San Miguel de Allende in Mexico Receives ‘Safe Travels’ Stamp of Approval

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Puerto Rico Outlines Plan to Reopen to Travelers on July 15

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Holidays 2020: Expert issues major warning for Britons eyeing bargain summer deals

Holidays are back on the agenda for many Britons following the Government announcement of 59 countries that are now not subject to the UK Government’s quarantine rules. Holidaymakers will now be able to travel from the listed countries to England without the need for a 14-day quarantine period.


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

In a bid to lure back customers, many travel firms and airlines are offering some impressive deals on flights and accommodation.

However, looking back at how quickly the coronavirus pandemic unfolded, many Britons might be concerned a second wave my strike and leave them with cancelled plans.

Emma Coulthurst, a travel commentator for holiday price comparison site TravelSupermaket, has shared some advice for Britons who might be anxious about booking a holiday.

“Leading tour operators have said that they will not take you on a package holiday to a country, where you have to quarantine, either on your arrival or on your return. They have said that they will cancel holidays in this situation and you would then be legally entitled to a refund,” she said.

Though package holiday firms are providing this assurance, the travel expert warned that many airlines are not.

“If you had booked a flight on its own and it wasn’t cancelled and went ahead, you won’t be able to get your money back unless you have ‘cancel for any reason’ as part of your travel insurance,” explained Ms Coulthurst.

“You will need to move your flight to a future date, in the hope that the FCO advice will not be in place for your rebooked date.

“Many of the airlines are waiving change fees at the moment due to the uncertainty.

Martin Lewis issues warning for Britons with cancelled holidays [ADVICE]
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“But be aware that, to qualify for a free change, you often need to do it a certain number of days beforehand; in the case of easyJet, for example, it is 14 days before.

“Many airlines are also offering vouchers if you can’t fly.”

British Airways is also offering a “book with confidence” policy.

According to the airline’s website: “You can now change your travel dates and destination without incurring a change fee, giving you the flexibility to adapt to unforeseen circumstances.”


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The policy applies to bookings made up to August 31, 2020.

For Britons who are eager to snap up flight deals, Ms Coulthurst recommends using a credit card.

“If the item costs more than £100, you then have consumer protection under both the voluntary chargeback scheme (which is worth trying first) but also the Consumer Credit Act, Section 75 which means that the cardholder is jointly liable with the retailer for any goods and services not received,” advised the expert.

“It provides an extra route for getting your money back on any cancelled holidays or flights if you’re not getting it back from the provider.”

Ms Coulthurst also emphasises the importance of purchasing travel insurance as soon as you book your holiday.

“Back in March, a lot of providers removed themselves from the market, to review their stance and redevelop their policies.

“Now there are travel insurers selling policies again,” she said.

“Currently, there are around 12 providers on TravelSupermarket’s platform, who you can compare prices for and click through to buy policies with. And there are more policies going live every day.”

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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.

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“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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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.

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Portugal holidays hopes for Britons dashed after major U-turn [EXPLAINER]


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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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