Corona Travel Updates July 2020

written by
Helen Fanthorpe

updated 21.10.2020

This news bulletin – which ran from the early days of coronavirus, to help provide travel news in an incredibly turbulent time – will no longer be being updated. However, we're still providing inspiration in all of our other features.

    27.07 – Spanish quarantine nightmares

  • Bavaria is busy rolling out mass coronavirus testing facilities to target returning holidaymakers.
  • In its latest review, the UK has kept Portugal off its “safe list”, meaning travellers still have to quarantine for 14 days on their return.
  • Rwanda has announced that commercial flights will resume on 1 August.

Dismay over Spanish quarantine

Over the weekend, the UK introduced a controversial 14-day quarantine on all visitors arriving or returning from Spain. Travellers expressed their anger at having been given no warning of the move, while Spain has responded with dismay, noting that several of its regions are in fact less risky than the UK. Read the full story.

Virus resurgence in Asia

China and Hong Kong have witnessed a surge in coronavirus case numbers, as Vietnam recorded its first locally transmitted cases since April. Hong Kong has reintroduced local restrictions, including banning eating out and capping group meetings; in Vietnam, meanwhile, 80,000 people are being evacuated from the city of Danang and disease-prevention measures are being reinstated. Read the full story.

A sleeper-train renaissance?

Sleeper trains – once a fixture of European inter-rail travel – have faded into obscurity in recent years, with several long-distance routes being cancelled. However, in the past few weeks, a flurry of new routes have been emerging across Europe. Could this be the face of post-Covid travel? Read the full story.

Sao Paulo carnival delayed

Over in Brazil, Sao Paulo has announced it will postpone its 2021 carnival, which usual takes place in February, to late May or July.

    24.07 – Emirates offers free Covid cover

  • The decision to allow non-essential travel to the Philippines – that came into effect on 8 July – has reportedly been reversed.
  • New coronavirus restrictions have been introduced around Spain amid rising case numbers – with more than 280 new clusters detected.
  • As of today, face masks are mandatory in all shops and supermarkets in the UK.
  • Daily passenger flights in China have rebounded to reach 80% of pre-Covid levels.
  • Brazil’s controversial president, Jair Bolsonaro, has been pictured in conversation with cleaners outside his house, not wearing a mask – despite testing positive for Covid-19.
  • In an interview with Bloomberg, Amsterdam’s mayor has asked visitors to “think twice” before visiting the Netherlands’ capital.
  • Baghdad airport in Iraq has reopened for commercial flights for the first time since March.
  • Southwest Airlines is scrapping all exemptions from its face-mask requirement, with the only exception being for children under two.
  • A collection of major airline groups is calling for a US–EU Covid-testing programme to help restart transatlantic travel.

Ireland’s staycation vouchers

Ireland will be issuing “staycation vouchers” that will allow Irish citizens to claim tax back – worth up to €125 – on food, drink and accommodation costs when they spend about €600 between the months of October 2020 and April 2021. Read the full story.

Belgium pauses lockdown easing amid surge in cases

After experiencing a huge rise in Covid infections, Belgium has rolled back its lockdown easing and brought in new restrictive measures. As of tomorrow, face masks will be a legal requirement in a raft of public places, including in restaurant bathrooms. All returning travellers will be required to complete a form within 48 hours of arrival. Read the full story.

Two Costa Rican airports to reopen for international arrivals

On 1 August, Costa Rica will reopen two of its airports to international visitors from the EU, the UK and Canada. Juan Santamaria – in the capital, San Jose – and Daniel Oduber airport are the pair to resume operations. Read the full story.

Emirates lures customers back with free Covid cover

Emirates is the first airline to offer customers free global Covid cover when they book a flight. The company will cover health and quarantine costs if a passenger is diagnosed with Covid-19 on their travels – valid for 31 days from the moment you take your first flight. Read the details.

    22.07 – Singapore launches SingapoRediscovers campaign

  • Marriott International expects hotel occupancy rates in Greater China to reach pre-coronavirus levels by the start of 2021.

SingapoRediscovers campaign to drive domestic travel

Rather than providing subsidies to its citizens, Singapore has launched a $45m campaign to develop exciting local products and deals to encourage domestic tourism. The idea is that these same products and offers will appeal to international visitors when they return, too, creating a longer-term solution to boost the economy. Read the full story.

