As Priti Patel prepares to announce quarantine, Jet2 has cancelled all its June holidays

As Priti Patel prepares to announce mandatory 14 days of quarantine for arrivals to the UK and returning holidaymakers, the giant travel firm Jet2 has cancelled all its June holidays.

The Leeds-based airline and tour operator had planned to re-start services from 17 June, exactly three months after the Foreign Office imposed a warning against all-but-essential travel abroad.

The mid-June date matched closely plans in Europe for opening up after lockdown, and easyJet’s intended restart of services.

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But a spokesperson for Jet2 said: “In view of the ongoing travel restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, we have taken the decision to recommence our flights and holidays programme on 1 July.”

Disappointed holidaymakers are entitled to a full refund, but may choose to postpone their trips.

The spokesperson said: “Customers who were due to travel before 1 July do not need to contact us. We are continuing to proactively contact customers to discuss their options, one of which is rebooking their holiday to a later date.

“If a customer has a booking that is due to depart on or after 1 July, the booking is subject to our normal terms and conditions.”

Jet2’s rival, Tui, has not yet announced its response to the Home Office’s quarantine policy. Tui is Britain’s biggest holiday company and was due to resume trips on 12 June. It is offering customers the chance to postpone any holiday booked in June, July and August.

The government says: “Now that domestic transmission within the UK is coming under control, and other countries begin to lift lockdown measures, it is the right time to prepare new measures at the border.”

But the move has united almost the entire UK travel industry in condemnation of a policy that many say is “too much, too late” – and will finish off businesses that are already reeling.

Kane Pirie, the managing director of Vivid Travel, said: “Fourteen-day quarantining for UK arrivals will throw petrol on to the blaze of businesses, brands and trust.

“The government has not missed a trick so far in how to make this multi-billion-pound crisis worse.”

The travel writer and former tour operator Neil Taylor said: “I wonder if the Civil Aviation Authority have drawn up a list of tour operators likely to say this is the final straw and they will pack in now?

“The same could apply to incoming operators and attractions, desperately waiting for some solace during what is normally the peak season.”

Abta, the travel association, said quarantine “will have a damaging impact on the UK inbound and outbound tourism industry”.

The Labour MP and former Cabinet minister, Ben Bradshaw, tweeted: “The most useless home secretary in history is about to announce a quarantine with no basis in science, not backed by WHO [World Health Organisation], just as the rest of Europe opens up, dealing a hammer blow to an economy already on its knees & depriving Brits uniquely of their foreign hols this year.”

Also on Twitter, Darren Wheeler wrote: “Nobody will come to the UK. Nobody can go anywhere because of it.

“At a single stroke the government have destroyed Europe’s biggest aviation industry and cost thousands of jobs, not to mention billions pumped into the economy.

“@pritipatel @BorisJohnson @grantshapps – Happy now?”

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Britons not welcome in Greece until coronavirus infection rate declines, says tourism minister

After Greece announced a gradual opening up to international visitors, the country’s tourism minister has confirmed that British travellers will not initially be welcome because of the high incidence of coronavirus cases in the UK.

On Wednesday, the Greek premier, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, said the domestic tourism season will begin on 15 June, with the first international holiday flights touching down 16 days later.

Ahead of the anticipated lifting, easyJet has today started selling flights from Gatwick to Athens from 1 July onwards.

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But on Thursday afternoon, Athens time, the tourism minister re-tweeted an ITV report which indicated British visitors will not immediately be welcome.

In the report, Harry Theoharis said Greece will want to see UK infection rates decline before British visitors will be accepted.

“I think that the UK has a big difference in terms of the current medical status of the country with Greece, so I don’t think it’s likely it will be there,” he told ITV.

On the BBC’s Coronavirus Newscast on Monday, Mr Theoharis urged the UK to agree to mutual “quarantine immunity”.

He said: “If we don’t impose quarantine for people coming to Greece from the UK from some day onwards, we would welcome if the UK extended the same thing.”

