Vaccine passport for international travel branded ‘discriminatory’

Benjamin Parker
·42-min read
The introduction of vaccine passports could pose 'extremely high risks' of discrimination and exclusion - GETTY
The introduction of vaccine passports could pose 'extremely high risks' of discrimination and exclusion - GETTY

Requiring everyone who wishes to go overseas to have been vaccinated against Covid-19 is a path towards discrimination, according to the head of the World Travel and Tourism Council.

Gloria Guevara, chief executive of the industry body, criticised the approach by Australian airline Qantas, whose boss, Alan Joyce, suggested passengers would need a jab before they can board one of its international services.

“We should never require the vaccination to get a job or to travel,” she said. “I totally disagree with the approach from Qantas. If you require the vaccination before travel, that takes us to discrimination.”

The chief executive of AirAsia, Tony Fernandes, supported Guevara, and added that global testing measures are the way to unlock travel.

However, according to a survey conducted by Qantas, 87 per cent of respondents said they would be happy to take the coronavirus vaccine if it was demanded for international travel, while 85 per cent thought it should be required for travel to “at least some countries”. 

A 2020 report by the Ada Lovelace Institute, an independent research body, stated that the introduction of ‘vaccine passports’ could “pose extremely high risks in terms of social cohesion, discrimination, exclusion and vulnerability.”

Scroll down for the latest travel updates.

05:12 PM

Today's headlines

That's it from me today. Here's a reminder of the main stories:

  • Poland's tourism businesses and ski resorts defy lockdown measures

  • Vaccine passport for international travel branded ‘discriminatory’

  • Arrivals into UK see only 'very basic' checks  – if any

  • British ski operator gets new lease of life 

  • Cruise lines continue to delay return to water

  • Fire ravages luxury hotel in Malaysia

  • Mass vaccinations to begin at Disneyland

  • Exclusive: Vaccine passports to be trialled by thousands of Britons

Join Telegraph Travel again tomorrow as we bring you the latest travel news. 

05:04 PM

Lemn Sissay: 'China was a revelation for me'

Lemn Sissay - SLATER KING
Lemn Sissay - SLATER KING

The poet and broadcaster Lemn Sissay on the joys of floating in the sea and his love for Ethiopia.

I’d always have a bag packed, ready to go, until the pandemic

Because of work, I’d be travelling somewhere in the UK every week. When Covid struck, I cancelled trips to Ethiopia, Australia and the US. I’ve stayed in some beautiful places because of what I do, and I’m really lucky in that respect. Holidays are few and far between – but memorable. 

I travelled to Lochinver in Scotland for childhood holidays

And I’ve visited a couple of times as an adult. It’s a fishing village in the Highlands near a large mountain called Suilven. There are forests, fields of heather and the River Inver, where you can catch salmon. I go back every 10 years or so. 

China was a revelation for me

I went to Changsha in Hunan Province and stayed at the bottom of this mountain called Yuelu. It was covered with maple trees that are so beautiful when they turn red in autumn. I experienced such warmth from the people and I learnt so much about the food. They do a dish called hot pot, which is gorgeous, and I remember eating a delicious kebab of duck. When people travel, they’ll often say, “Oh, the food was lovely” – but if the food is lovely, I believe it’s a reflection of the people. 

Read the full interview here.

04:55 PM

'We will end this madness'

Poland's tourism businesses and ski resorts are defying lockdown measures, reports Lucy Aspden.

“We will end this madness... which wants to destroy Poland and Polishness, destroy the middle class, small and medium-sized enterprises and kill several hundred people a day,” said Sebastian Piton, who started the ‘Highlanders’ Veto’ movement. He addressed journalists at a press conference whilst clad in traditional Tatra mountain dress.

Roughly 200 businesses have reportedly joined the movement and plans are expected to be revealed tomorrow about the intended reopening of resorts.

All the details are here.

Sebastian Piton, who started the ‘Highlanders’ Veto’ movement, spoke to reporters in Poland to announce plans to reopen resorts -  AGENCJA GAZETA VIA REUTERS
Sebastian Piton, who started the ‘Highlanders’ Veto’ movement, spoke to reporters in Poland to announce plans to reopen resorts - AGENCJA GAZETA VIA REUTERS

04:49 PM

Airbnb to cancel Washington DC bookings for next week

Airbnb is to cancel all reservations made in the Washington DC area next week and block new bookings, the company announced this afternoon.

The decision came after people were warned not to travel to the US capital for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, citing the risk of the spread of the coronavirus and the threat of another attack similar to last week’s violent siege at the Capitol.

Airbnb said it would refund guests for their reservations and reimburse hosts at its own expense.

It also said that reservations at HotelTonight, a service it owns that handles last-minute deals at hotels, will also be cancelled.

04:45 PM

Fire ravages luxury hotel in Malaysia

The Andaman hotel in Langkawai, Malaysia, has been gutted by blaze, with all guests staying at the Marriott-owned property being transferred to another resort.

Marriott confirmed the incident this afternoon. A spokesman said that “as soon as we were aware of the incident, we informed the authorities and moved swiftly to evacuate the hotel.