Dubai launches “Dubai Assured” stamp

Dubai is the latest destination to launch an accreditation stamp for hotels, restaurants and attractions that comply with outlined public-health measures for tackling coronavirus. Similar schemes have been implemented in countries from Portugal to Egypt. Read the full story.

US Olympic & Paralympic Museum set to open in Colorado

With one year to go until the scheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Colorado has announced the official opening date for its new Olympic Games Museum as 30 July 2020. It’s heralded as one of the most accessible and interactive museums in the world – and is planning to open with timed ticketing and wellness procedures to ensure safety during Covid-19. Visit the museum website.

    21.07 – EU agrees €750bn coronavirus recovery fund

  • Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport – Russia’s busiest – is trialling a scheme to carry out Read the full story.
  • The Marriott Hotel chain is planning to make Read the full story in public spaces at its hotels around the globe from 27 July.

Nepal to restart international flights in mid-August

Nepal has announced that it will be scheduling international flights from 17 August, for the first time since March. Though nestled between China and India – which have both recorded high case figures – Nepal has only experienced forty corona-related deaths. Read the full story.

New travel campaigns launched

In Portugal’s popular Algarve region, a new campaign has been launched titled “Algarve Looks Good on You”. With strict new protocols in place – including the country’s “Clean & Safe” stamp – the focus is on holidaying in comfort and safety. Restaurants are currently open at 50% capacity, while beaches have also reopened – following strict guidance defined by the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA). Closer to home, over in Ireland, another post-pandemic campaign has been launched, this one going by the name: “Let It Out!”

EU cements historic coronavirus recovery plan

After four days of debate, European Union leaders have agreed a €750bn Covid-19 recovery fund and future spending plans. EU council president, Charles Michel, chair of the debates, announced the agreement by posting “Deal” on Twitter. Read the full story.

Negative Covid-19 test certificate required for China

The Civil Aviation Administration of China has announced that all inbound air passengers must be able to produce a negative Covid-19 test before boarding a plane to the country. Read the full story.

Mandatory masks

Wearing face masks in public has been made mandatory in Hong Kong, France and parts of Australia. In the UK, face masks will be required by law in all shops and supermarkets from this Friday 24 July. Read the full story.

Olympic Games to go ahead next year

It is hoped that the Tokyo Olympic Games will still run next year, using all the same venues and competition schedule that were planned for this year. In a video conference, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it was too early to provide information on what coronavirus-prevention measures will be in place. Read the full story.

Japan’s new travel campaign proves controversial

Japan has launched a new travel campaign entitled, “Beyond the clouds, there is always light”. An accompanying video highlights the best travel experiences offered in the Asian country, with a message of hope. However, amid recent virus outbreaks, health officials have responded with scepticism over encouraging travel, while the government has stated that it will be excluding people holidaying in Tokyo, where Covid-19 is still prevalent. Read the full story here and here.

Germany introduces new travel rules

Germany has introduced a raft of new rules to keep its population and domestic and international travellers safe, and to prevent a fresh outbreak as the summer tourist season commences. New regulations include: travellers from coronavirus hot spots must submit a negative Covid-19 test before checking into accommodation; travellers returning from a German hot spot don’t need to quarantine – as long as regional authorities are following strict outbreak rules; while travellers returning from high-risk areas abroad must quarantine for 14 days. Read the full story.

The Bahamas backtracks on US visitors

Less than one month ago the Bahamas opened its borders to all international visitors, but following in a recent spike in cases, the island nation will be closing off to visitors from the US as of Wednesday this week. Travellers from other countries will still be allowed, provided they can supply a negative Covid-19 test within 10 days of arrival. Read the full story.

    17.07 – North American borders to remain closed

  • British Airways will retire its entire fleet of Boeing 747 planes; the model is dubbed the “queen of the skies”.
  • Thailand has offered foreigners a grace period to apply for visa extensions, lasting until September.

US, Mexico and Canadian borders to stay closed

The three North American nations have agreed to keep their borders closed until at least late August because of coronavirus. All non-essential travel will therefore continue to be banned. Read the full story.

No US cruises until October

The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has extended the No Sail Order on cruise ships until at least October, citing cruise-ship travel as “exacerbate[ing] the global spread of Covid-19”. Read the full story.

