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Travel

Pound to euro exchange rate: Sterling slumps as Europe eases lockdown restrictions

The pound to euro exchange rate suffered a blow this morning after a week of growth in the previous week. Sterling has experienced a series of highs and lows in the past month as the coronavirus pandemic has gained speed, however with the UK’s death toll now climbing ever higher, the GBP has hit another slump.

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The pound is currently trading at a rate of 1.1476 against the euro according to Bloomberg at the time of writing.

Meanwhile, the euro has clawed back some strength, despite EU leaders still butting heads about the best way to cope with the virus.

Michael Brown, Currency Expert at Caxton FX spoke to Express.co.uk to offer exclusive insight on the exchange rate.

He said: “Sterling lost ground against the common currency on Friday, dipping below the €1.14 handle, as the euro found solid support despite yet another failure for EU leaders to agree on a common response to the coronavirus.

“This week, all eyes will remain on the pandemic, particularly the progress of the infection as lockdown measures begin to be lifted.”

After weeks of stringent lockdown, some countries across the EU have already announced a tentative easing of restrictions.

France, Italy, and Spain, three of the countries with the highest number of confirmed cases, are amongst those hoping to relax the current rules in place to try to restart the economy and allow an initial resumption of normal life.

Italy, which has so far seen 197,675 confirmed cases and 26,644 deaths, is set to ease restrictions.

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The Italian Prime Minister told local newspaper La Repubblica that manufacturing could be restarted as early as May 4, but that schools will remain closed until September.

In Spain, residents are now being allowed out of their homes for walks and exercise. Children are also being granted one hour of exercise a day, so long as they are being supervised, between 9 am and 9 pm.

The country’s officials have also suggested ways to reopen beaches, with social distancing measures in place, and is identifying ways to kick-start tourism in the country – though it will be prioritising domestic tourism initially.

Spanish authorities have outlined a three-step recovery plan to help boost the economy in certain regions that rely heavily on tourism.

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A graduated process is being introduced to the Canary Islands, which would first open beaches to locals, and later to people from mainland Spain.

There is a suggestion that foreign visitors, including Britons, will not be allowed to visit until the autumn months.

At the time of writing Spain has more than 226,000 confirmed cases and has recorded 23,190 fatalities as a result.

In France, the government is working to prioritise its exit strategy.

The reopening of schools, restarting public transport and ensuring there is a large enough supply of masks and hand sanitised have been highlighted.

France has seen more than 162,000 confirmed cases and 22,856 fatalities due to coronavirus.

In the UK the government has remained tight-lipped on an exit strategy, with ministers warning Britons that lockdown will not be ending any time soon.

Contrastingly, Nordic countries have eased restrictions already, allowing for small gatherings and outdoor activities.

In Sweden, officials enforced less stringent lockdown restrictions, leaving large parts of society operating as normal, in a bid to maintain social distancing for a longer period of time.

For travellers, the future of holidays remains uncertain, with airlines, tour operators, and cruise providers all extending cancellations and suspensions.

Those hoping to change back their travel money are now faced with fewer options, as many Bureau de Changes remain shut.

The Post Office halted its travel money operations some weeks ago, though customers who purchased a travel money card are able to switch their currency back to GBP and use the card in the UK as they would a normal debit or credit card.

Ian Strafford-Taylor, CEO of Equals (formerly known as FairFX), advised customers to hold off on exchanging travel money for now.

“If they can, holidaymakers might want to keep hold of their currency until their next trip and use it then,” he said.

“For those using prepaid currency cards, they can spend their money back in the UK online or in stores, keep it for their next trip, or change it to a different currency altogether.”

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Travel

Australia holiday hotspots reopen as lockdown restrictions eased today

Western Australia has today announced that they will be relaxing coronavirus lockdown rules by changing certain rules that were put in place.

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Western Australians can now enjoy picnics in the park, fishing, boating, hiking and camping after the state relaxed coronavirus restrictions today.

Variations on these rules range from state to state. The two biggest states New South Wales and Victoria have the strictest lockdown and don’t plan on lifting these measures until mid-May according to the BBC.

However in some states like Queensland from Saturday, people can go shopping again for fashion, have a picnic in the park or go for a swim at the beach.

Residents can do all of these activities as long as it is within a 40 minute drive from home.

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Beaches were never closed but people can now lie on the sand in groups of 10 as long as they observe social distancing.

