Summer holidays are back on the cards, but the experience is likely to be very different
Holidaymakers with summer breaks booked have been waiting anxiously for the government to announce its plans to allow foreign travel again.
Since 17 March, holidays have been off the cards as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has been advising against all but essential international travel for British nationals.
Since 8 June, anyone arriving into the UK from abroad (with the exception of arrivals from the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man) has been required to self-isolate for 14 days too, with hefty fines in place for those who don’t comply.
A review of these rules was due on 29 June and, after many days of speculation, a change to the FCO blanket ban and quarantine rules was announced early today (3 July).
Here we detail what this change means for holidays abroad in summer 2020, which countries you can now visit and what the changes mean for travel insurance.
What has changed?
On 3 July, the Department for Transport and the FCO announced that passengers returning from or visiting England from certain destinations will no longer have to self-isolate on arrival from 10 July.
These destinations include holiday favourites France, Germany, Spain and Italy, with a full list of countries set to be published.
The government says it expects that a number of these exempted countries will reciprocate the change, so travellers will not have to self-isolate on either leg of their journey.
The FCO will also set out exemptions from its advice against “all but essential” international travel for a number of destinations, with the change coming into effect on 4 July. The announcement says it will “exempt certain destinations that no longer pose an unacceptably high risk of COVID-19.”
It is important to note that this change is for England only and not Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, who will set out their own approaches to the matter in due course.
Will all holidays restart from 4 July?
Despite changes being introduced from 4 July, not all travel companies will start operating straight away – so check the policy of the company you have booked with or are considering booking with.
All TUI holidays on or before 10 July have been cancelled already, for example, while Trailfinders has cancelled the majority of holidays until 25 July.
Check the rules in the country you are planning on visiting too before assuming you can now visit. Greece, for example, has extended its ban on direct flights from the UK until 15 July.
Is there anything else I need to consider?
While this is an exciting change, keep in mind that holidays are likely to feel a little different with social distancing measures in place in destinations and rules around mask wearing.
Do some research on the rules in the country you are visiting before travelling. A good place to start is on the FCO site, and you can find links to individual country’s pages.
As the FCO advice is based on a number of factors, including coronavirus risk, capacity of local healthcare and transport options, it may be reviewed if there is a change in the situation in the country.
Look carefully at your travel insurance policy before you travel too to make sure you are covered for what you expect. A number of companies have added extra pandemic cover to new and existing policies but some policies may exclude claims made as a result of pandemics.
There will be a number of changes to air travel and airports as well, such as having to wear a mask on board flights and in airports, social distancing measures and a number of services, such as food and drink, being limited. Read more on this here.
This page will be updated as we get more information.