Rise in cases pushes more countries closer to quarantine list

Quarantine-free trips to Copenhagen are under threat
Quarantine-free trips to Copenhagen are under threat Credit: Getty

Denmark looks likely to be added to the UK's ever-expanding quarantine list this week after a rise in positive tests saw its seven-day case rate climb to 34.8 per 100,000 people.

The country recorded 347 new infections on Monday, its highest daily figure since April, and two Covid-related deaths. Cases in Slovenia, where the seven-day rate has reached 26, and Ireland, where it is 27.1, are also on the rise. 

The Government reviews its quarantine policy every Thursday, with British travellers in newly-listed countries given until 4am the following Saturday to return to the UK or face two weeks of self-isolation. 

France, Spain, Malta, Belgium, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Austria, Jamaica and Switzerland are among the nations that have lost their "travel corridors" in recent weeks, along with mainland Portugal and a clutch of Greek islands. 

Meanwhile, the EU has proposed a new "traffic light" entry system, under which arrivals from any country with more than 50 Covid cases per 100,000 of the population over the past 14 days and a positive test rate above three per cent could face quarantine. The UK, with a 14-day rate of 51.1 and positive tests running at six per cent, would currently suffer under the scheme.

Scroll down for more of the latest news:

That's all folks

Thanks for joining us. Here's a recap of the key stories:

  • Denmark looks likely to be added to the UK's quarantine list this week
  • New rules could put trips to Italy and Greece off the menu for Irish holidaymakers
  • Jet2.com has added more flights to Turkey to cope with rising demand

  • Finland is to ease restrictions on UK tourists in November

  • Mexico has reopened its famous Mayan ruins

  • Singapore Airlines is offering 'flights to nowhere'

Have a fine evening. 

A word from Withnail

'Fleeing cars melted as the sky turned orange'

In this postcard from wildfire-ravaged Oregon, Rosemary Behan describes a terrifying situation:

After a decade living in the Middle East, this was hardly the spot I expected the world to end. Quite the contrary, for there is usually nothing more sublime than an Oregon summer, where the purest blue skies and luminous green forests combine with lakes, mountains and waterfalls to create what car licence plates rightly call the Pacific Wonderland. Yet as fires erupted in the Mount Hood National Forest, another million-acre playground which starts just east of Portland, the Beachie Creek Fire merged with the huge Lionshead and Riverside fire on the nearby Clackamas River, creating a 500,000-acre “dynamic fire situation” far too close for comfort. I packed a few bags, loaded up the car and drove north to Seattle, not really knowing if I’d see my house again.

Read the full story.

The best options for a half-term family escape

We're keeping track of the destinations available to British families this half term. Such as Sicily

The risk: After a nightmare start to the pandemic, Italy has managed its second wave more successfully and it remains on the green list. That could change, of course – the infection rate has risen from about four per 100,000 at the beginning of August to just over 16 a month later. But it does look like one of the most stable bets for October travel.

The reward: Sicily offers a wonderful combination of historical sights – from the ancient Greeks, to the Normans and the 18th-century baroque, a spectacular coastline, some lovely resorts and a warm autumn. At this time of year it’s a great destination either for the beach or some sightseeing, or a combination of both.

Getting there: BA has returns to Catania from about £200. The Thinking Traveller (thethinkingtraveller.com) has great villas.

Adventure awaits in Sicily Credit: Getty

Is your UK holiday now illegal?

he UK has taken a step back into lockdown. Across England and Scotland, social gatherings of more than six people are now illegal both indoors and outdoors – while in Wales and Northern Ireland, the law applies to indoor occasions only.