“As an additional safety precaution, all guests have been relocated to our sister property while investigations are ongoing. Our utmost priority is to ensure the safety of our guests and associates.”

04:32 PM

Trial Primavera Sound concert in Barcelona a success

Primavera Sound is one of the biggest events on the European music festival calendar, with 220,000 attendees from around the world when it was last held in 2019; the 2020 event was cancelled for obvious reasons.

Last month, the popular Barcelona festival trialed a live music event that made use of same-day Covid-19 tests to allow for no social distancing, reports Lizzie Frainier

More than 460 people were in attendance at the 1608 Sapla Apolo Club in the Catalonian capital. Everyone that entered had to take a Covid-19 test, and only those that were given a negative result (15 minutes later) were allowed to enter. 

Results released last week showed that there were two infections among the group, both of which did not enter. No infections have since been discovered from the 463 people (aged 18 to 59, all with no underlying conditions) that were able to attend.

Naturally, more research will be required before concerts are a part of everyday life again but the trial run sheds a glimmer of hope for the future. Whether the event will go ahead from June 2-6, 2021, remains to be seen.

04:26 PM

The latest Covid-19 figures from the UK

A further 1,564 deaths with coronavirus have been confirmed by the Department for Health.

It comes as 47,525 more people tested positive after 584,760 tests were for the virus conducted.

Latest UK cases embed
Latest UK cases embed

04:21 PM

'The kindness of strangers is why we will always keep travelling'

‘History rubs’, said Karl, as we explored Berlin – but the lesson I learnt went deeper than that, writes Michelle Jana Chan.

I was living in Cologne at the time and I had taken the train here for the weekend to get to know the German capital. It was my luck to run into Karl. “After the war ended, Berlin was carved up into four parts,” he went on. “The US, the UK and France shared the West. And the Soviet Union had the East. My family was in the East.” “Mine, too,” I interjected. “My mother is Czech.” “Then you need to know all this,” he replied. “The BBC taught me English. Now I will show you my Berlin.”

Karl turned out to be spry, moving swiftly as he led me about his city that hot August day. We turned towards the Reichstag. “The architecture is deliberate,” he said, as I squinted up at the glass cupola, where the public can walk around the spiralling ramp inside. “People must be above the parliament. No more will German decisions be made in darkness.”

Read the full story here.

A potted tour of Berlin with a stranger was a valuable travel experience for Michelle Jana Chan - SIEGFRIED LAYDA
A potted tour of Berlin with a stranger was a valuable travel experience for Michelle Jana Chan - SIEGFRIED LAYDA

04:11 PM

Sailings suspended again for Marella

Another cruise line delays its return to water. Marella Cruises has now suspended all European sailings until March 31, with all long-haul sailings on hold until at least April 30.

Impacted itineraries include Explorer sailings from Tenerife and Las Palmas, Explorer 2 sailings from Barbados, Discovery sailings from Málaga and Montego Bay, Jamaica, and Discovery 2 sailings from Paphos.

Marella Cruises is part of Tui UK and Ireland and Tui Group. It is the third largest cruise line in the UK.

04:03 PM

Turned away at St Pancras

On Twitter, a Eurostar train manager who goes simply by the mononym Justin, had this to report

France only permits a limited group of people to arrive from the UK, such as transport workers, people delivering goods or those who normally live in France. 

Last week, a Eurostar passenger trying to travel to a yoga class in Paris was also turned away from London St Pancras.

03:51 PM

Negative Covid-19 test required to enter US

Passengers arriving in the United States will need to show a negative Covid-19 to enter the country, health officials have confirmed.

The new rule applies to US citizens as well as foreign travellers, and comes into force in two weeks. The measure already applies to arrivals from Britain, as the rule was introduced last month in response to the spread of a new coronavirus variant.

The negative test must be from within 72 hours of the flight.

The change brings the United States into line with Britain. From 4am on Friday, most international passengers will have to test negative for coronavirus before leaving their home country to travel to the UK.

03:35 PM

Steel cut for Carnival Celebration

03:29 PM

Arrivals into UK see only 'very basic' checks – if any

Only one in 10 passengers arriving in the UK are checked to make sure they are complying with coronavirus quarantine rules, MPs have been told.

Lucy Moreton, professional officer at the Immigration Services Union, told the Commons Home Affairs committee that any checks carried out on passengers are “very basic”.

“We don't check every arriving passenger. We aim, where there is a high level of compliance with that carrier, to check about 10 per cent of arrivals,” she said.

“[The checks] are very limited, unfortunately. There simply is not the facility in the border to make any checks on the veracity of what's there.”

03:21 PM

Areas across Spain tighten rules

Galicia, La Rioja and Cantabria have become the latest Spanish regions to tighten restrictions amid a spiralling national infection rate that officials have blamed on lax adherence to the rules over Christmas.

In north-western Galicia, which reported a record 1,047 new cases today, regional leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo banned all non-essential travel in the seven largest cities, told bars and restaurants to close at 4pm and brought forward a curfew to 10pm.

He linked the region’s “worrying” transmission rate to high numbers visiting eateries and bars, and said the measures should help bring forward a new peak in infections to late January from mid-February. “Nobody wants to see bars and restaurants closed, but the priority must be protecting people’s health,” he said.

