After 100 days of lockdown – it started March 23 – scuppered holiday plans and hundreds of thousands of cancelled holidays, both the travel industry and holidaymakers are itching to get going.
The government has created a traffic light system to signal those countries deemed safe to visit and have initiated an air bridge or travel corridor agreement with them. The full list of countries is due to be published this week.
Traffic Light system works like this:
GREEN means their COVID-19 rate is less than that of the UK so it’s safe to go
AMBER says their COVID-19 rate matches that of the UK and so it’s ok to go
RED warns that the country is a no go area.
So yes, you could of course book your summer holiday but there are certain risks in these uncertain times – especially if you wish to travel in July and Agust.
The government is not U-turn averse, so rules could change at any time. A spike in COVID-19 anywhere in a Green light country could mean the Red light is invoked and the holiday may be cancelled.
Conversely, if the UK were to experience a spike in COVID-19 incidences, countries with an air bridge agreement may sever the link. We have seen that Greece, who initially said they would love to welcome Brits, then banned flights from the UK and further extended the ban to July 15.
Foreign Office advice is under constant review, and if their guidance opens doors for a destination one day, if spikes in the virus appear, this may change affecting your travel plans and of course invalidating your travel insurance.
Some independent travel agents who felt the heat of the previous refund backlash are considering not taking bookings for fear of a change in the government guidelines and having to offer refunds.
One Foot Abroad COO Sean Rice told us:
Our advice to people that wish to travel this year is to book for September/October – when weather will still be good, more accommodations in Spain/Portugal will be available and there will be much more certainty about flight availability and removal of quarantine restrictions (particularly for our European customers). And of course customers should make sure that any holiday they book for this year has very flexible T&Cs in case they need to change their dates – we continue to offer our No Change Fees guarantee.
The question to ask yourself is: are you risk-averse or are you a bit of a dare-devil?
Perhaps he question to ask yourself is: are you risk-averse or a dare-devil risk-taker. Bear in mind that if you can go you will experience strict social distancing at airports and will have to wear a mask both in the airport and on planes. Some airlines are refusing passengers to board if they do not agree to wear a mask. The fact is it is not possible to social distance on a plane which is effectively a flying tube.
However there are signs that the virus is subsiding, so perhaps your best bet is to book now for later in the year. There are two-fold benefits: you have something to look forward to and the booking gives travel agents much-needed cash flow to keep them in business.