England has been out of lockdown for a considerable amount of time now and more people than ever are keen to travel abroad to make up for lost time but as the winter draws in and COVID cases rise, are we heading from another lockdown? And if so, how will this affect your holiday plans?
As it stands, there are no plans for England to go into another lockdown with Boris Johnson, Prime Minister, replying “I’ve got to tell you at the moment, we see absolutely nothing to indicate that that’s on the cards” when asked if we would be facing similar restrictions to last winter. With that said, COVID cases are at the highest level since May 2020 according to the most recent REACT-1 study reports.
There is however a plan A and a plan B, to help protect the NHS from becoming severely overwhelmed again. Plan A will see the continuation of Track and Trace and businesses will be encouraged to consider using the NHS COVID Pass as an entry requirement. Plan B, which will come into place if the NHS is under unsustainable pressure, will include the re-introduction of mandatory face masks.
But what does all this mean for the travel industry?
After a rocky couple of years, things are finally looking up for the travel industry with half the British public saying holidays are more important to them now than before the pandemic. The study by ABTA also revealed 46% of people are planning to spend more on their trips. However, concern continues to linger, and fewer people are planning to travel abroad compared to 2019.
Despite the Prime Minister having no plans for England to go back into lockdown, this may not be the case across the world. It would not come as a shock to the travel industry for countries to close their borders or restrict travel if COVID cases continue to rise. However, compared to 2020, there are now plans in place and passengers are offered greater protection. When booking a holiday, particularly over the next few months, it is important to read the terms and conditions in relation to COVID when choosing a package holiday provider. Those booking independently, should check the terms and conditions for both the airline and accommodation, as well as any excursion companies.
Many companies and airlines are offering to move travel dates at no additional cost (within a stated time frame) if the trip is unable to go ahead due to COVID. Others are offering full refunds or credit notes. There are a few that will not reimburse costs if a country is labelled by the UK government as ‘no travel’ or ‘all but essential travel’. It is not clear just yet what compensation would be offered if the UK was to go in lockdown preventing people from leaving the country or travelling to another region.
COVID regulations abroad should also be taken into consideration. Whilst we currently do not have to wear masks in England, unless in specific circumstance, this is not the case in other countries. Wearing a mask whilst travelling is also compulsory unless medically exempt. Vaccination rules will also differ between countries. It is not mandatory for people living in England to have both vaccinations; however, most counties require people entering to have both vaccinations and proof of a negative COVID test. Some countries, including Spain, are more lenient and do not have double vaccinations as an entry requirement but will need to see proof of a negative test result. Read more about COVID tests for travel. If COVID cases continue to increase, border regulations may change so checking the government travel advice regularly is strongly advised.
Those who are planning to go on holiday this winter should ensure they have a suitable travel insurance policy, covering their individual needs. COVID cover between insurers differs greatly however, most are not offering cancellation cover if a country is moved to the “all but essential” or “no travel” category by the UK government. Cover will also not be provided if entry is refused to a country due to not having the right vaccination status, COVID test or supporting documents.