But what does that mean for your staycation? And who exactly will police your holiday, if it is now illegal? Hazel Plush has the answers

Secret seaside: 10 overlooked corners of Britain for a late summer escape

Millions of Britons are swapping their usual holiday in the Med for a staycation. But with Cornwall and Devon oversubscribed, where can you go for peace and quiet? Our UK experts suggest their favourite lesser-known corners for a late summer escape

The coast near Kimmeridge Bay Credit: Getty

The 10 countries with the highest case rates

Don't expect to be enjoying a quarantine-free holiday in any of these nations any time soon:

  • Bahrain (311.7 cases per 100,000 during the last seven days)
  • Israel (281)
  • Montenegro (186.2)
  • Argentina (172.5)
  • Costa Rica (170.7)
  • Andorra (167.6)
  • Spain (144.1)
  • Kuwait (125.3)
  • Peru (122.3)
  • Maldives (114.2)

Read more:  The country with the world's strictest lockdown is now the worst for excess deaths ​

The Battle of Britain, brought to life: Where to celebrate our finest hour

Chris Leadbeater writes:

Winston Churchill – as he frequently did – summed it up best. “Never in the field of human conflict,” he said, in his speech of August 20 1940, “was so much owed by so many to so few.” He was referring, of course, to the efforts of the British and Allied pilots who flew with such bravery in the Battle of Britain – the bitter struggle to fend off Nazi Germany's Luftwaffe aircraft that raged in the skies over England in the summer of 1940.

This seismic showdown between RAF Hurricanes and Spitfires, and German Messerschmitt fighters, lasted for “just” three months and three weeks (July 10-October 31 1940). But it sings through the decades, as the stubborn stand which stopped Germany gaining air superiority over Europe; as the direct cause of Hitler's abandoning the idea of Operation Sea Lion, his plan to invade Britain. As a big turning point in a wider conflict.

See his pick of the best places to visit to mark the 80th anniversary. 

The Imperial War Museum Credit: Getty

The safest options for a last-minute holiday

The following countries have a seven-day case rate below 15 per 100,000, are not on the quarantine list, and are open to UK travellers:

  • Sweden (14.9)
  • Turkey (13.8)
  • Germany (12.1)
  • Liechtenstein (10.6)
  • Poland (8.8)
  • Iceland (6.8)
  • Cuba (3.3)
  • Cyprus (1.4)
  • Barbados (0.7)

Rule of six scuppers family staycations

More opposition to the Government's hugely unpopular rule of six. 

Rory Paxton, director of holiday home rental company Habitat Escapes, says:

The rule of six creates extreme challenges for the leisure industry, a sector that has already been hit hard in 2020. Almost 90% of our properties cater for six people or above, many of whom are travelling with young children. Our team is dealing with a huge volume of enquiries from guests that now need to re-think who joins them on holiday. 

Families make up a large proportion of our bookings, we urge the government to follow in the footsteps of Scotland and Wales and make children under the age of 12 exempt from the rule.

Sweden to permit care home visits

More good news for Sweden, which has seen cases fall in recent weeks while they rise across the rest of Europe. Starting next month, Swedes will be able to visit elderly care homes for the first time since April. State epidemiologist Anders Tegnell described the move as "completely reasonable since transmission has decreased radically recently, and it's obvious that knowledge and routines have improved greatly."

Read more: What life is really like in lockdown-free Sweden

The 17 countries you can visit right now without a quarantine

  1. Denmark 
  2. Faroe Islands (Visitors required to take Covid-19 test at airport on arrival)
  3. Germany
  4. Gibraltar
  5. Greece (Not including Lesvos, Tinos, Serifos, Mykonos, Crete, Santorini and Zakynthos) 
  6. Iceland (Open to tourists, but all arrivals must pay to be tested twice for coronavirus, and await the results in their hotel, or self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival. Children born in 2005 or later are exempt)
  7. Italy
  8. Liechtenstein
  9. Poland
  10. Portugal (only Azores and Madeira, and visitors must show proof of a negative Covid-19 test, carried out no more than 72 hours before arrival, or take a test on arrival and await the results within 12 hours at their accommodation)
  11. San Marino
  12. Slovakia 
  13. Slovenia
  14. Sweden
  15. Turkey
  16. Vatican City
  17. Cuba (Tourists can enter Cuba on international charter flights arriving directly into Cayo Coco, Cayo Cruz or Cayo Guillermo (served by Jardines del Rey airport); Cayo Santa Maria (flying into Santa Clara airport); or Cayo Largo del Sur only).

