Travel latest: Holidays off for all Britons as more than 13,000 hotels forced to close – The Telegraph

Holidays are now firmly off the cards for almost all the British Isles as tough new lockdown restrictions come into force.

From today, more than three-quarters of English residents will be living under the highest Tier 4 restrictions after Matt Hancock cited rising Covid infections while imposing harsher measures on another 20 million people.  

This puts the whole of England, with the sole exception of the Isles of Scilly, into either Tier 3 or 4. Scotland, Wales and Ireland are currently all under a national lockdown.

Under both Tier 3 and 4, all hotels and hospitality venues must close, as well as non-essential shops. Restaurants, pubs and bars can only serve takeaway. The rules for Tier 4 instruct people to stay at home, with permission to leave only if there is a “reasonable excuse”. The guidance warns them not go abroad either, apart from “limited exceptions” such as work.

There are more than 13,000 hotels across the UK, all of which will begin 2021 closed, leaving an already reeling travel industry and countless small businesses in dire straits. 

Speaking on Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would move “heaven and earth” to roll out the newly-approved Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine so that restrictions can “recede into the past” by spring.

Follow all the latest news below.

What happened today?

Top stories of the day included:

  • Many areas in England were moved into tier 3 and 4 restrictions , effectively closing all the country’s hotels bar those on the Isles of Scilly
  • Swiss police probe 12 Britons suspected of fleeing ski resort quarantine
  • US to expand Covid-19 testing scheme for international arrivals  
  • Irish Government extends flight and ferry ban
  • Britain strikes last-minute deal to keep Gibraltar border open
  • Flight Centre offers UK shops as vaccine hubs

We’ll be back tomorrow with all the latest news at the UK leaves the EU.

‘It’s the biggest pyro show since Krakatoa’

Aided by 400 crew, 6,000 Covid tests and $1m worth of fireworks, Kiss will see off 2020 in Dubai with the livestream to end all livestreams.

“We don’t want you to get sick so don’t go out, get drunk and wind up being friendly with strangers whose names you haven’t bothered to learn,” warns bassist Gene Simmons, calling from his home in California. “Instead stay at home with your loved ones and you’ll still get to go to the biggest party on the face of the planet.” 

Ali Shutler has more.

Flight Centre offers UK shops as vaccine hubs

Flight Centre UK has pledged to help with the vaccine roll out by offering up its currently unused shops. The move follows the news that BrewDog CEO, James Watt has tweeted Matt Hancock and Nicola Sturgeon to offer their venues to help with the vaccine roll out.

In a tweet to Matt Hancock and Boris Johnson, Flight Centre UK, which has stores in key high street locations across the UK, has offered its store space as well as its back-of-house kitchens and fridges.

Yvonne Hobden, Head of Retail Marketing for Flight Centre said:

It has been an extremely difficult year for the travel industry and like most high street organisations across the UK we’ve had to close our stores as regions go in and out of government restrictions. However, we believe with so much unused space we can support with the vaccine roll out and would urge Boris Johnson or Matt Hancock to get in touch if they think we can help.

‘I’m suing the ski resort where I contracted Covid’

Retired banker Nigel Mallender, 56, caught Covid in Austrian ski resort, Ischgl. Now he has joined a class action to sue the town.

Read more here.

Australia welcomes in 2021 with firework display in Sydney

The ways in which travel will be different from tomorrow

Ben Ross explains all.

The 10 greatest hotels of the decade

It has been the toughest of years for the entire travel industry, marked by the chaos and uncertainty caused by Covid, and with very few positive moments to look back on. This is as true for hoteliers as anyone else: grand opening plans were thrown into disarray by the pandemic and the global travel bans that ensued, and plenty of hotels originally scheduled for 2020 have now had their debuts postponed until the new year. Those that have opened since March have been met with little fanfare and just a smattering of guests.

The last 10 years have seen some truly remarkable new hotels open their doors, including the game-changing Six Senses Bhutan

But despite the difficulties, a handful of new hotels have arrived to set new standards of luxury on the travel scene, from stylish city stays in Paris, Tokyo and Warsaw to off-the-grid retreats in Sweden, Utah and the Dolomites. What’s more, they have continued the trend of a decade or more, of hoteliers stretching the boundaries of grandeur and adventure.

This list honours those who, for each of the last 10 years, we feel have done the most to provide new and exciting experiences for travellers.

