Categories
Travel

China lockdown period: This is how many days China was in lockdown

China has seen its lockdown measures eased as the country successfully battles the coronavirus pandemic. Many have been impressed with the severity and ensuing results of the strict lockdown. Although the virus was identified as originating in Wuhan, China, the nation has had considerably fewer cases than elsewhere.

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At the time of writing, China has 84,119 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

This contrasts strongly to the UK’s higher number of 279,511.

So how long was China in lockdown for?

Hubei province, where Wuhan City is located, accounts for the vast majority of China’s coronavirus cases.

At the start of 2020, thousands of new cases were reported daily.

Now, Chinese authorities are claiming Wuhan and the wider province have no new cases to report.

Lockdown in Wuhan began back on January 23.

The move by Chinese authorities meant no travel in or out of the city was allowed, even for those who had important medical or humanitarian reasons.

Inside the city, public transport was completely suspended and cars were banned from the roads.

Surrounding cities and provinces soon followed suit.

Another 14 Chinese cities in China entered lockdown on January 24 with strict measures restricting the lives of 50 million people.

From March 28, China suspended the entry into China of foreign nationals with visas issued before March 27.

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Then, on April 8, after 11 weeks of lockdown, the roadblocks in Wuhan finally reopened and a number of restrictions eased.

As for what China is like now, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) explains its current travel advice: “Mandatory requirements to check temperatures and use health apps or scan QR codes to prove travel history are in place at transport hubs, hotels, commercial buildings including restaurants, residential compounds and other locations – such locations are also increasingly requiring use of ‘health kit code’ apps to demonstrate health condition and travel history.

“Restrictions on movement and quarantine arrangements remain for travel between different parts of the country.

“Some cities and provinces require travellers to undergo 14 days of isolation in their place of residence or in centralised observation.

The FCO continues: “Quarantine is enforced at the neighbourhood level, procedures vary, it is recommended to check in advance.

“The possibility that local authorities impose mandatory quarantine in response to fresh outbreaks is high.

“There have been reports of individuals who have frequented bars or restaurants where there have been confirmed cases of COVID-19 being mandated to undergo 14 days of centralised quarantine.

“You should keep up to date with the latest developments and this travel advice.”

The UK’s lockdown began on March 23 with restrictions easing slightly on May 10, marking seven weeks of a full lockdown.

However, many strict restrictions still remain in place.

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Categories
Travel

easyJet: How travelling with the airline will change after coronavirus – new onboard rules

easyJet has announced plans to resume some of its commercial flight services as of June 15, following almost two months grounded. However, travellers will notice some changes to the onboard experience that have been put in place as a result of the pandemic.

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The airline has introduced new measures to ensure both health and hygiene on board is enough to keep all those flying with them as safe as possible.

Following in the footsteps of other airlines including Wizz Air and Ryanair, easyJet will be requiring all passengers to wear face coverings.

Passengers will be expected to provide these themselves.

The easyJet website explains: “Masks should be worn by all passengers arriving at the airport.

“There may be dispensing machines for masks available at airports as well as hand sanitiser dispensing machines, but we strongly encourage everyone to arrive with a mask.

“Passengers will be required to provide their own masks.

“We will also stock additional masks onboard as a precautionary measure should a passenger find themselves without a fit for use mask, for example, if it breaks during the flight.”

The rules do not make exceptions for children, with all passengers over the age of two required to wear a mask.

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The crew will also be required to wear masks on board.

easyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said that “these are small and carefully planned steps”.

The airline says that it is working in line with relevant medical guidance set out by experts.

“We are following the guidance set out by the WHO, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) which is also recognised by civil aviation authorities and national governments, as well as the European Aviation Safety Agency, the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and Public Health England,” easyJet’s website continues.

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“We have set up a biosecurity standards group which regularly reviews standards and recommended practices from these organisations.”

Passengers will also be given hand sanitiser and disinfectant wipes once onboard.

easyJet also said that its aircraft would also be subject to “enhanced cleaning and disinfection”.