EU leaders meet to create coronavirus recovery plan

EU leaders have met in Brussels for the largest gathering of world leaders since the pandemic began. The aim is to produce a comprehensive coronavirus recovery plan to combat the economic downturn. Strict social-distancing and hygiene measures will be in play – they’ll be wearing masks and avoiding handshakes. Read the full story.

Israel reimposes partial lockdown

After an emergency cabinet meeting, Israel has reimposed certain lockdown restrictions – after a worrying surge in coronavirus case numbers. Attractions, hairdressers and shops will all be closed again; restaurants will return to takeaways and deliveries, while indoor gatherings of more than ten people will also be banned. Read the full story.

Uzbekistan to offer $3000 compensation if tourists catch Covid-19

Over in Uzbekistan, meanwhile, the government is hoping to lure travellers back by offering $3000 if you catch coronavirus within its borders. The "Safe Travel Guarantee" is meant to highlight just how confident the country is of its health and safety measures, with tourist officials stating that the President is happy to "put his money where his mouth is". Read the full story.

    16.07 – Robots: the new arrivals at Heathrow

  • Lockdown has been re-imposed in the Indian state of Bihar.
  • Israel reports a daily record of coronavirus cases, as a new lockdown looks likely.
  • Miami beach visitors blamed for fresh outbreak after ignoring safety procedures.

Beijing Winter Games in jeopardy

The Tokyo Summer Olympics have already been postponed until 2021, but new reports suggest that if they don’t go ahead, nor will the Winter Games in Beijing. The Winter Games are currently scheduled for February 2022. Read the full story.

Heathrow’s robots

Heathrow Airport is rolling out a raft of new hygiene measures to keep fliers safe, including UV cleaning robots. Other more traditional methods include anti-viral measures at key touchpoints and plans for more contactless travel. Read the full story.

    15.07 – Norway and Malta reopen to UK

  • Disneyland Paris reopens as Hong Kong Disneyland closes again.
  • Short-term visits by statesmen and businessmen have been suspended in Thailand amid fears of a second wave.

Airbnb booking rebound

Airbnb yesterday announced that on 8 July bookings passed the 1 million mark – the first time since 3 March when the pandemic hit. Many of the booking are for dates after 7 August, but it’s a promising sign for the travel sector. Read the full story.

Greece considers opening to US travellers

Government spokesperson Stelios Petsas has stated that Greece could consider opening to more countries – including the US – from the end of July. Direct flights from the UK, meanwhile, resume today. Read the full story.

Brits can travel to Norway and Malta

Norway and Malta both opened their borders to UK visitors today. Malta reopened to its first holidaymakers on 1 July, welcoming those back from countries including Germany, Switzerland and Denmark; as of today, all international visitors are free to travel to the Mediterranean island nation. Norway, meanwhile, has reopened to EEA countries with “acceptable levels of infection” without quarantine measures.

    14.07 – Barbados is the latest destination to attract digital nomads

  • Qantas Airlines cancels all international flights until March 2021.
  • Thailand steps up security at its land borders over fears of second wave.
  • New York’s Empire State Building is set to reopen to visitors on 20 July.
  • Hong Kong Disneyland is set to close again from 15 July after a new outbreak of Covid-19.

California rolls back reopening

The US state of California is shutting its bars again, as well as pausing indoor activities for restaurants, cinemas and museums. The state’s governor is responding to a continued surge in coronavirus case numbers. Read the full story.

Hawaii extends state quarantine

Hawaii – a popular US holiday destination – has extended its quarantine on out-of-state visitors by one month. It originally planned to reopen its borders on 1 August (with the proviso of a negative Covid-test), but that date has been pushed back to 1 September amid coronavirus outbreaks across the US mainland. Hawaii has luckily had some of the lowest coronavirus figures in the country. Read the full story.

NSW on “extra high alert”

Over in Australia, New South Wales has been put on “extra high alert” for a new coronavirus outbreak after concerns over relaxed safety practices. Read the full story.

Barbados to lure digital nomads

With its vital tourist sector slumping, Barbados is planning to attract digital nomads with a “Barbados Welcome Stamp” – allowing visitors to stay and work remotely on the island for up to a year. It follows in the footsteps of Estonia; the Baltic country’s Digital Nomads Visa became available on 1 July. Read the full story.