The list is small, and Denmark may soon be removed. 

The A-Z of truly greener getaways, from packing to planning

Which do the accreditations stand for? What do the buzzwords actually mean? From planning to packing, to time when you’re away, Juliet Kinsman – author of new book The Green Edit: Travel (Easy Tips for the Eco-Friendly Traveller) – shares her starter tips to having an eco-friendly holiday. 

So is for Slow Travel  Credit: Getty

Tourism numbers fell 65% during the first six months of 2020

New United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) figures lay bare the terrible impact that global lockdowns have had on tourism. International tourist arrivals plunged 93% in June when compared to 2019, while for the first six months of the year the fall was 65%. 

There are signs of a recovery, however. The UNWTO says: "Over recent weeks, a growing number of destinations have started to open up again to international tourists. As of early September, 53% of destinations had eased travel restrictions. Nevertheless, many governments remain cautious, and this latest report shows that the lockdowns introduced during the first half of the year have had a massive impact on international tourism. The sharp and sudden fall in arrivals has placed millions of jobs and businesses at risk."

BA adds new flights to Lahore

British Airways will begin flying from Heathrow to Lahore, Pakistan, four times a week from October 12.

Known as the City of Gardens, Lahore will be the second city in Pakistan that BA will operate to, following the relaunch of services to Islamabad.

Neil Chernoff, Director of Network and Alliances, said: "We are delighted be starting direct flights to Lahore, connecting London with Pakistan’s two biggest cities, following the relaunch of our services to Islamabad."

Read more: In search of the real Pakistan – what I learnt on a trip to this fascinating country

Ski resort in Austria gets ready to reopen

Think the ski season is months away? Not if you head to the Stubai glacier in the Austrian Tirol, which will open its slopes in just over a week. Lucy Aspden reports:

In order to reopen safely, the largest glacier resort in Austria has released details of new guidelines guests must adhere to. These include social distancing in lift queues and compulsory masks while queuing and in gondolas, where capacity will be limited and anti-fogging machines will be used to disinfect cabins.

Aprés ski will be a muted affair, with the Snow Crystal Pavilion bar operating on a seated service basis, and with only background music. “We will do without aprés-ski atmosphere,” read a statement from the resort.

The reopening of Stubai, which is a 50-minute drive from the city of Innsbruck, is reliant on snow conditions – there is currently 5cm of snow at 3,000m, the top of the ski area.

The news comes as Austria, which remains on the Government’s quarantine list, tightens the rules on face coverings, which are now compulsory in all shops and public buildings, including schools (corridors, but not classrooms) and public gatherings. Events without seating, including private parties, are now limited to 50 people indoors, 100 outdoors. 

Jeremy Vine: 'My heart sinks now when I see an airport'

The presenter reveals his fondness for Appledore, in Devon, and how Africa changed him. Read the full interview

Jeremy Vine Credit: BBC/GRAEME HUNTER

Ireland's new travel rules to put Italy and Greece off the menu

Ireland has set out new rules for its quarantine-free travel "green list", saying only visitors from countries with a Covid-19 infection rate of under 25 cases per 100,000 over the previous two weeks can skip a 14-day quarantine.

Previously the green list was made up of countries with lower infection rates than Ireland, but its government stopped updating the list when Irish cases rose to 45 per 100,000.

Ireland's rate is now 45.4, while countries with rates below 25 include Germany, Sweden, Poland, Finland, Lithuania, Iceland and Cyprus. As it stands, the change will mean Irish travellers cannot visit Italy (32.4) or Greece (29) without self-isolating for two weeks on their return.

Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin said that the government would soon publish a new list and would then adopt a coordinated EU system of travel restrictions due to be discussed at an EU General Affairs Council meeting on October 13.