Wine-producing La Rioja ordered non-essential businesses to close at 5pm and limited group meetings to four people, while shopping centres in Cantabria are banned from opening at weekends. The moves follow a call by Castile and Leon yesterday for its citizens to avoid unnecessary contacts.

03:09 PM

Questions remain over testing requirement to enter the UK

The Foreign Office (FCDO) has started updating its various travel advice pages with information on where Britons abroad can get a Covid test before they return to the UK, reports Oliver Smith.

From 4am on Friday, all arrivals will need to present evidence of a negative test, taken up to 72 hours prior to departure, or face a fine of up to £500. Only now, less than 48 hours before the new rules come into force, is the FCDO providing assistance on finding a testing clinic – and it still hasn’t confirmed what sort of tests will be accepted. 

The following paragraph has been added to a number of individual country pages, along with a link to an external website offering more details: “When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK. You are responsible for organising your own Covid test, in line with UK government testing requirements. You should contact local health authorities for [country] for information on testing facilities.”

For Dubai, travellers are directed to the Dubai Health Authority’s general contact page, for example; for Singapore, the external website – specifically about pre-departure testing – is considerably more helpful, with a full list of clinics provided. 

So far the pages for Egypt, UAE, Pakistan, China (where travellers are warned “you will be separated from your child if one of you tests positive for coronavirus”), Malawi, the US, Mauritius and Australia have been updated this afternoon. 

03:00 PM

The world is your classroom – or at least, it could be

The world is your classroom - Getty
The world is your classroom - Getty

Daydream about, then book, a holiday to enrich your children's learning says Chris Leadbeater – without a Zoom lesson in sight. 

How to get through the coming weeks, with the children under your feet? 

One solution will be to daydream of travel – but not just beaches and resorts. If you are going to let your mind wander to distant shores, why not summon up the image of a holiday that will assist your offspring’s learning in a far more stimulating manner than your fractious attempts at home-teaching or a Zoom lesson?

If the virus is going to devour big chunks of the nation’s time in the classroom, fill some of the gaps with a trip that will provide a dash of knowledge as well as a break from routine. Not now, of course – but in the summer, or later in the year, when vaccines have been rolled out and the storm clouds have cleared.

Read more: The best educational family holidays

02:42 PM

Seychelles begins vaccination drive

The Seychelles has begun its immunisation programme, with the aim of being the first country in the world to vaccinate 70 per cent of its over-18 population. 

Seychelles President, H E Wavel Ramkalawan, has taken his first dose of the vaccine, making him the first Head of State in Africa to receive the jab.

50,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine were donated by the rulers of the United Arab Emirates, which has also begun a mass, free-of-charge immunisation programme. A further 100,000 doses of the Oxford Astra-Zeneca drug have been donated by the Indian Government, due to arrive in the Seychelles at the end of January.   

Sylvestre Radegonde, Seychelles Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism, commented:

"The COVID-19 immunization campaign is an important milestone for the restart of our tourism industry as the country balances its efforts to maintain its tourism activities and protect its population from further spread of the virus.

"The world has not come to a standstill and there are people who are still keen to travel. We need to fast rebuild our industry for our economic prosperity depends on it." 

02:27 PM

Meet the British man who had a Verbier ski school all to himself

Empty slopes, bluebird skies and a professional on tap to make sure you’re skiing your absolute best – it’s the stuff ski holiday dreams are made of – and for one lucky Briton last week, it was reality.

Benedict Wilson, a university law student from London, whose studies have moved online during the pandemic, has taken the opportunity to flee the capital and spend some quality time on the slopes – despite travel bans, lockdowns and quarantines leaving most ski holiday plans in tatters.

“I figured now was a really good time to gear up my skiing and where better than Verbier and Switzerland where the ski resorts are still open,” Wilson told The Telegraph.

The 22-year-old travelled to the Swiss Alps in early December and has been there ever since, with no plans to return yet.

A great opportunity, or an irresponsible risk? Read the full story – and tell us what you think in the comments.

02:12 PM

Virgin Atlantic: Airline crew will be deployed in vaccination effort

Virgin Atlantic employees are to join the vaccination effort, working alongside the NHS and St John's Ambulance.

In both voluntary and paid roles, cabin crew will be 'fast tracked' to serve as vaccinators in the nationwide push to administer the vaccine. Some personnel have already begun their training, The Telegraph understands.

This morning, Easyjet also confirmed that members of its cabin crew may also be deployed, if they wish.

Crew who apply for the roles will be fast-tracked to become trained vaccinators at NHS vaccination centres across the country, and will undergo online training and onsite immunisation training to become fully-qualified in administering the vaccine.

Corneel Koster, Chief Customer and Operating Officer at Virgin Atlantic, explained:

We are very grateful to the NHS for everything they are doing in extremely challenging circumstances.

The mass vaccination programme is the only solution to beating this pandemic and we’re committed to help in any way we can, to support gearing up vaccinations as fast as possible.

Our people undergo rigorous training programmes in their roles which include medical, safety and customer service training, and the NHS recognises the value and experience they will bring to this crucial mass vaccination programme.

