

His latest guest is BBC Radio 1 Presenter and DJ, Clara Amfo.

She talks through a few of her most vivid travel memories, including a childhood trip to Ghana, a more recent one to Tokyo, and a taste of the Caribbean at the Notting Hill Carnival.

Postcards podcast - episode 7 Clara Amfo 22/07/20
Postcards podcast – episode 7 Clara Amfo 22/07/20

11:53 AM

What happens if my Spain holiday is cancelled?

A question many will be asking at the moment. 

Here is our consumer expert Nick Trend’s guide to navigating the uncertainty in Spain over the next few weeks. 

11:35 AM

Royal Caribbean’s muster drills go electronic

Guests of the cruise line will now conduct mandatory safety drills through their mobile phones or cabin TVs, which will help with maintaining social distancing guidelines on board. 

11:17 AM

Tate Modern reopens on Monday: here’s what to expect

On Monday, Tate reopens its doors after more than four months in lockdown. The nation’s museums and galleries have been allowed to do so since July 4, with the National Gallery first out of the block on July 8. 

Alastair Smart went along for to the Tate Modern for a first look and to find out why its reopening has come later. 

press preview tate modern - Getty
press preview tate modern – Getty
press preview tate modern - Getty
press preview tate modern – Getty
press preview tate modern - Getty
press preview tate modern – Getty

Read his report.

10:59 AM

Analysis: Why Sweden remains mask-free

The country – one of only a handful in Europe not to impose a national lockdown – is continuing to go its own way on face covering. 

Freddie Sayers, reporting from Stockholm, delves into the reasons why Sweden continues to take a different approach. 

In central Stockholm the restaurants and shops are busy, even if less busy than they might normally be; there’s a table-service-only rule, so many bars have queues of patient Swedes outside to avoid any overcrowding inside. The outside watering holes of Stureplan and along the waterfront at Strandvägen are positively booming.

There’s nothing reckless or denialist about the atmosphere here; nor anything of the grim experiment-gone-wrong that much of the international media would have you believe about a country which did not impose a national lockdown.

Read the full report.

10:39 AM

Police turn motorists away from Snowdon

Motorists have been turned away from a spot near the base of Snowdon mountain this morning, according to North Wales police.

Drivers had been warned cars could be towed away if they parked illegally in Snowdonia National Park. The car park at Pen-y-Pass is now only used as a drop off point for buses and taxis at weekends.

10:29 AM

Record daily increase in cases in Hong Kong

A spike in cases is continuing in Hong Kong, where 133 new coronavirus cases were reported today. This number included 126 that were locally transmitted – a record for a daily increase –as authorities warned that the city faces a critical period in containing the virus.

Since late January, more than 2,000 people have been infected in Hong Kong, 18 of whom have died.

10:16 AM

Ancient Greek theatres reopen with safety measures

The ancient theatres of Herodes Atticus in Athens and Epidaurus in the southern Peloponnese area have reopened for performances with strict seating limits and public health safety guidelines. 

Epidaurus - AP
Epidaurus – AP
Spectators listen a concert at Odeon of Herodes Atticus - AP
Spectators listen a concert at Odeon of Herodes Atticus – AP

10:01 AM

Turkey and Greece exchange criticisms over Hagia Sophia

Turkey and Greece exchanged harsh words today over the conversion of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia into a mosque, a day after Islamic prayers were held at the ancient site for the first time in 90 years.

hagia sophia - Getty
hagia sophia – Getty

Church bells tolled in mourning across Greece on Friday as Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan joined prayers at the building.

“Greece showed once again its enmity towards Islam and Turkey with the excuse of reacting to Hagia Sophia Mosque being opened to prayers,” Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said in a written statement.

Earlier this month, Telegraph Travel’s Turkey expert wrote about why turning the Hagia Sophia into a mosque is a tragedy for travellers.

09:49 AM

Portugal’s exclusion from ‘safe list’ could mean thousands of cancelled trips

Grant Shapps excluded Portugal from yesterday’s “safe list” update, meaning those travelling from the country are still required to quarantine in the UK. 

This came as a blow to British holidaymakers who had booked a break in the country.

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said:

With the school summer holidays underway, news that Portugal is not being added to the government’s travel corridor list could mean cancelled trips for thousands of holidaymakers – many of whom are due to leave in the coming days.  

Many people may want to support their holiday company by accepting a refund credit note or rebooking for a later date, but it’s important operators make clear any drawbacks, including a potential price increase when moving a holiday to 2021. 

