Italy urges Britons to book holidays as travel given green-light – but strict rules remain

Italy has applauded the Government’s decision to lift the travel advisory warning Britons against all but essential travel to some regions including Italy. As of July 4, Britons will be able to travel to Italy and will not be required to enter into a mandatory quarantine period upon their return.


  • Holidays 2020: Full list of countries on quarantine exemption list

A list of 59 countries exempt from quarantine has been released, bringing joy to many in the holiday industry.

Maria Elena Rossi, director of marketing and promotions for the Italian Tourist Board welcomed the news and urged Britons to visit the country.

“I am delighted that the UK Government has announced that passengers returning or visiting England from Italy will no longer be required to self-isolate from the 10 July,” she said.

“Italy’s borders have been open to British visitors from June 3 with no quarantine restrictions on arrival into Italy however the quarantine on return into Britain will not have encouraged many visitors to book.

“Now that we have a reciprocal agreement in place we are confident that British visitors will want to come back to Italy for the summer to experience our wonderful culture, food and wine and beautiful countryside.”

Speaking on BBC News, Raffaele Trombetta, Italy’s UK ambassador, said: “I do hope that British people will come and see Italy and spend holidays and enjoy their time in Italy, as I do hope that Italians will come back and enjoy their time in England. “

However, Italy maintains that it is making the health and safety of both visitors and residents a top priority.

In order to ensure there is not a second wave of the virus, Italy has put in place a number of social distancing rules which could change the holiday experience.

Holidays 2020: US, Canada, Portugal & Sweden from quarantine-free list [COMMENT]
Holidays: Travel expert reveals whether it’s safe to book a holiday [INTERVIEW]
easyJet, BA, Ryanair & Jet2: Cost of new hand luggage rules revealed [INSIGHT]

“Museums, attractions, parks and gardens, as well as bars and pubs, restaurants and ice cream shops have all now opened up and comply with a strict set of new guidelines and protocols respecting social distancing at all times,” said Ms Rossi.

“Importantly for the British visitor, beach resorts have also opened and are following the new guidelines to ensure that visitors can safely enjoy the beautiful Italian coastline.”

Mr Trombetta added that tourists will be expected to respect the current measures in place.

“We have set a very efficient monitoring system at a regional level with details that will be processed on a national level,” he said.


  • Holidays: FCO issues major update for Britons

“Of course, tourists coming to Italy will have to respect all the measures, the one-metre social distancing, wearing masks when they go in enclosed space.

“All of the sanitary precautions.

“We will be monitoring the situation on a daily basis so we feel quite confident that people can come and feel safe, and then if there is any need we will take the necessary measures.”

However, he said the country is aiming to make holidays “as normal” as possible given the current circumstances.

He added: “Perhaps it is not as it used to be, but it will soon be.”

Along with the 59 quarantine-free countries, the updates advisory also applies to some nations such as Canada.

The FCO states: “These exemptions come into effect on July 4. All our advice will remain under constant review to take into account the latest situation in each country.

“These countries have been assessed as no longer presenting an unacceptably high risk to British people travelling abroad.

“Foreign & Commonwealth Office travel advice is based on risks to British nationals, including in-country public health assessments.”

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Why the government’s list of summer holiday destinations for 2020 is bizarre

British holidaymakers can venture to Pitcairn and the high Pyrenees, but not to the UK’s oldest ally, Portugal.

The list of locations from which quarantine will not be required for travellers returning to England this summer is baffling.

There is general delight that Greece has made the grade, because only hours earlier the man responsible for the list – transport secretary Grant Shapps – had assured the world that it was to be left out in revenge for Athens’ current ban on flights from the UK.

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But hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers with bookings for Portugal will now be seeking refunds and alternative holidays after the beaches of the Algarve were considered too dangerous, with the medical authorities apparently concerned about a couple of spikes in infections.

The omission is causing a serious diplomatic conflict with Lisbon, and has angered Tory backbenchers exasperated by their government’s missteps.

Ministers will be aware that Pitcairn Island, adrift in the Pacific, was the last resort for nine of the mutineers on the Bounty.