01:56 PM

'This absurd exercise shaming needs to stop'

Travel writer Simon Parker calls on people to drop their shaming of people heading outdoors, and wonders how many will be clinically depressed and saddled with an extra disease or two when this is over?

Forgive me, Britain, for I have (almost) sinned. I went for a run first thing this morning. But now it’s lunchtime, and I’m considering going for a quick walk, too. I’m ashamed of my dirty thoughts and I know I’m a ghastly human. But the urge just keeps building up inside me and it feels like a scratch I have to itch. 

The problem is – and I know this might sound like pure heresy – I can’t shake the feeling that there’s more to life than simply avoiding Covid. How about staving off heart disease, diabetes and chronic stress, for starters, maybe?

Concerns about the outdoor transmission of coronavirus have been trending again this week. So, please excuse me if I’m sounding a bit glib. But the British exercise police is now back out in force – banning trips to local national parks, mountains and promenades. They’ve dished out 45,000 fixed penalty notices and counting. 

They’re assisted by an undercover team of face-masked proles, peeking out from behind curtains all over our green and unpleasant land. Most of these twitchers are in dire need of Vitamin D – and regard Joe Wicks as the messiah that invented exercise. 

The full piece is here.

01:52 PM

Vaccine rollout begins in Vatican City

The world’s smallest nation has started its vaccination programme, according to the Vatican.

Vatican City, an enclave state in Rome, has begun by giving the hab to doctors and other members of its health services, administering the vaccine in the atrium in a hall usually reserved for papal audiences.

It’s unclear whether Pope France has received the vaccine, although he said on Sunday that he expected it this week.

01:42 PM

Will vaccine passports open up our holidays?

We could soon have to travel with not one but two passports, reports Greg Dickinson: One to prove our identity, and another to prove we have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

We take a deep dive into how a vaccine passport might open up our holidays, once we’re out of lockdown and countries begin to reopen their borders.

The idea of 'vaccine passports' has been embraced by some countries, like Cyprus, keen to welcome back holidaymakers and business travellers as soon as possible. Yesterday, the Greek Prime Minister also called for standardised EU vaccine certification to reboot travel.

But there are mounting concerns and questions about privacy, the feasibility of international coordination, and whether such a programme would be discriminatory against those who have not been vaccinated.

Here is the full story.

Some are hailing 'vaccine passports' as the key to rebooting international travel in 2021  - GETTY
Some are hailing 'vaccine passports' as the key to rebooting international travel in 2021 - GETTY

01:25 PM

British ski operator gets new lease of life

Independent British ski chalet operator VIP Ski has been saved from the scrap heap thanks to a deal agreed by its former boss.

The leading operator announced it was entering administration in November after 30 years of running ski holidays in the Alps, citing pressure of the pandemic and travel restrictions as the cause for its demise. VIP Ski owned 60 of its own chalets, across multiple resorts in France and Austria, including British favourites St Anton, Lech, Morzine, Avoriaz and Val d’Isere, its flagship resort.

However a sale has been agreed to save the brand, following an “intense and highly competitive” process, with several interested buyers.

New business Vita Brevis, a start-up headed by former VIP Ski boss Andy Sturt, has acquired the much-loved operator, which will now continue to trade.

Mr Sturt said:

I am simply relieved that we have been able to secure and protect the legacy of VIP Ski and will now start the challenging but energising task of rebuilding the community of skiers, colleagues and partners for whom it meant so much

01:17 PM

Tracking devices required for flight crew

Crew members working for Singapore Airlines will be required to wear tracking devices on stopovers abroad to prevent any breaches of Covid-19 rules.

The devices monitor their real-time location to make sure they remain in their hotel room and do not physically interact with each other or locals, according to TravelMole.

Singapore Airlines said: "We remain guided by the authorities and will work closely with them to make adjustments, if necessary, in order to ensure the health and safety of our staff and customers during our flights.”

Alan Tan, the president of the Singapore Airlines Staff Union, said flight crews are complying and understand the reasons behind the precautionary measures.

"If you fly for 16 to 18 hours to reach New York, then have to stay in a room alone, it can be quite tough, but the crew understands that this is necessary," he said.

01:08 PM

British tourists breaking Covid quarantine for sex and parties in Barbados

There have been a number of high-profile breaches of Covid rules on the island – many involving holidaymakers. Sheila Fox reports from Barbados.

Love Island’s Zara Holland received a fine of BBD 12,000 (£4,300) when she appeared in court in Barbados last week. She was charged with breaching the Covid laws and was arrested, with her boyfriend Elliott Love, at Barbados International airport. Mr Love had tested positive for Covid-19 and the couple were apparently attempting to flee the country, rather than be placed in an isolation facility. 

Meanwhile, as cases on the island continue to rise, a reported 33 cases have been linked to the airport from which the couple tried to leave. Many airport employees have had to quarantine, and some were instructed to spend the festive season alone. This angered many people here on the island – and Holland’s claims that the incident was simply “a massive mix up” only added fuel to the fire. 

This was not a one-off. There have been other highly publicised breaches, by tourists, of the island’s strict quarantine protocols. Last Thursday, the same court fined another British couple BBD 6,000 (£2,200) each for breaking restrictions. Recently arrived, they had invited a Jamaican woman into their room in an up-market hotel for sex.

