As expected, the PM did not give much away in terms of travel in his address to parliament today. He is also doing a briefing this evening but I don’t expect that we will hear much more then, apart from the detail about non-essential travel being resumed from 12 April.
Here are the relevant snippets about travel:
Domestic travel in England
- No non-essential travel until 12 April
- Holiday lets (self-catering) will reopen from 12 April at the earliest for single households only. It is not clear if self-catering within hotel-type settings will be allowed.
- Pubs and restaurants can also serve outside at this time
- Hotels and bed and breakfasts can reopen on 17 May at the earliest
- Restaurants and bars can serve indoors on 17 May at the earliest
- In England, travel abroad for holidays will still not be permitted and, from 8 March, outbound travellers will be legally obliged to provide their reason for travel on the Declaration to Travel form. (see below)
- From 12 April it says “International holidays will still be prohibited.” This sounds like they will introduce new legislation as prohibited sounds legal.
- A review group will report back on 12 April (similar to the Global travel group that came up with the test to release policy) on resuming international travel.
- Some reports are saying 17 May at the earliest for international travel to be resumed. This is unclear whether that is when we may see some easing of the quarantine restrictions or when it will be legal to travel again.
- The legislation to stay at home runs out at the end of March. At this point, unless they renew it or add something new, it will no longer be illegal to travel abroad. They could introduce new legislation to say you can’t spend the night away from home but this would have to change by 12 April when you can stay in self-catering accommodation. Hopefully, we will get further analysis on this in the next 24 hours. Currently, it appears that it will be a guideline not to travel abroad rather than on a legal basis. The BBC is reporting “no overseas travel” from 29 March but I did not hear this in the PM’s speech.
- Given the strict quarantine and testing in place – 10 days quarantine and 3 tests from everywhere – even zero covid countries – I think there should be a date (subject to data) where travel abroad is no longer illegal.
It’s good news for domestic travel but to say it will be another 6 weeks before the government even can announce a plan to resume international travel is not going to go down well with the travel industry or most travellers.
Theresa May was not impressed and said that 12 April does not allow people time to plan their summer holidays or for the aviation industry to prepare, saying “the industry needs three months’ preparation from the point of certainty”.
The PM merely said “there is every chance of an aviation recovery later this year”. He also responded to concerns about support for the aviation and travel industry that the best way to support them was to “get people back flying” and he was hopeful that travel would return for the summer but we would “have to wait and see”. I thought this was a poor response given the help that aviation has been given in most other countries by their governments.
Airlines have started to react to the road map
Sean Doyle, British Airways’ CEO, said: “It is critical we start looking at a way to restart travel and we are pleased the Government has acknowledged that.
“We are an island nation whose history and future is defined by its connections with the world. UK Aviation supports 1.56 million jobs and one in ten jobs depends on travel and tourism, contributing £200 billion to the UK economy.
“We support a data-led approach that protects public health. We want to work with Government’s Taskforce on a roadmap now to ensure that aviation is in a strong position to support the UK as we emerge from the pandemic.”
Official step two from 12 April says “Overnight stays away from home in this country will be permitted and self-contained accommodation – those that do not require shared use of bathing, entry/exit, catering or sleeping facilities – can also reopen, though must only be used by members of the same household.”
The question will be what the actual legislation says versus guidelines. I feel very sorry for those that have family abroad they are desperate to see. Surely with the use of testing and appropriate quarantine (why not use GPS for home quarantine) we can allow those that wish to travel within all the precautions to do so before 17 May?
Today’s announcement mainly just leaves a lot of unanswered questions about travel for the next few months.
What did you think about the announcement regarding travel? Too cautious or too slow? Should the PM have given more detail on foreign holidays? Let us know in the comments below.