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Green zones: European destinations said to be coronavirus-free

As concern grows about spikes in coronavirus infection rates in some European nations, including France, Malta and the Netherlands, The Independent can reveal places in five EU countries where no new cases have been reported in the past two weeks.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has published a map showing that parts of Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Estonia and Finland offer a worry-free escape.

Greece, which is proving exceptionally popular this summer for British holidaymakers, has seen some surges in coronavirus cases on some islands.

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But the extreme northeast of the mainland, nudging against the Albanian frontier, is graded green (actually a light shade of turquoise), showing no new cases for the past fortnight.

The Epiros region includes the attractive lakeside city of Ionnina, on Lake Pamvotis, and some spectacular mountain scenery. On the co..

Heathrow Airport passengers down 88 per cent in July due to coronavirus

Heathrow Airport's passenger numbers fell by 88 per cent in July compared to the same time last year.

Over 860,000 passengers travelled through the London hub last month, which actually reflects an uplift compared to previous months.

This was largely thanks to the introduction of the “travel corridors” on 4 July, according to the airport, which meant that British holidaymakers could travel to selected European destinations without having to quarantine on their return.

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This was demonstrated by the fact that the majority of passengers – over 480,000 – were travelling to destinations within Europe.

However, the airport said 60 per cent of its network remains grounded due to the 14-day quarantine on arrival requirements, which it says is “preventing the UK from travelling to and trading with these countries”.

Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye, said: “Tens of thousands of j..

Antarctica joy flights replace Qantas' London-Australia routes amid pandemic

Planes especially acquired for the UK-Australia nonstop route are being redeployed by Qantas on joy flights to Antarctica.

The airline originally kitted out its Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” fleet to connect London Heathrow with Perth in Western Australia, a distance of over 9,000 miles.

Since the first flight on 25 March 2018, the nonstop option proved extremely popular with passengers – until the coronavirus pandemic grounded the link.

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With no indication of when Australia might open its frontiers once more to international visitors, Qantas has decided to deploy the jet on flights to Antarctica and back – without stopping.

The trips are organised by Antarctica Flights, based in a southeastern suburb of Melbourne. The city is currently back on lockdown.

The southern summer flights start from the beleaguered Victorian capital on 15 November.

Passengers are invited to pay upwa..

Antarctic joy flights criticised for fuelling climate crisis with 'zero gain'

“It’s our mission to leave this pristine landscape the way we found it.”

A noble intention for every travel firm. But do they really mean it? As you may have read, the Boeing 787 jets that Qantas acquired for the London-Perth nonstop link, covering over 9,000 miles, are now reduced to operating day-trips to the weird and wonderful deep south.

No, not the intriguing island of Tasmania – even further, to Antarctica.

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An Australian company that specialises in polar sightseeing trips, Antarctica Flights, has chartered Qantas jets to propel around 200 people towards the south pole, and then back to Australia, in around 13 hours.

The context for this venture: sightseeing flights from Australia to Antarctica have been operating for decades. Right now they are about the most exciting option for Australian travellers who find their borders are sealed.

“Every Antarctica Flight is ca..

20 Pledges for 2020: Is it enough to just be flight-free, or should I be shouting it from the rooftops?

I hit upon an interesting conundrum this week. Is it enough to simply make the decision to go flight-free, or should one be championing it at every turn, arguing in favour of taking the train rather than the plane at any given opportunity? Should I be using the platform that I have, albeit small, to make the case against flying whenever possible?

The issue raised its head as a result of an interview I did for BBC News. It was an advice segment called “Your Questions Answered”, where members of the public got in touch with their travel queries, and I did my level best to answer them over Zoom while sweating profusely in my living room.

All the questions were, obviously, coronavirus related. None of them specifically mentioned flying, nor did I at any point advocate jumping on an aircraft – although perhaps it was implied. For instance, one woman asked if she would be safe booking a holiday to Greece, and I responded that, while nothing is risk-free, Greece currently has one of the l..

Almost half of people plan to fly less post-lockdown

Nearly half of UK travellers (47 per cent) plan to fly less post-lockdown, according to A new study from the Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations (CAST) .

However, despite many people pledging to take fewer flights less, 44.7 per cent of respondents said they plan to maintain their current level of air travel, while 8.3 per cent of those surveyed actually intend to increase the number of leisure flights they take.

