THREE national lockdowns, home-schooling, time away from family and friends … after the year we’ve all had, many of us will be dreaming of a holiday.
We might have to wait a little longer, though.
Foreign holidays will be illegal from next week, under new coronavirus laws, which could last until the end of June.
Anyone in England who tries to travel abroad without a reasonable excuse, such as for work, education or medical treatment, could face a £5,000 fine.
MPs will vote on the new measures tomorrow (Thursday, March 25th) and under the current plan for easing restrictions, the earliest people in England could go abroad for a holiday would be May 17.
However, another surge in Covid cases in continental Europe, as well as the slow roll-out of vaccines across Europe, has cast doubt on allowing foreign travel to resume.
Donna Chambers, Professor of Tourism at the University of Sunderland, agrees with the Government’s caution on the issue.
She said: “While it is great that the UK is doing exceptionally well with its vaccination programme, the situation in the tourism destinations or receiving countries cannot be ignored.
“I agree that it is very risky for the UK Government to enthusiastically encourage travel to other countries, especially those that have seen spikes or new coronavirus variants that might well resist the current vaccines.
“The situation is still too fragile for such a strategy to be embraced, so I support a more cautious approach – not only to protect people from the UK but also those in destination-countries.”
She added: “A number of measures will no doubt be put in place for safer travel, including vaccine passports or some other form of digital certification. But these measures, while they are necessary, will not be sufficient to guarantee safety, and it is important for both sending and receiving countries to carefully assess and determine the level of risks they are prepared to take.”
With all the uncertainty around foreign travel this summer, many people will be opting for a “staycation” instead.
From April 12, we could start to see the opening of self-contained holiday accommodation in England, such as self-catering and campsites. Hotels and B&Bs can open on May 17 at the earliest.
“Here, outdoor and nature-based leisure pursuits are expected to be the big winners,” said Prof Chambers.
“There has also been speculation that we will see a resurgence of the British seaside holiday, which has long been in decline since the onset of cheap travel to beach destinations in the Mediterranean.
“Domestic travellers are also expected to rely more heavily on using private vehicles in order to avoid unnecessary contact with others not in their ‘bubbles’, and self-catering accommodation might also be the most favoured for the same reason.”