Find out more about the behaviour of Britons in Barbados here.

Now Barbados is again under a nightly curfew – with warnings of further restrictions to come – and experiencing a surge in cases    - GETTY
Now Barbados is again under a nightly curfew – with warnings of further restrictions to come – and experiencing a surge in cases - GETTY

12:59 PM

Denmark latest country to extend lockdown

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has said that the country will extend its lockdown measures in an effort to combat the coronavirus, according to reports coming out of Denmark.

“I believe that an extension of the restrictions is clearly necessary. Not least to ensure that the British mutation does not spread,” said Frederiksen said according to Ritzau.

Current lockdown measures are in effect until 17 January. The decision follows similar moves in the Netherlands.

Coronavirus Denmark Spotlight Chart - cases default
Coronavirus Denmark Spotlight Chart - cases default

12:52 PM

Your rights to flight and holiday refunds

Countries around the world are closing their borders to Britons due to the new variant of Covid-19, and the current lockdown means that all non-essential travel is banned. For those who have holidays booked, the outlook is bleak.

Most recently, on Jan 12, the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, added the United Arab Emirates to the UK's travel quarantine list. Therefore, any travellers arriving from the UAE after 4 am on Jan 12 will now have to self-isolate upon arriving to the UK. 

Here we explain what you need to know.

12:48 PM

Scotland lockdown rules will be tightened

Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed a further tightening of Scotland's coronavirus lockdown rules.

"The new variant now makes up around 60 per cent of new cases in Scotland - and makes it far more difficult to get the R number back below 1, without severe restrictions," the First Minister told MSPs.

Changes will take effect from Saturday subject to Parliamentary approval. These are limits on click-and-collect availability, restrictions on going inside to collect takeaways, and a ban on drinking alcohol outdoors in public.

"This will mean, for example, that buying a takeaway pint and drinking it outdoors will not be permitted," Ms Sturgeon said.

"Again, I know this will not be a popular move. But it is intended to underline and support the fact that we should only be leaving home just now for essential purposes."

12:39 PM

Royal Caribbean pushes return back to April

Cruise giant Royal Caribbean Group has suspended more sailings as it looks to have resigned itself to a full year without passengers – beyond limited  ‘test voyages’ in Singapore.

Ships in the Royal Caribbean International fleet, the world’s second busiest cruise line, and sister lines Celebrity Cruises and Azamara, will be on hold until April 30, with the exception of Quantum of the Seas.

The May 1 transatlantic cruise on Celebrity Apex has also be scrapped.

Silversea Cruises is looking to return on April 1.

12:28 PM

Museums to reopen in some parts of Italy

Italy’s health minister has announced a partial reopening of museums.

Roberto Speranza said today that “it is the intention of the government to reopen museums, symbolic places of our country’s culture”.

They will only open in 15 “yellow” regions, which are ones with lower cases of coronavirus, and social distancing will still be necessary. Italian museums closed their doors in November.

12:23 PM

The Man in Seat 61: My favourite train journeys of all time

Every train ride tells a story, says Mark Smith.

He reveals his top six rail adventures, from London to Venice in vintage Pullman cars on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express to a six-night ride from Moscow, across Siberia (and around Lake Baikal) and then the Gobi desert before reaching Beijing on the Trans-Mongolian Express.

See the epic rail journeys here.

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express - Martin Scott Powell
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express - Martin Scott Powell

12:15 PM

London's Covid-19 deaths exceed 10,000

Official figures show show that more than 10,000 Londoners have now died with coronavirus.

A total of 10,122 people in London have died within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test, according to Public Health England's latest data.

There are currently 7,607 patients are in the capital's hospitals with Covid.

12:12 PM

Is the UK on target to end lockdown?

The rollout of Covid-19 vaccinations in the UK is set to accelerate in the coming weeks as several new mass vaccine centres opened their doors on Monday.

Home Secretary Priti Patel gave a press conference on Tuesday afternoon in which she announced 2.4m first doses of vaccines have been administered in the UK up to January 11, up from 1.3m in the week up to January 3. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson presented the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, authorised just after Christmas, as a path out of lockdown when he announced the new national restrictions for England at the start of last week

Our data team has crunched the numbers to see if we're on track.

12:06 PM

'Back in service' date revealed for new Fred Olsen cruise ship

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines has announced a revised ‘back in service’ date for its new ship, Borealis, in light of the latest lockdown measures across the UK.

Borealis will still be the first of the fleet to set sail, with her maiden voyage now the seven-night ‘Sailing Around Iconic Ireland’ cruise, departing Liverpool on May 22, 2021. Borealis was initially due to set sail on April 23.

Peter Deer, the managing director of Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, said:

When we announced our new ‘back in service’ plans in December, we had every confidence in these new dates based on the information available to us at the time. Since then, we have seen a third national lockdown imposed, and this must be taken into consideration for our plans in returning to service.

Deferring Borealis’ return allows us a little more time to consider and understand the developments around Covid-19, including the roll-out of the vaccine, and how this will reflect how we operate. We were also conscious that guests on sailings in April and early May would be due to pay their final balances soon, which is why we have taken this decision now.