The Independent has approached Mr Theoharis for comment.

Around three million British visitors – the vast majority of them tourists – travel to Greece in a normal year. The UK and Germany are the country’s two leading tourism markets.

At present the Foreign Office urges against all but essential travel abroad.

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Top medic says quarantine is ‘appropriate now as UK becomes area of low incidence of Covid-19’

Quarantine for travellers arriving in Britain is appropriate now because the UK is “becoming an area of low incidence of Covid-19,” the deputy chief medical officer has said.

At the Downing Street daily briefing, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam provided the medical justification for the introduction of quarantine for all travellers except those from Ireland.

“We are lucky in that we are driving down our case rate to the point where we are becoming an area of low incidence of Covid-19,” he said.

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“At that point then it becomes more sensible to think about what the contribution of travellers from abroad might be.”

Boris Johnson announced on Sunday 10 May: “It will soon be the time – with transmission significantly lower – to impose quarantine on people coming into this country by air.”

Later, No 10 said arrivals by sea and rail would also be required to self-isolate for 14 days at home.

Professor Van-Tam pointed out that the UK had imposed quarantine for arrivals from some locations early on in the coronavirus outbreak.

“We did it for at a time when the virus activity was concentrated into international hotspots such as Hubei province, South Korea, northern Italy.

“We are now in a very different world where this virus has spread completely internationally.”

Earlier, the transport secretary told the Commons that the 14-day self-isolation plan will not now begin until June.

Grant Shapps said: “The final details of the quarantine scheme will be released soon and come in early next month.”

Airlines and holiday companies are increasingly frustrated that the starting date of the self-isolation measure has not yet been announced.

Tui and Jet2 are still hoping to re-start operations in the second half of June, but cannot guide prospective holidaymakers on the likelihood of their trips going ahead.

A senior travel industry source told The Independent: “The cabinet is broadly split, but that doesn’t matter as quarantine is what Dominic Cummings thinks we should do.”

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Covid-19 coronavirus: Man arrested after posting beach photos revealing he broke Hawaii lockdown

A New York tourist, who decided to go on holidays to Hawaii despite the global Covid-19 pandemic, is probably wondering why he lived by the mantra “pics or it didn’t happen”.

Because posting a string of snaps from his sunny vacation on social media has landed him out of his hotel room – and into a jail cell, according to reports.

Tarique Peters arrived from his home in the Bronx, New York, to O’ahu on Monday May 11, but instead of spending two weeks in quarantine at his hotel, the 23-year-old left his room the same day he arrived “and travelled many places using public transportation”.

According to a release from Hawaii’s governor, Peters was arrested and charged with bail set at NZ$6695.

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Coronavirus quarantine for UK arrivals delayed until June

The UK’s travel industry – and millions of frustrated holidaymakers – have been told that the government’s long-trailed quarantine plan will not take effect this month.

On 10 May the prime minister said that travellers arriving in the UK by air will be required to self-isolate in a bid to limit the spread of coronavirus.

The following day the government clarified the planned quarantine and said sea and rail arrivals would be affected too.

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Ministers said the policy would come in as soon as possible, and guided that it would be before the end of May.

But during Transport Questions in the House of Commons, Grant Shapps said: “The final details of the quarantine scheme will be released soon and come in early next month.”

The transport secretary’s revelation will appal airlines, ferry firms and train operators because it moves the date when the 14-day lockdown rule might possibly be lifted closer to the summer peak, which begins in July.

Airlines and holiday companies, including Ryanair and Tui, have announced they will re-start operations at scale in July.

Earlier the prime minister’s official spokesman told a Westminster briefing that work on the scheme is continuing, but confirmed: “Any changes brought in will be subject to a rolling review every three weeks to ensure they are in line with the latest scientific advice and that they remain effective and necessary.”

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Ryanair announces €1bn profit but forecasts deep losses

Europe’s biggest budget airline says it expects to fly barely half the planned number of passengers in the current financial year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ryanair predicts passenger numbers in April, May and June will be just 1 per cent of the original expectation, with no more than half of its expected summer traffic of 45 million passengers in July, August and September.

