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After weeks of lockdown and restrictions slowly being eased, it’s no surprise many of us are looking longingly at holiday destinations, wondering when we’ll next be able to jet off.
As summer kicks off, travel plans undoubtedly look very different this year. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office still advises Brits against all but essential international travel. “This advice is being kept under constant review,” the website states.
So when will we be able to travel again – and should we resist those cheap deals?
What travel restrictions are in place right now?
The government issued a Covid-19 “exceptional travel advisory notice” back in March, which means only essential travel is permitted.
New travel measures also came into force on June 8. To limit the amount of contact with international travellers – and to avoid a second peak of the virus – the government imposed a 14-day quarantine period for all travellers arriving to the UK except for passengers flying from Ireland, the Channel Islands, Isle of Man, and France. There are a few exemptions for certain professions, including lorry drivers, police officers, pilots, and healthcare professionals.
Failure to comply could mean a £1,000 fine in England, and police will be allowed to use “reasonable force” to make sure rules are being followed.
Are airlines still grounded, then?
Many airlines have been grounded since the start of lockdown, but they seem to be gearing up for flights to resume again. Some have shared dates they plan to restart flights – although people will still only be able to travel for leisure if the FCO says it’s safe to do so.
Virgin Atlantic is set to kickstart a handful of routes from July 20, with more to follow in August. Jet2 will apparently reopen its flight and holiday packages from July 1. EasyJet is said to be returning with a limited number of flights from 22 airports across the UK and Europe from June 15.
Ryanair plans to reintroduce 40% of its flights from July 1, subject to travel restrictions and safety measures being brought in at airports. And British Airways will review its plans to run at a 50% capacity from July.
Can I go on holiday in the UK?
Not yet. Lockdown restrictions might be easing across the UK, but the tourism industry doesn’t have a green light to reopen. At the moment, hotels remain closed to all guests, except for a small number of specific groups.
Other holiday accommodation – such as campsites, caravan parks and short-term lets – are closed for leisure-related trips, the government states. So staying overnight away from home for a holiday or similar purpose is prohibited.
“I’m keen to get the tourism sector going as rapidly as possible,” said Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden. The government is sticking to what it describes as an “ambitious target” to get England’s tourism sector back by July 4 – “as long as it is safe to do so”.
So, should I resist those cheap travel deals?
You might have the travel bug, itching to get away for some sun, sea and sand – but be cautious of booking something right now, as travel restrictions are still in place.
“There are more people searching for a holiday now for this summer than there were at the beginning of May,” says Emma Coulthurst, travel commentator from TravelSupermarket. “Holiday prices have also been creeping down in the last fortnight and there are some good prices on offer.
“However, the reality is that we don’t yet know when Brits will be able to travel again.”
Coulthurst is right. Despite plans to restart the tourism industry, the latest FCO travel advice states Brits are still not permitted to travel abroad and there’s no indication of when this will be lifted.