However, despite calls for the middle seats to be left empty, the budget-carrier has decided not to make this move.

They explain: “In line with the guidelines set out by the authorities there is no requirement to keep any seats free on board and so this is not something we will implement.”

easyJet adds: “Social distancing will be practised in airports and during boarding. Guidelines set down by the regulators do not recommend social distancing onboard due to the practicalities of commercial air travel.

“There are a number of other measures in place to protect customers and crew onboard.”

Inflight service is also set to see some changes when flights resume, including the removal of the foodservice.

Mr Lundgren said: “These measures will remain in place for as long as is needed to ensure customers and crew are able to fly safely as the world continues to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.”

The airline has announced initial domestic routes throughout the UK from June, with just one international route to Nice, France from London Gatwick.

Mr Lundgren said: “I am really pleased that we will be returning to some flying in the middle of June.

“These are small and carefully planned steps that we are taking to resume operations.

“We will continue to closely monitor the situation across Europe so that when more restrictions are lifted the schedule will continue to build over time to match demand while also ensuring we are operating efficiently and on routes that our customers want to fly.”

A list of routes on offer from June include:

• Belfast to Birmingham

• Belfast to Bristol

• Belfast to Edinburgh

• Belfast to Glasgow

• Belfast to London Gatwick

• Belfast to Liverpool

• Belfast to Newcastle

• Birmingham to Belfast

• Bristol to Belfast

• Edinburgh to Belfast

• Edinburgh to London Gatwick

• Glasgow to Belfast

• Glasgow to London Gatwick

• Inverness to London Gatwick

• Isle of Man to London Gatwick

• Isle of Man to Liverpool

• London Gatwick to Belfast

• London Gatwick to Edinburgh

• London Gatwick to Glasgow

• London Gatwick to Inverness

• London Gatwick to Isle of Man

• London Gatwick to Nice

• Liverpool to Belfast

• Liverpool to Isle of Man

• Newcastle to Belfast

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Categories
Cruises

WATCH: Terrifying moment ship smashes into rocks as captain loses control

A passenger cruise ship in Italy was caught on camera just moment after it collided with rocks in a port. The incident is said to have happened when the captain “lost control” of the vessel due to a “technical issue”.

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Smaller boats can be seen moving closer to the ship as they try to help manoeuvre it back into the water.

The sound of frantic and concerned voices can also be heard.

The incident reportedly happened when the boat was attempting to dock in a small port on the island of San Nicola in the Isole Tremiti archipelago in the Adriatic Sea in eastern Italy’s Apulia region.

The ferry is owned by a local company called Tirrenia.

Local media report technical issues with the ferry meant the captain could not control the ship and it crashed into the rocks.

Reports also state that there were seven passengers on board the ship during the collision.

All passengers and crew remain unharmed.

Emergency services went to the scene and divers were used to check how much the boat had been damaged, according to local media.

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Media reports state that the ferry was then tugged to the port for an investigation into the exact causes of the crash and to assess the damage done.

Marco Napolitano, owner of the local Hotel Gabbiano, said: “I hope it is not serious.”

The ferry was expected to bring the first tourists to the island next week as Italy begins to move out of coronavirus lockdown.

The ferry can transport 522 passengers along with 57 vehicles and connects the Tremiti Islands with the Italian peninsula throughout the year.

The investigation into the accident is ongoing.

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This isn’t the first time a ferry has crashed with passengers onboard.

Last June a similar incident occurred in Ibiza when a ferry narrowly missed colliding with a smaller boat.

Young Spanish and French holidaymakers on pleasure boat Aquabus Kontiki II were filmed screaming in terror as the 150 metre-long Bahama Mama ferry approached them.

Footage was recorded by a passenger on board and shows the panicked scene.

The incident was investigated by local authorities as a “collision risk” occurrence.

Luckily, no passengers were harmed as a result.

On a larger scale, a cruise ship crashed into a dock in Venice, Italy around the same time.

Sadly, five passengers were injured as a result.