The Irish airline is currently operating only 30 flights a day, compared with well over 2,000 daily departures it had originally planned.

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The Dublin-based carrier expects to lose €200m (£179m) in each quarter, and has taken a €353m (£316m) hit in the shape of a “hedge ineffectiveness charge” – the loss from fuel contracts Ryanair signed at a much higher price and for fuel it no longer needs.

The forecasts were provided as Ryanair announced its full-year results for the financial year ending on 31 March 2020.

The airline made a profit of €1.002bn (£896m), an increase of 13 per cent over the previous year – representing £6 profit for every passenger carried.

Fares increased 2 per cent and “ancillary revenue,” particularly seat assignments and priority boarding, was up by one-sixth. The average passenger spent £51.

The year-round load factor – the proportion of capacity occupied – was 95 per cent, meaning all but nine or 10 seats were sold on the average flight.

Looking ahead, Ryanair plans to re-launch services at scale in July, despite the UK government’s plans for quarantine.

Its chief executive, Michael O’Leary, has predicted: “People will simply ignore something which is so hopelessly defective.”

The carrier has been scathing about financial aid received by other airlines, saying: “The competitive landscape in Europe will be distorted by unprecedented quantums of state aid.”

It says more than €30bn (£27bn) has been given to the Lufthansa group, Air France-KLM, Alitalia, SAS and Norwegian.

“We therefore expect that traffic on reduced flight schedules will be subject to significant price discounting, and below-cost selling, from these flag carriers with huge state-aid war chests.”

But, the airline says: “As we look beyond the next year, there will be significant opportunities for Ryanair’s low-cost, growth model as competitors shrink, fail or are acquired by government bailed-out carriers.”

The airline has announced 3,000 job losses, mainly pilots and cabin crew, and imposed 20 per cent pay cuts.

Ryanair has been widely criticised for the delay in refunding passengers whose flights it has cancelled.

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Covid 19 coronavirus: Dubai airport CEO – global travel still up in air over virus

The CEO of the world’s busiest airport for international travel wants to get the globe flying again, but even he acknowledges everything remains up in the air during the coronavirus pandemic.

Paul Griffiths oversees what now is a much quieter Dubai International Airport, home to the long-haul carrier Emirates and crucial to East-West travel. The millions that once poured through the airport’s concourses are no longer flying as countries around the world enforce lockdowns and travel bans to fight the virus and the Covid-19 illness it causes.

Though government-owned Emirates plans to restart some flights next week, Griffiths told The Associated Press that the airport has yet to find a workable coronavirus or antibody test to administer on a massive scale to passengers. Until a vaccine or a permanent solution to the virus exists, there could be “quite a low level of activity for quite some time,” he said.

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Quarantine could finish off hundreds of travel firms, industry figures warn

With the decision to impose a mandatory 14-day quarantine for almost everyone arriving in the UK by air, travel industry insiders say the government has consigned hundreds of holiday firms to failure.

Two months after the World Health Organisation announced that coronavirus had become a global pandemic, the prime minister has announced mandatory quarantine for new arrivals by air.

Airline passengers arriving from anywhere abroad apart from the Republic of Ireland will be presumed to be carrying coronavirus and will be required to self-isolate in a private dwelling for two weeks.

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Boris Johnson said the order was necessary to prevent a second spike in coronavirus cases – though the World Health Organisation advises that quarantine is a useful measure only in the earlier stages of virus transmission.

He said: “To prevent re-infection from abroad, I am serving notice that it will soon be the time – with transmission significantly lower – to impose quarantine on people coming into this country by air.”

Because it does not apply to rail or ferry passengers, it will be easy for individual travellers to the UK to circumvent. They will need only travel to Paris, Brussels or one of the Channel ports and board a train or ferry.

The policy is likely to take effect at the end of the month. Even though it had been widely trailed, the announcement sent shock-waves through businesses already reeling from a near-total shutdown of the travel industry.