The minnows of Europe are all there – Andorra, Gibraltar, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino and the plucky Vatican City – but Africa is missing completely. This deepens the economic pain for Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco in the north, and the tourism-dependent East African nations.

Turkey, though, has made the list – a huge relief for travel firms who have already lost hundreds of millions of pounds as the coronavirus crisis was exacerbated by the dark cloud of uncertainty about whether, where, and when we would be able to travel again.

The term “U-turn” hardly begins to describe the contortions performed in the government’s shambolic efforts to reverse the bizarre policy of blanket quarantine. The“traffic light” system, championed just days ago, appears to have been abandoned in favour of a binary go/no-go choice.

Perhaps “making up the numbers” was part of the brief for civil servants desperately seeking to bulk out the announcement and take it beyond the borders of Europe. North America, the Gulf and almost all the parts of Asia that British holidaymakers love are all on the naughty list. So Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao – the Dutch possessions just north of Venezuela – are in, as well as many of the French islands in the South Pacific.

So too is the odd French duo of St Pierre and Miquelon tucked in beside Newfoundland. Travellers who make it on the weekly flight from Paris will be able to gaze at Canada, but not touch. St Helena has made the grade, but that is academic since it is accessible only via Africa.

The deep north is represented by Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands – which coincidentally was the title of Lonely Planet’s worst-selling travel guide.

Selling the idea that the government has thought long and hard to produce a meaningful menu for summer travel will prove equally tricky.

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Disney Is Reopening: What You Need to Know

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Costa Extends Suspension of Cruising Until August 15

Costa Cruises has suspended its pause for all sailings until August 15 and canceled of all its cruises in Northern Europe for the remainder of the 2020 summer season, the Carnival Corp. subsidiary announced Friday.

The company also confirmed the cancellation of all future cruises aboard Costa Victoria.

Costa sailings were previously suspended through the end of July.

“The decision is linked to the uncertainty on the gradual reopening of ports to cruise ships and the restrictions that may still be in place for the movements of people due to the COVID-19 global pandemic,” Costa stated.

The cruise line said it will reach out to affected travel advisors and guests. “They will be guaranteed a re-protection in accordance with the applicable legislation, which offers the highest guarantee in this contingency situation,” added Costa.

The company continues to work with experts and authorities to establish sufficient health and safety protocols for a potential restart of operations.

Earlier this week, the European Union published a comprehensive list of guidelines for the potential resumption of cruising throughout Europe, including COVID-19 testing, reduced capacity and enhanced cleaning protocols, among other recommendations.

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Timelapse cab ride footage of an LNER Edinburgh to Aberdeen Azuma

Incredible timelapse driver’s-eye footage of a train speeding from Edinburgh across the Forth Bridge to Aberdeen at the equivalent of 1,100mph

  • The 130-mile journey takes two hours and 38 minutes on average in real life
  • But in this mesmerising clip the trip is completed in just seven minutes 
  • The journey is one of the most breathtaking rail trips in Britain 

It’s one of the most breathtaking British rail journeys – taking in two epic bridges – and now you can experience it in eye-popping timelapse style from the driver’s point of view.

LNER has released cab footage of a train making its way from Edinburgh to Aberdeen – across the Forth and Tay bridges – but speeded up so it’s travelling at the equivalent of 1,100mph.

The 130-mile journey takes two hours and 38 minutes on average in real life. But in this mesmerising clip – filmed in a hi-tech Azuma – the trip is completed in just seven minutes.

LNER has released cab footage of a train making its way from Edinburgh, pictured, to Aberdeen, but speeded up so it’s travelling at the equivalent of 1,100mph

After setting off at jetliner speeds from Edinburgh Waverley – and pausing briefly at Edinburgh Haymarket – the Azuma zips through Dalmeny station and across the Forth Bridge, a nerve-tingling wonder of 19th-century Victorian engineering.

It’s 2,467m (8,093ft) long, with the highest point of the structure reaching 360ft above the water at high tide – and 450ft above the foundations.

Another riveting fact? Six-and-a-half-million rivets were used to construct it.