We are really looking forward to welcoming our guests back on board with us in 2021, and I would like to stress that we will not do so until we are confident that the time is right.

Bolette will be the second of the Fred Olsen fleet to resume sailing, and will depart from Dover on May 29, followed by Balmoral from Edinburgh (Rosyth) on June 9. Due to having an extensive fly-cruise programme, Braemar will remain in lay-up until 2022.

11:59 AM

A snapshot of air traffic in 2021

The skies are looking much more empty this year, according to data from FlightAware, with 47 per cent less flights taking off so far this year compared to 2020.

Daniel Baker, the chief exeutive of FlightAware, said: 

With parts of China experiencing new restrictions in response to an increase in Covid-19 cases, we are seeing a decrease in commercial air traffic. Previously, China was making a strong recovery, coming within -10 per cent of parity to 2019 this past October. This week commercial airline traffic in China hit -26 per cent, which is the largest gap we have seen since July of 2020.

commercial airline traffic Jan 2020 - FLIGHTAWARE
commercial airline traffic Jan 2020 - FLIGHTAWARE

11:53 AM

What is the Covid situtaion in the Netherlands?

Coronavirus Netherlands Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus Netherlands Spotlight Chart - Cases default

11:52 AM

Lockdown extended in the Netherlands

The Dutch government has extended the country’s lockdown by three weeks to the end of the first week of February.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a televised address he had no alternative since the number of positive tests, while it had declined for the second week in a row, was not falling fast enough.

Ministers in the Netherlands are said to be “extremely worried” by the potential consequences of the British variant.

Mr Rutte said: “There is light at the end of the tunnel with the arrival of the vaccines, but we are asking you for final effort – this is tough, I realise, but we can reach the finishing line.”

11:42 AM

Police filmed issuing fines for parties, long journeys and car meet-ups

Newly released footage from Leicestershire Police shows officers handing out fines for Covid-19 rule breaches.

They came across people who had made long journeys to meet up with friends, house parties and a car cruise event.

The actual law, which the police are there to enforce, is spelled out in the Covid legislation – and it’s subtly different from the guidance, writes Oliver Smith.

11:39 AM

Mass vaccinations to begin at Disneyland

Disneyland Resort in southern California will be used as a mass Covid-19 vaccination site, and may be open for jabs as early as this week.

The Anaheim resort, which has been closed for 10 months, will become the first of five "Super PODs (point of dispensing)" – or mass vaccination sites, Orange County officials said.

Orange County, about 25 miles south-east of Los Angeles, is in the "widespread" – or most severe – tier in California's reopening plans, and is under a stay-at-home order (including a nightly curfew). Disneyland is the county’s largest employer, providing around 30,000 jobs.

11:28 AM

Swindlers? Sunburn? It's the worst bits about travel that make it so memorable

Ignoring warnings about the mercenary element of Marrakech, I initially paid a heavy price. But then I found my feet, writes Anthony Luzio.

It is said fending off local chancers and haggling with street hawkers flogging you their overpriced wares is all part of the Marrakech experience, but for someone who is “careful with his money”, it didn’t sound like my idea of fun.

Fortunately, after listening to the experiences of my friends, I felt confident during my visit that I was ready for whatever the city had to throw at me. I was wrong. In the taxi from the airport, the driver took pride in telling me about Marrakech, its history and culture, and taught me a couple of key phrases. His cheerful demeanour was at odds with the warnings numerous people had given me about the “mercenary” nature of Marrakech’s residents and I decided they must have spent their holiday in a tourist bubble.

However, it later dawned on me that my driver’s sprightly mood may have had less to do with my ability to get under the skin of the city and more to do with my agreeing to pay him three times the standard fare.

The streets of the medina were too narrow to drive down, so I had to walk the rest of the journey. Entering its walls is a disorientating experience – like going back to the Middle Ages, with mud-brick buildings overshadowing narrow streets made entirely out of dust. I quickly realised my map was useless, so I was grateful when a friendly local offered to guide me through the maze of streets, even when I said I didn’t have any money to give him. 

The full story is here.

'I thought they were going to attack me, so insulted were they by my offer of payment for a four-minute tour'  - HENRYK SADURA
'I thought they were going to attack me, so insulted were they by my offer of payment for a four-minute tour' - HENRYK SADURA

11:19 AM

Ban for ‘non-mask compliant, rowdy, argumentative’ passengers

Alaska Airlines has banned 14 passengers from its planes after they “harassed” flight attendants and refused to wear masks.

The operators said that, during a flight from Washington DC to Seattle, the passengers’ behaviour was “unacceptable”, noting they were “non-mask compliant, rowdy, argumentative and harassed our crew members”.

It added: “We will not tolerate any disturbance on board our aircraft or at any of the airports we serve.”

Alaska has a mandatory mask policy, which means every traveller aged two and older is required to cover their face during boarding, flying and disembarking.

11:10 AM

Variant of Covid-19 found in Taiwan

The first case of the South African variant of Covid-19 has been discovered in Taiwan, health authorities have confirmed, with an eSwatini national being treated in hospital.

