Boris Johnson will today give the go-ahead for pubs, restaurants and galleries to reopen on July 4; and confirm that the two-metre rule will be cut to one, enabling businesses and venues to reopen in the biggest return of freedoms since March 23 when the UK was plunged into lockdown.
What does this mean for hotels, and holidays here in Britain? UK tour operators eagerly await the official guidance they’ll need to prepare for the resumption of business, but Johnson has said he hopes to reopen “at least some of the hospitality industry” from July 4.
As for foreign forays, the UK’s controversial 14-day quarantine policy is up for review on June 29, by which time an announcement is expected to be made regarding “air bridges” that would enable European holidays, with frontrunners including Spain, Greece and Portugal. Tui, the UK’s largest tour operator, will offer a small number of trips to Spain and Greece from July 11.
Spain, meanwhile, has been welcoming tourists from other European nations since Sunday, with beaches filling up across the country as summer gets underway – albeit a very strange version of it; new rules on islands including Ibiza and Majorca will involve time limits on sunbathing. And in Turkey, holidaymakers will now be fined £100 for failing to wear a face mask in public.
Join us today as we report all the latest updates.
WTTC rules for the new normal
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has unveiled its third phase of measures designed to encourage the return of safe travels across the globe.
These guidelines will shape the specifics of your next holiday, and are backed by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). Here are some of their key recommendations:
Encourage guests to buy advance tickets online if possible, and consider timed entries and smaller groups
Use of virtual queue systems, contactless touchpoints and payment where possible
Make available hand sanitisers in high-traffic areas such as entry, key walkways, food and beverage locations, merchandise shops and exits
Consider increasing the number of performances and an end-of-show announcement to encourage guests to take their time exiting
Pre-arrival health declaration via email, if required
Encourage use of curb side pick-up and drop off. Consider moving to a fully digital process including payments and limit physical interaction with staff
All cars to be cleaned with a focus on high-frequency touch points such as keys, steering wheels, gear stick, seat belts, door handles, gloveboxes and other surfaces
Minimise physical interaction when providing guests with keys, ideally in a contactless manner by offering self- check-in and check-out, where possible
Enhance sanitation, disinfection and deep cleaning practices as well as increasing their cleaning/disinfection frequency with a focus on high-frequency touch points, including cutlery and utensil sanitisation
Provide guests with physical distancing etiquette, including in elevators if relevant
Read more: The anatomy of a post-lockdown hotel stay
Spain’s secret seaside destinations
Spain, the UK’s number one holiday destination, has reopened to European tourists, and Britons should be given the green light to visit from July 4 without the need to self-isolate on their return home.
Avoiding the summer crowds will be a key concern for some, however. Here are a few suggestions from our Spain experts.
Exclusive: Non-stop UK cruises could be first on British waters after the pandemic
Saga Cruises has just agreed to take late delivery of the cruise line’s second new ship, Spirit of Adventure, in early autumn, after building was delayed in Germany, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Lesley Bellew reports.
Saga Cruises’ pause in operations until September 1 will be reviewed in July as managing director Nigel Blanks “closely monitors the situation” but speaking to The Telegraph, he has good news on cruise sales.“Sales for 2020/21 are very strong and retention of guests from cancelled cruises seems to get stronger and stronger. For July departures just over 70 per cent of guests were retained and for August departures more than 75 per cent.”
He adds: “Sailing from Dover and Southampton will absolutely be an advantage in the new environment and this is definitely reflected in those forward bookings.
“We are also exploring a number of options for when we are able to resume operations which includes looking at cruising around Britain with and without ports of call.”
Read the full story here.
Norfolk’s Pleasure Beach to open on July 11
Great Yarmouth’s Pleasure Beach will open on July 11, subject to government guidelines, with new social distancing measures in place and a new ride to be unveiled.
Tickets will be available for purchase online only and will buy visitors a three-hour slot for £12, of which there will be three per day. In between sessions, the park will close for a deep clean.
Floor markers will be present, and guests will be required to use the hand gel provided at the start of each of the ride. For planning purposes, see our guide to the UK’s best family theme parks.
Eurotunnel bookings surge
It’s the only way to cross the Channel from the UK to France without getting out of your car, and bookings for the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle are currently up 49 per cent on last week’s figures.
Travellers are taking advantage of the new service’s new ‘Standard Refundable Ticket‘, introduced on June 18, which enables bookings to be changed with no fees.
Deborah Merrens, the shuttle’s Chief Commercial Office, said: “For the last couple of weeks we have seen a gradual increase in bookings, and the ongoing relaxation of lockdown rules has meant even more people are looking at their summer holiday options. We are advising anyone who might be considering a holiday in France this summer to book soon to ensure they get the times and dates they want.”
So what can we expect from the journey? The UK Foreign Office is still advising against all but essential travel, but Emma Howard Smith made the trip only last week. You can read her account below:
Vilnius turns main square into manmade beach
The capital of Lithuania has today turned its largest square into an “Open Beach”, with white sand, sun loungers and a giant screen that will broadcast images and sounds from the ocean.
“If people of Vilnius cannot go to the sea, then the sea will come to Vilnius,” said the mayor Remigijus Simasius of the Lukiskes Square project, adding:
“The popular seaside resorts of Southern Europe are not easily accessible at the moment, and our Baltic Sea beaches will be overpacked this summer. That’s why we needed a solution to help people recoup some of that vacation vibe on Vilnius’ very own beach.”
Here’s what it looks like…
Malta to welcome Britons from July 15
British holidaymakers will be allowed to fly to Malta from July 15, as one of Europe’s most popular destinations looks to kickstart its travel industry.
Tourists from the UK will be welcomed back to the Mediterranean island nation after more than three months of self-imposed isolation. Flights will resume from 18 British airports with routes operated by Air Malta, British Airways, easyJet, Jet2 and Ryanair.
The first holidaymakers – including summer visitors from the likes of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Cyprus, Norway and Denmark – will be able to travel in from July 1, with the rest of the planet following a fortnight later.
Chris Leadbeater has the details.
Iconic Parisian hotel to reopen in September
Le Bristol Paris will be re-opening its doors on September 1, with refurbished suites and a brand new garden.
“This den of old-school opulence was the city’s first hotel to be designated a ‘Palace’ (a class above five star),” writes our expert Hannah Meltzer in her review of the hotel. “You’ll see the exception in the fine furnishings of the grand salons, the warm welcome à l’ancienne, the facilities (especially the covered rooftop pool) and Michelin dining options.”
Read more: What next for Paris’ ultra-luxury Palace hotels?
Questions remain, but a week in the Med this summer is finally looking likely
So, as we reported previously, Tui has decided it can wait no longer. It is going to restart some of its summer holidays from July 11, with departures to the Greek islands of Crete, Rhodes, Kos and Corfu; plus the key Spanish destinations of Tenerife, Lanzarote, Majorca and Ibiza.
It also hopes to operate half of the holidays already booked for August. But most of the millions of packages booked during the two months of the summer peak will be cancelled.
Based on the intel we have so far, however, it seems highly likely that Britain will have air bridge arrangements with Spain, Greece, France, Italy and Portugal next month. So, we can start to believe that those who want a summer break on the Continent this year will probably be able to find a way to have one.
So how to plan one amid all the uncertainty? Nick Trend has the full report.
Yesterday’s key stories
Here’s a recap:
Cruise lines scrap all US voyages until autumn
Ski resorts in Europe reopen for summer
Dubai will reopen to tourists on July 7
Disneyland Paris to reopen on July 15
Portugal outbreak threatens air bridge potential
Read yesterday’s blog here.