Western Australia is also joining South Australia in expanding the national two person limit on gatherings to 10 people, but meet-ups still have to be for essential reasons.

This includes weddings which were previously limited to five people.

Premier Mark McGowan said: “The changes are sensible and reasonable, and are designed to provide a high value social impact.

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“Western Australians have done such a great job so far, although these changes are small, I hope it will be of benefit to many Western Australians – they deserve it.”

The state has confirmed a total of 549 coronavirus cases, but only 55 remain alive.

There are currently 16 people in Perth hospitals, including four in intensive care.

Also on Monday, several elective surgeries resumed across the nation.

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For the most part, Australians are still required to stay at home unless they have crucial work, shopping or exercise reasons.

States and territory leaders say there is no fast and easy way to return to a “pre-coronavirus” norm.

Peter Collignon, Australian National University microbiologist told the Daily Mail that the implementation of a staggered return to work would reduce the risk of the transmission on buses and that pubs and hotels may not return to normal until September.

New Zealand will also list some of its nationwide lockdown measures, moving down one level on its alert scale.

Prime Minister Jacinda Arden says there are no undetected transmissions anymore and that the country has “won the battle”.

The deaths of 19 people have been linked to the virus.

Also restrictions on movement in Spain have been eased to allow children outside for the first time in six weeks.

Spain has had one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns but the governments hopes to ease measures further to let everyone exercise outside.

Italy holds one of the highest numbers of deaths linked to Covid-19 in Europe, it reaches nearly 27,000 deaths.

However with the death rate slowly decreasing, the country has now laid out plans on how it will come out of lockdown.

From May 3, people will be allowed to visit their relatives, only in small numbers, and only wearing masks.

People will also be allowed to move around their local area with parks reopening.

Funerals will also be allowed to be held again with a maximum of 15 people.

Services like hairdressers and beauty salons are not due to be open until 1 June.

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Cruises

Cruise: How to plan for a cruise holiday without breaking the bank

Though the cruise industry is currently tight in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic, with multiple cruise lines now forced to further suspend sailings, there is some hope for cruise holidays. Despite the CDC’s no-sail ban being put in place until July, and the ongoing pandemic, many cruise enthusiasts have come forward to show their love of the industry and say that they won’t be put off their favourite way to travel.

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In fact, a recent poll by Cruise Critic found that 92 percent of its members said the pandemic won’t stop them from taking another cruise in the future – even if it does mean waiting a little while for the dust to settle.

However, while many of us sit at home during lockdown dreaming of exploring the globe, the economic crisis has put a strain on the purse strings.

Luckily, there are some ways you can save on your next cruise holiday.

“Cruises tend to offer outstanding value when you consider that a similar land-based holiday would often cost a lot more for the same sort of accommodation, food and entertainment package available on a cruise – but there are also a number of great tips and tricks to save a few bucks when booking and while onboard,” Adam Coulter, UK managing editor of Cruise Critic told Express.co.uk.

Often, savings can be made the moment travellers book their cruise holiday with a simple bit of planning.

“It has generally been beneficial to book early,” explains Adam.

“That has often meant booking nine months to a year in advance of your travel dates.

“Cruise lines often offer booking incentives to travellers who book early – perks like cabin upgrades, complimentary beverage packages and onboard credit to use at your leisure while at sea.”

Though this could mean travellers now have a long wait until they next take to the seas, should they want to wait out the pandemic before booking their travels, forward-thinking could really reduce the overall cost of the holiday.

Should the cruise industry pick up again, another tip is to avoid peak seasons.

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“If your off-peak cruise isn’t full and the cruise line decreases fares in an effort to boost bookings, that’s a good time to ask your travel agent or cruise line representative for a free upgrade – especially if you’re not eligible for the price reduction,” Adam says.

“Many experienced cruisers often say that Shoulder Season – a time window that is not quite high season and not quite low season – is the ideal time to take a cruise.

“The key benefit of cruising in a shoulder season is that you can often enjoy similar or slightly more temperate weather from peak seasons in any particular area but without the crowds and the higher prices.

“It also usually means that most children are at back school – so you tend to get a quieter experience both onboard and ashore.”

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However, it isn’t just when you decide to book that can cut costs.

Adele Haywood is a cruise enthusiast who has been sailing since 2016. Since she first took to the seas she has been on 8 cruises with big-name operators including MSC, CMV and Fred Olsen.