Dublin pubs to stay closed

Closed Dublin pubs will not be able to reopen along with those in the rest of Ireland as part of tailored restrictions to tackle rising infection rates in the city. Press Association reports:

While Dublin city and county has been given the same 'Level 2' status as the rest of the country under the Government's new Covid-19 threat classification system, they will be subject to some additional limitations.

Relaxations on people attending sporting events, which allow for crowds of up to 200 at larger stadiums, will also not apply to Dublin.

Level 2 allows people to participate in gatherings at home and outside of six people from no more than three other households.

Those in Dublin should keep those gatherings limited to people from just one extra household.

Read more: Pub closures will cost Ireland more than its lost pints

The ruins of modern Greece

The Covid pandemic signalled the death knell for countless Greek businesses, which were already struggling after ten years of economic crisis. 

We take a look at 15 Greek businesses left in a state of decay after a tumultuous decade. Read the full story.

The pandemic has taken its toll on already struggling businesses in Greece Credit: Heidi Fuller-Love

Where can we cruise as travel restrictions are lifted? 

The travel corridors are opening, and for many the bags will already be packed. But where can Britons go on a cruise?

In Europe, more than 50 river ships are now sailing – although most of the bigger names are yet to start – and some ocean routes have opened up. 

Here in the UK, some small Scottish boats – such as The Majestic Line – are beginning to restart in Oban. European Waterways is operating a 12-passenger luxury barge along the Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness, as well as the eight-person Magna Carta on the Thames.

P&O plans to reboot operations in November

P&O Cruises says it will take delivery of new ship Iona by the autumn ahead of plans to restart in November, when Saga also plans to come back with the launch of its new ship, Spirit of Adventure.

Here is where Britons can now sail, subject to UK government advice and local restrictions.

Denmark's coronavirus reproduction rate at 1.5 

Hospitality venues in Copenhagen have been ordered to limit their opening hours following a rise in Covid-19 cases in Denmark, a country that has largely been able to keep its outbreak under control so far.

Restaurants, bars and cafes will now have to close at 10pm in the capital, after health minister Magnus Heunicke said the country’s reproduction rate – which indicates the average number of people an infected person transmits the virus to – is currently at 1.5.

Demand for canal holidays soars

Opportunities to take to the water are plentiful within the UK, with more than 2,000 miles of navigable inland waterways on the island of Britain alone. As the lockdown lifted, there appeared to be a newfound appreciation for this: there was a 150 per cent increase in canal holiday bookings since domestic travel in England was given the go ahead.

The surge in interest was reported by Black Prince, a nationwide canal holiday operator. According to the company, the majority of new enquiries are being driven by family groups booking more than one boat for 'bubble' holidays. 

Canal holidays are on the rise

“Families are considering narrowboat breaks because they don’t want to fly abroad but they’re not thrilled by camping, caravans or a seaside hotel in the UK,” said Leighton Jones, head of Black Prince. “A narrowboat offers the perfect form of socially distanced getaway and that is particularly appealing to grandparents who have been separated from their family during lockdown.”

Emma Cooke and Paul Miles explore the prettiest canal holidays across the UK.

Air New Zealand seats snapped up as Covid rules relaxed

Air New Zealand sold 110,000 seats on Monday, compared to the usual 31,000 daily tally in pre-pandemic times.

After the New Zealand Government announced it would be easing physical distancing rules on public transport, airlines including Air New Zealand released hundreds of thousands of cheap fares to encourage domestic travel.

As soon as the announcement was made that distancing would no longer be required on planes, Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran said the airline immediately put more tickets up for sale.

The national carrier placed 180,000 tickets on sale, with 160,000 available for under $50.

What is the situation in Italy?

On September 4, Italy recorded 1,738 cases – the highest number since April. However, its seven-day case rate has steadied and is now 16.5 per 100,000. It looks likely to remain on the quarantine-free list for the time being.

'Take risks and choose a life that defies the norm' 

Levison Wood, introducing his new photography book, offers advice on capturing extraordinary encounters. Read the full story

One of the explorer's photos from Laikipia County in northern Kenya Credit: Levison Wood

Meanwhile, in France...