Stay at home for NYE, says Government

The Government has issued a warning to everyone in the UK, regardless of what tier they are in, to remain home on New Year’s Eve.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “With our NHS under pressure we must all take personal responsibility this New Year’s Eve and stay at home.

“I know how much we have all sacrificed this year and  we cannot let up. Over 600,000 people have now been vaccinated and we are close to beating this virus.

“Now more than ever, we need to pull together to save lives and protect our NHS. If we continue to do our bit by staying at home, we can get through this together.”

Norway to introduce mandatory Covid tests at borders

All travellers entering Norway will have to take a Covid-19 test upon arrival, or up to 24 hours after, from Jan. 2, the country’s justice ministry has said.

To stop the spread of the coronavirus variant first detected in Britain, travellers from any point of origin will need to enter Norway at designated entry points where testing is available, with smaller border crossings to be closed, it added.

Finland extends Britain flight ban until Jan 11

Finland will extend the ban on passenger flights on routes to Britain for a week until Jan 11 due to the spread of a new variant of the coronavirus, Finnish Transport and Communications Agency has said.

The new variant has been detected in two people in Finland, Finnish health officials said this week.

British Airways to operate special one-way flights from Jamaica to the UK

The Government of Jamaica recently banned all flights coming from the UK into Jamaica until January 4 2021, leaving limited options for holidaymakers who needed to return home.

There are now two options for British travellers hoping to return to the UK after a visit to Jamaica this festive season with British Airways.

On January 1, there is a flight from Kingston to London departing at 6:30pm. The second flight leaves Montego Bay on January 2 for London at 6:30pm. You should contact British Airways on +44 (0)203 2500145 or Virgin on +1 800 744 7477 regarding your travel plans and for information on special flights the airlines may operate to London from Jamaica.

UK nationals not permitted entry to Netherlands from January 1

The Dutch Government has announced that from January 1 2021, non-EU/EEA nationals and nationals of non-Schengen states, including UK nationals, will not be permitted entry to the Netherlands for non-essential purposes due to EU-wide COVID-19 restrictions.

International arrivals from outside the EU and Schengen countries remain subject to entry checks to prevent non-essential travel.

This measure does not apply to UK nationals who are legally resident in the Netherlands, who will be allowed to re-enter the country. UK nationals who are legally resident in the Netherlands will, from 1 January 2021, have to demonstrate they have a residency permit, a certificate of application or a document with their address, and may be subject to questioning by Dutch border authorities when they arrive in the Netherlands.

Dispatch from South Africa on NYE

Pippa de Bruyn reports:

Instead of the customary fireworks on New Year’s Eve president Cyril Ramaphosa asked us to light a candle at midnight. “In memory of all who have lost their lives, in tribute to those on the frontline, in appreciation of great sacrifices that have been made, and in the confidence that the year ahead will bring health, peace and hope to our people.” A fitting end to a sobering year.

How travel to Europe will change after Brexit, from passports to data roaming charges

Now that the UK has agreed a trade deal with the EU, Nick Trend explains what we know so far about how travel will change after December 31.

Find out here.

Britain strikes last-minute deal to keep Gibraltar border open

Britain has reached a deal with Spain for Gibraltar to join the Schengen open border zone, maintaining free-flowing movement to and from the Spanish mainland.

The British territory connected to mainland Spain will remain part of the Shengen area

The deal was announced by Spanish foreign minister Arancha González just hours before the Brexit deadline of midnight on December 31, at which point border checks would have been introduced, restricting the flow of goods and people.

“The border fence is to be demolished,” said Ms González on Thursday. “We are knocking down the border to build an area of shared prosperity – that is the message from this agreement,” she added.

James Badcock has more.

Irish Government extends flight and ferry ban

The Irish Government has extended the ban on flights and passenger ferry journeys from Great Britain and South Africa until January 6.  Northern Ireland is not affected by this announcement.

Travel to Ireland from Britain is only permitted if you are transiting Great Britain en route to Ireland, or if you are an Irish citizen or long-term Irish resident who needs to return to Ireland for compassionate or emergency reasons – these people will be advised to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return to Ireland. These restrictions otherwise apply to people in Great Britain regardless of nationality.

The direction for people not to travel from Great Britain to Ireland will not apply to essential supply chain workers.

Ferry crossings from Great Britain to Ireland will continue for freight, including accompanied freight, but not passengers except in the case of the limited exceptions above.