When looking for ways to cut costs she found that shopping around and booking through travel agents can also be key.

“My advice would be to shop around!” she advises.

“I personally use a small cruise booking agent to find me the best price, but I do compare myself whether or not it is any cheaper, or anything included if booking directly with the company themselves.

“People think booking directly gives you the better deal, but not always! We tend to shop around on price to give ourselves the best experiences for the area we want to go to (rather than the ship we are on) knowing that overall taking into consideration drinks, excursions and gratuities then the price will go up.”

Furthermore, the type of cabin you opt for can really see the numbers creep up on your final receipt.

Adele continues: “We book, where possible an inside cabin unless there are several sea days. This is because as far as we are concerned the cabin is for sleeping, showering and getting changed.

“You can spend the majority of the day off the ship or in the lounges, and then for your meal and entertainment.

“Some people prefer having a window to look out as they worry they’ll feel claustrophobic, but even inside cabins can feel quite spacious. We’ve travelled from inside cabins to junior suites and they’ve all got their good and bad points.”

It is also important that first-time cruisers do their homework, and are aware of all of the additional extras cruise lines can charge.

Adam points out: “Booking your first cruise can be perplexing. It’s easy to be seduced by cheap cruise offers online but if this is your first voyage, it will really pay off to consult a specialist travel agent to make sure that you end up on the right ship for you.”

One of the major draws of cruise holidays is the ability to take in multiple destinations in one trip, thanks to port days.

However, what some travellers may not realise is that guided tours or on-shore excursions by the cruise line can come at an extra cost.

“If you want to save, skip the shore tour desk, and book independent shore excursions or tour guides (often for less money – or at least the same price for a smaller tour where you get more input),” Adam suggests.

However, seasoned cruiser Adele points out that there are some downsides to this, even if it does mean saving money.

“A lot of people think about excursions, some people are told not to book these directly with the cruise company and find a local tour operator instead,” she says.

“We normally book things directly with the cruise line as if we are late back on an organised excursion, the ship will wait for you (and this has happened!) but if you are using a local operator, they won’t!”

If you do want to arrange your own excursion, then be sure to take note of what time the ship is leaving.

“Look at where you are going in advance,” advises Adele.

“How far from the dock is the town? Is there a free or paid shuttle to get you into the town or can you walk it in?

“Some cities are nice just to have a stroll around on your own. But definitely look over the excursions if there is something of interest.”

There are also ways to save while onboard.

Though cruises are often all-inclusive, alcohol, speciality restaurants and some on board experiences – such as spa treatments – are not included in this offering.

“We always recommend that you purchase your alcoholic or soft drinks beverage packages before you board, if possible,” advises Adam.

“In general, it usually always pays to make this decision before you board – since many packages bought onboard can be up to 40 percent more expensive than those bought before boarding – so decide with your fellow travellers whether this is something you want to invest in before your departure date.”

However, if you are uncertain about whether these packages will be worth the cost, savvy sailor Adele has her own thrifty tips.

“If you search the internet you can generally find a price list of the drinks on your ship,” she explains. “Work out the average cost of the drinks that you consume, and how many drinks you would have to drink per day to break even.

“Are you booking excursions, or spending a lot of time off ship? Then this reduces the amount of time you can have these drinks.”

Adam continues: “In the same vein, if you want to go all out and sample the speciality fee-paying restaurants onboard a few times, book a restaurant package, if available.”

One way to slice the cost of speciality dining in half is to dine on the very first night of the cruise.

“As most passengers tend to use the main dining rooms on the first night, you usually find that onboard speciality restaurants offer some great deals for dining with them instead – such a free wine,” he adds.

Similarly, Adam suggests booking spa treatments on shore days if you want to enjoy a relaxing experience for half the price.

Aside from the costs of goods, many first-time cruisers might not be so accustomed with onboard gratuities.

“These days, most cruise lines add to your cruise bill an auto-gratuity or service fee that covers your cabin steward and dining staff,” says Adam.

“Bar bills often have a 15 or 18 percent gratuity included, as do many spa and fitness charges. Yet, more and more, the slip you have to sign indicates a space for an additional gratuity. You’re always welcome to give an extra tip for outstanding service, but you shouldn’t feel pressured to give more than the auto-gratuity if it’s not warranted.

“Uninformed travellers see the blank line on the bill and add 15 to 20 percent without thinking — and end up tipping double.”

