The UK’s tough new testing rules came into effect this morning, with all international arrivals now required to show a negative Covid test or face a potential £500 fine. The legislation is intended to protect against the spread of coronavirus variants, after two new forms of the virus were recently discovered in Brazil.
A quarantine is also still in place for all UK arrivals, consisting of 10 days – but shortened to five if a second negative test result is obtained. Currently, no one is able to bypass this quarantine due to the removal last week of all the UK’s travel corridors.
More spot-checks have also been ordered to check that people are quarantining, and all exemptions to the policy – including the controversial separate rules for business travel – have also been removed.
While the travel industry has spent the past year calling for an effective testing regime, many business leaders are still despairing over the continued use of a quarantine.
Speaking on Radio 4 this morning, CEO of the Airport Operators Association Karen Dee warned that the new measures will make little difference to the industry currently – because quarantine is the “biggest deterrent” against booking trips, rather than testing.
Scroll down for the latest updates.
Australia unlikely to open borders in 2021
Australia’s international borders are unlikely to open to travellers this year despite the rollout of coronavirus vaccines, a top health official said Monday.
Health department secretary Brendan Murphy, a key adviser in Australia’s virus response, said free-flowing travel to and from the country was not expected to resume in 2021. “I think that we’ll go most of this year with still substantial border restrictions,” he told public broadcaster ABC. “Even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don’t know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus […] And it’s likely that quarantine will continue for some time.”
Australia’s border has been largely closed to overseas visitors since March 2020 to stem the spread of Covid-19, with a limited number of citizens and their families allowed to return each week. Tens of thousands of Australians remain stranded overseas as a result, while returning travellers must pay about Aus$3,000 ($2,300) to quarantine inside a hotel room for 14 days.
The country has secured access to both the Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines, with the rollout scheduled to begin in late February but still awaiting approval from medical regulators.
The 20 bars you must visit in 2021
Dreaming of some post-pandemic drinking? From against-the-odds openings to stunning lockdown renovations, these are the bars to put on your travel radar for later this year:
1. Maybe Sammy, Sydney Maybe Sammy, a cocktail bar in Sydney’s The Rocks neighbourhood, opened in February 2019 and has already become one of the Australian city’s standout successes on the bar scene. It went straight onto The World’s 50 Best Bars 2019 list at number 43, and became The Best Bar in Australasia a mere nine months after launching. Last year saw the three owners get even busier, pandemic or no, and the trio now has a second cocktail bar in the works: Sammy Junior. It’ll most likely open this February, and will transform from an espresso coffee bar in the morning into a drinks spot in the afternoon, doling out ‘mini cocktails’.
Interestingly, it’ll also follow one of the trends to come out of the pandemic – day drinking – and will close at 6pm. Maybe Sammy, will remain open into the small hours, to accommodate the night owls among us.
Foreigners in Bali punished with push-ups for breaking virus rules
Those breaking Bali’s coronavirus health protocols have been issued an unusual punishment: push-ups. Photos of Bali’s Covid offenders doing push ups in the street went viral last week on social media, with many local news outlets picking up the story – and using the phrase ‘naughty bule’ in headlines.
‘Bule’ is an Indonesian word for foreigners – particularly Caucasians – reflective of the fact that it is largely non-local visitors to the island who have been found breaking the rules. A particular hotspot for infractions is the tourist-heavy Badung regency area, home to the popular Kuta and Seminyak beaches, which recorded the highest number of coronavirus health protocol violations in Bali: 8864 offences this week.
“Most of [the offences] were not bringing their masks, not wearing them properly, and some businesses not applying health protocols,” Badung regency Public Order Agency chief I Gusti Agung Kerta Suryanegara told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Push-ups are being issued to minor offenders, in place of a 100,000 rupiah (£5.23) fine.
“We didn’t fine those who had admitted their mistakes … we didn’t just fine people randomly because they didn’t wear masks,” said Suryanegara. Despite this, 80 per cent of fines for violating COVID-19 regulations have been issued to foreigners, mostly from Europe, for more serious rule breaking. “Some foreigners were found walking on the beach, sitting in restaurants, and riding motorbikes without masks.”
“I’m not saying that Indonesians are well behaved, but fines were given as the [last resort], which means that [those who were fined] didn’t want to comply and were very defensive.”
Here in Florida the bars are crowded and the party invites keep coming
Across the Sunshine State, residents are living their lives with little disruption, writes Nick Dauk:
7°C is cold for a Floridian… but not too cold to resist an outdoor pint on a winter night.
The White Lion in St. Augustine is one of my favorite pubs in the world. It’s not quite a dive, but definitely not the bar out-of-towners flock to first. Set across from the Castillo de San Marcos, one of the oldest forts in the US, it’s a must-visit every time I make the drive from Orlando. Even if that means shivering through every sip.
Though my wife, infant and I were alone in the cold courtyard, it was clear that the winter weather wouldn’t stop other Floridians from enjoying the night. Locals and in-state visitors like myself crowded St. George Street, bouncing in and out of the boutique shops, bars, and restaurants that make this area so popular.
This isn’t an uncommon scene elsewhere in the Sunshine State.
Three tourism icons you must see in your lifetime
The latest instalment of Nick Trend‘s journey around the world in 80 objects continues with a Gaudi-designed bench, an exotic clock, and the mysterious Mo’ai of Easter Island:
13. The Serpentine Bench, Barcelona It suits the enigmatically eccentric character of Barcelona’s most celebrated architect that his two most famous designs in the city are about as far apart in scale and grandeur as it is possible to get. They are a fantastical cathedral and a park bench.
