Many of us have holidays booked, or are looking forward to a summer break, but when will coronavirus travel restrictions be lifted? Our expert Nick Trend explains it all
Let’s be realistic. Travel will be one of the last areas of life to return to full normality once the Covid-19 pandemic fades. We need other countries to open their borders to tourists and airlines to relaunch flights, then we need the Foreign Office to lift its indefinite and blanket warning against all non-essential overseas travel.
So when will we see a little light at the end of the Channel Tunnel? In the statement from the Prime Minister on May 27, he revived hopes that an overseas summer holiday could still be on the cards in 2020, after suggesting that the UK could have 'air bridge' agreements in place by June 29. Air bridges would allow British holidaymakers to travel to certain countries without the need to quarantine on arrival, or when they return home.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appBut now for, Boris Johnson has confirmed plans to force all international arrivals, including returning holidaymakers, to self-isolate, a policy which would make overseas holidays virtually impossible. On May 12, Matt Hancock warned that we would most likely not be able to travel overseas for our summer holidays.
Furthermore, the UK roadmap for a phased easing of lockdown makes no mention of when the Foreign Office might lift its advisory urging Britons to avoid all non-essential overseas travel.
However, signs on the continent offer hope. On May 23, Spain's Prime Minister announced plans to reopen to international tourists from July, with Italy looking to do the same in the coming weeks. In Greece, thousands flocked to the seaside last weekend, while archeological sites, including the Acropolis in Athens, reopened; the country hopes to welcome tourists from July 1. In France, which aims to reopen its borders from June 15, beaches are welcoming bathers for the first time since March.
It all sounds positive for Britons dreaming of an overseas summer holiday, but much hinges on the nature of the UK Government’s two-week quarantine policy, and how long it lasts. Once it begins on June 8, returning holidaymakers will be asked to provide an address where they will self-isolate for two weeks, making overseas trips impossible for those unable to work from home. The policy could be in place until an airport test for the virus is available. One Whitehall source suggested a time frame of four to six weeks, but it could be far longer.
As mentioned before, one way around the quarantine could be bilateral agreements with other countries to permit tourism. This week the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced the possibility of “air bridges” offering exemptions for countries with similar levels of the virus. This raises the prospect of agreements with Spain, France, Italy and Greece which would - in theory - allow millions of British travellers to head south after all.
On May 22 Number 10 confirmed the government is considering "air bridges2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围app", but with no detail on which countries may form part of the agreement.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appAs for the Foreign Office advisory, it was introduced when countries around the world began putting restrictions on overseas arrivals and it was feared that Britons would have their trips adversely affected or even become stranded abroad. Therefore it seems reasonable to assume that, once destinations begin welcoming tourists, those advisories will be lifted one by one.
So July and August breaks in Europe remain a possibility. However, given all the caveats, I would not be surprised if we aren’t flying in large numbers until the autumn.
What about holidays in the UK?
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appThe one ray of hope for those Britons itching for a break after two months stuck at home is a domestic holiday. However, even this will not be possible until July at the earliest.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appThe latest Government statement permits people in England to “drive to other destinations”, “sit in the sun”, and do unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise, though only with members of their own households. That falls short of being able to stay away from home overnight, but it seems to mean that you can take the children out on day trips to the countryside, national parks or the coast. However, restrictions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland remain much tighter, with Scotland only due to ease lockdown today, on May 28.
The National Trust has reopened many of its car parks in England, but its gardens and staffed properties remain closed. Pubs, restaurants, hotels and b&bs may be able to reopen in some form from July 4 and it seems likely that there will also also be a relaxation of restrictions on camping, caravanning, and holiday cottages in the coming weeks.
And overseas travel?
So, the optimists among us will be hopeful that British holiday spots will do well, perhaps even prosper, towards the end of the summer. Meanwhile, the next destination to see a return to greater normality will be perhaps be France, which is quickly easing lockdown, along with Ireland, which will not be subject to the new quarantine policy.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appWe have been asking Telegraph Travel readers about which country they would visit first after Covid-19, and 16 per cent of respondents have said France. No doubt its proximity, familiarity, and the possibility that we can also get there in our own cars, is much of the appeal. Nevertheless it seems unlikely that travel there will be possible until July at the earliest.
When will flights restart?
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appIt seems inconceivable that significant numbers of people will start flying, even to relatively nearby European countries, before July at the earliest - and even that looks optimistic. Nevertheless, EasyJet is currently intending to restart flights to a few destinations on June 15, with face masks mandatory.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appRyanair says it plans to operate 1,000 flights a day by July - returning two-fifths of its normal flight schedule to the skies. IAG, British Airways’s owner, has said it wants to resume 50 per cent of its services by July. But this is unlikely to happen unless the two-week quarantine requirement for arriving passengers is lifted and FCO advice is changed.
And package holidays?
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appThe indefinite FCO advice against travel has thrown the industry into confusion. When there was a fixed end date, operators could use that to manage their cancellation timetable and there was some uniformity in the market. Now different operators are likely to plan their timetables differently. As it stands, Europe’s biggest tour operator, Tui has cancelled all holidays until at least June 11 and all cruise sailings up to June 30. Practically speaking, however, few in the travel industry expect there to be anything more than a trickle of holidays this summer. They are already facing up to the fact that they will have to cancel, refund or reschedule the millions of holidays which have already been booked for July and August.
Will I have a summer holiday?
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appIn summary, while airlines and operators maintain a brave face, the idea of millions of us crowding into airports, packing onto flights and heading for teeming beaches and buzzing bars and restaurants of the Med in just a few weeks’ time, is beginning to look more and more unrealistic, and it seems very unlikely that many of us will be heading off to the Med this summer. We may be lucky and see some significant movement in say, September, and there might even be some cheap deals, but it looks like the best we can hope for is a UK holiday this summer.