If you do want to pay your tips separately, cruisers are allowed to remove auto-gratuities.

“Different companies have their own gratuity policies. We normally pay them, but they can work out expensively. Some split them equally between all their staff (from the engine room to captain), some only split them between your cleaner and your waiter,” explains Adele.

“Our last cruise, we removed our gratuities for the first time ever and left them a tip ourselves as it was only split between two members of staff.

“If you look into it before you go then make sure you ask on one of your first days on ship to remove the gratuities.”

Though the future of travel is uncertain for now, if you are hoping to cruise in the future now could be the time to begin much-needed research.

Whether it’s saving money when booking, or cutting costs once on deck, the major theme that runs throughout is to plan in advance.

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Travel

Sicily set to pay half of tourists’ holiday bills after coronavirus

With Italy gearing up to loosen lockdown, local governments are identifying ways to attract tourism back to the country. Sicily’s regional government has put forward a plan to pay up to half of tourists’ flight costs, as well as footing the bill for one in three of their hotel nights.

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The government will also be freeing up the cost of tickets for museums and archaeological sites.

According to The Times, the scheme will be covered by a €50 million budget after the country faced financial losses due to reduced tourism in March and April.

Vouchers for travel costs are to be made available on Sicily’s tourism website.

Italy became one of the worst-hit places in Europe in the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak in the content, causing a rapid decline at what would have been the beginning of the peak holiday season.

Around 13 percent of the country’s GDP comes from tourism, and with lockdown set to be relaxed somewhat on May 4, government officials are looking into ways to increase foot traffic across the country while still employing social distancing.

Italy is amongst a number of European countries, including Spain, which is considering methods of employing social distancing on beaches.

The Balearic islands’ Restauración Mallorca also recently presented an idea for ensuring social distancing while being able to reopen restaurants and bars.

It is likely that other destinations will attempt similar methods once lockdown comes to an end.

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Italy has recently seen a decline in the number of confirmed cases in the region.

On Thursday the number of cases dropped by almost 1,000 to 2,646.

The country reported 420 new deaths on Friday.

At its peak, Italy was seeing more than 900 deaths in one day.

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Though Italy has the second-highest death toll behind the US, it has fallen to the third most infected country, with Spain overtaking, according to the most recent official figures.

Whether Britons will be able to resume travel to the region in time for the summer months remains unknown.

The UK is currently under its own lockdown, set to be reassessed ahead of the May 8 bank holiday weekend.

However, experts have suggested that it may take some time to get the virus under control.

Ministers continue to refuse to answer questions about a certain exit strategy, though they are in private talks about how this may look.

Health Minister Nadine Dorries said: “Journalists should stop asking about an exit strategy.”

Britons are still being told to avoid all but essential travel for an indefinite period of time.

The government continues to work with airlines as part of a £75 million repatriation effort to bring Britons who are stranded abroad back to the UK.

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Travel

Britons told to keep away as Ibiza and Majorca prepare to open up for summer holidays

The Balearic Islands are attractive holiday destinations due to their weather and only being a short distance flight away. They attracted 13.6 million tourists last year and over a third were Britons. However with lockdown measures in place in the UK and restrictions on travelling, holidays have been cancelled to help stop the spread of Covid-19.

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According to the Balearics Tourism minister lago Negueruela, the local government is expecting the islands to remain closed in May, June and July due to the coronavirus pandemic.

After these months, they hope to see a gradual reintroduction of oversea visitors to rebuild the tourism economy.

Almost 15,000 jobs are expected to be lost on the four islands, with ministers admitting that the islands of Ibiza and Formentera which rely on their tourism are likely to be hit the hardest.

However, Mr Negueruela hinted that Britons will not be amongst those returning to the islands and told the local media that only tourists from certain countries will be allowed in.

He said: “There are countries like the United Kingdom that have taken too long to adopt containment measures that also puts us in a different situation with respect to them.”

The UK entered lockdown on March 23, around three weeks after Italy announced they would be closing schools and universities.

However, he did not elaborate on how the Balearics will enforce a system whereby travellers from certain countries will be allowed to return for their summer holidays.

It is expected that visitors to the island will start to return gradually, with only 25 percent of the usual visitor numbers.

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Mr Negueruela said this figure could hopefully increase to 50 percent after this.

The islands have said they do not expect to greet any visitors until August due to the worldwide outbreak of coronavirus.

