A rush for UK residents to book summer vacations commenced this week after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a gradual lift of the national COVID-19 lockdown, with bookings increasing as much as 600%.
Johnson announced a plan that would allow Brits to enjoy staycations within the country from April 12 and overseas travel allowed from May 17.
In response, UK airline easyJet reported a 300% increase in flight bookings while vacation package bookings increased more than 600% from last week, The Independent reported. The most popular destinations were Spain, Portugal, and Greece for the months of August, July, and September.
"We have consistently seen that there is pent-up demand for travel, and this surge in bookings shows that this signal from the government that it plans to reopen travel has been what U.K. consumers have been waiting for," easyJet Chief Executive Johan Lundgren, told The Associated Press. "The Prime Minister's address has provided a much-needed boost in confidence for so many of our customers in the U.K."
British travel company Tui also reported a 500% surge in bookings overnight on Tuesday, according to the British outlet. The highest demand was for vacations in Greece, Spain, and Turkey.
In the plan to lift lockdown restrictions, children can return to school on March 8 and people will be allowed to meet one other person outside. Later in the month, small outdoor gatherings will be allowed. Shops, hairdressers, and outdoor service at pubs and restaurants will restart on April 12.
By May 17, indoor venues like cinemas and indoor seating at pubs and restaurants are scheduled to reopen. On that date, Brits will also be allowed to start foreign holidays. All limits on social contact are expected to lift June 21, when nightclubs are scheduled to reopen.
The government also expects to be able to offer at least a first dose of the vaccine to all adults by the end of July.
The dates may be pushed back if the rates of infections or hospitalizations increase. The government is considering a "COVID status certification" for businesses or "vaccine passports" that people may use to travel freely over the upcoming months.
Currently, all visitors to the UK must quarantine for 10 days. Travelers from 33 "red list" countries are required to quarantine in a hotel.
Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or at caileyrizzo.com.
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