The Sagrada Familia, with its strange organic cluster of conical towers, remains unfinished 139 years after work began on the concrete structure. Even in this uncompleted state, it has become the biggest visitor attraction in the city. Rather more subtle is the impact of the Serpentine Bench in Park Guell. But in its way, it is just as radical, just as inventive and has had just as great an influence on the everyday life of Barcelona’s citizens, as the cathedral we most associate with him.
Salisbury Cathedral becomes UK’s most beautiful vaccination centre
Salisbury Cathedral was transformed this weekend into one of the UK’s new vaccine centres, with about a thousand people over the age of 80 vaccinated on its first day of opening.
The 800-year-old building has been closed due to the UK’s third lockdown and holding online services instead. This meant the space is able to be used as a temporary vaccination centre for priority patients invited by GPs.
A selection of organ music played while people received their jabs; the cathedral’s music director said he’d chosen pieces by Bach, Handel and Pachelbel to help people relax.
Former RAF Flight Sergeant and great-grandfather of 12, Louis Godwin, 95, was the very first to receive a vaccine in the historic setting. “I’ve had many jabs in my time, especially in the RAF,” said Godwin. “After the war, I was sent to Egypt and I had a couple of jabs, which knocked me over for a week […] This one, the doctor said to me: ‘Well that’s done,’ and I thought he hadn’t started. So it’s no trouble at all and no pain.”
“[The vaccines are] a real sign of hope for us at the end of this very, very difficult year,” said the Very Rev Nicholas Papadopulos, Dean of Salisbury. “I doubt that anyone is having a jab in surroundings that are more beautiful than this so I hope it will ease people as they come into the building.”.
Germany to move repeat Covid-offenders to detention camps
Those who repeatedly break quarantine in Germany may now find themselves forced to move to detention centres, under new rules prepared by regional authorities.
Plans to detain repeat rule breakers have been confirmed by the eastern state of Saxony, which will use a fenced-off section of a refugee camp as a holding pen. The repurposed camp will be built next week. Meanwhile, Baden-Württemberg in south-west Germany will use two hospital rooms for their own repeat offenders, who will be guarded by police. A section of a refugee centre will also be used in Brandenburg, and Schleswig-Holstein will use an area within a juvenile detention centre.
Is this legal? Yes: under the Disease Protection Act, passed by the German Bundestag last March and renewed in November, state governments have powers to detain people for breaching quarantine rules. Despite widespread criticism – AfD MP Joana Cotar stated the Saxony government had been ‘reading too much Orwell’ – the plans are marching ahead.
The news comes as Chancellor Angela Merkel weighs up a new ‘mega-lockdown’ , which would see the suspension of all suspending public transport and the complete shutdown of almost the entire country. The imposition of a national vaccine mandate has also been proposed.
How a year of living cautiously changed the way my family travels
Actor Charlie Condou and his family discovered the joys of British holidays during the course of 2020:
We’ve never hesitated to drag our kids around the world on complicated holidays. My husband’s parents live in a small town in Alberta, Canada and we try to get out there every couple of years. One Christmas we took our daughter Georgia, then two years old, to meet her godparents in Vermont. That involved flying in to New York and staying the night, a time I’ll never forget because I was so deliriously tired that I took G out for a walk in the pram in Central Park at 2am to try to get her to sleep. The next day we drove six hours to Vermont.
We wouldn’t do it if the kids didn’t love it. They talk nostalgically about hanging out in Dunkin’ Donuts in Hanna, Alberta, as if it were the best place on earth. One summer, we somewhat hastily booked an Airbnb in a coastal resort town on Gran Canaria that turned out to be an ugly, characterless place. The kids didn’t notice. We found a quiet, pretty beach down the coast and regularly ended our days with visits to an ice-cream parlour, followed by card games, and they were over the moon. There was nothing all that extraordinary about the trip, but they look back on it as their visit to paradise.
Here in the locked-down Algarve, the UK Covid variant is a greater threat than Brazil’s
The UK Government has banned flights from Portugal due to the country’s connection with Brazil, writes Audrey Gillian:
Pork is frying in lard, with garlic and a few bay leaves, and the air is filled with the scent of cumin. Zé Pardo, owner of Armona 4, a restaurant on the island of Armona, is cooking the traditional Portuguese dish of pork and clams, but it is just for takeaway. A hatch has been opened at the front of his restaurant where you can buy food, coffees, and beers, but the door is firmly shut.
It’s the first day of the new lockdown in Portugal and all but essential shops have closed, along with culture, leisure and sports businesses. Restaurants and cafes can only provide home delivery or takeaway.
“I feel the need to keep the door open,” says Zé. “Tourists can’t come over to the island now but we must help the community here, people who live on the island so that they can avoid going to the mainland. I go on the ferry to the market every day and cook a couple of dishes. Today it’s chicken fried Algarvian style and pork and clams.”
Before we start with today’s news, here are the weekend’s top travel headlines:
- All travel corridors suspended indefinitely
- Travel ban on South America, Cape Verde and Portugal comes into force
- ‘Don’t take travel advice from me’, says Transport Secretary on BBC Radio 4
- France toughens testing rules for UK arrivals
- EasyJet holidays cancels bookings up to March 24
- Earthquake strikes Indonesia
Now on to today’s news.