The man, in his 30s, had arrived in Taiwan to work on December 24 and began developing symptoms while in quarantine and was initially confirmed to have Covid-19 on 3 January, according to details previously released by the government.

Taiwan has reported 843 Covid-19 cases including seven deaths. Almost all the cases have been imported and about 100 people are being treated in hospital.

11:03 AM

Why Oman should be your first post-lockdown holiday

This epic country of mosques and mountains  has just made a post-lockdown visit even easier, writes Sarah Rodrigues.

Thanks to its accessibility – the flight from London to Muscat is less than eight hours – Oman’s capital is doable as a long weekend. Yet, as alluring and majestic as the city itself is, it’s also the gateway to deeper exploration and wilder adventures – and a period of up to ten days, as per the new visa rules, provides an ideal window of opportunity to experience both. 

Muscat is by no means compact, and long days of exploration require a blissful base to which one can return. From the Kempinski Hotel, with its decadent spa and choice of restaurants, as well as its pools and modest stretch of beach, we wandered the early morning Muttrah fish market, agleam with slick floors, bulging eyes and silvery scales, before sampling super-sweet dates at the adjoining fruit and vegetable market.

Walking along the corniche, low mountains lay in dark folds across the water, on which dhows and fishing boats were moored. In this deliberately low-rise city, the occasions when something spikes the skyline stand out: here, a modest medieval tower; there, a bulbous white structure modelled on an incense burner. Cross the road to enter the fragrant realm of the souk, where metal upon metal – genie-esque kettles, swords, helmets, jewellery – lies beneath hanging woven bags and T-shirts; higher still, decorated beams, stained glass and painted ceilings add to an Arabian Nights atmosphere.

The vast Grand Mosque, with its interminable carpet and ornate chandelier, plus the architecturally splendid Opera House and Palace, also make it worth rousing yourself from your sun lounger for.

Read the full piece here.

Oman has relaxed its entry requirements so that citizens of more than 100 countries, including the UK, can visit visa-free for up to 10 day  - Amir Hussain
Oman has relaxed its entry requirements so that citizens of more than 100 countries, including the UK, can visit visa-free for up to 10 day - Amir Hussain

10:48 AM

Exclusive: Vaccine passports to be trialled by thousands of Britons

Thousands of Britons who have received their coronavirus vaccine are set to be offered a health passport as part of a government-funded trial taking place this month, reports Michael Cogley.

The passport, created by biometrics firm iProov and cybersecurity firm Mvine, will be issued in the form of a free app allowing users to digitally prove if they have received the vaccine. The trial will be overseen by two directors of public health in local authorities and will be complete in March. However, the locations have yet to be agreed.

To date, the Government has contradicted itself on the use of vaccine passports. In December, Michael Gove said that they were “not the plan” but Nadhim Zahawi, the minister overseeing the rollout of the vaccine, said they were “looking at the technology”.

United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Swiss International AirLines, and JetBlue, have all said they would begin offering a health passport system to customers this year. BA-owner IAG is also working on its own healthpass that’s due to launch early this year.​

10:37 AM

Travel should not be for 'privileged few'

On the subject of 'vaccine passports', Paul Charles, the chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, told The Telegraph:

Governments have a duty to protect health but also to get the world moving economically. Vaccine passports will initially only be held by the minority. We cannot have a situation where only the privileged few are able to access countries.

Governments need to co-ordinate their actions and create an open, consistent approach for anyone who wants to travel. Otherwise we could see numbers restricted for years, until every country has rolled out major vaccination programmes. Testing everyone on departure is the only solution to freeing-up travel and tourism.

10:29 AM

New entry requirements to be approved in Germany amid extended lockdown

Measures aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus in Germany will not be lifted at the start of February, Jens Spahn, the country’s health minister, has said.

German newspaper Bild reports that lockdown could last until April, while Jens Spahn also suggested that it would take at least two months before the effects of the vaccination programme would be felt.

The government is set to approve stricter controls on people entering the country after a national lockdown was last week tightened and extended to the end of January.

The new rules will require people arriving from countries with high cases or where a new, more virulent strain of the virus is circulating to take a test for the disease.

Coronavirus Germany Spotlight Chart - deaths default
Coronavirus Germany Spotlight Chart - deaths default

10:20 AM

Cabin crew helping vaccination push

EasyJet cabin crew are being recruited and fast tracked to support the NHS as part of the vital nationwide effort to distribute the coronavirus vaccine.

The UK’s biggest airline wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson in November to offer support to the Government in rolling out the Covid-19 jabs, with more than 3,000 crew members who are first aid trained, security cleared and based across the country. With the airline operating a reduced schedule, many of their employees are currently furloughed.

 Johan Lundgren, EasyJet’s chief executive, said:

We are delighted to be assisting the NHS in their efforts to protect the nation’s health and help to roll out this crucial vaccination programme. We are incredibly proud that once again our crew can help to support the NHS and that we can play our part for the nation at this time – and I know so many of them will step up to help at this challenging time for the country.

The progress the country is making on the vaccination programme is an exciting and much-needed development. Once rolled out, it will enable normal life to return and is undoubtedly the key to unlocking travel again and enabling travel for work, to visit friends and family or for a much-needed holiday.