Is the 737 Max safe, and which airlines will fly it?

With the Boeing 737 Max returning to the skies in the US, it’s only a matter of time before UK travellers find themselves on board one of the aircraft. All we need is for lockdown to be lifted, other countries to remove their travel restrictions, and airlines to offer services that utilise the controversial jets…

OK, so we might be waiting a while. 

Nevertheless, the Max is coming to British skies, slowly but surely.

Here’s everything you need to know about it. 

Many NYE parties are still due to go ahead in Rio

For those who feel safe attending, there is no shortage of end-of-year events this week as Rio warms up for the ultimate New Year’s Eve (Revellion) bash, reports Charlote Peet. This year, the city is preparing to see the end of the year like never before.

While the world-famous Copacabana firework display and private beach bar parties might be cancelled, and the city’s beach sidewalks off-limits, many are planning to find a way to take their traditional ‘seven dips’ in the sea when midnight strikes.

Others are opting for more downscale do’s with a handful of friends and family at home, while many are planning to attend the number of parties scattered around the city. One thing is clear, the Cariocas will be seeing in the New Year in style  –  they’ll deal with the consequences later.   

‘The calm always returns’

Responding to the news that all Cornish hotels would have to close their doors once again from today because of an upgrade from tier 1 to 3, Emma Benney, Brand &Marketing Director of The Scarlet, Cornwall said:

This wasn’t quite the start to the New Year we had hoped to and we hate to disappoint our guests, however we fully respect the decisions that have been made. These have been difficult waters lately. But staring out over the clifftops, we’ve seen our fair share of storms. Take it from us: the calm always returns, and we, like our fellow piers in hospitality, look forward to that time.

Dispatch from Italy on New Year’s Eve

Rebecca Winke reports on what celebrations will look like this year from her home in Rome.

Italians celebrate the arrival of a new year in the same way they mark most holidays: with a gloriously gut-busting meal known as “il cenone”, or “the big dinner”. Guests around the table have been pared down to a bare minimum this year (the government has recommended limiting gatherings to nuclear family members and set strict curfews), but most of us will still be tucking into traditional dishes ranging from steaming trays of polenta in the north to an endless parade of seafood courses in the south. Across Italy, we’ll take care to finish our plates of lentils – the coin-shaped legumes are said to bring prosperity – in the hopes that they will work their magic in 2021.

Most years, we would spill out into the streets as midnight approaches to take in live concerts and fireworks, but 2020 has not been most years. Instead, this evening we’ll tune into Rome’s New Year’s Eve entertainment online, pausing to join Zoom toasts with friends and family to exchange wishes for a “buon anno” that have never be more heartfelt, despite the distance.

The extraordinary women behind the world’s greatest wine

There are four very good reasons to souse yourself in champagne throughout January, writes Anthony Peregrine.

Here’s the plan. You go out today to buy as much champagne as you can reasonably afford, and you begin drinking it over this festive long weekend. You should include a glass with breakfast, for you won’t have a hangover. Despite medical claims, champagne rarely gives hangovers. At least, I’ve never had one, and I’ve pushed champagne experimentation to the outer limits. 

Then – this is the important bit – you carry on drinking through January. There are four reasons for this. The first is to thumb one’s nose at the very idea of Dry January. In normal times, January is as miserable as hell – doubtless more miserable yet in 2021 – and so no month for abstinence. It will require a maximum of added sparkle.

Read the full article here.

Veuve Clicquot was France’s (the world’s?) first bona fide international businesswoman

Credit:
Getty

‘The next pandemic will be one of mental health problems’

Three mental health experts weigh in on the mental ramifications of  an extended winter lockdown:

‘Many people were quite scared in the initial period back in March and were worried about themselves and their loved ones,’ said pyschiatrist Dr Naresh Buttan. ‘People were worried about dying, losing jobs, houses and education. With the economic impact of Covid 19, it became a fight to survive.”

“When the news of the effective vaccine came, it brought more hope and people started rebuilding their lives and hoped to travel, and reunite with their loved ones,” Dr Buttan continued. “But this news of further lockdown will demoralise them again and the uncertainty around the duration of lockdown will add to their misery. People travel for both essential and leisure to rejuvenate and destress but this restriction will prevent them doing both and particularly those who have been already disadvantaged will be more at risk of losing hope and feel worse in their mental health.”