The Tour de France continues, giving British viewers the chance to catch a glimpse of the glorious landscapes and historic chateaux quarantine rules currently deny them. 

Speaking of which, Stanley Stewart's 2019 feature, 'Murder, mayhem and debauchery: The secrets of the Loire châteaux' is definitely worth a read. 

Plants overrun Chinese apartment blocks

An experimental green housing project in the Chinese mega-city of Chengdu promised prospective residents life in a "vertical forest", with manicured gardens on every balcony.

All 826 apartments were sold out by April this year, according to the project's estate agent, but instead of a modern eco-paradise, the towers look like the set of a desolate, post-apocalyptic film.

The problem? The mosquitoes love the plants too, and because of an infestation only a handful of families have moved in. 

Nice try Credit: AFP

Thai cabinet approves long-stay tourist visas amid plans to reopen

Thailand's cabinet has approved visas of up to 270 days for long-stay tourists as the government prepares to reopen to foreign visitors from as early as next month to help support a key sector battered by the global lockdown.

The country's government aims to allow foreign visitors from low-risk or no-risk countries to visit the country from next month, Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the official Tourism Authority of Thailand, told Reuters. However, they will need to fly direct and will still be expected to quarantine for two weeks.

The tourism-reliant country has recorded no foreign visitors since April, when it imposed a blanket travel ban.

Read more:  You Brits should stop complaining – at least you can leave your country

What are your plans for half term?

Death of the honeymoon? Not quite

Given the global web of confusing travel restrictions, 2020 hasn't exactly been the best time for a honeymoon (nor a wedding, for that matter). But instead of cancelling their romantic overseas sojourns, couples are apparently planning even more outlandish celebrations for 2021. 

Luxury travel company Kuoni has seen a steady stream of honeymoon bookings for 2021 which includes both re-bookings for breaks cancelled this year and new bookings from couples planning ahead. A spokesperson said: "Saving up and upgrading is a trend as couples pull out all the stops to make their honeymoon extra special with the average spend per honeymoon rising by £530 from £7,709 in 2019 to £8,247 for 2021, based on advance bookings so far. There has been a double digit increase in couples taking two honeymoons, one short trip to places in in England, Scotland, Ireland, Italy or Greece immediately after their wedding ceremony with plans to take a bigger long-haul trip next year or the year after."

The most popular destination? Unsurprisingly, it's the Maldives. The Indian Ocean archipelago pipped Sri Lanka and Mauritius to the top spot. 

Jet2.com adds more flights to Turkey

Following increased demand, Jet2.com and Jet2holidays have added more than 60 new flights to Turkey, equating to 12,000 more available seats to the popular holiday destination.

The additional services cover the following routes:

  • Birmingham – Antalya, Dalaman
  • Edinburgh – Dalaman, Antalya
  • East Midlands – Dalaman
  • Glasgow – Dalaman, Antalya
  • Leeds Bradford – Dalaman, Bodrum
  • Manchester – Antalya, Bodrum, Dalaman, Izmir
  • Newcastle – Dalaman, Antalya
  • London Stansted – Antalya, Bodrum

Britons can visit Turkey without the need to quarantine, but mask rules are rather strict. The Foreign Office says: "All arrivals into Turkey will be subject to a medical evaluation for symptoms of coronavirus, including temperature checks. As of September 8, the wearing of masks is mandatory at all times outside the home throughout Turkey. This includes, but is not limited to, all public places, including streets, side streets, parks, gardens, picnic areas, markets, sea side and public transportation including Metro, buses, taxis and ferries. Masks are also mandatory in all shops, restaurants, hairdressers and barber shops."

Mexico reopens its famous ruins

Mexico’s pre-Hispanic ruins have begun reopening to tourists for the first time since March. 

Associated Press reports that the ancient sites will operate at 30% capacity. Visitors will need to have their temperatures checked, wear face masks, get a dose of hand sanitising gel, and observe social distancing rules. 

