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Travel

Revealed: Which countries could open up their tourist industries first – full list

Holidays and trips abroad have been a no-go recently due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. But as countries begin to ease their lockdown rules, the prospect of restarting the tourism industry becomes more likely. Countries such as Greece, Cyprus, Spain and Japan are all beginning to look to future tourism as a way of bringing in revenue.

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The World Travel and Tourism Council has predicted that the tourism industry could lose $2.1trillion (£1.7trillion) because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The shocking amount equates to around 75 million jobs worldwide.

WeSwap, the UK’s largest P2P travel money provider has looked into which countries could reopen their travel industries across the world.

These are the countries who could reopen their travel industries first.

Vietnam

Vietnam has had one of the lowest case and death rates in the world, despite being just next door to China.

The country has had just over 320 cases and zero death rates.

The country has not had an infection in the last month and so is beginning to reopen its doors.

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Fiji

The country has only had 18 confirmed cases and no deaths.

Tourism makes up 40 percent of the country’s GDP so it has suffered immensely from the coronavirus pandemic.

But currently, it is not known whether Fiji itself is happy to kickstart its travel industry.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka usually has a booming tourism industry which has been hit very hard this year.

However, the country has had a low case rate compared to its neighbours India and Pakistan.

With just over 1,000 cases and under 10 deaths, the country could likely reopen its tourism industry quickly.

Seychelles

This is one of the most stunning holiday destinations in the world which has had a very low coronavirus infection rate.

The country has had a total of 11 cases and no deaths.

Despite being a popular holiday destination, the country has just banned cruise ships until 2022, meaning that travel may not be on the cards for a while.

Matt Crate, Managing Director of WeSwap, said that there are countries that will need to reopen the tourism sector to restart their economies.

He continued: “There are countries across the world that have dealt incredibly well with the infection rate of the disease and should be commended.

“Suspending travel has been an important part of these safety measures but there are countries that will need to look at reopening these sectors to restart their national economies.

“Hopefully, as the world starts to deal with the rate of infection, these industries can begin to slowly begin again and the countries that have dealt best with the disease can lead the charge to help the world travel in safety.”

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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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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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Travel

Holiday refunds: ‘Holidaymakers should get vouchers’ Spain pushes EU to protect tourists

Many people around the world have been left with no summer holiday plans due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In fact, many holidaymakers have been forced to apply for refunds due to their holidays being cancelled by companies and airlines. Rather than offering cash refunds, some companies are offering travellers vouchers instead.

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And now, Spain is pushing for holidaymakers to be rewarded with vouchers with 100 percent protection.

Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Reyes Maroto told tourists leaders of the European Union that the voucher system would work if all countries in the EU joined the initiative.

She explained that Spain was in favour of offering the temporary measure.

She said: “Spain is in favour of temporarily allowing airlines to offer passengers vouchers instead of reimbursements, issued under uniform conditions for the entire EU.

“But, to guarantee the rights of passengers – in the face of possible insolvency of airlines – it would be necessary to create a European guarantee fund, given that the regulation is supranational in nature and a national solution would generate asymmetric protections for passengers according to each country.”

The EU has already suggested that travellers who are owed a refund should be persuaded to take the vouchers rather than cash.

But this would only apply if the offer was made more attractive by offering enhanced amounts and at least a year to use the vouchers.

By law, the owed money should be given back but the EU says it recognises both sides of the story.

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For example, cash flow and lack of finance has hit tourism agencies and airlines hard.

However, they are not the only ones who have faced hardship.

Tourists and customers have also been hit financially by COVID-19.

Ms Maroto also called for phased and coordinated steps in the EU for cross-border travel and tourism.

She especially defended the need to establish coordination between the Member States for the gradual return of tourism.

Spain and eleven other countries are pressing for a European Recovery Plan for the tourism sector that pays attention to the specific problems of the most affected countries and territories and, in particular, to the outermost regions and islands.

The tourism chief said Spain welcomed the recommendations on tourism and transport issued by the Commission on May 13 to restore freedom of movement and gradually lift coordinated border controls between member states and travel restrictions.

She also said that a “phased approach” to tourism is the best way to approach cross-border travel.

She added: “We believe that a phased approach, coordinated and agreed among Member States, is the best way to achieve a gradual normalisation of cross-border travel; therefore, we must coordinate to lift the confinement and quarantine regulations, as well as in the restoration of tourism and transport services.”

It comes as Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya told the BBC Today programme that Spain is aiming to become the “safest destination in Europe”.

She also said that she hopes her country will open in June but that the popular Canary Islands and Balearics will be first.