Airlines and travel firms such as Tui and Jet2 Holidays had been planning for “Project Lift-off”: gradually re-starting operations from June onwards, with a wide range of flights in July and something close to a full programme in August – the peak month for trips, when they can command high prices.

But the average package holidaymaker will be unable or unwilling to contemplate adding 14 days of stringent self-isolation to their planned trip.

Under the Package Travel Regulations, they may be entitled to cancel without penalty – at which point they can insist a full cash refund from their tour operator.

The rules governing holiday contracts were never designed for these circumstances, and it is possible that there may be a legal clarification to the effect that holidays can go ahead and anyone who chooses to cancel will lose some or all of their money.

This would place tour operators in the invidious and extremely unpopular position of running holidays with a high number of no-shows, at a time when they were highly unlikely to sell the vast amount of capacity still unsold. Therefore they are likely to cancel millions of trips on top of the many already axed.

To make matters worse, the government’s refusal to say when or how quarantine will end will deter consumers from committing to future bookings, stifling sales that had begun to build.

With no cash coming in, and no prospect of a recovery before 2021, many long-established firms will have no alternative but to cease trading.

A senior travel industry figure said: “To introduce this measure at the very point when lockdown appears to be easing doesn’t seem rational.

“We’ve endured seven weeks of this, and just as we thought there was some measured way back to normality, we’re now worse than square one.

“It will worsen an already difficult situation for hundreds of travel firms, and write off many good businesses that would otherwise have been able to survive the summer.”

Holidaymakers who have booked a package with a defunct company will be able to get their money back under the Atol scheme, administered by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Even though the Air Travel Trust fund was almost emptied by the failure of Thomas Cook in September 2019, the government is the ultimate guarantor – so the taxpayer is likely to be responsible for some of the refunds.

Airlines that are already burning millions of pounds of cash every day now see the prospect of new bookings receding into the autumn.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of the industry body Airlines UK, said: “We all – including government – need to adapt to the new normal. But closing off air travel in this way is not the way to achieve this.

“Ministers are effectively telling people they can no longer travel for the foreseeable future and airlines will respond to that by grounding their operations.

“That is why they require urgent additional government support to get through this growing crisis.”

Inbound tourism will also be written off for the summer. The travel writer and former tour operator, Neil Taylor, said: “Who will consider coming to Britain under such circumstances?

“The ramifications go well beyond tourism: how many potential foreign students at universities here will delay their applications? Central London is bleak enough already with its closed museums, theatres and cafes. Do we want to drive away students as well?”

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Covid 19 coronavirus: Fear and isolation in Las Vegas in pictures

Slot machines are powered down, casinos boarded up and barricaded.

Sidewalks are largely deserted and electronic marquees that once flashed neon calls for nightclubs, magic shows and topless revues instead beam somber messages of safety.

The famous fountains of the Bellagio casino, where water choreographed to lights and music shoots hundreds of feet in the air, are still. Throngs of visitors who made it tough to manoeuvre on sidewalks have been replaced by the occasional jogger or skateboarder.

On the always busy, always noisy, never sleeping Las Vegas strip, you can now hear birds chirping.

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What a new government quarantine policy for arrivals to the UK could mean

The government is moving closer to a policy of requiring arriving travellers to self-isolate for two weeks after arrival in the UK.

At present there are no health checks on arriving passengers. This is how things could change.

What happens currently when you land at Heathrow – or another entry point?

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Only a couple of things have changed in the arrival process since I flew in from Cairo to Heathrow airport just before lockdown began.

First, there are signs warning people to keep two metres apart – which, given the usual airport scrum, takes some getting used to. Then there is the online instruction to “go straight home from the airport, avoiding public transport where possible”. Whereupon the new arrival joins the rest of us in lockdown, at least in theory.

But before that, the passengers step off the aircraft, go through passport control, collect their baggage and move on with no more than some friendly advice.

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Heathrow says there are “enhanced monitoring procedures for flights, the presence of doctors and additional colleagues, and the provision of information leaflets”.