The Balearic Islands are an archipelago off eastern Spain. Spain is the second-worst hit country, second to the United States. The nation’s confirmed cases currently stand at over 208,000 with a death toll of over 22,000.

It could be several months before Brits are allowed to enter the Balearics for holidays.

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All commercial flights are currently banned.

Even for holiday makers allowed to enter the Balearics, hotels could remain shut.

The president of the Association of Hotel Chains, Gabriel Llobera explained that hotel groups could decide not to open any hotels.

Even if some hotels do open potentially at the start of September, chains may only open some of their hotels and allocate guests to these hotels in order to fill them.

However this also does depend on the coronavirus situation and tour operator decisions.

The restriction on movement means that the cancellation of the tourist season is expected to cost the Balearics around €9.2 billion (£8.3 billion) and according to the islands Department of Labour, GDP is expected to fall by 31.6 percent.

Greece is amongst many countries hoping to reopen their beaches and tourism this year.

Greek Islands rely heavily on tourism and are expected to take a large economic hit as a result of the worldwide lockdown.

Last year, an estimated four million British holiday makers travelled to Greece for their summer holidays.

However the government has said that they are working hard to ensure that the tourism season could be pushed into Autumn.

The Greek tourism minister Harry Theoharis said: “There may be some demand for October and maybe even November, but this is something that we will examine at a second stage solving the season’s main issues.”

Many countries are facing the impacts of zero tourism and it will be several months before tourists return.

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Categories
Travel

Martin Lewis: Money Saving Expert reveals how to get your cash refund from Ryanair

Ryanair passengers have been reporting that the airline has “refused” them cash refunds straight away, instead sending them a voucher which informs them that they are being placed into a “queue” until the pandemic is over. However, Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis appeared on ITV’s The Martin Lewis Money Show on Thursday night to offer his insight into how travellers can combat the situation.

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Passengers who had already applied for cash refunds have been sent emails from the airline which explains that refunds will not be processed until “the COVID-19 crisis has abated”.

The airline explained: “As our payment agents are required to stay at home in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, payment security restrictions prevent us from processing cash refunds.”

Yet Mr Lewis is less than impressed by this decision.

Earlier in the week, he issued a Tweet saying that he had been alerted to the situation and would be investigating it further for concerned Britons.

Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis posted a tweet about this on Tuesday morning, saying: “Some telling me they replied specifically for a cash refund from @Ryanair are being sent vouchers which then say to apply for cash refunds.”

The airline was also named by customer rights advocate Which? in its latest report.

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “We have been inundated with messages from desperate travellers, some who are thousands of pounds out of pocket as a result of cancellations and have no idea if or when they’ll see their money again.”

On the ITV show, Mr Lewis explained what he had found during his research.

He said: “Now with Ryanair, what it’s done is it has made people go and apply to get the cash refund, jump through the hoops, and then sent them a voucher, not send them the refund.

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“In the voucher, it gives you instructions on how to get the refund so it’s like a double hurdle so you do have to get in touch with them again.

“They say that they are compliant with the EU regulations and that they are making cash refunds available.

Indeed, when Express.co.uk contacted Ryanair for comment on the situation, a spokesperson said: “For any cancelled flight, Ryanair is giving customers all of the options set out under EU regulations, including refunds”.

Mr Lewis continued: “Getting in touch with them, many people are telling me, is very difficult. So go for it again.”

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He then added: “I have to say I have made a formal complaint for investigation to the Civil Aviation Authority and Trading Standards because I think we need to look at whether this is a breach of the regulations or not and that’s for them to do.

“I have my opinions but I have to be careful because of lawyers.”

According to current EU regulations, passengers who claim a refund are entitled to their money back within 14 days.

However, as airlines become inundated with requests this is becoming an increasingly difficult deadline to meet.

Mr Lewis has advised travellers to think “ethically and morally” before hounding for a refund.

“It’s because the travel firms are in terrible stress at the moment so if you can take a voucher do, give them forbearance,” he said.

However, Which? say customers should fight their corner when it comes to getting monetary returns.

Passengers who have their flights cancelled are allowed to claim a refund under EU law. You are entitled to a full refund to the original form of payment within seven days, although many airlines will be struggling to meet that deadline.

The consumer advocate has instead set out a 10-point plan for the government which it hopes will support the industry through this period, while also ensuring customers get the money they are owed.

Mr Boland adds: “We do not want to see the industry suffer further as a result of this outbreak, but it cannot be on consumers to prop up airlines and travel firms, especially when so many will be in difficult financial situations of their own.

