Grant Shapps says easing UK travel restrictions is 'off the cards'
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Holidays have become increasingly more complicated due to new travel rules introduced by the UK in a bit to limit the spread of coronavirus. On February 15 hotel quarantine for arrivals from 33 countries ‘high-risk’ comes into force. Furthermore, anyone who flouts the rules faces huge fines and even prison sentences.
Many Britons have been hoping measures will ease in time for Easter and Summer holidays.
However, today, Grant Shapps dashed expectations further.
Speaking on Sky News, the minister said: “I am Transport Secretary so I absolutely want people to be able to travel but it is a fact that right now it is illegal to leave your home to go on holiday.
“It is illegal to do that in the UK or around the world so I am afraid, at the moment, that is off the cards.”
He continued: “I don’t want to unnecessarily raise peoples hopes.
“The truth is we just don’t know how the vaccine will respond both to the vaccines and, of course, how people respond to social distancing and those kinds of measures and therefore exactly when we will be able to unlock.
“So I am afraid I am unable to give you a definitive will there or won’t there be the opportunity to take holidays this next year either at home or abroad.”
The announcement may worry those with spring and summer holidays booked.
What should you do if you have holidays booked but are not sure if they’ll be able to go ahead?
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, shared his advice with British holidaymakers this afternoon.
“After significant disruption to travel throughout 2020, many of us are looking ahead to the summer to book a long-awaited holiday,” he said.
“But there remain too many unknowns to confidently book any travel plans right now.
“The introduction of hotel quarantine makes future holidays especially risky.
“Like with travel corridors last year, the list of countries on the red list for hotel quarantine is likely to change, possibly at short notice, meaning holidaymakers run the risk of travelling, only to find the country has been red-listed while abroad – costing them £1,750 per person.”
Boland advised that, for now, the best action to take is no action at all.
Travel has not yet been ruled out and holidays still may be able to go ahead.
Boland said: “For the millions of customers with holidays already booked, the best advice is to do nothing for now.
“There are still a few months until the summer season and it’s possible things may have improved by then and your holiday can go ahead.
“If it can’t, you must wait for the holiday to be cancelled by your provider, rather than cancelling it yourself – if you do, you may forfeit your right to a refund.”
The majority of Britons have abandoned the idea of going abroad this year.
Research from holiday property letting company holidaycottages.co.uk revealed 84 percent of the UK will consider a staycation in 2021.
The findings showed Cornwall reigned supreme as the top bucket list destination in 2021, with nearly half of Britons claiming they’d like to visit the county for a staycation.
The ever-popular Scottish Highlands and Devon tied in second/third place (43 percent) and Cumbria/Lake District followed behind with 41 percent.
Commenting on the research, Shannon Keary, Digital PR Manager at holidaycottages.co.uk, said: “The past year has certainly impacted our international travel plans, and it doesn’t seem to be looking up in 2021 with an uncertain year ahead for international travel.
“However, this past year has allowed more people than ever before to see the beauty of their own country, and that can only be a good thing for UK domestic travel.”
Keary continued: “The UK has so much to offer in terms of holidays and beauty spots, and it’s encouraging to see that 84 percent of Brits are considering a staycation in 2021.
“It’s interesting to see that London was the most visited staycation spot of 2020 but is not high on Brits bucket list destinations for 2021.
“We can certainly deduce that Brits are moving away from visiting our towns and cities on holiday in 2021, and heading to more rural areas such as Cornwall, Devon, Cumbria, and the Scottish Highlands.
“It most definitely can be said that this year was the year of rediscovering Britain and all our island has to offer, and it looks like a similar forecast for summer 2021.”
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