“Due to covid, humanity as a whole is sitting on the time bomb of  a mental health tsunami and though governments and other organisations are trying their best to help people, much more work needs to be done to prevent the next pandemic of mental health problems.”

The lack of travel only adds to this. “Travel helps us to deal with challenges, gives us a sense of adventure and excitement, invites us to do new things and have new experiences. All of which can be very beneficial but for me, the biggest benefit is in being able to experience that sense of freedom, of being able to move around in our own lives,” comments Jo Howarth of the Happiness Club. “Lockdown is the antithesis to this, making us feel physically restricted and unable to make as many new connections and have those all important experiences, and adding to the feeling of isolation.”

“Not having the option to travel can spark a lot of anger and frustration.,” agreed psychologist Louise Reid. “It can cause low mood, outbursts, and with nothing to look forward to it will be a vicious cycle. It may be difficult to bring yourself out of this before the rules change.”

Covid Christmas: How the rest of the world celebrated

Our destination experts reveal how they navigated a festive season like no other.

There’s no doubt that around the world the festive period has looked a little different this year, though each country’s unique experience of the virus has meant varying degrees of disruption. Across Europe, lockdowns and limits on household mixing meant pared-down celebrations and quiet, contemplative moments, while tinsel-decorated tuk tuks in Bangkok and gatherings in Florida, felt a little closer to normal.

What is clear is the resolve to bring light in. From socially distanced santas to place settings for Zooming relatives, many adapted, in the hope that next year such measures won’t be necessary.

Read the full story here.

The writing was on the wall in Berlin, but Christmas was not cancelled for all

Credit:
Getty

‘The industry is numb to this final shutdown’

Robin Hutson of The Pig hotels group, has had hotels across the tiers, but now those in Tier 2, such as the new Pig at Harlyn Bay in Cornwall, have now had to close as of today:

To be honest we are so used to opening, closing or shifting with the ever-changing restrictions I think the industry is rather numb now to this final shutdown. In many respects, disregarding the financial cost of complete shutdown for a moment it’s actually easier to manage being completely closed than being half open.

At the end of the day, we want to do our bit to keep everyone safe, we would just rather know we are going to be shut down for say six weeks rather than second guessing every two weeks. That way we can properly mothball everything and make more savings from our fixed costs, rather than being on constant standby mode.

‘Our small business is just no longer viable’

Sharon Hughes, who is based in North Wales and owns holiday property Bungalow No 31 in Lanzarote, is faced with having to shut down after the latest news.

Almost all our bookings in 2020 were cancelled but we had some hope after securing two month-long bookings for January and February. However,  both are also now likely to cancel.  Together with Brexit and 25 per cent income tax with no allowable expenses, our small business is just no longer viable. We’re not alone in this, as we’ve seen many properties in our area put up for sale in recent days. We haven’t been able to get over at all in 2020 which has further complicated things – we were hoping to see our accountant over there before Brexit but a positive Covid test meant we were left unable to travel in the small window that was available. We are still hoping for a Spain/UK agreement which might change the tax rules and help us soldier through. 

How storms and seasickness scuppered my romantic New Year voyage on the QE2 

Explorer Benedict Allen recalls a ‘romantic’ crossing of the Atlantic that was stormier than he’d hoped…

Let me be honest here, and say that I imagined it quite differently. Come New Year’s Eve, we would be alone together on the promenade deck, I thought, and there on bended knee I would ask for her hand in marriage. She would giggle softly, and I would proffer the ring – and next the champagne, stowed in an ice-bucket nearby. And all by the light of a silvery moon. This was not how it worked out. 

Read the full story here.

Benedict Allen found better luck on dry land 

Credit:
Getty

Wuhan prepares to ring in the new year

Wuhan, where it all (possibly) started, is gearing up to celebrate the end of 2020 on New Year’s Eve…

Colourful balloons on sale by the river

Credit:
reuters

The clock is ticking down towards midnight

Credit:
reuters

Anti-foreigner sentiment on the rise as thousands of expats are forced to flee their adopted countries

As the global economy takes a battering, people living abroad are being forced out of not just jobs but the countries they call home, writes Emma Russell, whose expat parents had to leave Hong Kong:

Within a couple of months of Covid-19’s arrival, air travel was shut down. Global lockdowns and closed borders meant the number of passengers buying plane tickets dropped by up to 96%, and it quickly became clear that my dad’s job, as a pilot, was in jeopardy.