“The government must urgently set out how it will support travel firms and airlines to ensure they can meet their legal obligations to refund customers for cancelled travel plans – and avoid permanent damage to trust and confidence in the travel industry.”

There has been a wave of complaints from air passengers and holidaymakers who have accepted why their holiday has been cancelled but are still battling to get a refund.

Ryanair’s rival easyJet has recently offered an online link so customers can claim a refund, while British Airways is offering a refund if customers call up and request one.

Which? recommends passengers continue to fight for a refund as many people have already been refunded by major airlines.

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Cruises

Cruise ship passengers could face harsh punishment if they attempt this after coronavirus

Cruise ship holidays could be quite different after the coronavirus pandemic has passed. The cruise industry has faced much criticism for its handling of the virus crisis. Princess Cruises, in particular, was lambasted for its approach to the outbreaks onboard the Diamond Princess and the Grand Princess.

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The former was quarantined in Yokohama, Japan and 712 passengers went on to be infected with coronavirus.

At the time the ship held the biggest concentration of confirmed cases outside China. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nine passengers died.

On the Grand Princess, which was barred from returning to port in San Francisco, 21 passengers tested positive for the virus and one person died.

The cruise line has now announced it will be rolling out several new health protocols when passengers return to cruising once more, in recent cruise news.

The strict new rules could result in passengers facing legal penalties if they’re found to have falsified the pre-boarding medical questionnaire.

Access to boarding could also be restricted for anyone with a severe chronic medical condition.

“Our health monitoring, screening and operational protocols are designed to be both rigorous and flexible, and we are aggressively adapting to changes as they occur,” Princess Cruises said in a statement.

“We are working closely with public health officials, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), to define and implement best practices to protect the health of our guests and crew as it relates to COVID-19.”

The new guidelines will cover pre-cruise, embarkation and onboard.

Many of the measures are a continuation of the protocols put into place in late February and early March.

Here are just some of the new rules being rolled out.

Pre Cruise

Travellers will have to meet certain criteria  – and those who don’t will be unable to sail.

Anyone who has been in contact with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19; anyone suffering from a fever or flu-like symptoms prior to embarkation; and anyone with underlying severe chronic medical conditions will not be allowed to board.

Booked passengers will receive a full cruise credit or refund if barred from boarding.

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Embarkation

Princess Cruises will be carrying out mandatory thermal scanning of all guests and crew.

Anyone presenting with a fever or flu-like symptoms will be denied boarding, regardless of their recent travel history

Passengers will have to complete a new health declaration form  – and anyone who falsifies their answers will be disembarked at the next port of call.

Those who do not disclose symptoms of illness may face legal consequences.

Onboard

Crew members will man all food service where possible while any self-service areas will be cleaned and sanitised regularly and the serving utensils replaced frequently.

All passengers will be directed to wash their hand or use sanitising gel at dining room entrances.

The ships themselves will be cleaned more thoroughly.

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Categories
Travel

Travel after coronavirus: Will international travel ever recover from COVID-19 pandemic?

As lockdown measures around the world persist in the battle against coronavirus (COVID-19) many industries have all but shut down, with the travel industry one of the worst hit. Though international governments have assured they are working to resurrect the economy once it is safe to do so, life after lockdown is largely uncertain, and the economic fatalities could continue.

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New statistics from Statista have revealed how the industry could be affected, assessing the fears of the general public surrounding travel.

Though the survey does show that many people will continue to travel, it offers a worrying look at how international travel could be hit.

The survey, conducted among US consumers by McKinsey & Company, suggests that the impact on travel and tourism could be lasting.

When it comes to international travel, which 18 percent said they planned to travel more, a worrying 37 percent said that they would be reducing how often they travel to foreign countries.

On a domestic level, 25 percent said they anticipated to travel more, meanwhile, 27 percent said they would reduce travelling even within their home country.

The survey also reflected how people might change their leisure activities, which could cause further fatalities for industries included.

around 29 percent of respondents said they would reduce how often they went to the cinema, concerts, other public events and even to retail shopping spaces.

Despite this, there remains an air of positivity throughout the industry, particularly here in the UK where some data suggests as much as 53 percent of the nation will take a leisure trip as soon as the government will allow.

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A survey of British residents by Piplsay also found that 44 percent of respondents said they felt comfortable travelling outside the country despite the virus.