The train crosses the Forth Bridge, a nerve-tingling 450ft-high wonder of 19th-century Victorian engineering

A view from inside the cab of an Azuma as it crosses the Forth Bridge. This still is not from the timelapse video

The train crosses the epic two-mile-long Tay Bridge just before arriving at Dundee station

Next, the train hurtles through Inverkeithing, Kirkcaldy and Leuchars, which is the closest railway station to the famous St. Andrews, where Will met Kate.

Then it’s around a bend and across the epic Tay Bridge and into Dundee, home to the V&A Dundee design museum.

The exact length of the bridge is two miles and 73 yards (3,286m) – but it can be up to 3ft 9in longer on a hot day, due to thermal expansion.

LNER has also filmed stunning drone footage of an Azuma crossing the bridge, which you can see here.

Another eye-catching scene on the route, which is single-track for a short while 

Further north on the route, semaphore signalling controls the flow of trains

The Edinburgh to Aberdeen journey is eye-catching from start to finish

Next, stationwise, comes Arbroath – a fishing town known for its famous ‘smokies’ fish dish – then Montrose and Stonehaven, a pretty harbour town famous for its Hogmanay fireballs ceremony.

The outskirts of Aberdeen, the Granite City, appear at the six-minute 50-second mark.

Of course, the ultimate experience for this journey is by real-life train.

Just make sure your camera is primed.

An Azuma train pictured at Edinburgh Waverley station. They replaced the diesel ‘125s’

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Portugal holidays: Can Brits travel to Portugal?

The Foreign and Commonwealth office is still advising UK nationals against all but essential international travel, but this is due to change when the air bridge countries are announced. Will Portugal be on this list?

Most of mainland Portugal went into alert on July 1, with the Metropolitan Area of Lisbon now in a state of contingency.

A range of restrictions are in place across Portugal, requiring people infected with the virus to stay at home or in hospital.

Social distancing rules apply, citizens are required to wear masks, and gatherings are limited to 20 people.

Rules are stricter in Lisbon, with gatherings limited to 10 people and a curfew in place for most establishments.

READ MORE- Britons warned they may be stopped from entering air bridges


  • Portugal holidays: Why is Portugal not on the air bridge list?

At the start of June, Portugal’s foreign minister Augusto Santos Silva said anyone in the UK wishing to travel to Portugal this summer will be “most welcome”, but will the air bridge deal be secured?

Portugal is waiting a decision from the UK Government on whether or not the two countries can establish a mutual agreement.

Pedro Siza Vieira, the Portuguese Minister of State, Economy and Digital Transition said: “We continue to discuss with the British authorities in order to explain that Portugal, as a whole and in parts of the country, such as in the Algarve and the north of the country, are safe destinations and therefore it does not make sense to have discrimination in these terms.

“Portugal continues to have a mortality rate much lower than that of the United Kingdom, we continue to have a great response from our health services and we started to act to lessen the effects of Covid-19 before the United Kingdom and other countries.”

Most European countries have chosen to monitor the situation based on Coronavirus cases, but the Government official said other indicators must be considered.

For example, Mr Vieira thinks the level of contagion in the population, death rate, the level of hospitalisations and the response in capacity of health services should be considered.

He feels that Portugal is being discriminated against with the UK Government so unsure about allowing an airbridge between the UK and Portugal.

What is an air bridge?

An air bridge, also known as a travel corridor or transport corridor, is an agreement between two countries that allows tourists to travel without restrictions.

Airbridge agreements mean that UK holidaymakers can visit countries with low COVID-19 infection rates without having to quarantine for 14 days when they return home.

The agreement is reciprocal, with people in those countries free to travel to the UK without having to quarantine on entry.

The UK Government is due to announce which countries it has made an agreement with any day now.

Coronavirus threat: Portugal and UK in fresh row over quarantine  [INFORMER]
Portugal travel: Can I travel to Portugal? FCO restrictions revealed [INSIGHT]
Portugal holidays hopes for Britons dashed after major U-turn [EXPLAINER]


  • Can I travel to France? New rules explained

Will the UK have an airbridge with Portugal?

Travel expert Simon Calder revealed to the BBC on Thursday June 25 a list of countries he expects the UK Government has made an air bridge deal with.