    13.07 – Several countries impose new restrictions amid rise in cases

  • Despite relaxing travel restrictions, the UK government is still warning against cruise travel.
  • Indonesia will end emergency-stay visas issued to foreigners at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, leaving thousands of Australians stranded in Bali.
  • Rio de Janeiro’s beaches will only officially reopen after a vaccine for Covid-19 has been found says Mayor Marcelo Crivella.
  • Greece is considering a second lockdown after a continued surge in coronavirus cases.

Sturgeon clears up quarantine rumours

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that though she wouldn’t shy away from imposing a quarantine on visitors from England, that she was not “immediately planning” such a policy. Read the full story.

Luxury island getaways are back

The Maldives is opening to all international travellers – including those from the US – on 15 July as planned. Over in the Pacific, meanwhile, Tahiti will also be bringing back international visitors on 15 July, but with the proviso of stringent and mandatory testing.

Rise in coronavirus cases in Eastern Europe sees new restrictions

Surging Covid-19 infection rates in Eastern Europe have resulted in several countries introducing a raft of new restrictions. Hungary, Serbia, Croatia and Poland are all affected. Read the full story.

New “fit-to-fly” system for Abu Dhabi airport

A snazzy new piece of technology – the “fit-to-fly” system – has been unveiled at Abu Dhabi airport. In-built sensors assess a series of travellers’ health indicators, including taking your heart rate, temperature and respiratory checks.

    09.07 – Scotland keeps quarantine for Spain

  • Nigeria is the latest country to restart domestic flights as lockdown restrictions are lifted further.
  • Orlando’s Disney World will begin its phased reopening from 11 July.

Scotland to keep quarantine for Spanish travellers

Nicola Sturgeon’s government has approved nearly all the travel bridges outlined by Westminster, but for the time being Spanish and Serbian travellers will still be subject to a 14-day quarantine. Read the full story.

Bali is back

Yesterday, Bali partially reopened from its three-month lockdown. International tourism is expected to return to the Indonesian island in September. Read the full story.

Greece could re-impose restrictions

Greece has warned it could re-impose lockdown and travel restrictions as early as next week, citing the “frivolous few” who are flouting hygiene rules and regulations. Read the full story.

    08.07 – Mexican border towns try to stem US arrivals

  • Carnival Cruise Line has delayed the launch of Mardi Gras – the company’s biggest ever ship – until February 2021.
  • Qatar Airways has introduced a new regulation that requires passengers to wear face shields as well as masks.
  • Backers drop proposal for upgrade of the Philippines’ main airport.

Thai travel bubbles face uncertainty

Thailand may shelve plans to create travel bubbles later this year – with destinations including Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong – amid fresh outbreaks of the virus abroad. Read the full story.

Mexico desperate to stop flow of US travellers

Mexico’s border towns are desperately trying to stop of the influx of US travellers amid surging cases. Townspeople in Sonoyta across from Arizona have resorted to blocking roads with their vehicles. Read the full story.

Irish green list delayed

Ireland was expected to publish a green list of safe countries next week, which will now be postponed until at least 20 July amid fears of a second wave. Travel restrictions will likely remain in place until then. Read the full story.

Private tests at Heathrow could see visitors from blacklisted countries

A new trial at Heathrow Airport could see private coronavirus tests being offered to travellers from blacklisted countries – including the USA – as a means of allowing safe entry into the UK. Inbound travellers would be required to quarantine for 24 hours until test results are returned. Read the full story.

Delayed reopening for the Taj Mahal

As coronavirus case numbers in India continue to soar, the awaited reopening of the Taj Mahal has been pushed back. Read the full story.

    06.07 – England reopening

  • Daily flights from the UK to Greece will resume on 15 July.
  • The Australian state border between New South Wales and Victoria has been closed again amid a surge in Victoria’s cases.
  • The Louvre Museum in Paris has reopened today, with a one-way system in place and mandatory facemasks.
  • Thailand’s largest international airport has launched rapid coronavirus tests as the country welcomes its first “fast-track” travellers back this month (mainly business travellers).

Kenya to lift lockdown

In a televised address, President Kenyatta announced a phased lifting of lockdown. Restrictions in and out of the capital, Nairobi, and the city of Mombasa will be the first to go, while international flights will resume from 1 August. Read the full story.

