Holidaymakers due to travel to Greece this week are growing concerned that the country will go back into lockdown as it experiences a surge in coronavirus cases.
Direct flights from the UK to the popular holiday destination are due to resume on Wednesday but authorities are now considering the reintroduction of stricter lockdown measures. UK travellers have taken to social media to ask their airlines and tour operators whether their trips will be affected.
But Noel Josephides, from operator Sunvil, said it was “business as usual”. “There has been increased testing at land borders and, as a result, more cases have been found and stopped at land borders. Flights are unaffected,” he said.
There are now more active infections in Greece than at any other point during the pandemic – 2,236 people in Greece are known to have the virus right now.
On Friday, 60 people were confirmed to have contracted the virus, the highest daily number since April 21; on Sunday the number had fallen to 31. More than 100 new cases reported in the last fortnight have been among incoming tourists.
Government spokesperson Stelios Petsas told local media: “We knew from the beginning that when we gradually opened the country’s gates to the world, we would have imported incidents.”
He added that he is “determined to protect the majority from the frivolous few.”
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Heathrow sees passenger numbers fall nearly 100%
Heathrow Airport saw its passenger numbers plummet after the Government imposed a mandatory quarantine on all arrivals.
The London hub, the UK’s busiest airport, said just 350,000 passed through its doors last month, down 95 per cent on June last year. It said routes to and from North America and Africa saw the biggest declines.
Across all destinations, the number of flights was down 82 per cent as demand for travel remained low due to the coronavirus pandemic, PA reported. Total passenger numbers for the first half of the year were 60 per cent down on the same period in 2019.
Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “Travel corridors were a great first step and now we need to go further to protect jobs and kick-start the economy, by allowing healthy passengers to travel freely between the UK and the rest of the world.
“We’re ready to pilot a testing system on arrival for passengers from ‘red’ countries as an alternative to quarantine, but even better would be to test passengers before they get on a plane.”
Quarantine lifted for scores of countries on Friday, but still remains for others.
‘Order now for passport renewals’
A delay on the processing times of British passports caused by the coronavirus pandemic looks set to be exacerbated by Brexit.
Amy Jones reports:
Millions of Britons whose passports are due to expire in the next year are being urged to apply for a new one now, as part of a stepping up of efforts to prepare for the end of the Brexit transition period.
Holidaymakers travelling to popular European destinations from Jan 1 will be required to have six months validity on their travel documents, which is likely to cause a stampede of renewals at UK passport offices.
It’s estimated that some five million UK citizens have passports which are valid for less than a year, meaning they should act now in order to travel in the new year.
Those who do not renew in time will “not be able to travel to most EU countries” as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
How Tui kickstarted flights over the weekend
Tui restarted their operations at the weekend, with flights departing for Ibiza and Palma from London Gatwick, Birmingham and Manchester.
Sarah Marshall was on one of the first services. She writes:
On board, the experience is very familiar, although inflight magazines and ‘high friction points’ have been removed and loitering for the loos is discouraged. Masks are the main change; they won’t let you on without one. It’s recommended to change face coverings every four hours, so if you plan to arrive at the airport early, you’ll need to pack a few.
Centre Parcs reopens, but pools kept closed
Centre Parcs has opened its sites to visitors today for the first time since March.
The group said it “cannot wait to welcome our guests and staff back”, with capacity reduced across parks. The pools and spas will be closed for the first four weeks.
“In line with government guidance, you will see some changes to the way we do things once we reopen,” Centre Parcs said. “Our team of experts have reviewed everything we do, right down to the smallest detail, to make sure we’re keeping you and our staff as safe as possible.
“We know many of you are looking forward to some family time away following lockdown and our aim was always to open our forests as soon as we felt prepared to do so. As we’re sure you will expect, when we first open, some facilities won’t be available but as soon as we can, we will. We plan to review government guidelines on a regular basis and open additional facilities as and when we know we are ready.”
News from around the world
Good morning, here are some of the latest headlines as travel resumes around Europe.