We are pleased and proud to be able to play our part and stand by ready to support wherever else we can.

10:08 AM

Ryanair and Virgin ‘worst’ airlines for refund satisfaction

Low-cost behemoth Ryanair and long-haul specialist Virgin Atlantic have been rated the worst of six major airlines operating in the UK when it comes to refund satisfaction. 

A survey by Which? saw both carriers given a satisfaction score of just 13 per cent by customers who applied for refunds during the pandemic. 

Around a third of respondents who had a flight cancelled by the two airlines (Ryanair 32 per cent, Virgin 31 per cent) claimed they waited more than three months for their refund.

At the other end of the table was Jet2, with a satisfaction score of 76 per cent. Eight in 10 passengers (83 per cent) told Which? they received their refund within 28 days, and none reported waiting more than three months.

Tui received the second highest satisfaction score, at 57 per cent, followed by British Airways with 50 per cent and EasyJet with 45 per cent.

Read more: In praise of Jet2, and the other travel companies having a good pandemic

10:01 AM

Sadiq Khan urges tighter lockdown measures for London

09:57 AM

Olympics to be postponed again?

Hopes of a summer Olympic games in Japan this year appear to be fading as the government is reported to be planning to extend a state of emergency to seven more prefectures, reports our South Asia correspondent Ben Farmer.

Tokyo was given emergency powers last week, and today's move came after the governors of Osaka, Kyoto and other hard-hit regions also requested the legal basis to restrict residents' movements and businesses. The postponed Olympic games are currently scheduled for July after being postponed by the pandemic in 2020.

In an weekend survey by NHK, just 16 per cent of respondents said the Games should go ahead this year - down 11 percentage points from the previous poll last month - while a combined 77 per cent thought they should be canceled or postponed.

Japan has seen some 298,000 coronavirus cases and 4,192 deaths so far, according to public broadcaster NHK.

09:46 AM

'One-stop hub' for travel opens

Travel company Kuoni has today launched the Covid Travel Advice Hub, which they describe as a “one-stop advice hub” to help people easily see what requirements and restrictions are in place as they plan their trips.

As well as showing which destinations are welcoming visitors, the advice hub includes travel corridor information, current Foreign Office advice, Covid-19 testing requirements,  and quarantine rules on entering a country or returning to the UK.

Despite non-essential travel being prohibited under current lockdown rules, Kuoni are reporting that early signs in 2021 show people are “desperate to plan a holiday overseas this year – and are prepared to book now.”

Derek Jones, the chief executive of Kuoni, said:

This is about making an increasingly complex situation simple to understand, providing answers to questions we know people are asking in a clear, searchable online format that anyone can access.

The hub is available to everyone, free of charge – we’re providing this service because we want to play our part in opening up the world again.

For more information, see covidtraveladvice.kuoni.co.uk.

09:35 AM

Portugal to enter tough new lockdown

Portugal's government is set to announce new restrictions that will be in place from tomorrow and last for at least the next month.

A new lockdown, which is expected to be agreed by ministers today, will see people told to stay home, although primary schools will be kept open.

The country is also expected to go to the polls as planned in the upcoming presidential election.

09:25 AM

Testing for travel is 'common sense approach'

Here’s more from Gloria Guevara, the president and chief executive of World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC):

WTTC wholeheartedly supports the testing on departure of all travellers to ensure passengers can prove they are Covid-19 free and thus avoid the spread.  It will take a significant amount of time to vaccinate the global population, particularly those in less advanced countries, or in different age groups, therefore we should not discriminate against those who wish to travel but have not been vaccinated. 

Only a tiny percentage of people around the world have so far received the vaccine, whereas there are vast numbers who have not, but who could be tested, show a negative result, and travel safely.

The common sense approach is to allow the free movement of people who can prove a negative test result, rather than reserve travelling or jobs for a small minority who have been vaccinated.

Furthermore, the most vulnerable groups should be prioritised, a blanket vaccination requirement would simply discriminate against non-vulnerable groups, such as Generation X, Z and Millennials, who should be able to travel with proof of a negative Covid test.

WTTC has long been calling for an internationally recognised rapid and cost-effective testing regime at departure points worldwide. This would avoid exporting the virus and aid the restoration of international travel.

08:44 AM

Can I go on holiday? The latest advice

Holidays are cancelled, with the country in strict stay-at-home measures. Greg Dickinson has the latest information on what this means for travel, including:

  • Can I go on holiday right now?

  • Will the UK close its borders to international travel?

  • Are there any plans in place to boost travel? 

Read the full piece here.

Can I go on holiday? - GETTY
Can I go on holiday? - GETTY

08:29 AM

What happened yesterday?

Good morning, and welcome to our live travel news coverage.

Here's a look at the main headlines from Tuesday:

  • Adopt EU-wide vaccine certificate, suggests Greek PM

  • Dubai travel corridor removed 

  • Jet2 suspends flights and holidays until late March

  • British skiers identified as Covid cluster in Austria

  • Ryanair boss says summer holidays will happen this year ​

  • Airlines UK: Testing for travellers must end before summer

Follow us here today for the latest travel news.