Here’s when UK and foreign holidays could be allowed again

The European Union lifted its travel restrictions on 15 June (Photo: Shutterstock)The European Union lifted its travel restrictions on 15 June (Photo: Shutterstock)
The European Union lifted its travel restrictions on 15 June (Photo: Shutterstock)

As lockdown restrictions continue to be eased across the UK, thoughts are beginning to turn to the possibility of going on holiday this year.

Parts of the economy are now gradually returning to a form of normality, with plans for further reopening of the hospitality sector outlined by both the UK and Scottish governments.

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But when will the tourism and travel sector be allowed to start up again? Here’s everything you need to know.

Are holidays allowed in the UK?

Since the UK government relaxed restrictions in May, people in England and Northern Ireland are allowed to travel to other destinations, irrespective of distance. However, people must not travel to destinations outside of borders, as the UK’s four nations are each following different government guidance.

In Scotland, current rules state that Scots should not travel further than five miles from their home for leisure and recreational purposes. A similar five mile limit is also in force in Wales.

This rule is due to be lifted in Scotland from 3 July, although First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has urged Scottish residents not to travel unnecessarily, and to avoid travelling to crowded places.

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In all parts of the UK, overnight stays are not currently permitted and people must return home from where they have travelled on the same day. As such, an overnight stay away from the place you are living for a holiday, or similar purpose, is not permitted. This includes staying overnight in a second home.

But these restrictions will soon be changed, with people in England to be allowed to stay overnight in self-contained accommodation - including self-catering cottages and apartments, caravans with their own bathroom facilities, hotels and bed and breakfasts - from 4 July.

English campsites will also be allowed to open, provided shared facilities are kept clean.

In Scotland, overnight stays for those who do not live alone will only be permitted once the country enters phase three of its lockdown exit plan, which is expected to begin on 9 July. However, self-contained accommodation will be available to book from 3 July, and all other holiday accommodation will be allowed to reopen from 15 July.

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In Northern Ireland, self-catering holiday accommodation will reopen from 26 June, with hotels to follow a week later on 3 July.

Wales is yet to confirm when the country will open up to tourists again, but this is not likely to be before 13 July. The Welsh government has said that people can start booking holidays in self-contained accommodation from that date onwards.

Are foreign holidays allowed?

Currently, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is still advising against all but essential international travel.

On 15 June, the European Union lifted its travel restrictions and is allowing individual countries to decide if they will welcome tourists.

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France, Italy, Portugal and Spain are among the countries that are now welcoming travellers from the UK, while others have quarantine restrictions in place.

A two week quarantine period is currently in force for anyone who travels into the UK, affecting anyone arriving by plane, train or ferry, as well as UK nationals returning from other countries.

Travellers to Ireland are required to quarantine for 14 days upon entry, while tourists visiting Greece will have to be tested for coronavirus on arrival.

UK travellers are currently not allowed to enter Australia, India, the United States or New Zealand.

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When will air bridges be in place?

The UK government is expected to introduce ‘air bridges’ with a number of European destinations from next week.

This will allow people in the UK to travel to select countries in Europe that have a low infection rate and where coronavirus is deemed to be under control. Such routes would allow tourists to travel freely between a number of approved countries, without being forced into mandatory quarantine on either end of their journey.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to approve foreign holidays on Monday 29 June, with air bridges in 10 countries in Europe due to be announced.

Travel to France, Italy, Spain, Greece and Turkey are among those understood to be confirmed, without the need for a 14 day quarantine.

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Other European destinations including Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Gibraltar and Bermuda are also believed to be included in the list of countries considered to be safe by the government.

It was also expected that Portugal would be included on the list, but it is now uncertain after a recent spike of coronavirus cases in the country’s capital, with Lisbon being forced to restore an 8pm curfew.