A further 58 percent said they had full faith in the travel and hospitality industry to follow safety protocols after lockdown.

Additionally, a survey by cruise experts from Cruise Critic found an impressive 92 percent of cruise enthusiasts would continue to sail after the pandemic, even after the CDC’s “no-sail” enforcement.

Of course, at present very little is known about when travel bans will be lifted and when, if ever, the industry will recover.

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Travel and content writer Pola Henderson spoke exclusively to Express.co.uk about her predictions for the future of the industry.

She anticipated a long wait ahead.

“Most travellers and travel writers that I know – of course, this is very informal – think that the earliest we will be able to get away is the end of the summer,” she said.

“But most likely travel will be getting back to normal at the end of the year.

“I’m not talking about the travel-obsessed among us who will want to travel as soon as they can at the end of the summer.

“But hopefully for holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, we might actually be able to see our families.

“But I think before we start going far to other continents, we will resume travelling closer to home, and for shorter periods of time.

“So we will see more long weekends, we will see more local travel, maybe more train travel even though you can touch germs on a train!

“I think people will feel less worried about train travel than they will about plane travel because you’re not in the air for a few hours with someone.”

In a bid to help save the industry many airlines, including easyJet, have launched seat sales with purse-friendly prices to try and attract customers.

There has also been the suggestion of enforcing social distancing on aeroplanes by keeping the middle seat free.

This is a method already being trialled by easyJet, and many others could follow.

Whether or not this will impact ticket prices, however, remains unseen.

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Travel

Google Maps Street View: Sunbather’s beach body caught in very bizarre position in photo

Google Maps Street View is used by most people to get around. However, often when using the tool, some strange spectacles can be spotted in destinations all over the world. One such image has gone viral after being posted to content-sharing site Reddit.

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It depicts a beach scene – but there’s something very wrong going on in the snap.

The Google Maps photo shows what appears to be a man sunbathing.

He lies on golden sands fringed with thick verdant foliage while the sea is behind him.

The beachgoer has spread out a colourful towel on the ground.

Despite the idyllic scene, the sunbather looks incredibly strange indeed.

His legs can be seen sticking out over the edge of the towel, his feet facing the lapping waves.

However, his torso is simply nowhere to be seen.

In fact, where his knees should be, there appears to be his swimwear.

The man seems to have laid a towel over his body – but there’s no masking the strangeness of the situation.

Where the waist should be, can be seen two rather disfigured hands.

Above that – nothing. There is no chest, no arms and no head whatsoever.

What could possibly have happened to the beachgoer?

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Could something strange and sinister have happened?

Is the man even human at all, one wonders?

Although the scene is undeniably disturbing, there is likely a rational explanation for what can be seen.

It is very probable the distorted image is the result of a technological glitch with Google Maps.

The photography splicing has caused the problem due to the way the images form.

When taking the photo, the 360-degree cameras shoot multiple pictures to create a seamless image.

However, moving objects often ruin the scene as they shift when the photos are taken.

It is most likely the man moved when the images were taken, resulting in the strange photo.

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Travel

Urgent warning for Britons after Transport Minister cautions against summer holidays

A comment on summer holidays from the UK’s Minister for Transport has rocked the travel industry, with travel agents now slamming Grant Shapps MP for his revelation that he would not commit to booking a summer holiday now. With the industry grappling to make ends meet against an extended lockdown of the UK nation by the government, future holiday plans are one of the only sources of hope for those working in the sector, but should Britons now start thinking about cancelling those future plans?

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When asked about future travel plans on Friday’s Today programme on Radio Four, Mr Shapps said: “I won’t be booking a summer holiday at this point, let’s put it that way.”

His announcement sent shockwaves through the travel industry and pushed many to condemn his comments.

“It was a thoughtless comment and not based on any facts about what we know today about the future of the pandemic, but it shows complete disregard for the UK travel industry, the hundreds of thousands of people it employs and the struggle it is facing in this current crisis,” said the Travel Association ABTA in a statement.

“It would be better if the government focused on taking the necessary steps to support the sector rather than undermining confidence in it.”

Yet, these comments don’t just act as another source to shatter the promise of more bookings, it could also be a major cause for concern for those who already have plans in place for the late summer months.

Emma Coulthurst, a Travel Commentator from online travel price comparison site TravelSupermarket, warns that cancelling now might not actually be the best decision.

