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Summer holidays in doubt as fears rise over third Covid wave in Europe

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Written by: Emma Lunn
22/03/2021
An extension to the ban on foreign holidays ‘cannot be ruled out’ after a rise in coronavirus cases in Germany, France, Poland and other European countries.

There has been an ongoing debate about whether it’s wise to plan a holiday this summer, with holiday companies and airlines offering cheap deals, but the government and experts urging caution.

Those who have gone ahead and booked could find their trip is cancelled due to the current situation on the continent. Various countries across Europe have reported rising cases, new lockdowns, and travel restrictions as Covid cases soar.

Speaking to Sophy Ridge on Sunday, defence secretary Ben Wallace said: “We can’t be deaf and blind to what’s going on outside the UK. If we were to be reckless in any way, and import new variants that put out risks, what would people say about that. We’ve got good direction of travel, we’re getting there, and I think we need to make sure we preserve that at all costs.”

Wallace also told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that he had not booked a holiday abroad, and that it would be “premature” to do so while we are “seeing growing variants”.

Under the current roadmap out of lockdown, the earliest date people in England, Scotland or Wales could travel abroad is 17 May. Northern Ireland has not set a date.

Non-essential travel is currently banned from the UK. Anyone leaving the country must complete and carry a new form stating that their trip is permitted under national lockdown rules – or be fined up to £6,400.

A government taskforce is due to report to prime minister Boris Johnson on 12 April detailing when and how international travel can resume.

All travel corridors were closed in January after new variants of the coronavirus were found in various countries. From 18 January, all international arrivals to the UK have needed to take a pre-departure Covid-19 test and self-isolate for 10 days on arrival.

hotel quarantine regime for arrivals in England from ‘red list’ countries began on 15 February. Hotel quarantine costs £1,750 per person for a 10-day stay. All arrivals in Scotland must go into hotel quarantine.

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “Government warnings about future international travel are a reminder that it’s still too early to book a flight or holiday. Some airlines and holiday providers claim it’s safe to book now thanks to flexible booking policies, but while the best policies can reduce the financial risk from disruption, they can’t remove it completely.

“Whether you have already booked or want to book, you should wait until the government’s travel taskforce reports on next steps before deciding what to do about your travel plans. The government must also make safety, affordable tests, vaccine passports and clarity about refunds when travel is disrupted a top priority.

“So far as it is possible, rules and requirements for travel should remain consistent, as confusion and changes will leave travellers footing the bill again and further risk undermining consumers’ confidence in booking travel.”

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