The countries supposedly on the list include:
• France
• Italy
• Greece
• Spain
• Bermuda
• Gibraltar
• Belgium
• Austria
• Germany
• The Netherlands

Calder said Portugal could also be on the list, but after a surge of cases in Lisbon this may not be safe.

The announcement was meant to happen earlier this week, so should be any day now.

Can Brits travel to Portugal?

At present, you can travel to Portugal if you want to go against the FCO advice.

It isn’t against the law to go to Portugal right now, but you will find it hard to get suitable travel insurance.

If an air bridge is secured with Portugal, you will be free to go to Portugal with adequate travel insurance.

If you travel to Portugal, you will be subject to health screening on arrival.

This means your temperature will be checked and if it is high or you show signs of being unwell, you will be referred to the health authorities.

In Madeira and the Azores, all arrivals are still subject to a 14 day mandatory quarantine in a hotel.

Flights are running to Portugal, and you could hop on a Wizz Air, Ryanair or EasyJet flight this weekend with your face mask on.

Hotels are reopening across the country, and Airbnb properties are open and ready to book.

Restaurants are open but with social distancing restrictions, reduced capacity and al-fresco dining.

If the UK and Portugal do not reach an agreement and you still decide to go, you will need to quarantine on return for two weeks.

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Europe by rail this summer – where to go, restrictions and great deals: Q&A

As I explored Switzerland by train in early March, the coronavirus clouds were gathering on the horizon. Within a few days, borders closed and Europe’s rail network fragmented. Eurostar scaled back to just a handful of journeys a day. Slovenia suspended its entire rail network, while in Croatia, Portugal, Spain, Finland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia not a single train ventured beyond its borders.

But the big surprise was how quickly the international network revived. That process started in early May, initially with local cross-frontier services being reinstated (mainly to support border-hopping commuters), closely followed by longer-distance Eurocity and high-speed international services.

While the advice in the UK is still not to take the train for leisure travel, our continental neighbours are being encouraged back onto trains. With few flights currently available, many families across Europe are making 2020 a year to stay close to home, either holidaying in their country of residence or ones that are within striking distance by train. Even when flights resume, rail travel might still be seen as a preferable way to travel.

With the UK government planning to lift the ban on non-essential travel to many countries, UK-based travellers will soon be free to travel to most of Europe without the need to quarantine on return. Here are the prospects for European rail travel this summer.

What is the current state of international rail services across Europe?

Up to 90% of regular international trains in western and central Europe are now back to normal, but many operators are also laying on extra services to mountain and coastal areas to meet the extra summer holiday demand from families now looking for a well-deserved break after months of Covid-related restrictions. The extra capacity is aimed at ensuring trains are not too crowded. Examples of these services are independent operator NTV Italo’s thrice daily special trains from Milan to Rimini, Pesaro and Ancona, all on the Adriatic coast, running until 5 September. And special summer season ICEs are running direct services from Berlin to Innsbruck and a twice-weekly link from Stuttgart to the island of Rügen on the Baltic coast.

Direct high-speed services from France to Spain were reinstated this week, as were services from Serbia to Bulgaria and Hungary to Romania. Eurostar is running only a skeleton timetable, but plans to add more trains from 9 July, with services to Lille, Rotterdam and Amsterdam probably restored on that date. Booking conditions are being eased to allow passengers to change travel dates if they wish.

How about the gaps in the network?

Sadly, there will be no direct trains from London to the south of France this summer. Eurostar announced on 24 June, to general surprise, that it is shelving its seasonal routes to Lyon, Avignon and Marseille for 2020, and 2021 too.

Direct services to Moscow from western and central Europe, as well as from Finland and the Baltic states, all remain on hold, so there’s little prospect this summer of being able to board a comfortable Russian sleeping car in Paris, Nice or Berlin and travel in style all the way to the Russian capital. The direct Eurocity services from Marseille to Milan have not yet been reinstated, either.

Some tourist railways are trimming their 2020 schedules. For example, the Glacier Express in the Swiss Alps began running again on 20 June, but frequency has been cut this year. There will just be two runs each way between St Moritz and Zermatt. The additional trains running between Zermatt and Chur or St Moritz and Brig have been cancelled for the 2020 season

And the popular Inlandsbanan route through Sweden’s northern forests will not run at all in 2020.

