Brits are currently banned from traveling overseas but with rapidly falling Covid-19 infection rates and a highly successful vaccination rollout, many had been hoping for the chance to head overseas during the summer.
However, the U.K. government and its advisors have been warning holidaymakers that it is too early to book anything and that international travel might not be possible over the summer.
Travel is only currently allowed for U.K. residents for work, education or health reasons, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised to review the situation on 5 April, with a view to relaxing more travel restrictions from 17 May. However, it is not yet clear if this will involve allowing international travel–a domestic U.K. holiday seems more and more likely this summer:
- U.K. Health Minister Matt Hancock told Sky News, “we are seeing this third wave rising in some parts of Europe and we’re also seeing new variants and it is very important that we protect the progress that we’ve been able to make here in the U.K.”
- Mike Tildesley, a member of the U.K. government’s Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group told the BBC that international travel is going to be unlikely for the average British holidaymaker. Global Capital reported that it led to a tumble for all U.K. airline stocks on Monday and Tuesday, with fears that emergency capital would once again have to be found.
- Professor Neil Ferguson, whose modelling led to the first U.K. lockdown in March 2020, said that “people should plan to holiday in the U.K. this summer” adding that if borders were relaxed too early, it risked the success of the vaccination programme in the U.K.
- the government has drafted a law, as reported by The Telegraph, that international travel will be banned until June 30, with anyone leaving the U.K. without a “reasonable excuse” (such as work, or education) being fined up to £5,000.
Lobbyists in the travel industry are unhappy about the lack of a fixed date to get international travel started. Clive Wratten, CEO of the Business Travel Association (BTA) told The Telegraph, “it is very disappointing to hear international travel might not resume until June 30, but the continual speculation about when travel will be allowed to begin is unhelpful and damaging to business confidence.”
Marcelle Hoff, Managing Director of Expressions Holidays, added that travel operators and travelers should aim for the 1 July deadline, saying, “the watchword here is may. Until we have the government’s first review on the 12 April it is only speculation and as such is not worthy of spreading. Having said that, it means that booking holidays now for anything from July 1 onwards is a positive! That’s what should be encouraged.”
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Stocks of easyJet, Jet2, TUI and the owners of British Airways were down 2 to 4% Tuesday after hearing the news.