Travel: Experts slam taskforce report on summer holidays
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Last week, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said foreign holidays would resume on May 17 at the earliest, but “for the first time” he said he wasn’t advising against booking foreign holidays due to coronavirus restrictions. He said: “you’ll want to check what the situation is” as things progress, but for the first time I think there is light at the end of the tunnel and we’ll be able to restart international travel.”
But what will a summer holiday really look like now?
Experts in the industry have said that, while travel will indeed resume, it will be different.
Business travel company TravelPerk has outlined some of the ways in which travel itself will be impacted.
A TravelPerk blog said: “The Coronavirus pandemic has changed all of our worlds, and not just in the short-term…when things do start to return to ‘normal’, travel, especially international travel, will look very different.”
For example, the immigration queue will be longer than ever as testing is carried out.
You might need to show more than just your passport, as Covid status certification comes into effect.
Travel could also become more expensive as holidaymakers flock to “open” destinations, with surge in demand driving prices up.
You’ll also have to comply with local coronavirus laws in the country you travel to, which could mean closures of certain facilities, wearing masks or observing social distancing.
Of course, there will also be plenty of testing – before you leave, when you arrive, perhaps during your stay, perhaps before you’re even allowed to leave the airport.
Denis Kinane, Chief Medical Officer at Cignpost Diagnostics, told Express.co.uk that it was “clear that the only way to safely open up travel will be to apply the most effective precautionary measures”.
Cignpost’s ExpressTest programme runs Covid testing centres at Heathrow, Gatwick and Edinburgh airports, as well as throughout UK cities.
He said getting Covid tests will become a “holiday essential, like buying travel insurance or exchanging money”.
Mr Kinane advised travellers to “only buy [tests] from a Government approved provider, and book every test in advance so you can take them at the right time.
“If you don’t, you might not be allowed to fly, and you could face a fine.”
The fine for flouting travel law could be as high as £10,000.
In an attempt to open international travel again, the UK government is planning to implement a ‘traffic light’ system, where destination countries are rated as green, amber or red.
Green countries would mean people could return to the UK with no restrictions.
Amber destinations would most likely mean people having to quarantine at home.
Red countries would likely require a formal, 10-day quarantine stay at a hotel.
Mr Kinane said: “The government’s traffic light system demonstrates that testing will be a crucial measure in providing a safe pathway out of the current crisis and re-opening travel.”
Mr Shapps told the BBC: “This is the first time I’m able to come on and say I’m not advising against booking foreign holidays.
“Yes, you’ll want to check what the situation is in two or three weeks’ time when that list – the green, amber, red, is produced – you’ll want to know that you’ve got good holiday insurance and flexible flights and the rest of it.
“But for the first time I think there is light at the end of the tunnel and we’ll be able to restart international travel, including cruises by the way, in a safe and secure way, knowing about the vaccinations, everything we know about the disease this year, and of course that abundance of caution – having the tests in place.”
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