The question our travel team is hearing more than any other, as the coronavirus lockdown continues, is “When will I be able to go on holiday?” The prospect of taking a vacation – at home or abroad – seems pretty remote right now, but the thought of one is very, very tempting.
Until the government removes restrictions, there are very few options. The only thing that appears likely is that holidaying in the UK is likely to be allowed before holidaying abroad.
The BBC recently compiled government advice from a selection of sources, and came up with the following answers to the most frequently asked questions coming from the British public.
Can I go on a foreign holiday?
At the moment, it’s highly unlikely. British nationals are being urged not to take any non-essential foreign travel, and to return home from abroad if possible. Many countries have travel restrictions in place which prevent or limit foreign arrivals, and many airlines are offering a reduced service, or have suspended flights altogether.
What’s more, the UK is planning to introduce a 14-day quarantine period “as soon as possible” which means anyone returning home from a holiday will then have to self-isolate for a further two weeks.
When will this change?
The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, has told MPs that this quarantine arrangement is expected to come into force in early June, and that it would be “a blanket solution” at first. But he also introduced the idea of “air bridges” which would be an arrangement between countries with low coronavirus levels, where travellers between them could be exempt from quarantine.
Can I go on holiday in the UK?
People in the England are now free to drive any distance to other destinations in England, like parks and beaches, however they are not supposed to stay overnight away from home. This includes Air B’n’Bs, holiday rentals, or even any second property they own. Most UK campsites, hotels, and holiday parks will remain shut until at least July.
How about day trips?
Technically, yes, though options are limited. Many tourist offices and local governments are urging British people not to rush to beauty spots such as the Lake District. ‘Visit Cornwall’ states that people should not travel to the area unless they can return home within 90 minutes. In addition, people who live in England cannot travel for recreation into Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. Many national parks remain closed, and it is worth allowing for the fact that many public facilities such as car parks and toilets may not be open either. People are also being advised to avoid public transport unless it is essential, and taking yourself on a day out does not meet essential criteria.
Should I book a summer holiday?
It is difficult to say how soon hotels and holiday resorts will reopen, as it depends entirely on whether the British public follow the rules set by the government, and requires the ‘R’ rate of the coronavirus to continue to drop. The date proposed at present for these types of places to reopen is the start of July, but it remains conditional.
EasyJet has said it plans to resume some flights in June, while Ryanair and British Airways plan to ramp up their flights in July. Meanwhile, all TUI and First Choice holidays are cancelled until at least 11 June, whilst Jet2 have cancelled up to 16th June. Tour operators are constantly reviewing the situation and tend to provide updates to our travel teams every few weeks.
Many tour operators are also offering ‘Peace of Mind’ policies, allowing travellers to postpone a departure or transfer onto another holiday in 2021 with no penalties or cancellation fees.
What are other countries doing?
The EU has insisted there will be a summer season this year, and have proposed a gradual lifting of travel restrictions throughout the European Union. Citizens of countries with similar levels of infections could start to travel more freely first.
Presently, anyone travelling will be required to follow social distancing rules and use mandatory face masks, and there will be controlled access to hotel and restaurant facilities.
Areas like the Balearic Islands are heavily reliant on tourism, but they would have to prove they have enough hospital capacity to deal with any spike in cases, and it is clear that if infections start to rise again, restrictions will be reimposed.
In short, it will be up to individual countries to implement changes, and it’s not yet clear what it might mean for UK travellers.
What about going away in the autumn?
Again, it is impossible at this stage to say if it will be possible. The government’s travel advice will need to have been updated for this to happen, but it depends on the disease’s progress.
Our travel teams are, however, booking holidays as far away as October 2021, and it may be worth getting in touch with them soon to discuss breaks next year. At this stage, you can still benefit from cheaper prices, but this will change when travelling dates are officially confirmed. You can reach them here to discuss your ideas.