UK gift voucher?

The UK is considering providing £500 gift vouchers for all adult citizens (£250 for children) to spend in economy sectors hit worst by the coronavirus pandemic. Read the full story.

England reopening

Over the weekend, bars, pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and theme parks reopened across England. Though social-distancing measures are still in place, pictures of crowds of revellers emerged in hotspots like London’s Soho. Outdoor theatre performances – a firm draw for visitors – could resume this summer. Read the full story here and here.

    03.07 – British travellers can visit France, Germany, Spain and Italy from 10 July

  • The Dominican Republic has announced a raft of new protocols for the return of tourism to its shores.
  • Kenya has lowered its safari-park fees in a bid to bring tourists back.
  • The EU has issued guidance to aid the return of cruising.

Concerns raised over Fourth of July celebrations

Widespread warnings of a surge in coronavirus cases have been vocalized ahead of planned Fourth of July celebrations in the USA. While thousands of public events across the country have been cancelled, the Trump administration is still going ahead with the planned firework display in the centre of Washington. Read the full story.

UK quarantine exemptions to come into effect on 10 July

The UK government will release its anticipated list of more than fifty countries that will be allowed to enter the UK without quarantine from 10 July later today. The Department for Transport has confirmed that France, Germany, Spain and Italy will make the list. Read the full story.

    02.07 – UK to announce quarantine exemptions

  • Turkey asks the EU to “correct mistake” after it’s left off the bloc’s “safe countries” list.
  • Singapore’s Changi Airport is testing several new technologies in a bid to cope with coronavirus, including proximity-touch check-in kiosks and cleaning robots.
  • Tokyo Disneyland has reopened.
  • Eurostar launches new flexible tickets with “Go When You Feel Ready” booking policy.
  • Air Canada has indefinitely suspended 30 regional routes.

UK to shelve air-bridge plans in favour of quarantine exemptions

The UK government has reportedly shelved plans for a series of travel corridors in favour of a list of countries that will be exempt from the country’s 14-day quarantine. Rumours suggest as many as 75 countries could make the list, including nearly all EU destinations. The list is expected to be published later today or on Friday. Read the full story.

California reverses reopening of bars and restaurants

The governor of California has ordered the majority of its bars, restaurants, museums, cinemas and other attractions to bolt their doors again amid a rise in coronavirus cases. Seventy percent of the state is affected by the roll-back action. Read the full story.

World gears up for Plastic Free July

A global initiative called Plastic Free July has kicked off, drawing attention to the need to keep our streets, oceans and communities plastic-free. Around the world travellers can join local projects and clean-up operations, from kayak sweeps in California to Tahiti, where the island of Moorea has environmental and rubbish-cleaning days built into their school calendar.

Ryanair reports strong bookings

In a hopeful sign for the travel industry, Ryanair reported “very strong” bookings as it restarted one thousand flights yesterday. As the summer season kicks off, the budget carrier is ramping up from the skeleton service it has been running since March. Read the full story.

Greece extends its ban on UK tourists

Greece has extended its ban on UK tourists until 15 July, meaning that thousands of Brits due to fly in the next two weeks will have their flights cancelled. Read the full story.

Spain and Morocco: a travel bubble?

A Spanish government spokesperson has confirmed the Mediterranean country will only open its borders with Morocco if the North African nation puts reciprocal arrangements in place. Morocco is on the EU’s list of “safe countries”. Read the full story.

Lisbon warns against illegal parties

Lisbon’s per capita rate of new infections is among the highest in Europe. In response, the mayor’s office is putting up posters warning against illegal parties.

This news bulletin – which ran from the early days of coronavirus, to help provide travel news in an incredibly turbulent time – will no longer be being updated. However, we're still providing inspiration in all of our other features.

You made it all the way back. Go even further back in time for Corona Travel updates June 2020 and May 2020.

If you are planning to travel, check out how to make sure that your travel insurance covers Corona virus.

Helen Fanthorpe

written by
Helen Fanthorpe

updated 21.10.2020

Helen worked as a Senior Travel Editor at Rough Guides and Insight Guides, based in the London office. Among her favourite projects to work on are inspirational guides like Make the most of your time on Earth, the ultimate travel bucket list.

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