On October 21, his airline, Hong Kong’s regional carrier Cathay Dragon, was “axed” as part of a company-wide restructuring that left 2,500 cabin crew and pilots unemployed. The airline he had flown with for the best part of two decades no longer existed, marking the end to our life in the city we’d grown to think of as home.

In just two months, my parents, like countless others around the world, were pushed to extricate themselves from one life and start another. They said goodbye to friends, while dealing with the bureaucracy associated with leaving (12 large boxes were initially thought to be sufficient for the move, it turned out to be around 40) and the stress of losing a job that my dad knows will probably be his last.

Read the full story here.

10 predictions for travel in 2021 

From the rise of philanthropic holidays, to bubble holidays with all the family: travel this year will be like never before, writes Laura Fowler

Here are her ten predictions as we enter a new decade.

The mountains of Kyrgyzstan beckon, as travellers seek the road less travelled

Credit:
istock

Watch live: New Zealand celebrates New Year with no Covid deaths 

Whales drawing Yorkshire tourists from the dales to the coast, says Wildlife Trust

Whales are drawing Yorkshire tourists to the coast, the Wildlife Trusts have said, as they named the appearance of the marine mammals as one of their highlights of the year.

Over the past two years, eco-tourists have flocked to the coast in the North of England to take advantage of brand-new whale-watching tours. 

The Wildlife Trusts have said that if Britain continues to conserve its ocean life, the country could become a global marine ecotourism hotspot. 

The minke whales were a particular highlight, and have over the year made the Yorkshire coastline their home, feeding just 100m from the shore. New businesses have been set up just to take tourists out to have a look at the astonishing ocean life.

Helena Horton has the story.

Melbourne celebrates New Year’s Eve

Revellers in Melbourne, currently no longer under a strict lockdown, have been photographed out and about on New Year’s Eve…

Locals queueing to get into a nightclub

Credit:
getty

People were enjoying the restaurants as midnight approached  

Credit:
getty

You won’t see scenes like this in the UK this evening

Credit:
getty

US to expand Covid-19 testing scheme for international arrivals  

Federal agencies in the US are in discussions with airlines over how to boost overseas travel amid the pandemic, Bloomberg reports.

“Efforts are currently ongoing in the U.S. to assess the risk reduction associated with testing and other recommended preventative measures, determine what a feasible testing regime for air travel may look like, and gain some level of agreement on standards for a harmonized approach to testing for international air travel,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a statement on Wednesday.

As of last week, the CDC requires passengers arriving from the UK (though very few currently qualify for an exemption to the current ban on British arrivals) to test negative for Covid-19 prior to departure.

Airlines for America, a lobbying group, said it has been “advocating for the federal government to set a national standard on testing in order to lift travel restrictions” on flyers.

‘Only the rich will be able to travel if the Covid testing racket is allowed to continue’

 Given the soaring costs of tests, families planning on going abroad may have to think again, writes Alexandra Phillips:

The thought of getting away from the horrors of the past year is a dream for millions. Yet international travel has returned to the bad old days of being a privilege of the rich. Where once low-cost airlines enabled ordinary families to jet off abroad, the risk of ever-changing rules and regulations, non-refundable flights and quarantines mean most people cannot roll the dice.

Nothing encapsulates this more than the great PCR rip off. 

Like many crises, the pandemic has inspired an array of opportunistic swindlers to cash in on panic, from dodgy PPE vendors, to absurdly overpriced consultants. Yet it is the astronomical mark ups on PCR testing and a racket of fear surrounding guaranteed results that encapsulates the ugly exploitation of confusion and anxiety prevalent during this crisis.

Many countries demand a PCR test be conducted within 72 hours before arrival. These are similar kits to those in NHS drive-in centres, averaging around £10 per test, while WHO Europe estimated total costs, including processing, to be around €30. Yet the same service rendered privately in the UK can be 10 times more than that.

Read the rest here

US records highest daily death toll

More than 3,900 people died of Covid-19 in the US on Wednesday, according to a count released by Johns Hopkins University, a new daily record for fatalities from the virus.

The Baltimore-based university said 3,927 people had died in the 24 hours before 8.30 pm on Thursday in the US, the worst-hit country in the world, while 189,671 new cases had been recorded.

That brought the US total to 19,715,899 infections and 341,845 deaths since the pandemic began.

