Explainers

Coronavirus: When will I be able to go on holiday?

A hammock on a Caribbean beach Image copyright Getty Images

The prospect of taking a holiday, at home or abroad, seems remote to many people in the UK as the coronavirus lockdown continues.

However, the idea of having fewer restrictions in place for travel between countries with low levels of coronavirus has been suggested.

Can I go on a foreign holiday?

At the moment, it's unlikely.

British nationals are being urged not to take any non-essential foreign travel, and to return home from abroad if possible.

Various countries like the US have travel restrictions which prevent or limit foreign arrivals, and many airlines are offering a reduced service, or have suspended all flights.

What's more, the UK is planning to introduce a 14-day quarantine period "as soon as possible". Visitors and UK nationals returning home will have to self-isolate for two weeks upon arrival (although people coming from Ireland will be exempt).

What's the chance that this will change?

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has told MPs that the quarantine arrangements - expected to come into force in early June - would be "a blanket solution" at first.

But he suggested that "air bridges" could be introduced. This would be an arrangement where travellers from countries with low coronavirus levels could be exempt from quarantine.

Speaking to the BBC, Greece's tourism minister called for his country - which has not been badly affected - to be among those exempt from quarantine rules.

Can I go on holiday in the UK?

People in England are free to drive any distance to other destinations in England, like parks and beaches, but are not supposed to stay overnight away from home (including any second property they own).

Self-catering cottages, Airbnb properties, and UK campsites, hotels and holiday parks will remain shut until at least the beginning of July.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Tourists are being asked to stay away from beauty spots like the Lake District

Many national parks remain closed, and public facilities such as car parks and toilets may not be open either.

People are also being advised to avoid public transport wherever possible.

And they are being urged not to rush to beauty spots such as the Lake District. Visit Cornwall says that people should not travel to the area unless they can return home within 90 minutes.

In addition, people who live in England cannot travel for recreation into Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Should I book a summer holiday?

It is just not possible to say at this stage.

Hotels and holiday resorts in England may start to reopen at the beginning of July, if the government considers enough progress has been made against its five tests.

Restrictions may also ease across the rest of the UK, allowing people to travel more widely at home.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption It is possible English and Scottish households maybe able to visit Wales by the summer, and vice versa.

EasyJet has said it plans to resume some flights in June, while Ryanair and British Airways plan to ramp up their flights in July,

All TUI and First Choice holidays are cancelled until at least 11 June.

What are other countries doing?

The EU has insisted there will be a summer season this year.

The European Commission has proposed a gradual lifting of travel restrictions throughout the EU.

Seasonal workers and citizens of countries with similar levels of infections could start to travel more freely first.

The commission recommends people follow social distancing rules and use mandatory face masks while travelling, and that there is controlled access to hotel and restaurant facilities in resorts.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mallorca and the other Balearic Islands are heavily reliant on tourism

There would have to be enough hospital capacity to deal with any spike in cases, and it is clear that if infections start to rise again, restrictions may be reimposed.

The plans are non-binding, so it will be up to individual countries to implement changes, and it's not yet clear what it might mean for UK travellers.

What about going away in the autumn?

Again, it is impossible at this stage to say if it will be possible.

Travel advice will need to have been updated, but it depends on the disease's progress.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption EasyJet's planes are currently all grounded

Holidays and flights booked against Foreign Office travel advice are unlikely to be covered by travel insurance if you are not able to travel after all.

What about holidays already booked for this year?

If your package holiday or flights have already been cancelled, then you are are entitled to a full cash refund.

However, lots of people are struggling to get their money back, and being offered vouchers or rebooked trips instead.

If you are offered a voucher, or a free rebooking instead of cash, you can accept or refuse it. But if the airline later folds, the voucher may no longer be valid.

If your airline or holiday company hasn't cancelled your holiday yet, but you no longer wish to travel, you may not be entitled to a refund.

However, some providers are allowing people to rebook trips for a later date at no cost.

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CoronaVirus translator

What do all these terms mean?

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  • Antibodies test

    A medical test that can show if a person has had the coronavirus and now has some immunity. The test detects antibodies in the blood, which are produced by the body to fight off the disease.

  • Asymptomatic

    Someone who has a disease but does not have any of the symptoms it causes. Some studies suggest some people with coronavirus carry the disease but don't show the common symptoms, such as a persistent cough or high temperature.

  • Containment phase

    The first part of the UK's strategy to deal with the coronavirus, which involved trying to identify infected people early and trace anyone who had been in close contact with them.

