According to the UK Government’s plan for post-lockdown recovery, domestic leisure travel in England may not be permitted to restart until June at the earliest, The Telegraph understands.
Although restrictions regarding social gatherings and non-essential day trips are set to lift from March 29, overnight stays will likely be prohibited until the final stage of the four-step ‘roadmap’ – which will not begin until June.
There have been rumours that self catering accommodation could be permitted to open earlier than hotels, though there has been no official guidance yet. There is also currently no indication of when holidays will become legal again, The Telegraph understands.
Under the current travel restrictions, Britons are “effectively imprisoned on our island”, says Noel Josephides, CEO of industry body AITO. “To extend lockdown for travel beyond April 30 will be disastrous for many firms… It is plain that the Government, mistakenly, considers us to be expendable.”
The 60-page roadmap outlines four stages for reopening which roughly correspond to the months of March, April, May and June. It was signed off by key cabinet ministers on Sunday. It will be announced at Parliament today around 3.30pm, with a press conference around 7pm.
Scroll down for more on this, and other travel headlines.
Lockdown roadmap month-by-month
From the reopening of pubs to summer holidays, what can we expect from the PM’s plan to unlock the UK?
Ahead of the official announcement this afternoon, here’s everything we know so far.
Spoiler alert: Travel doesn’t get a look-in until June/July.
Search for missing British hiker in Pyrenees will ‘probably have to wait till spring’
French police say they will “probably” have to wait until spring to continue the search for a British hiker who went missing late last year in the Pyrenees.
Esther Dingley, 37, had been walking solo in the mountains near the Spanish and French border and was last seen on November 22.
French police captain Jean Marc Bordinaro told The Times “all possible investigations” in French territory have been carried out “without any result”.
‘The vaccine is supposed to let us live’: Travel leaders call for an end to draconian restrictions
Ahead of an official announcement today, it is feared that overseas holidays could remain off the cards until the summer – at best.
Last surviving male member of Brazilian indigenous group dies of Covid
The last surviving man of an exterminated Brazilian indigenous group has died from complications linked to Covid-19.
Aruká Juma, who died on Wednesday aged between 86 and 90, was the last Juma man left from a tribe that once numbered 15,000. Repeated massacres in the 20th century meant that by 2002, just five Juma people were left – Mr Juma, his three daughters and a grandchild.
Brazil’s indigenous groups are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 because of their isolation, communal way of life and poor healthcare provisions.
At the beginning of the pandemic, many indigenous groups sought to cut themselves off from the outside world by closing roads and turning away visitors. Those efforts failed, however, and the virus is now widespread among indigenous communities, with almost 49,000 cases and 969 deaths and 162 tribes affected, according to Government figures.
UKHospitality: ‘Travel and hospitality companies need additional support’
Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive of UKHospitality, has warned that hotels and restaurants may not survive if forced to remain closed for much longer:
We will need to see the full statement today but if pubs and restaurants are not opening until May, hotels June and NTE even later, then the Chancellor needs urgently to set out additional support – extension of existing measures won’t be enough to save businesses for that long
— Kate Nicholls (@UKHospKate) February 22, 2021
‘Hotels are one of the best managed and safest spaces to be’
Without definitive dates, the Government is creating costly and unnecessary obstacles for a sector already on its knees, says Tamara Lohan, co-founder of Mr & Mrs Smith:
We understand the necessity of lockdown to save lives and relieve pressure on the NHS. However, travel isn’t something that can be switched on at the drop of a hat. We desperately need a roadmap so our customers, hoteliers, airlines and everyone in between can prepare for saving not just the summer but our industry. With infection rates, hospitalisations and deaths thankfully decreasing and the vaccine rollout at full speed, now’s the time to be bold for business.
A further irony is that, despite being last on the list for re-opening, hotels are not linked to high numbers of cases and are not a leading environment for transmission – certainly compared to other areas such as retail. Hotels are one of the best managed and safest spaces to be: separate rooms, highly trained staff, socially-distanced restaurants, cleaning teams and meticulously managed Covid-19 protocols. This has been corroborated by a recent research study conducted by UKHospitality and CGA.
We must have clarity if we’re to survive – not just as a business, but as an industry that’s the third largest employer in the UK, responsible for three million jobs directly and a further 1.8 million indirectly.
Aircraft grounded in US and Japan over engine failures
United Airlines grounded 24 of its Boeing 777s on Sunday while Japan also suspended some of its fleet, after two jets using the same family of engines showered debris on the ground shortly after take-off.
The US Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency airworthiness directive calling for the inspection of Boeing 777s, following two separate incidents involving Pratt & Whitney 4000 engines on Saturday.
“We reviewed all available safety data,” the FAA said in a statement. “Based on the initial information, we concluded that the inspection interval should be stepped up for the hollow fan blades that are unique to this model of engine, used solely on Boeing 777 airplanes.”
Poland could demand negative test result at border, minister says
Poland is expected to announce new rules this week demanding a negative coronavirus test result to enter the country, Poland’s Health Minister Adam Niedzielski said today.
A person with a negative coronavirus test result will not have to quarantine after entering the country, Niedzielski told private broadcaster TVN. The new rules are likely to be announced at the end of the week.
He added that Poland is at the start of the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic which is likely to peak at the end of March or beginning of April.
A quick catch-up on the headlines
Before we begin, the key travel headlines from last week:
Airlines refuse 2.3 million people refunds
Germany extends ban on UK arrivals
Britons warned holiday cottages are booking up for 2021
Wales will block travellers from ‘high incidence’ areas over Easter
Dozens more businesses call for overseas travel to restart by May 1
Crystal Cruises will require passengers to be vaccinated
Now, on with today’s travel news.