A (blissful) postcard from Dubai

Here’s a report from a Briton, who wishes to remain anonymous, now spending New Year’s in Dubai, and not regretting it, by the sounds of things:

Dubai certainly provides some much-needed therapy for our family of four: myself and my husband, both of whom run our own business, and two teenagers in GCSE and A-Level years who have worked hard and missed so much of their social life this year. They deserve some sun on their faces and some fast-paced water sports to allow that adrenaline and joie de vivre to kick back in.

We travelled through a very calm, quiet London airport to Dubai which, on arrival, really does have it all: less than 7 hours flight, half an hour’s transfer to any one of the many fabulous luxury hotels, an average temperature of 26 degrees and glorious restaurants very much open to cater for all possible tastes. 

Dubai has taken the pandemic very seriously: no one enters without a negative test, your temperature is taken everywhere and masks are mandatory in the street but somehow it doesn’t stop you allowing yourself to bask in the urban city and beach culture – once in a restaurant or on your sunlounger the mask can be discarded. No masks needed either for the teens in the water parks.

It’s here, Caesar’s Palace at Blue Waters, where we are most likely to start our New Year’s Eve, with a burger from Hell’s Kitchen, and then we’ll move to the beach where we’ll sit with our toes in the sand watching one of the Emirate’s legendary firework displays.

So on balance, I’m trying to assuage my guilt for being away when so many others aren’t, and looking on our holiday in this time of crisis less as a luxury, and more a much-needed dose of relaxation and fun.

Overcrowding at Dubai Airport

As the UK’s airports stand largely empty, there’s a veritable scrum at Dubai’s International Airport, the world’s busiest flight hub, as travellers dash across the globe over the New Year’s period.

Isles of Scilly council warn locals to remain home, visitors to stay away

The Council of the Isles of Scilly urged islanders to stay local for their New Year’s Eve celebrations, stating:

Please consider whether the risk of spreading the virus on a single night out is worth jeopardising the massive effort made to keep our community and services safe so far this year.

As we have previously advised, just because you can do something, doesn’t necessarily mean you should, so please consider the Prime Minister’s advice to ‘see in the new year safely at home.

‘We strongly urge anyone planning to travel to the islands against this advice to reconsider, in light of what bringing the virus to the islands could mean for our community, particularly at this time of year.

Taiwan scales back New Year events after ‘UK variant’ detected

Major Taiwanese cities have scaled back New Year’s Eve events and are telling people to watch fireworks and other festivities from home, after the island’s first case of the highly infectious coronavirus variant originally discovered in Britain.

Taiwan has been credited with keeping the pandemic under control due to early prevention measures, including quarantines for every arrival from abroad; with its 800 confirmed cases, including seven deaths, almost all imported.

But the government has been unnerved by its first domestic transmission since April, confirmed this month, and the first case of the British variant, announced on Wednesday. It confirmed a second case today.

Citizens register to watch the New Years countdown concert in Taipei

Credit:
reuters

Farewell to the EU

British travellers (the few that remain) are today marking their final voyages to the Continent as EU citizens…

Tokyo hit with record cases and fresh travel woes

Tokyo today recorded more than 1,300 new Covid-19 cases, with New Year’s Eve celebrations curtailed amid the country’s third wave.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has urged people to celebrate quietly, and avoid non-essential outings, adding that the Government may have to consider declaring a state of emergency.

Scores of flights were also cancelled as heavy snowfall hit several areas of Japan on Thursday. Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways cancelled or planned to cancel a total of around 140 flights, public broadcaster NHK reported, adding that a bullet train had suspended services in some parts of the northern Yamagata prefecture.

On Monday, Japan started barring the entry of non-resident foreign nationals after detecting variants of the virus from Britain and South Africa.

Swiss police probe 12 Britons suspected of fleeing ski resort quarantine

Swiss police are investigating 12 cases in which British tourists ignored quarantine orders aimed at containing new Covid-19 variants after hundreds of fellow nationals were believed to have fled the country.

On December 21, the government ordered people who had arrived from Britain and South Africa in the previous week into a 10-day quarantine, while temporarily halting flights, leading to some being stranded in resorts including Verbier, a popular destination for British skiers. They were supposed to stay indoors, away from other people.

The canton of Valais, where Verbier is located, sent 220 police to enforce restrictions, including operations in which they checked up on selected quarantined tourists.