On July 12 2019, the MSC Opera, drove into the busy Giudecca Canal, at around 8.30am.

It is thought that the vessel lost control, first charging into a small riverboat before hitting the dock.

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Categories
Travel

William Sidnam: Life in Paris without tourists

COMMENT

If the world held a beauty pageant for landmarks, the Eiffel Tower would stand a good chance of winning. It’s a beautiful monument, for sure, and I’m extremely privileged to have seen it sparkling in the night sky above Paris.

But during the last two months, I had not been able to get anywhere near it.

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When France’s lockdown began on March 17, 2020, I found myself stuck in asuburb next to Paris. Due to severe travel restrictions designed to curb the spread of Covid-19, no one had been able to venture beyond their immediate surroundings without risking a three-figure fine.

And so, despite living just a kilometre from the capital, I’d been no closer to entering its gates than when I’d been living in New Zealand.

No surprises, then, that on the the first day of déconfinement, I seized the opportunity to rediscover a city that had kept me at bay.

On that cold Monday morning I left home, leaving my tattered attestation form behind, and crossed into Paris.

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Categories
Travel

Holidays 2020: UK summer staycations to be allowed in weeks in major announcement

Holidays have not been an option for several months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Britons are not permitted to travel abroad unless for “essential” reasons. However, there is now cause to be optimistic about UK holidays.

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The Culture Secretary said on Wednesday the government hopes for domestic travel to be possible from July.

This could see Britons enjoying staycations in several weeks time.

However, this will only be the case if such travel is considered safe.

Minister Oliver Dowden shared the travel advice at the Downing Street press conference.

“I would love to get the tourism sector up as quickly as we possibly can,” he said.

“We’ve set this very ambitious plan to try and get it up and running by the beginning of July.

“Clearly, we can only do it if it’s safe to do so because I think the worst thing for our tourism sector would be to start, then see the R rate rise out of control, see a second peak that overwhelms the NHS that we then have to slam on the brakes again.”

Dowden added: ”Believe me, when we get to the point when we can have British tourism back, perhaps apart from the Prime Minister you won’t get a bigger champion of the great British break than me.”

Restoring tourism in the UK will provide a much-needed boost for the economy.

According to VisitBritain, the tourism industry has seen losses well into the billions.

Hugh Graham-Watson, Managing Director of The Hotel Guru, recommends that those who are looking to get away this summer should act fast.

To get the best deals consumers need to book now to avoid the spike in holiday prices,” the travel expert told Express.co.uk.

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However, it’s important to be careful when booking – check the fine print.

“Make sure that any cancellations terms are flexible,” advised Graham-Watson.

“Most hotels are offering free cancellation even for peak dates.”

Rowland King, director of QualitySource, also spoke to Express.co.uk about summer holidays this year.

“We think it will be possible for people to practise social distancing when travelling in the future,” he said.

“Of course, this will depend on where and how we plan to travel.”

“Travelling across the UK by car, for example, will be easier to practice social distancing rather than travelling abroad via plane,” Rowland said.

King added: “There are plenty of cheap and accessible camping parks to visit, and you can even go off-grid to save more money and ensure you practise social distancing more effectively.”

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Categories
Travel

Spain holidays: Government issues major warning in latest Spain travel update

Spain holidays are hugely popular among British holidaymakers so it’s unsurprising many people are champing at the bit to go back. However, Spain has been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic. There are currently 232,555 confirmed cases of the virus in Spain. 

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Tragically there have been 27,888 deaths.

So what is the latest travel advice?

Back in March, in a bid to limit the spread of coronavirus, Spain entered a strict lockdown.

The country is now taking steps to relax the tough measures.

A four-stage de-escalation plan was launched on May 4.

Now the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has updated its travel advice to Spain.

In the latest development, unveiled last night, everyone apart from young children is now obliged to wear a face mask in public.

“From May 21, the use of face masks will be obligatory to anyone over the age of six years old in all public spaces in Spain, where it is not possible to maintain social distancing of two metres,” said the FCO.