Everyone is handed a piece of paper headed: “Coronavirus: isolate yourself, stay at home”, which explains that if you have a high temperature or a new and continuous cough, stay at home and call 111 or consult

How does that compare with other countries?

Between many places on the globe, simply getting on an international flight is on the spectrum from “difficult to impossible”. Lots of countries, ranging from Cuba to Cameroon and India, have closed their international airports to all but cargo and humanitarian flights.

Many nations ban all but their own citizens and residents from incoming flights, and there are region-specific prohibitions such as the US ban on anyone who has been in the UK, the Schengen Area, China or Iran in the past two weeks.

Japan even has a niche ban on anyone who has been aboard the cruise ship Westerdam.

If you do get on a flight, your problems may only just be beginning when you touch down. In Australia you will be frogmarched off to an airport hotel that approximates to an upmarket detention centre for 14 days. The aim is to allow time for any symptoms to develop .

Arrivals from anywhere in the world entering Singapore must spend two weeks in “a hotel room or similar accommodation provided by the Singapore government”. Leaving the room makes the traveller liable for a jail term of up to six months.

And for the past five weeks, all foreign travellers from Europe have been subject to testing for Covid-19 on arrival at South Korean airports. They are taken to a special facility and held there for up to 24 hours.

How many people arrive in Britain each day?

The health secretary, Matt Hancock, estimated 15,000 daily, around 10 days ago. Based on known arrivals at UK airports, sea ports and international rail terminals, The Independent believes the true figure is substantially lower – well below 10,000.

The Department of Health has not shared its calculations.

What is the UK government proposing?

At the moment the proposals are highly tentative – in part to test for the public/political reaction to them. But the basic plan is that air, sea and rail passengers will be told they must self-isolate for 14 days after arrival.

They will be asked for the address where they intend to spend the next two weeks. The authorities would conduct spot checks to ensure that travellers are at the location they registered.

When would it be introduced – and how long would it last?

The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said such a policy could be introduced when figures for new infections of Covid-19 are falling in a sustained manner. The idea, he said, would be to help prevent a second spike.

There is no further clarity on timing, though sources have told The Independent it could happen as early as mid-May.

The length of deployment would depend on many factors, including the propensity of those who are self-isolating to develop symptoms. But it would probably last for several months.

What are the implications for international travellers?

Everyone – whether British citizens returning from long stays abroad, foreigners arriving for work, family or leisure reasons, or UK holidaymakers returning home – will need to quarantine for a fortnight on arrival.

Those with work assignments, college placements or close friends and family abroad might judge the two-week incarceration a worthwhile price to pay. But most holidaymakers would not.

Airlines and holiday companies had been hoping that demand to begin to appear for summer flights. They now fear that new bookings will remain close to zero.

I have a forward booking for July. I cannot take the risk of being in quarantine. If I cancel can I get my money back?

At this stage, certainly not. The government has made no definite plans – it has merely shared its thinking with a couple of generally supportive newspapers.

Only when a clear policy is announced will airlines and holiday companies respond with plans for refunds or postponements. But at present there is no reason to expect leniency from travel firms – they are all suffering very significantly from the near-total shutdown of travel.

Is there any alternative?

Such a policy would mean selecting travellers arriving from parts of the world with a far lower incidence of Covid-19 for quarantine, as opposed to the UK population at large. It would also divert medical resources to a low-risk area. Neither of those policies looks rational; there would be a higher chance of identifying people who are unknowingly carrying coronavirus in Hounslow High Street in west London, rather than nearby Heathrow.

So, yes, the government could do nothing, in line with official international medical advice.

Airlines and airports in the UK, though, realise that doing nothing is not likely to be an option. So they are pressing for agreement on the “new normal” for international travel.

Those measures could include temperature checks at the airport of departure and/or arrival, some kind of testing regime with travellers required to show certificates that they are coronavirus-free (which some countries already require) and social distancing on board aircraft.

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