“Of the 150 people who were checked at the holiday destinations, 138 guests consistently adhered to the quarantine,” Valais police said. “Investigations are currently underway in 12 cases where the tourists had already left the canton.”

Far more than a dozen left, however. Hundreds of Britons have fled quarantine in Verbier, with the health minister attributing the exodus to an “impossible situation”.

The new areas now in Tier 4

  • Leicester City
  • Leicestershire (Oadby and Wigston, Harborough, Hinckley and Bosworth, Blaby, Charnwood, North West Leicestershire, Melton) 
  • Lincolnshire (City of Lincoln, Boston, South Kesteven, West Lindsey, North Kesteven, South Holland, East Lindsey)
  • Northamptonshire (Corby, Daventry, East Northamptonshire, Kettering, Northampton, South Northamptonshire, Wellingborough)
  • Derby and Derbyshire (Derby, Amber Valley, South Derbyshire, Bolsover, North East Derbyshire, Chesterfield, Erewash, Derbyshire Dales, High Peak) 
  • Nottingham and Nottinghamshire (Gedling, Ashfield, Mansfield, Rushcliffe, Bassetlaw, Newark and Sherwood, Nottinghamshire, Broxtowe) 
  • Birmingham and Black Country (Dudley, Birmingham, Sandwell, Walsall, Wolverhampton) 
  • Coventry 
  • Solihull 
  • Warwickshire (Rugby, Nuneaton and Bedworth, Warwick, North Warwickshire, Stratford-upon-Avon) 
  • Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent (East Staffordshire, Stafford, South Staffordshire, Cannock Chase, Lichfield, Staffordshire Moorlands, Newcastle under Lyme, Tamworth, Stoke-on-Trent) 
  • Lancashire (Burnley, Pendle, Blackburn with Darwen, Ribble Valley, Blackpool, Preston, Hyndburn, Chorley, Fylde, Lancaster, Rossendale, South Ribble, West Lancashire, Wyre) 
  • Cheshire and Warrington (Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Warrington) Cumbria (Eden, Carlisle, South Lakeland, Barrow-in-Furness, Copeland, Allerdale) 
  • Greater Manchester (Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan)
  • Tees Valley (Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton-on-Tees ) 
  • North East (County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside, Sunderland) 
  • Gloucestershire (Gloucester, Forest of Dean, Cotswolds, Tewkesbury, Stroud, Cheltenham) 
  • Somerset Council (Mendip, Sedgemoor, Somerset West and Taunton, South Somerset)
  • Swindon 
  • Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole 
  • Isle of Wight 
  • New Forest

The areas now in Tier 3

  • Rutland 
  • Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin 
  • Worcestershire (Bromsgrove, Malvern Hills, Redditch, Worcester, Wychavon, Wyre Forest)
  • Herefordshire 
  • Liverpool City Region (Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, Wirral, St Helens) 
  • York & North Yorkshire (Scarborough, Hambleton, Richmondshire, Selby, Craven, Ryedale, Harrogate, City of York) 
  • Bath and North East Somerset 
  • Devon, Plymouth, Torbay (East Devon, Exeter, Mid Devon, North Devon, South Hams, Teignbridge, Torridge, West Devon, Plymouth, Torbay)
  • Cornwall 
  • Dorset
  • Wiltshire

Scilly islanders fear ‘selfish people’ arriving to escape lockdown  

Residents of the Isles of Scilly have said they are relieved to be the only area of England still in Tier 1, but fear “selfish people” travelling there to escape lockdown.

The islands’ 2,000-strong population remain under England’s most lenient restrictions, with all other parts of the country now in Tier 3 or 4.

Jonathan Smith, a councillor for St Martin’s who also runs a small organic fruit and vegetable farm, said remaining in the lowest tier of restrictions is a relief but “no great surprise” as they have had no recorded cases since September.

“It’s an interesting paradox that Scilly remains the only place left in Tier 1,” he told the PA news agency. “We are probably the place in the country for fewest options for travel, shopping and eating out in the winter months.”

What happened yesterday?

A recap of the main stories:

  • Countries extend bans on UK arrivals into 2021 
  • AstraZeneca chief: We will vaccinate millions of people by April 
  • 75% of England enters Tier 4
  • Holiday bookings surge expected after vaccine news
  • Change to entry requirements in Sweden
  • Seven dead as Croatia rocked by powerful 6.4 earthquake 
  • Roadblocks in Wales to prevent travel
  • London Zoo will reopen tomorrow