“Face masks must cover the nose and mouth. Sanctions may be imposed if you do not comply.

“Those with respiratory problems or those unable to wear a mask due to other health conditions or disabilities are exempt from this rule.

“While not mandatory, the use of face masks on children between three and five years of age is recommended.”

In a second update yesterday, the FCO detailed the financial support available for those in Spain at the moment.

“If you’re in Spain, and have exhausted all other options to cover essential living costs while you wait to return home, you could apply for an emergency loan for your living costs from the UK government,” explained the Foreign Office.

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“You can only apply if you normally live in the UK and you cannot return home. This last-resort option is for those most in need, and you would need to repay the loan when you are back in the UK.”

Thirdly, the FCO shared the latest update on ferries between Spain and the UK.

“There are currently no scheduled passenger ferries operating between Spain and the UK,” said the government. “We are working closely with Brittany Ferries who may be able to assist repatriating a small number of people on their freight services.

“If your ferry has been cancelled and you wish to return to the UK, please contact the British Embassy online stating your name and booking reference number.”

Spain also currently has quarantine measures in place. The FCO explains: “From 15 May, all new international arrivals entering Spain, including Spanish nationals and residents, will be required to self-isolate in their residence or hotel for a period of 14 days.”

As for tourist accommodation: “Hotels and other tourist accommodation are expected to re-open (with access restrictions to communal areas) when Phase 1 of the plan is activated.”

Earlier this week a Spanish minister said they hoped to welcome tourists by June, however, Britons are currently unable to travel unless it’s “essential”.

It is not yet clear when this restriction will be lifted.

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Categories
Travel

easyJet hack: How to check if your details have been stolen – and what to do next

easyJet has been the victim of a shocking data breach. A company investigation discovered the email address and travel details of around nine million customers were accessed in the cyber attack. Hackers also acquired the credit card details of more than 2,000 customers.

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easyJet has said it has now blocked the unauthorised access, but what does this mean for easyJet customers? This is the latest travel advice.

How do you know if you have been hacked?

The budget airline has said it is contacting those whose details were accessed.

If your details have been compromised you are advised to take “protective steps to minimise any risk of potential phishing.”

easyJet is also urging customers to be alert, especially if they received any communication they weren’t expecting.

The carrier said in a statement: “There is no evidence that any personal information of any nature has been misused.”

It went on to say: “However, on the recommendation of the ICO [Information Commissioner’s Office], we are communicating with the approximately 9m customers whose travel details were accessed to advise them of protective steps to minimise any risk of potential phishing.

“We are advising customers to continue to be alert as they would normally be, especially should they receive any unsolicited communications.

“We also advise customers to be cautious of any communications purporting to come from easyJet or easyJet Holidays.”

What should you do if you have been hacked?

Ray Walsh, Digital Privacy Expert at ProPrivacy.com, has shared his insight and advice.

“Most of the nine million easyJet customers hacked appear to have only emails and travel details exposed – although this is still extremely problematic,” he said.

“The information could easily be used to launch targeted cyber-attacks at victims, using their travel history to create spear-phishing campaigns that leverage fake emails that appear to be from easyJet.”

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Walsh advised customers to take care with future emails and be “extremely wary” when opening them.

“Phishing emails that leverage data stolen during the attack could be used as an attack vector at any point in the future,” he said.

“As a result, it is important for consumers to be vigilant whenever they receive unsolicited emails or emails that appear to be from easyJet, as these could be fake emails that link to cloned websites designed to steal your data.

“For the 2,208 customers who have had credit card details stolen, and these customers should already have been contacted by the airline, the attack is much more serious.”

The expert recommended the best course of action to take if you have been affected by the data breach.

“All those impacted must act quickly to ensure that they have cancelled their card and flagged situation with their bank, the police, and the UK’s Action Fraud hotline,” Walsh advised.

“For all prior easyJet customers, it would be a good idea to update the password for their easyJet account.

“Additionally, all consumers are advised to quickly update the passwords on any other accounts in which they may have used the same password.