Are night trains running?

Most night trains stopped running during the pandemic, although the nightly service from Munich to Budapest continued. Most routes have been reinstated since mid-June, but the popular Thello sleeper from Paris to Venice remains on hold until at least the start of August. We are still waiting to hear when direct night trains from France and Spain to Lisbon will return.

Anticipated demand for summer holiday travel has prompted operators to introduce new routes for July and August. A new direct night train from Salzburg to Germany’s North Sea coast will launch on 4 July. Also new for this summer is a sleeper service from Hamburg to Innsbruck, which also carries vehicles. Czech and Slovak residents, fearful of missing their annual dose of Croatian sun, sea and sand, were doubtless delighted when independent rail operator RegioJet announced a special summer programme of direct night trains from Prague and Bratislava to Rijeka. The first train on this new route ran on 20 June.

Many operators of overnight trains are this summer selling only entire compartments, so it’s often not possible to purchase a single berth or couchette in a shared compartment. For example, on Nightjet’s popular routes to Italy (such as Vienna to Pisa or Munich to Rome), families and couples can be accommodated together in one compartment, but solo travellers will get a compartment to themselves. The aim is to ensure maximum social distancing. Similar arrangements apply on Alpen-Sylt Night Express services from Salzburg to Germany’s North Sea coast.

Are there restrictions on board trains?

Many countries require passengers to use masks. My experience over the past week – travelling on German, Austrian and Czech trains – is that the great majority of passengers wear masks for boarding and leaving the train, or when they leave their seats. Already there’s talk in some countries of scrapping the mask rule – in the Czech Republic they are no longer required.

While Eurostar has cut its onboard catering services, most operators on the continent have reopened restaurant cars and it is pretty much business as usual. Swiss and Czech dining cars, among the best in Europe, are again busy serving seasonal specials.

Some trains which would normally have space for bicycles are not currently offering that service, so cycle-touring itineraries relying on rail travel may be off the agenda for 2020. There is a blanket ban on bikes on trains in the Netherlands, including services to and from Belgium or Germany, and that’s likely to remain until early September. There are similar restrictions on regional trains in some parts of France.

What will all this mean for fares?

Summer 2020 is shaping up to be a season of cool deals on Europe’s railways. A mere £27 will buy a week’s unlimited travel on all trains in the Czech Republic (or £40 for a fortnight). The Czech summer rail pass is available until the end of August.

France is offering a full month’s unlimited travel on most regional trains for just €29 (about £26), but that extraordinary French deal is limited to 12 to 25-year olds. There are no age limits in Denmark where a special summer ticket gives free public transport travel for eight days for £37.

Many new tickets being introduced this summer look set to become regular fixtures. On 1 August, the new Euregio2Plus day ticket, offering unlimited travel in the Austrian Tyrol and the Italian South Tyrol and Trentino regions will become available. Priced at €39 for a family of two adults and three children, it is amazing value for travel in a cross-border region which is larger than East Anglia. It doesn’t need to be pre-booked but can be bought a few days prior to the day of travel (the website should go live soon).

What about point-to-point tickets?

The very fact that travellers have been nervous about booking in advance means that this year there are far more great-value tickets for longer journeys than would normally be available in early July. For travel on selected midsummer dates, Rail Europe UK (formerly Loco2) is still offering long hops like Amsterdam to Zurich or Brussels to Prague for around £35. And, for those looking for real bargain-basement rail travel, there are still advance tickets available for the 190-mile journey from Avignon to Portbou in Spain for just one euro. It’s surely the cheapest four-hour train trip in western Europe.

Will it be safe?

We all hope so. Keep an eye on the health news and steer well clear of virus hotspots. A good option for 2020 is to choose rural destinations over cities. And above all be flexible. If I find the train I am due to travel on looks a bit too crowded for comfort, then I simply don’t board and select an alternative route to my preferred destination. So think about the real flexibility that a rail pass offers.

What about Interrailing?