The pyramids of Teotihuacan just north of Mexico City reopened last week; Tulum and Cobá on Monday; Chichen Itza will reopen in the coming weeks. 

UK tourists can visit Mexico, but will need to self-isolate for two weeks on their return to Britain. 

Don't expect crowds at Tulum Credit: Getty

Professor Karol Sikora slates new restrictions on gatherings

A voice of reason throughout the pandemic, Professor Karol Sikora has criticised the new "rule of six" restrictions that have hit thousands of staycations

Singapore Airlines could offer 'flights to nowhere' as travel ban takes its toll

Tom Mulvihillreports that Singapore Airlines is planning to launch a series of ‘no-destination flights’ in a bid to boost its ailing business.

If the scheme goes ahead, locals will be able to book round trips out of Singapore Changi Airport, taking off for a three-hour circuit of the island state before touching back down where they started.

The so-called ‘flights to nowhere’ could start as soon as October, although Singapore Airlines is remaining coy about the details.

Other airlines around the world have discovered a desperation to fly among customers frustrated by months of worldwide travel bans.

In July, dozens of ‘passengers’ turned up at Taiwan’s Songshan Airport for an experience day, checking in, clearing airport security and boarding a plane which didn’t take off, while in Bangkok, a pop-up restaurant at Thai Airways’ HQ has been serving more than 2,000 ‘in-flight meals’ each day to desperate diners with a yearning for plane food.

Read the full story

Heathrow falls short as Rome voted top 'Covid-secure' airport

Greg Dickinsonreports that Rome’s Fiumicino Airport has been named the world’s first five-star rated airport for its Covid-19 safety measures.

Air travel rating agency Skytrax, which also runs the World Airline Awards and the World Airport Awards, conducted an audit of the airport in September.

It found that Covid hygiene policies at Rome Fiumicino were well enforced. They praised the airport’s 40-strong ‘Bio Safety Team’, which has been tasked with ensuring social distancing is taking place and that passengers are wearing masks.

Heathrow, however, only achieved a three-star rating.

Read the full story

Indonesia reports 124 new Covid-related deaths

A second lockdown has been announced in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta due to a rise in Covid infections.

An Indonesian man walks along a commuter bridge in Jakarta Credit: Getty
An empty seating area of a small restaurant which has been closed due to the reimposition of lockdown Credit: Getty

Meanwhile, Indonesian authorities have been handing out unusual punishments to violators of the country's strict coronavirus laws, with eight men who refused to wear masks in public ordered to dig the graves of Covid victims. Mask wearing became mandatory in Indonesia on April 5, but doesn't appear to have stopped the virus from spreading across the country. 

What life is really like in lockdown-free Sweden

Stockholm resident Maddy Savage reports:

The golden spire of Stockholm’s city hall glistens in the sunset, runners sweat away the day’s stresses on the boat-lined waterfront, and a young couple wobble along a cobbled street on a single-seater bike. I’m watching the evening unfold from the 52-metre high glass-flanked rooftop bar TAK, which, like almost every popular drinking spot in the Swedish capital, has remained open throughout the pandemic.

As a dual British-Swedish citizen living in Stockholm, I’m treating myself to a glass of fizz to celebrate Sweden finally joining the UK’s quarantine-free list. For me, it brings a chance to visit family for the first time since February. But my phone’s also been pinging with British contacts curious about holidaying in Sweden following the dramatic drop in cases here over the summer and an ever-dwindling list of alternatives for those seeking an autumn break in Europe.

The first thing any would-be tourist here will notice is the lack of face masks. They’re requested at Swedish airports but aren’t compulsory on transport, in shops, hairdressers or indeed any part of public life. A recent major poll found just 6% of Swedes currently use them, despite 43% believing they could stop the spread of infection and several prominent Swedish scientists lobbying the authorities to change their approach. Anders Tegnell, the country’s state epidemiologist, has said he might reconsider things if there’s a renewed increase in cases, but he’s repeatedly argued that hand-washing and social distancing remain more effective barriers against the virus.

