4 things that need to happen before we can go on holiday

Feb 26, 2021

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Around the world, the rules and restrictions each country has imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic change daily. Some countries like Australia still have their borders strictly shut, while others have laid out plans for reopening, which, in some cases, tie in closely to vaccine requirements. For example, Seychelles has said that being fully vaccinated will exempt you from quarantine.

Amid everything, the one thing at the forefront of most Brits’ minds is: “When will I be able to go on holiday?

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It’s a fair question. While the likelihood of being able to jet off in the next few weeks is rather slim, looking to the medium- to long-term, a holiday could be on the books. For example, countries like Greece are promising — and are probably desperate for — a summer holiday season. But before that can happen, there are various things that will have to change for us to be able to head off on our jollies with confidence.

These are the things to keep a close eye on.

1. Changes to UK Government advice

Firstly, the current government lockdown guidance prevents any non-essential travel, both domestically and internationally. We have now seen the roadmap out of this, but it is still unclear when the green light for leisure travel will be given. Until the “stay-at-home” order is lifted, and travel permitted, we will not be going anywhere.

Related: What does the roadmap out of lockdown mean for travel?

In addition, on 18 January 2021, after many months of maintaining a list of “safe” destinations, all travel corridors were closed. This meant that since that date, there are no longer exceptions to the government’s advice against all non-essential travel. We had previously seen that where a travel corridor was opened up, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office would alter its advice and remove the blanket recommendation against non-essential travel. (There may have still been such advice in place due to other safety reasons, such as a threat of war or terrorism.)

The most significant issue is that travelling against FCDO advice will invalidate most travel insurance policies, and also means you are less likely to be able to call on consular or other similar assistance if you run into trouble abroad.

For holidaymakers to travel without stressing about these significant issues, the FCDO will have to reverse its current guidance and allow non-essential travel once again, at least in line with certain countries if the travel corridor scheme is reintroduced.

LONDON, ENGLAND - 13 MAY: A security guard wears a face shield while standing outside the entrance to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on May 13, 2020 in London, United Kingdom . The prime minister announced the general contours of a phased exit from the current lockdown, adopted nearly two months ago in an effort curb the spread of Covid-19. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

2. Opening up of airline routes and hotels

In order to go on a holiday, you’re going to need to be able to get to where you want to go and have somewhere to stay.

Even with the recent pathway out of lockdown announced, there is no precise date international leisure travel will be allowed. Currently, 17 May seems to be the date we can hold onto, but details are scarce, and we won’t know anything more until at least 12 April. We are yet to see a true cranking up of schedules from airlines even though we have seen bookings for some holidays, especially staycations, skyrocket in recent weeks.

It’s also worth noting that when flights do resume, they will look different than pre-coronavirus travel. We are likely to be reliant on safety measures such as social distancing, wearing of masks and other disinfecting procedures to be able to travel for some time, and you will need to feel confident that these measures will keep you safe.

There are also 33 countries on the government’s travel ban list. Notably, the UAE features on this list and until these restrictions are lifted that forbid passenger flights from the country, convenient flight routings to certain destinations are almost impossible.

Visit TPG’s guide to all coronavirus news and updates

CARDIFF, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 25: A general view of grounded British Airways planes at Cardiff Airport on March 25, 2020 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has spread to at least 182 countries, claiming over 18,000 lives and infecting hundreds of thousands more. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

3. Lifting of restrictions in foreign countries

Nations around the world are going to open up at different paces. We are following these developments closely as they unfold, but the destinations available to U.K. holidaymakers may be limited in the short term. And while countries will lift restrictions, they may not be the spots you want to go to.

As mentioned, Seychelles now allow foreigners from all countries if they have received the full dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Estonia has also announced it will allow visitors who can either prove they have been vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19.

Related: Country-by-country guide to where you can go if you’re vaccinated

Conversely, both Australia and New Zealand have indicated that their borders may remain closed for the duration of 2021.

You will need your desired destination to have opened its borders before you are able to travel there. For that reason, it’s important to keep up to date with the restrictions for your desired holiday destination. Until then, your holiday won’t be able to happen.

4. Lifting of UK restrictions on arriving passengers

Currently, there are very strict restrictions in place for passengers arriving in the U.K. This includes a 10-day quarantine for all arrivals with hotel quarantine for that period for arrivals from countries on the travel ban list. All passengers are required to take three tests for travelling to England: one at most 72 hours prior to scheduled departure and two whilst in quarantine (on days two and eight).

Related: Hotel quarantine, 3 COVID-19 tests and more: Everything you need to know about travelling to the UK

With the threat of being forced to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival in the U.K. after a holiday, many travellers will be put off leaving — especially if hotel quarantine is still in place. It wouldn’t be sensible to leave the country for leisure reasons until the quarantine requirement for arriving passengers is dropped, or at least travel corridors begin to open up and the threat of a re-ramping up of these provisions has passed.

Passengers wearing PPE (personal protective equipment), including a face mask as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, walk through the arrivals hall after landing at at Terminal Two of London Heathrow Airport in west London, on May 9, 2020. - Britain could introduce a 14-day mandatory quarantine for international arrivals to stem the spread of coronavirus as part of its plan to ease the lockdown, an airline association said Saturday, sparking alarm in an industry already badly hit by the global pandemic. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Bottom line

Holidays abroad might be looking less likely as the weeks go by. But by keeping on top of the latest news, you’ll be ready to hit the button as soon as government advice changes, you can get to where you want to go, that place will let you in and you’re able to return home easily. If the necessary parts come together, you’ll be able to head off on a holiday to your favourite destination.

Featured photo by Rita Franca/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

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