Arancha also said that the bigger cities such as Madrid and Barcelona that have suffered most from COVID-19 will not be able to open to tourists straightaway.

She added: “Some of our territories, like the islands, are COVID-19 free. They can open faster.”

Additional reporting by Rita Sobot

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Travel

Campsites reopen: Camping trips could start up again ‘in July’ ready for summer

Holidays abroad this summer are looking more unlikely due to the UK Government’s temporary quarantine rules which are set to come into play next month. But although a sunshine-soaked break in Spain may not be not be on your list this summer, many Britons are looking at going camping instead.

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In fact, figures from online camping site Cool Camping are seeing that summer bookings for campsites have soared by 500 percent in the past week.

The website said: “There’s clearly a pent-up demand to get away.

“The mooted date of July 4 is ideal timing for summer and could save many businesses who have had no income.”

And now, Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey has said that campsites could be open “potentially in July”.

Ms Coffey told Sky News: “I know there are a lot of campsites that are very keen for people to come.

“Some of this is being carefully considered, recognising that we have a reduced outdoor transmission risk, that things like camping may well become suitable.

“But that is a decision that still needs to be taken for later this year, potentially in July or even later in the year, recognising that we need to do all we can to keep that ‘R rate’ below one, the number of infections down, and we need to be careful when we take those steps.”

Camping has not been previously mentioned by the Government but some assume that campsites will fall into phase three of the Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plans to ease lockdown.

Caravan parks are also hoping to open to the public this summer.

Many caravan and holiday parks are aiming to restart in Phase three of the Government’s plan.

Phase three is anticipated to begin in July, subject to scientific and medical data.

According to a 50-page plan published by the government, phase three will allow for: “Some hospitality businesses being permitted to reopen ensuring they can provide safe environments and strictly enforce social distancing measures.”

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Caravan parks are also hoping to open to the public this summer.

Many caravan and holiday parks are aiming to restart in Phase three of the Government’s plan.

Phase three is anticipated to begin in July, subject to scientific and medical data.

According to a 50-page plan published by the government, phase three will allow for: “Some hospitality businesses being permitted to reopen ensuring they can provide safe environments and strictly enforce social distancing measures.”

Currently, quarantine rules are in place for anyone arriving in the UK from abroad which has potentially deterred Britons from going abroad for a holiday.

The new rules state that anyone arriving into the UK will have to quarantine themselves for 14 days.

However, the rules will not be put in place until June next month, according to the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

Anyone caught breaking the rules could be subject to a fine of up to £1,000.

Once visitors have completed 14 days of quarantine they can then mix with the general population.

Dan Yates, Managing Director of Pitchup.com, told The Daily Telegraph that he thinks that “time will be tight” for camping businesses hoping to make money this summer.

He said: “In short, with a date of ‘no earlier’ than July 4, time will be tight to capitalise on this summer.

“Typically, the peak begins in the third week of July with the start of the school holidays, and ends at August Bank Holiday.

“That said, we live in hope of an Indian summer.”

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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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Travel

Easyjet hack: Have your details been hacked in cyber attack?

After grounding its entire fleet of planes for at least two months back in March, Easyjet has fallen victim to a cyberhack. Does this mean your information is in the wrong hands? Express.co.uk tells you all you need to know.

The budget airline, which is currently inactive due to the coronavirus crisis, said its data has been accessed by criminals.

There is currently no evidence that the information has been misused by criminals, but customers’ email addresses and travel details of just over 2,200 customers have been accessed by “highly sophisticated” hackers.

Passport and credit card details have not been accessed or tampered with, and only a small proportion of Brits who have flown with Easyjet will be affected. So has this affected you?

A statement from the airline said: “There is no evidence that any personal information of any nature has been misused.”

READ MORE- EasyJet hit by cyberattack where email details for 9million stolen

It went on to say: “However, on the recommendation of the ICO, 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.”

Johan Lundgren, easyJet chief executive, added: “We take the cyber security of our systems very seriously and have robust security measures in place to protect our customers’ personal information.

“However, this is an evolving threat as cyber attackers get ever more sophisticated.”

The situation was revealed today by a company investigation by leading forensic experts.

The online channels affected by the attack were immediately closed, and no one is sure how long the criminals were able to view the details.

Mr Lundgren added: “Since we became aware of the incident, it has become clear that owing to COVID-19 there is heightened concern about personal data being used for online scams. 

“As a result, and on the recommendation of the ICO, we are contacting those customers whose travel information was accessed and we are advising them to be extra vigilant, particularly if they receive unsolicited communications.”

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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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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.

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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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