09:34 AM

Emirates to offer free Covid-19 travel insurance to all passengers

Emirates will offer all of its passengers a free Covid-19 insurance policy, covering medical expenses up to £135,000 and quarantine costs of £90 a day for up to 14 days, reports Lee Cobaj.

In a first from the international airlines, the insurance plan will automatically be applied to all passengers, regardless of ticket class, travelling to any destination within the current Emirates network.  

The cover is effective immediately and will remain in place until 31 October 2020. There are no forms to fill and no need for passengers to declare any underlying medical conditions. 

Read the full story.

09:30 AM

Marella extends cruise suspension until October

The cruise line has also confirmed the only ship now sailing this summer will be Marella Explorer,  from October 2.  

Affected customers will receive a refund credit and up to 10 per cent incentive of the total value of their booking or a cash refund via TUI’s website.

Customers with bookings due to depart in October can amend their cruise for free for 31 July to any other holiday on sale until October 2021.

09:16 AM

Swimming pools reopen today – here’s what to expect

Swimming pools, gyms and other sports facilities are open again in England after the coronavirus lockdown.

The sector has convinced the Government that it is ready and has detailed measures in place.

Here’s what to expect.

09:03 AM

New Orleans mayor shuts city’s bars

Mayor LaToya Cantrell is closing the city’s bars due to rising coronavirus numbers and has also banned restaurants from selling alcoholic drinks to takeaway – a practice that is typical in New Orleans. 

She said at a news conference on Friday: “The crowds just grow and grow and grow. Even when we were allowing for takeout alcohol, some of the lines were so long they would become a gathering in themselves. And no mask-wearing and the like,” 

Louisiana Department of Health reported more than 2,000 new cases of Covid-19. New Orleans’ total rose by 103, to 9,752.

08:46 AM

Vietnam back on high alert as it records first case in 100 days

Vietnam reported its first local coronavirus infection for more than three months on Saturday after a man in the central city of Danang tested positive four times for the virus, a government statement said.

Thanks to strict quarantine measures and an aggressive and widespread testing programme, Vietnam had kept its virus total to an impressively low 415 cases, and had reported no locally transmitted infections for 100 days.

But on Friday, the health ministry said a 57-year-old man from Danang, a tourist hot spot, had tested positive, prompting the isolation of 50 people he came in contact with.

08:39 AM

Record numbers of cases in every global region

Almost 40 countries have reported record single-day increases in coronavirus infections over the past week, around double the number that did so the previous week.

A Reuters tally has shown a pick-up in the pandemic in every region of the world.

The rate of cases has been increasing not only in countries like the United States, Brazil and India – which have dominated global headlines with large outbreaks – but also in Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Bolivia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Bulgaria, Belgium, Uzbekistan and Israel, among others.

08:32 AM

Watch: Spain extends coronavirus restrictions

08:26 AM

European nations tighten travel restrictions for Spain

France’s prime minister Jean Castex called on Spain to severely limit border crossings and advised French people against travelling to Catalonia due to “deteriorating sanitary indicators.” France is also planning to test all French people arriving or coming  from 16 “red list” countries for Covid-19.  

Germany announced it would offer returning holidaymakers free coronavirus tests in airports to prevent a new wave of infections, as the country recorded its highest number of daily cases for two months.  

Norway, which has an estimated 10,000 tourists in Spain, announced it would reimpose a ten-day quarantine for people arriving from Spain from Saturday.  

Read the full story.

Coronavirus Spain Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus Spain Spotlight Chart – Cases default

08:22 AM

Fast-track passports for holidaymakers offered by Home Office

Fast-track passports for holidaymakers have been announced by the Home Office in a bid to counter a 400,000 backlog of applications.  

The Home Office said that any holidaymaker who can show they are due to travel within the next fortnight and whose application to renew their passport has been waiting more than four weeks will be guaranteed it is completed in five working days.  

The move follows an investigation by The Telegraph which revealed that families had been forced to cancel holidays because of delays of up to four months to process their passport applications.

Read the full story.

08:18 AM

What happened yesterday?

The key stories from Friday:

  • Portugal frustrated after travel corridor snub

  • Five new countries, including Slovenia, added

  • France warns against travel to Catalonia and mulls border closure with Spain

  • China see air travel on way to pre-pandemic levels

  • Cheddar Gorge caves to reopen