Read the full story.

Australia reports no virus deaths for first time in two months

No new coronavirus deaths were recorded in Australia for the first time in two months on Tuesday, as a slowdown in new cases allowed a crippling lockdown in Melbourne to be eased.

Just 50 fresh virus cases were reported nationwide – down from peaks above 700 in late July and early August – while no fatalities were registered for the first time since July 13.

The news came a day after a strict lockdown of Melbourne was loosened, allowing residents to spend an extra hour a day exercising outside and visiting friends living alone.

Read more:  Australia has returned to being a convict nation

EasyJet boss slams European countries over 'confusing' travel policies

European governments should focus on developing coherent air travel policies rather than shielding national carriers, according to  EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren.

Speaking at an online event with industry CEOs and EU policymakers, Lundgren blamed some of the slump in air traffic on "tremendous confusion" over differing restrictions and quarantine measures.

"There needs to be a common approach when it comes to the things that have to do with testing (and) quarantine," Lundgren said during the event hosted by Brussels-based industry group Airlines For Europe.

Last week the EU proposed a bloc-wide "traffic light" system that would offer a little more clarity when it comes to travel within the continent. 

England's best secret beaches

In case you hadn't noticed, it's going to be a scorcher. So (if you've got a generous boss) sneak off for a day at the beach. It might be your last chance to top up your tan. Here's our pick of England's best uncrowded sands

Nanjizal in Cornwall Credit: Getty

Finland to ease restrictions on UK tourists in November

Currently, Britons hoping to visit Finland must self-isolate for 14 days on arrival. From November 23, however, restrictions are being relaxed. VisitFinland.com explains: "Leisure travel will be possible from all EU and Schengen countries (including the UK) with infection rates above 25 per 100,000 persons [over the previous 14 days]. However, travellers from these countries will need to have proof on arrival in Finland of a negative Covid-19 test result no older than 72 hours. On arrival in Finland, visitors from these countries are placed in quarantine for 72 hours, after which they need to take a second test. After a second negative Covid-19 test result, the person can move around in Finland freely. If the visit to Finland lasts less than 72 hours, no quarantine or second test is required."

Ace Hotel London closes its doors

The Ace Hotel in Shoreditch has become the latest US hotel in London to close. Jade Conroy reports:

The Ace opened in a former Crowne Plaza hotel building on Shoreditch High Street in 2013, introducing the brand’s trendy vibe to a the hip neighbourhood. 

Record players were set up in rooms; raucous nights were held in Miranda, its basement club; you could guarantee a good time (and food) whatever the time of day in buzzy Hoi Polloi brasserie, and you could even pick up a bunch of flowers from the on-site florist. Pop-ups were frequent, as were the young creatives who would tap away on laptops in the lobby/working space all day before peeling off for cocktail hour.

But the pandemic put paid to the era of working-from-anywhere, keeping both local and international visitors grounded in their own homes. 

Read the full story. 

Inside the 'ghost' cruise ships laid up around the world

Just six short months ago cruise ships were sailing the world and calling at enticing ports, says Gary Buchanan. Today these vessels are becalmed in a sea of torpor. Across the globe, safe havens are now filled with over 330 ships either tied up at a quayside or at anchor as a result of ‘no sail’ edicts. Read the full story

A pair of dormant Fred Olsen ships Credit: Getty

Bag a last-minute break in Stockholm (for a dose of the old normal)

Sweden, where lockdown never happened and hardly anyone wears masks, has been added to the UK's quarantine-free list. So start planning a last-minute escape

The city is famous for its nearby islands Credit: Getty

How cases have risen in Denmark

The graph below shows how new positive tests have crept up in the Scandinavian country over the last few weeks. 

Turkey is open for tourism

Only 16 European countries can be visited by UK travellers without a quarantine. Turkey is one, and it's welcoming tourists. 

