Half term chaos as ‘too many’ Britons pile onto Greek and Spanish islands

Laveta Brigham

lanzarote – JAVIER FUENTES/EPA-EFE Travel carnage looks to be on the cards for foreign holidays this half term, as hordes of Britons pour into the small handful of destinations that remain on the UK’s ‘green list’. Last night on the Greek island of Rhodes, frenzied crowds formed at the small […]

lanzarote - JAVIER FUENTES/EPA-EFE
lanzarote – JAVIER FUENTES/EPA-EFE

Travel carnage looks to be on the cards for foreign holidays this half term, as hordes of Britons pour into the small handful of destinations that remain on the UK’s ‘green list’.

Last night on the Greek island of Rhodes, frenzied crowds formed at the small airport as at least five flights back to the UK were scheduled to depart within a matter of hours, carrying passengers home from holidays taken before most schools had even broken up.

One passenger Tweeted: “Absolute chaos at #Rhodes airport. Fights and arguments breaking out. No one knows where they are going or what they are supposed to do. No staff, no control.”

A family who was travelling with Jet2 told Telegraph Travel: “It’s the Government’s fault for its quarantine policy; it’s inevitable when there are so few places left to go on holiday, that companies will funnel everyone into these tiny regions that can’t cope.”

Airlines and tour operators including Tui, Jet2, Ryanair and easyJet have been adding extra capacity to meet soaring demand for the Greek islands in recent weeks as new travel corridors have been granted. 

With the Spanish Canary Islands also added to the FCDO’s quarantine-exempt list on Thursday, Britons were this weekend already descending upon Lanzarote’s airport.

Scroll down for more of the latest news.

01:21 PM

Anti-lockdown protests take place across Europe

Rome - GIUSEPPE LAMI/EPA-EFE
Rome – GIUSEPPE LAMI/EPA-EFE
poland - ADAM WARZAWA/EPA-EFE
poland – ADAM WARZAWA/EPA-EFE
london - anadolu
london – anadolu

12:53 PM

Spain prepares for third state of emergency

The prime minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, has called a Cabinet meeting Sunday to prepare a new state of emergency to stem surging coronavirus infections, a move that could impose curfews and other restrictions across the country.

AP reported that Sánchez’s government said on Saturday night that a majority of Spain’s regional leaders have agreed to a new state of emergency and the meeting Sunday was to study its terms.

The state of emergency gives the national government extraordinary powers, including the ability to temporarily restrict basic freedoms guaranteed in Spain’s Constitution such as the right to free movement.

Spain’s government has already declared two state of emergencies during the pandemic. Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa has said his agency and regional health officials are studying how to apply nightly curfews, perhaps like the 9 pm. ones already in place in France’s major cities.

Spain this week became the first European country to surpass 1 million officially recorded Covid-19 cases. But Sánchez admitted Friday in a nationally televised address that the true figure could be more than 3 million, due to gaps in testing and other factors.

Coronavirus Spain Spotlight Chart - Cases default
Coronavirus Spain Spotlight Chart – Cases default

Spain on Friday reported almost 20,000 new daily cases and 231 more deaths, taking the country’s death toll in the pandemic to 34,752.

12:40 PM

‘Travel corridors need to be much better organised’

Speaking in response to yesterday’s incident at Rhodes Airport, Giles Hawke, chief executive of Cosmos Tours and Avalon Waterways, UK and Ireland tells Telegraph travel:

“I think the issue here is pent-up demand, lack of certainty and the rush to get in somewhere before corridors close again. Travel corridors need to be much better organised and have a long-term element to them rather than just a random destination or two opened for an unspecified period of time.”

12:26 PM

Frankfurt cancels Christmas market over virus spike

The German city of Frankfurt has become the latest to cancel its traditional Christmas market as the nation struggles to halt an alarming rise in coronavirus infections.

“Frankfurt is pulling the corona emergency brake,” the Bild daily wrote after city officials made the decision in emergency talks late Saturday.

The Frankfurt “Weihnachtsmarkt” is one of Germany’s most popular Christmas markets and usually attracts more than two million visitors who come to sip mulled wine, nibble on roasted chestnuts and shop for seasonal trinkets among a cluster of wooden chalets.

“Our goal remains to avoid another lockdown,” Frankfurt mayor Peter Feldmann said in a statement.

Weihnachtsmarkt - Schweiz Tourismus/Andreas Gerth
Weihnachtsmarkt – Schweiz Tourismus/Andreas Gerth

The worsening pandemic has already forced a slew of other German cities, including Berlin, Duesseldorf and Cologne, to announce they are scrapping or severely curtailing their Christmas markets, although major ones are still going ahead in Munich and Nuremberg.

Germany is home to some 2,500 Christmas markets each year that kick off the festive season in late November and are much loved by locals and tourists alike.

They draw about 160 million domestic and international visitors annually who bring in revenues of three to five billion euros, according to the BSM stallkeepers’ industry association.

12:11 PM

Thousands of Canary Islands holidays were booked within hours

Travel corridors appear to be making great steps in relieving pent-up demand for those who want to go abroad for their holiday.

More than 5,500 people booked to go to the Canary Islands with Jet2holidays in the hours following Transport Secretary Grant Shapps’ Thursday afternoon announcement that quarantine restrictions would be dropped on return from the region. 