  • Coronavirus

    One of a group of viruses that can cause severe or mild illness in humans and animals. The coronavirus currently sweeping the world causes the disease Covid-19. The common cold and influenza (flu) are other types of coronaviruses.

  • Covid-19

    The disease caused by the coronavirus first detected in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. It primarily affects the lungs.

  • Delay phase

    The second part of the UK's strategy to deal with the coronavirus, in which measures such as social distancing are used to delay its spread.

  • Fixed penalty notice

    A fine designed to deal with an offence on the spot, instead of in court. These are often for driving offences, but now also cover anti-social behaviour and breaches of the coronavirus lockdown.

  • Flatten the curve

    Health experts use a line on a chart to show numbers of new coronavirus cases. If a lot of people get the virus in a short period of time, the line might rise sharply and look a bit like a mountain. However, taking measures to reduce infections can spread cases out over a longer period and means the "curve" is flatter. This makes it easier for health systems to cope.

  • Flu

    Short for influenza, a virus that routinely causes disease in humans and animals, in seasonal epidemics.

  • Furlough

    Supports firms hit by coronavirus by temporarily helping pay the wages of some staff. It allows employees to remain on the payroll, even though they aren't working.

  • Herd immunity

    How the spread of a disease slows after a sufficiently large proportion of a population has been exposed to it.

  • Immune

    A person whose body can withstand or fend off a disease is said to be immune to it. Once a person has recovered from the disease caused by the coronavirus, Covid-19, for example, it is thought they cannot catch it again for a certain period of time.

  • Incubation period

    The period of time between catching a disease and starting to display symptoms.

  • Intensive care

    Hospital wards which treat patients who are very ill. They are run by specially-trained healthcare staff and contain specialist equipment.

  • Lockdown

    Restrictions on movement or daily life, where public buildings are closed and people told to stay at home. Lockdowns have been imposed in several countries as part of drastic efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus.

  • Mitigation phase

    The third part of the UK's strategy to deal with the coronavirus, which will involve attempts to lessen the impact of a high number of cases on public services. This could mean the NHS halting all non-critical care and police responding to major crimes and emergencies only.

  • NHS 111

    The NHS's 24-hour phone and online service, which offers medical advice to anyone who needs it. People in England and Wales are advised to ring the service if they are worried about their symptoms. In Scotland, they should check NHS inform, then ring their GP in office hours or 111 out of hours. In Northern Ireland, they should call their GP.

  • Outbreak

    Multiple cases of a disease occurring rapidly, in a cluster or different locations.

  • Pandemic

    An epidemic of serious disease spreading rapidly in many countries simultaneously.

  • Phase 2

    This is when the UK will start to lift some of its lockdown rules while still trying to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

  • PPE

    PPE, or personal protective equipment, is clothing and kit such as masks, aprons, gloves and goggles used by medical staff, care workers and others to protect themselves against infection from coronavirus patients and other people who might be carrying the disease.

  • Quarantine

    The isolation of people exposed to a contagious disease to prevent its spread.

  • R0

    R0, pronounced "R-naught", is the average number of people who will catch the disease from a single infected person. If the R0 of coronavirus in a particular population is 2, then on average each case will create two more new cases. The value therefore gives an indication of how much the infection could spread.

  • Recession

    This happens when there is a significant drop in income, jobs and sales in a country for two consecutive three-month periods.

  • Sars

    Severe acute respiratory syndrome, a type of coronavirus that emerged in Asia in 2003.

  • Self-isolation

    Staying inside and avoiding all contact with other people, with the aim of preventing the spread of a disease.

  • Social distancing

    Keeping away from other people, with the aim of slowing down transmission of a disease. The government advises not seeing friends or relatives other than those you live with, working from home where possible and avoiding public transport.

  • State of emergency

    Measures taken by a government to restrict daily life while it deals with a crisis. This can involve closing schools and workplaces, restricting the movement of people and even deploying the armed forces to support the regular emergency services.

  • Statutory instrument

    These can be used by government ministers to implement new laws or regulations, or change existing laws. They are an easier alternative to passing a full Act of Parliament.

  • Symptoms

    Any sign of disease, triggered by the body's immune system as it attempts to fight off the infection. The main symptoms of the coronavirus are a fever, dry cough and shortness of breath.

  • Vaccine

    A treatment that causes the body to produce antibodies, which fight off a disease, and gives immunity against further infection.

  • Ventilator

    A machine that takes over breathing for the body when disease has caused the lungs to fail.

  • Virus

    A tiny agent that copies itself inside the living cells of any organism. Viruses can cause these cells to die and interrupt the body's normal chemical processes, causing disease.

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