Despite this, the pandemic has triggered an unprecedented “moment of change” due to the drastic shift in normal routines according to the study, which also looked at lifestyle changes such as work and eating habits.

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The research, led by Professor Lorraine Whitmarsh, an environmental psychologist based at the University of Bath, was based on two separate surveys of 1,810 people conducted in May and June 2020, focusing on the impacts of lockdown polici..

Ryanair, Virgin Atlantic and Tui still failing to pay refunds on time

Airlines including Ryanair, Virgin Atlantic and Tui are still failing passengers when it comes to paying refunds on time, despite promising to speed up their processes.

Carriers committed to improve after the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) found they were breaking EU law by not paying back travellers for cancelled flights within seven days.

But the regulator has identified that some airlines still aren’t issuing refunds “sufficiently quickly”, reports Which?.

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In a review of airline behaviour published last week, the CAA identified that Ryanair, Tui and Virgin Atlantic are continuing to take up to several months to refund some customers.

Airlines should “work towards getting as close to the seven days as possible”, says the CAA, but Ryanair, despite making a commitment to process all refunds requested before June by 31 July, is still leaving passengers waiting.

Palliative ..

Greece travel: Am I allowed to visit, are hotels and restaurants open and what rules are in place?

As tentative signs start to emerge of a revival for the travel industry, our minds are turning to potential holiday destinations for this summer.

With sun, sea and dolmades, Greece has long been a popular travel destination for Britons in need of some vitamin D.

But can British holidaymakers get there? And will we even be welcome?

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Here’s everything you need to know.

Am I allowed to travel to Greece from the UK?

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued a blanket warning against all non-essential international travel in March, but this has now been lifted for more than 80 destinations.

Greece was on this list, meaning Britons can now visit there without invalidating their travel insurance.

How could I get there?

Air links with the UK were suspended in March, but got the go-ahead to to resume from 15 July.

EasyJet has been flying to Thessaloniki and Corfu s..

Will I have to quarantine if I go on holiday this summer?

While the travel industry is doing its level best to restart in earnest, there are still several big hurdles that could put the kibosh on your summer holiday plans for 2020.

One is the Foreign Office travel advice, and the other is the dreaded Q-word: quarantine.

Here’s everything you need to know about the latter.

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Will I have to quarantine when I go on holiday?

This is largely dependent on the country in question. Some places are still all but closed to foreign visitors – for example, New Zealand – while others are tentatively reopening their borders.

In Europe, countries permitting entry to British visitors without any quarantine period or need to produce a health certificate include Spain, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, Germany, Croatia, Belgium, Sweden and Switzerland.

France previously required Brits to undergo a two-week quarantine (though it was somewhat voluntary in n..

Quarantine: France on brink of removal from UK safe travel list as coronavirus cases rise

UK holidaymakers in France, and travellers planning to go there, are waiting anxiously to hear if they will need to quarantine when they return.

Overnight, a key measure used to make this decision has seen a 3 per cent rise in new infections

Senior ministers are meeting today to discuss changes to the Foreign Office “no-go” list and the Department for Transport quarantine-exempt list.

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The chances that quarantine will be reimposed for arrivals from France have increased with the lunchtime figures for 12 August just published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), based in Stockholm.

The Independent has analysed the latest infection rates for new cases of coronavirus per 100,000 of the population for key countries over the past 14 days.

France’s rate has increased overnight from 29.4 to 30.4, a rise of 3 per cent, while the UK rate increased even..

What is the latest Foreign Office travel advice?

One of the key determinants of whether Brits can travel abroad this summer following the global coronavirus pandemic is the Foreign Office travel advice.

The FCO keeps individual country pages on its website regularly updated, with all the latest information and warnings about potential risks, such as political unrest, natural disasters and terror attacks.

If the FCO advises against “all but essential travel” to a country, it invalidates travellers’ insurance, and visiting there is at your own risk.

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Here’s everything you need to know about the current advice.

What is the latest Foreign Office advice?

The FCO has been advising British nationals against all but essential international travel since 23 March. However, this advice was lifted for 67 destinations as of 4 July.

This list was updated later in July to include a further 19 destinations, but two were removed after..

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