Speaking to Travel Weekly, Alan Cross, the operator’s head of trade, said: “It’s not only great news, it’s a great confidence-builder, both for the industry and for the consumers.”

Miles Morgan, the chairman of Miles Morgan Travel, also spoke to the trade publication, describing the opening up of the Canaries and the Maldives as “game-changing for the whole industry”.

11:58 AM

How to get travel insurance should you choose to ignore Foreign Office advice

Tricky, but not impossible.

Contrary to popular belief, you can visit a country to which the Foreign Office (FCO) advises against travel without invalidating your insurance – you just need to contact one of the few providers willing to offer cover. What’s more, it shouldn’t cost much more than an ordinary policy. 

Oliver Smith explains how.

11:42 AM

Heathrow’s owners told to invest or risk state takeover

The foreign funds behind Heathrow have been warned the airport is threatened with nationalisation if they do not inject new money to help it cope with the pandemic. 

The airline industry watchdog said that without emergency funding from shareholders including the sovereign wealth funds of Singapore and Qatar, Heathrow faces a similar fate to Railtrack, the former FTSE 100 company that collapsed in 2001 under debts of £3.5bn. Taxpayers stepped in and took back control of the rail network.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) issued a thinly veiled threat to Heathrow owners also including the Spanish infrastructure company Ferrovial and a Chinese sovereign wealth fund, as well as the UK’s Universities Superannuation Scheme, after rejecting the airport’s demand for higher airline and passenger charges.

Oliver Gill has the story.

11:26 AM

Wales to reassess lockdown supermarket rules on Monday

Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething said the Welsh Government had “worked with supermarkets” and discussed which items are covered by the ban on non-essential retail.

“We’ll talk to them again on Monday so everyone understands the position we’re in to have some clarity,” Mr Gething told BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show.

He said the ban was in place to ensure fairness to businesses that are closed during the 17-day lockdown and reduce the opportunities for people to “go out and mix”.

When asked if the ban would cause people to shop on Amazon, Mr Gething said that almost all retailers had an “online offering as well”.

“Online retail is permissible because that doesn’t involve mixing,” he said.

“So we haven’t cut down people’s opportunity to buy goods in any form, it’s the in-person activity that matters.”

Wales lockdown
Wales lockdown

11:13 AM

‘Scheduling so many flights during a pandemic is madness’ – Passenger caught in Rhodes chaos

David Vassallo, 32, was flying back to Newcastle from Rhodes after a 10-day break with his fiancée when he was caught up in last night’s scenes of overcrowding.

He told Telegraph Travel that when the pair arrived at the airport they had to walk through one terminal to another to join a queue “which had snaked itself several times over” and that there were “no barriers or any staff controlling the queue,” stating:

“The experience made us feel both anxious and disappointed as we felt the safety measures on our outbound flight and at our hotel were excellent only to be let down at the end. Some of the other passengers were visibly distressed which was quite upsetting to see and the airport staff either weren’t visible or didn’t seem to care […] scheduling that many flights to depart at the same time is a bad idea even in a non-pandemic situation but to do it now is just madness.”

Ben Parker has the full report here.

10:49 AM

Czech Republic reports 12,472 new coronavirus cases 

The Czech Republic reported 12,472 new cases of coronavirus yesterday, its highest daily tally for a weekend day, when there are usually fewer tests, Health Ministry data showed on Sunday.

The total number of cases rose to 250,797 in the country of 10.7 million, with 106 new deaths taking that total to 2,077.

Coronavirus Czech Republic Spotlight Chart - Deaths default
Coronavirus Czech Republic Spotlight Chart – Deaths default

10:36 AM

Greek officials make masks mandatory

Greece officials introduced mandatory wearing of masks everywhere on Saturday, with the country reaching records for new daily coronavirus cases.

Health authorities announced a record 935 new cases on Saturday, along with five deaths.

The total confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic is 29,992 and 564 deaths.

10:26 AM

Watch: mad scenes at Rhodes airport last night

Hardly a relaxing end to the holiday:

10:15 AM

Covid restrictions tightened as cases rise around the world

More countries tightened anti-coronavirus measures on Saturday, with France extending a curfew and Belgium bringing forward its own curbs as new infections surged in many parts of the world.

After Germany recorded its 10,000th coronavirus death, Chancellor Angela Merkel said: “The order of the day is to reduce contacts, (and) to meet as few people as possible.”

Polish President Andrzej Duda said on Saturday that he had become the latest public figure to test positive for coronavirus as the EU country faces record infection rates.

Spain became the first European country earlier this week to officially record a million coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic.

People across the country were bracing for a national state of emergency, overnight curfews and other new containment measures.

Colombia became the latest country to record a million confirmed Covid-19 cases on Saturday.

France recorded a 24-hour record of more than 45,000 infections a day after passing the same milestone.

The French government extended an overnight curfew to cover areas in which about 46 million people – two out of every three French – reside.

10:03 AM

What we learnt yesterday

A quick recap of the top stories:

  • Wales enters national lockdown

  • Flight prices go sky-high in a day as new island travel corridors open

  • Scottish hospitality industry launch legal action against lockdown

  • Spain’s regions urge Government to allow curfews

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