Transport secretary Grant Shapps has pretty much warned us to hold off booking a holiday this year after saying on the Radio 4 Today programme that he ‘won’t be booking a summer holiday at this point’.
Given that he’s a senior member of the government, you’d think he’d know what’s going on in terms of the lockdown and any easing of travel restrictions, so that was as big a hint as any that it will be while yet before we see things getting back to normal.
Of course, his comments went down like a lead balloon in the travel industry, which has warned that tour operators will collapse without any new business, especially as they’ve already had to cancel hundreds of thousands of holidays since the lockdown.
However, if you risk it and book a holiday for this summer and it’s cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic, you might struggle to get a cash refund as many tour operators are only issuing credit notes for holidays they’ve had to cancel so far.
Also you’ll struggle to get travel insurance that will cover you for a foreign holiday until the Foreign Office removes its advice against non-essential travel. This isn’t likely to happen any time soon, especially as the government has extended the lockdown in the UK for at least another three weeks.
Just as importantly, we need to bear in mind that other countries might impose their own restrictions on holidaymakers entering the country. France is urging other countries in the Schengen zone, which includes Spain, Italy and Greece, to keep the border closed until September.
If you are desperate to go on holiday – and many of us will be after the lockdown – you should have time to plan a getaway once travel restrictions have lifted.
EasyJet said this week that it will take it a couple of weeks to get up and running once it’s given a date for the end of the lockdown, and other airlines won’t be able to relaunch flights overnight.
Major tour operators are currently cancelling holidays at least a month in advance, so the earliest most are expecting to relaunch programmes at the moment is mid-May, about 12 days after the current lockdown is due to end.
Airlines are expected to reintroduce services gradually, starting with shorter routes first before adding more long-haul services.