“Consumers are reminded that they should always use strong, unique passwords for each of their accounts so that if anyone account is breached hackers are not able to login to secondary accounts.”

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Categories
Cruises

Spain holidays: Cruises could be banned until end of June in cruise holiday blow

Cruise holidays to Spain may well not take place again until late June, in the latest cruise news. Spain has confirmed that the current ban on cruise ships will not be lifted until the country is out of its coronavirus State of Emergency. Holiday liners will also need to be able to prove extensive health and safety checks

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The Spanish government has published a new order to “restrict entry into Spanish ports of cruise-type passenger ships from any port.”

They have also banned “foreign ships or recreational vessels that do not have their port of stay in Spain.”

This applies not just to mainland Spain but also to the Canary Islands and the Balearics.

The ruling is relevant regardless of what phase of the de-escalation period the specific regions are in.

Spain’s government says it has taken into account official advice from the European Commission.

This states: “Previous outbreaks of COVID-19 on cruise ships have highlighted the special vulnerability of closed environments during long voyages.

“Before cruise ships resume operations, ship operators must establish strict procedures to reduce the risk of contagion on board and to provide adequate medical assistance in case of contagions.”

The state of emergency was imposed on March 14 with an initial end date of May 24.

However, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has already indicated that he intends to ask for an extension.

This could see the state of emergency lasting until the end of June.

Spain’s Ministry of Health said today that continued measures to control the entry of cruise ships and other boats were essential to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The arrival of cruise ships has been banned since March 13.

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“The still complex situation and unpredictable nature of COVID-19 and dynamics of its evolution, as well as the guidelines and recommendations of the Commission, advise against lifting this restriction as operators establish procedures to reduce the risk of contagion on board and ports on route and to make arrangements for the repatriation of a passenger or medical treatment,” said a spokesman.

In further news, Spain’s Transport Minister Jose Luis Abalos issued good news concerning Spain’s two-week quarantine imposed on travellers arriving in Spain.

Abalos said it was intended to be temporary and is set to be phased out in parallel with travel being allowed within Spain.

“We can’t allow foreigners to travel while the Spanish population is confined,” Abalos told broadcaster TVE.

“From late June, we’ll start tourism activity, I hope… We must make Spain an attractive country from the health point of view.”

Spain relies heavily on tourism highlighting the need to kickstart holidays as soon as possible.

However, for now, Britons are unable to travel unless for “essential” reasons.

It is is not yet known when this restriction will be lifted.

Additional reporting by Rita Sobot.

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Categories
Travel

Holidays 2020: Latest travel rules for Spain, Turkey and Portugal Britons need to know

Holidays are a highlight of the year for many people, with folk greatly excited about jetting off on a summer break. Unfortunately, this year, the travel industry has grounded to a halt as coronavirus sweeps the globe. There is hope though – some countries are starting to ease restrictions. But what about Spain, Turkey and Portugal?

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A number of holiday destinations remain optimistic that they can welcome travellers over the summer.

Indeed one senior EU leader recently said she thinks holidays “can be done safely” in the future, reported the Liverpool Echo.

According to the latest travel advice, Britons are unable to go on holiday in the UK or abroad due to coronavirus travel restrictions.

British citizens are only allowed to carry out “essential” travel.

What’s more, the UK government will shortly introduce a 14-day quarantine period for those entering the country by air.

But what about elsewhere? These are the rules for other popular holiday destinations.

What are the travel rules for Spain?

It is currently not known when travellers will be allowed back to Spain.

On April 28, the Spanish government announced a four-stage de-escalation plan.

This aims to gradually ease the current confinement and mobility measures over an estimated period of at least eight weeks.

“While no specific dates have been attributed to each phase, it is estimated that each one will last for an initial period of two weeks from May 4,” said the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

“As from May 4, Phase 0 of the de-escalation plan will allow for individuals to do exercise outdoors and for members of the same household to take a walk together outside.

“Urban and inter-regional transport services (i.e. coaches and trains) are operating at reduced levels.

