What is the Global Travel Taskforce, and what does it mean for your holiday?
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Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information.
The wheels are officially in motion to get us travelling abroad again. Earlier this month, Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps chaired the first meeting of the latest version of the Global Travel Taskforce with the aim to formulate a plan to restart international safely and sustainably.
And on Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to unveil the first round of findings from the Global Travel Taskforce. And hopefully, with that announcement, we will have a clearer picture of how travel will return — and when.
“The U.K.’s leading vaccine rollout has created a wave of optimism and, as a result, the Global Travel Taskforce is charged with exploring safe and secure ways to restart international travel when the time is right,” Shapps said.
The new Global Travel Taskforce includes representatives from several groups within the travel industry, such as government departments, transport operators, industry bodies and travel agencies.
What we do know so far is that the government will consider the vaccine and testing infrastructure of other countries during the decision-making process for our return to international travel.
“We will not only consider the progress of our world-beating domestic vaccine programme but also need to review where destination countries have got to with both vaccine and testing capabilities,” Shapps said.
The Taskforce was originally set to provide the Prime Minister with a summary of its findings on 12 April. However, now we know that on 5 April, Johnson will address the nation with findings from the taskforce for a return to travel. More details will then be announced on 12 April.
“This new taskforce will not only help us move towards safer, smoother international travel as we continue to battle this virus but will also support global connectivity – helping facilitate more COVID-secure travel whilst protecting the population from imported cases,” Shapps said in October.
What does this mean for your holiday?
Unfortunately, at this stage, not much. Over the past month, the group has been meeting to determine the safest way to resume travel.
At this point, all existing restrictions on travel remain in place. More specifically, that means that because of lockdown, all non-essential international travel is currently illegal. For those who have to travel for essential reasons or who are already abroad, there is a strict hotel quarantine in place when returning from any of the 35 red list countries. For all other arrivals, there’s a mandatory 10-day quarantine, with the requirement that quarantined travellers must take a COVID-19 test on days two and eight. The unprecedented measures were introduced in an effort to stop new strains of COVID-19 from arriving on British shores.
We can look forward to the return of domestic holidays as soon as 12 April. As part of the second phase of the unlocking, this is when it will be legal once again to take a break in the U.K. At this time, only self-contained accommodation such as holiday lets will reopen. Keep in mind, though, that date could be pushed back.
The next date for your diary is 17 May when the third phase of the unlocking is planned to happen. As of this date, hotels and hostels will be allowed to open once again, though it could be pushed back as well.
For now, travel restrictions are the strictest they’ve been since the start of the pandemic. We will continue to follow the Global Travel Taskforce and its findings.
Additional reporting by Daniel Ross
Featured photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images.
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