“Whatever you do, don’t cancel,” she warns.

“If you have a holiday booked for this summer, if you proactively cancel it, you will lose all of your money.

“Cancelling it yourself means that you have shown a ‘disinclination to travel’ which invalidates your travel insurance.”

Instead, Ms Coulthurst recommends travellers should “sit tight” and wait for their travel operator to make the decision to cancel.

“There is no knowing yet when restrictions will be lifted,” she points out.

“Airlines and travel companies are facing an unprecedented situation and are dealing with flights and holidays on a rolling basis.

“I appreciate it is really unsettling not knowing if your package holiday is going ahead or not but your package holiday provider or travel agent should be in touch with you two to three weeks before the holiday is due to go ahead and the airline at least a week before to confirm whether your flight is cancelled.”

In recent weeks travel companies such as TUI have cancelled holidays up to a certain date, guaranteeing their customers a refund or the option to rebook at a later date.

The same goes for airlines across the board, with Ryanair, easyJet, Jet2, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways all slashing their itineraries – some by up to as much as 100 percent.

“Due to the sheer volume of travel arrangements which the industry is having to deal with at what is usually one of the busiest times of the year for UK outbound travel market, travel agents and tour operators are looking at people’s holidays on a rolling departure date basis,” continues Ms Coulthurst.

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“Clearly, with the UK ‘lockdown’ now confirmed for at least the next few weeks, the picture is clear for the next few weeks.”

The only time would-be holidaymakers should proactively cancel their own holiday is for medical reasons.

“Clearly, if you are one of the 1.5 or so million people who have been told to shield at home for 12 weeks and you have a holiday booked during that time, contact your holiday provider and your travel insurer to discuss rebooking or getting a refund due to not being able to travel due to medical reasons,” continues the Travel Commentator.

Yet some Britons with impending plans might owe money on their holiday, and could now be in a quandary about making the next payment installation.

“Since you don’t know at this point if the holiday is going ahead, if you want to retain your consumer rights, you need to pay the balance,” advises Ms Coulthurst.

“This is to ensure that you are protected under the ATOL scheme and the Package Travel Regulations.

“If, your holiday is then cancelled, you will have full rights.

“However, if you have decided that you definitely don’t want to travel, you could speak to your holiday provider and explain this and forgo further payments but be aware that you will lose your deposit if you do this.”

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For the most part, Ms Coulter says the same rules apply to domestic holidays within the UK too.

It’s good news for those with travel insurance, who can rely on a refund with the FCO’s travel advisory as a source of reason, however, those who did not purchase an insurance policy will have to speak directly to their accommodation provider.

Many Britons in lockdown have been spending the days dreaming up their post-lockdown getaway, but customers booking now should be cautious.

“There is no knowing at this point when overseas holidays will be up and running again,” she says.

“It depends on a changing of the FCO advice when they say it is safe for holidaymakers to travel again around and from the UK as well as the reopening of borders for the country which you want to visit.

“At the moment, countries such as Turkey and Greece are saying that they hope they will be able to see travellers back by July. But we really don’t know at this time.

“Countries will want to ensure that they can keep us and their citizens safe before they make any changes to travel arrangements.  

“What we do know though is that, when travel opportunities do return, there will be a desire to get out the house and companies such as easyJet are already talking about social distancing measures which they will put in place on their planes to keep people safe.”

She adds: “My advice for any future bookings is to book a package holiday to ensure you have that ATOL and also Package Travel Regs protection.

“A package holiday under Atol is a flight plus something else e.g. accommodation bought as part of one transaction with the same company.

“If you want to go DIY and book a flight, you’ll be covered under European Air Passenger Rights 261 if the flight wasn’t to go ahead for any reason and the Government has previously said that this will apply even after we leave the EU.

“For accommodation, opt for free cancellation, if you can so you can cancel nearer the time and not lose any money. Either way, pay on a credit card to ensure, if anything was to happen to the company, you can claim back under the Consumer Credit Act Section 75 if the booking is more than £100 or the chargeback scheme if less than £100.”

She does warn, though, that travel insurance may not provide a fall back for any holidays booked now.

Luckily, Ms Coulthurst adds some reassurance, saying: “Even though you won’t be able to claim on your travel insurance due to coronavirus on any future holidays because coronavirus is now a known event, the accommodation provider is likely to issue you a credit note or to allow you to rebook for other dates or they may even give you a refund.”

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