Tourists ride camels while touring the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia Credit: Getty
A couple take a selfie after visiting Ankara Castle Credit: Getty

Czech Republic sees sharp rise in new cases

Having been added to the UK's quarantine list at the end of August, infections in the Czech Republic continue to rise. Its seven-day infection rate of  75.6 is one of the highest in Europe (behind only Montenegro, Andorra, Spain and France). 

The spike in cases has prompted the country's government to tighten mask-wearing rules, but it aims to avoid large-scale shutdowns, like those seen in the spring, which hammered the economy.

Several countries have responded by putting travel restrictions on Czechs. Neighbouring Slovakia said on Monday it would put the Czech Republic on its "red list" of high-risk countries, meaning travellers across the border would need to show evidence of a negative Covid-19 test or complete a five-day quarantine followed by a test. 

The Foreign Office issues new travel warning for China

The UK has issued new a travel advisory for China, warning that Britons may be at risk of arbitrary detention, after several foreigners were held on various charges including cases involving state secrets and national security.

"China's authorities have under certain circumstances detained foreigners citing endangering national security," the Foreign Office said in its latest advice posted on its website. "There is also a risk of arbitrary detention, including of British Nationals." 

Where can I go on holiday now?

The travel map is shrinking, with only a dozen or so European options that don't involve a quarantine on return or significant restrictions on UK arrivals. Note that several Greek islands, including Crete and Mykonos, are also on the UK's quarantine list, while visitors to Iceland must take a Covid test on arrival and spend five days self-isolating in their accommodation. 

Life goes on in France

Despite reporting a record 10,000 positive tests on Saturday, France is keen to embrace life – not new rules. That's the verdict of our expat expert, Anthony Peregrine

A tourist in Paris on Monday Credit: Getty

EU's new quarantine thresholds could lock out UK travellers

Charles Hymas reports that the European Commission is pushing for a standardised quarantine model under which arrivals from any country with more than 50 Covid cases per 100,000 residents over the past 14 days, and a positive test rate above three per cent, could face quarantine.

The figures for the UK are currently 51.1 and six per cent, respectively, meaning the system could hinder British travellers. 

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Which countries could be quarantined next?

As outlined already, Denmark is in the UK Government's crosshairs, while Slovenia's seven-day case rate is inching higher. 

What is the Government's threshold for quarantine?

When it comes to imposing quarantine on arrivals from other countries, the UK’s has for weeks had a clear – if entirely arbitrary – threshold. If a nation crosses the barrier of 20 new infections per 100,000 people during the preceding week it will find itself on the naughty step. Spain, France, Belgium, Austria, and many others, hit the mark and were immediately blacklisted. 

But a rise in cases in Britain, driven in no small part by increased testing, has now seen our own seven-day rate leap to 31.6. So what now?

It seems that an extra degree of leniency has been adopted. Denmark, for example, was tipped for inclusion on the quarantine list last week after its case rate comfortably hurdled the 20 barrier (it has now reached 34.8), but the UK permitted it a stay of execution. Similarly, green-listed Slovenia has reached 26 per 100,000 but no action has been taken. 

So what is the new threshold? Basic logic would dictate that quarantine measures are pointless if a country has a lower infection rate than ours, so perhaps the threshold should now be the UK’s own seven-day figure (currently 32.1). 

This would mean Denmark is the only country seriously at risk of being added to the naughty step this week, while holidays to the likes of Italy and Greece (those recently ostracized Greek islands excluded) look very safe. But nothing, of course, is certain. 

What happened yesterday?

Before we kick off today's updates, here's the pick of Monday's news:

  • UK travel businesses warned of 'carnage' as the 'rule of six' forced many Britons to cancel their holidays

  • Belgium became the latest country to launch an airport testing service 

  • Israel imposed a second national lockdown, forcing residents to venture no more than 500 metres from their homes

  • London City Airport said it could be forced to cut 35% of its staff

  • A Scottish travel firm found a  novel solution to the temporary suspension of sailing and turned its ships into summer holiday homes