Many industry pundits are saying that 2020 may well be the year that travellers really embrace Interrail. The ability to hop on and off trains at will brings a real sense of freedom. For a family of two adults and two children aged under 12, an Interrail global pass valid for four days travel within a month costs £442. For a pass valid seven days in a month that family of four will pay £604 (for a 12- to 27-year-old, the same passes would cost £167 or £226).

Many won’t need a pass that covers 33 countries in Europe, preferring to opt for a one-country pass – and that brings the price down. Interrail’s first ever mobile app pass is being launched this summer, with the pilot being a one-country pass for Italy. Prices for three days’ travel within a month start at £114 for adults and £95 for youths and senior travellers.

Looking further ahead, some big questions surround autumn and winter travel. Rail operators, like all of us, will be keeping a close eye on the viral stats as the weather cools in autumn. Any hint of a second wave could seriously impact the 2020-21 ski season. It will be interesting to see whether Eurostar opens booking for its winter ski trains, which usually go on sale later in July.

Nicky Gardner is co-author of Europe by Rail: the Definitive Guide. The 16th edition was published in October 2019; it was updated and reprinted in early 2020. More at

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Google Maps Street View: Rare Jeep spotted in car park – is this real?

Google Maps is a tool in which users can navigate the world. From viewing their homes to visiting landmarks, Google Maps allows you to travel anywhere you desire. While using the app, many people have come across some of the strangest discoveries that sparks confusion amongst the users.


  • Google Maps: Spooky sight caught on cliffside in Mexico

That is definitely the case for this scene which takes place in Manchester, a city in southern Hampshire, United States.

Google Maps shows a car park just off of a busy road where a few cars are parked.

The sun is shining overhead and nothing appears to be too out of the ordinary.

All of the cars appear to look normal, until you look closely at the red Jeep which is parked at the front of the car park.

What looks like a normal car from some angels, from the front it appears to have two front wheels on the right side.

An eagle-eyed Reddit user posted the photo and said: “Found a rare front-dually Jeep. Must be a big engine.”

One user replied: “Looking good,” while another questioned that they had never seen anything like this before so it must be a fake.

To many disappointment, two wheels is only visible from a certain angle meaning that this car has become caught in a Google glitch.

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Google Maps: Users left shocked after man is found lying in street – how did this happen?

Google glitches are very common, with some looking more real than others.

Another Reddit user commented on the photo and said: “I still don’t know if this is real.”

“I’m supremely disappointed that this isn’t real,” another commented.

Glitches happen on Google because of the stitching errors that can occur.


  • Aliens in New York: UFO hunter shares bizarre Google Maps sighting

The world is constantly moving, meaning glitches are bound to happen.

What is weird however, is the fact that this car is not moving, there is no one in the driver’s seat and it appears to be stationery in the car park.

Google Maps creates the images by stitching together the 360 image sets submitted by users, meaning small errors can easily occur.

However for whatever reason, the car has become stuck in the glitch and given the appearance of a second front wheel on the right side.

While you cannot see the other side to see if that has also become stuck in the glitch, from different angles on Street View, the car looks like a normal car with one front real on the right side of the car.

This is not the first time a car has sparked confusion amongst Reddit users.

Another scene takes place in Michigan, America.

The scene takes place on a highway in the area which pictures an unusual looking red car.

While all the other cars around this particular red car appear to look normal, this red car is very unusual looking.

It appears to have six wheels which for this brand of car is very rare.

The first and second wheels look normally placed as on a regular car.

The third set of wheels is directly behind the second.

A Reddit user commented on the photo and wrote: “I’m pretty sure that’s a 3×3.”

However, it transpired that this car also became stuck in a glitch in which Google elongated the car to look like it had extra wheels. It looked very realistic with no stitching errors visible. 

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Travel-starved tourists board fake flight to nowhere in Taiwan

It was a moment the passengers on the China Airlines A330 had waited months for.

After printing boarding passes, checking their luggage, and finding their gate at Taiwan’s Songshan Airport, the 60 passengers boarded their first flight since the coronavirus outbreak. It was just like any number of departures in happier times.

Only, this plane was not bound for any exciting overseas holiday destination. This was a flight to nowhere.

Those with a seat had been selected from a lottery of some 7000 travel-starved Taiwanese passengers.

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