Things are finally starting to get back to normal. Hairdressers and non-essential retailers are now back open, and we are now able to enjoy a pint out (although we may have to shiver in a beer garden to do so). There is one thing that we still aren’t sure about though – and that’s our summer holidays.
We don’t know when we will be able to go – although May 17th has been said to be the earliest possible date this has not been confirmed as of yet.
We don’t know where we will be able to go, although the Government has said that this will be based on a risk assessment which will place each country on a ‘red’, ‘amber’ or ‘green’ list.
Despite all of this uncertainty, however, there are five things we DO know about the summer holidays this year:
#1 There will be a traffic light system
The ‘travel corridor’ system of 2020 is to be replaced by a ‘traffic light’ system for summer 2021. The Government will undertake a risk assessment for each foreign country, based on vaccination efforts, infection rates, the prevalence of variants of coronavirus (of concern) and their genomic sequencing capacity.
Green status for a country will mean no quarantine, but pre-departure and post-departure tests will be necessary. Arriving from a country on the amber lists will mean you need to have a pre-departure test, then quarantine for 10 days with the option to ‘test to release’ after five days. Arrivals from red countries will have to enter a compulsory hotel quarantine, as well as undertaking pre-departure tests, and tests on day 2 and day 8 of quarantine.
The Government is keeping tight-lipped on which countries will be on the red or amber list, but we are watching closely in the hope that we will find out soon.
#2 UK holidays have been given the go-ahead
UK residents have been able to go on holiday within the UK from April 12th – although this does only apply to single households and does not cover hotel accommodation at the moment.
The re-opening of domestic travel only covers camping, glamping and self-catering accommodation, with hotels not opening until May 17th at the earliest. Campsites cannot open their communal facilities, such as receptions or toilet blocks, until May 17th either.
#3 You will need to take a test to travel abroad
There is still a level of uncertainty around vaccine passports at the moment, but what we do know is that everyone will have to take a test of some sort to travel abroad – whether they have been vaccinated or not.
In a document released on April 5th, the UK government stated that “pre-departure and post-arrival tests would still be needed” for people arriving back to the UK from green list countries.
#4 Tour operators will be more flexible
Many of the large tour operators and airlines are offering more flexible, and generous, booking conditions and sometimes even free postponements, as a way of enticing people to book their summer holidays now.
As tempting as this may seem, always make sure your tour operator is bonded, so that your money is protected if they suddenly go out of business. Your operator should be an ABTA or AITO member as both of these organisations have a code of conduct and a dispute resolution service that you can use.
#5 Your destination won’t be the same as it was before last year
It is highly likely that your destination will have changed from the way it was if you visited before 2020. There will likely still be COVID precautions in place, such as social distancing advice and mask-wearing regulations as well. Restaurants may operate at a reduced capacity and there will be a lot more hand sanitisers spread around as well.
On the positive side though, your destination will probably be quieter than it would normally be, leaving you even more relaxed and refreshed than usual. And with many countries’ economies relying on the return of tourists to fuel their economy, you will no doubt be greeted with a smile wherever you go!