Outlining the roadmap out of lockdown in the House of Commons last week, the Prime Minister explained that current restrictions on international leisure travel will only be eased pending a review by the newly re-formed Travel Taskforce on April 12, led by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
When can domestic holidays resume?
Domestic holidays will also be banned until April 12 at the earliest, the Prime Minister confirmed. While an initial tranche of wider restrictions will be lifted in the first stage of the plan, on March 8, domestic holidays will not be permitted until the second stage of the strategy – due to begin on April 12 at the earliest. The Prime Minister confirmed that the return of domestic holidays in April would apply to single households.
Can I go on holiday right now?
No. All non-essential travel is banned, including travelling abroad.
What counts as a ‘valid reason’ for travel?
People are only allowed to travel for essential work that cannot be done from home or for education, a medical emergency or a bereavement.
What would happen if I booked a holiday and went to the airport right now?
You almost certainly wouldn’t be allowed on the plane. Under tightened restrictions, you will now be quizzed at departure on your reason for leaving the UK. If you cannot prove a valid reason for travel, you will be denied boarding and could face a fine.
Do I need to take a test before travelling back to England?
Yes. You must take a test 72 hours before departure. If you fail to do so, you will be denied boarding, or risk a fine of up to £500 on arrival back in the UK. You can find the Government’s rules on test before departure, here.
Do people arriving into England have to go into quarantine?
Yes. You will need to fill in a Passenger Locator Form before arriving in England, and then self-isolate at home for ten days. And you will need to take a Covid test on the second and eighth days of your self-isolation, costing £210. You can book your tests through the official Government portal here.
Who needs to go into a quarantine hotel?
Arrivals from 33 countries travelling into England must go into a mandatory ten-day quarantine in a Government-approved hotel. The 33 hotel quarantine countries are: South Africa, DRC, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Eswatini, Zambia, Malawi, Namibia, Lesotho, Mozambique, Angola, Mauritius, Seychelles, Portugal, Panama, Cape Verde, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela, UAE, Burundi, Rwanda.
How much does hotel quarantine cost?
Hotel quarantine costs £1,750 for an individual travelling alone, which includes the hotel, transport and the tests on days two and eight. For an additional adult or child aged over 12, the cost is £650, or for a child aged between five and 12, £325. There is no charge for children under the age of five. Those already in receipt of income-related benefits can apply for a deferred payment plan.
Anyone who tries to avoid hotel quarantine will face a penalty of up to £10,000, said Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Could a vaccine make my holiday possible?
The idea of ‘vaccine passports’ has been embraced by some countries, like the Seychelles, Hungary, Romania and Cyprus, keen to welcome back holidaymakers as soon as possible. Israel and Greece have agreed to open a two-way travel corridor for vaccinated tourists in a bid to regenerate their struggling economies.
If you are still itching to book for a future date, it might be worth working through our consumer champion Nick Trend’s checklist, first:
1. Can you secure the holiday with a low, or even a zero, deposit? If so, double-check the booking conditions: the small print for some arrangements may only require a small amount upfront but still commits you to higher cancellation charges if you decide not to go ahead.
2. What is the company’s cancellation policy? Many airlines and operators are now offering much more flexible booking conditions and free postponements. BA, for example, is allowing new bookers to change dates and destination without incurring a fee, although you will need to pay any difference in price. This applies to journeys that are due to have been completed by Aug 31, 2021.
3. Will your money be financially secure? Very few travel companies are on a strong financial footing and some might not make it into next summer. So make sure you book with an Atol-protected tour operator or agent. If booking directly with an airline, make sure your travel insurance includes cover for financial failure, or pay with a credit card – ensuring a refund if the carrier collapses. If you book directly with a company based abroad, it may be very hard to get a refund if it goes out of business or your holiday is cancelled.
Are you planning a holiday for 2021? Comment below to let us know your plans.
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