“Travel to airports by road or rail to leave Spain is still permitted, but travellers may be asked to provide evidence that they are departing Spain (i.e. plane ticket).”

It’s believed that hotels and other tourist accommodation will re-open (with access restrictions to communal areas) when Phase 1 of the plan is activated.

Spanish tourism minister Reyes Maroto told local newspaper El Pais: “We have to guarantee, when international tourism opens, that the person who comes to Spain is a safe person.”

He continued: ”The issue of borders will be accompanied by the evolution of the health crisis. Therefore, I do not have the solution of when [they will be able to open].”

Spain’s foreign minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya told The Independent: “This year will be tough because we will not be able to welcome the tourists as we have in previous years because of health and safety, not only of tourists but also of Spaniards.”

“As soon as we have coronavirus under control we will be able to gradually open our country.”

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What are the travel rules for Turkey?

Turkey has said that European tourists will not be able to come to the country until the end of July.

Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy said: “The tourism sector itself has a vital role in terms of returning to normal processes.

“The importance of caring for our guests in our culture leads us to be ready for the transition to healthy tourism before everyone.”

Currently in Turkey, the wearing of masks is obligatory in crowded places and specifically in markets and supermarkets as well as on all public transport, including Metro, buses and ferries.

A curfew is in place until May 19 in a number of major cites.

“There are extremely limited international flights,” explained the FCO. “Intercity bus services and domestic flights within Turkey are suspended.”

What are the travel rules for  Portugal?

Portugal has begun easing strict coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

“Starting on 4 May, each stage of the plan will last 2 weeks,” explained the FCO.

“Progression through the stages will depend on the continued control of the COVID-19 outbreak in Portugal.”

Hotels will be able to open across the country from June 1, alongside bars, nightclubs, shopping centres and gyms.

The Portuguese tourism board has also created a “Clean and Safe” label for establishments.

This means that hotels and other tourist establishments have to meet government standards on hygiene and cleaning measures.

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Categories
Travel

Pound to euro exchange rate: Sterling plummets to near five-month low amid economic fears

The pound to euro exchange rate slumped on Thursday as the trading week drew to close. The coronavirus pandemic continues to heavily influence the movements of GBP. There are currently nearly 4.5 million cases of the deadly virus worldwide.

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The UK is the third-worst hit country, with a recorded 234,440 cases.

Tragically there have been 33,693 deaths from coronavirus.

The virus has pummelled the economy as it forced the country into lockdown.

The “sluggish economic recovery” is in part to blame for sterling’s recent downturn.

Other contributing factors to the drop are “increasing prospects of additional BoE stimulus in June exerting pressure,” said experts.

Looking ahead at today, it is likely risk will be “taken off the table,” as the trading week ends.

The pound is currently trading at 1.1287 against the euro, according to Bloomberg at the time of writing.

Michael Brown, currency expert at international payments and foreign exchange firm Caxton FX, spoke to Express.co.uk regarding the latest exchange rate figures this morning.

“Sterling consolidated just above five-week lows against the common currency yesterday, with the expected sluggish economic recovery and the increasing prospects of additional BoE stimulus in June exerting pressure,” said Brown.

“Today, as the week draws to a close, one can expect positions to be trimmed and risk to be taken off the table.

“These are two factors that will likely pose headwinds to the risk-sensitive pound.”

Holidaymakers are unlikely to be in the market for euros quite yet, of course, as Britons are still unable to travel.

READ MORE

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Although lockdown measures have been eased ever so slightly this week in the UK, little hope has been offered for those hoping to enjoy a foreign holiday.

The UK government still advises against all but “essential” travel in a  bid to limit the spread of the virus.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s COVID-19 Exceptional Travel Advisory Notice remains in place.

It states: “As countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including travel and border restrictions, the FCO advises British nationals against all but essential international travel.

“Any country or area may restrict travel without notice.

“If you live in the UK and are currently travelling abroad, you are strongly advised to return now, where and while there are still commercial routes available.

“Many airlines are suspending flights and many airports are closing, preventing flights from leaving.”

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