When will travel abroad and foreign holidays be allowed again?

23 February 2021, 12:10

British holidaymakers rushed to airlines to book seats on Monday
British holidaymakers rushed to airlines to book seats on Monday. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Airlines have reported a surge in demand for holiday booking after Boris Johnson revealed the roadmap out of lockdown on Monday. Here's when you can plan to travel abroad this year.

Hours after the Prime Minister confirmed flying abroad would be realistic this year following his roadmap to recovery, holiday providers and airlines were flooded with customers wanting to secure their seats to Britain's favourite sunny destinations.

EasyJet said summer bookings by UK customers were more than four times higher compared with the same period the previous week.

The Luton-based firm's holiday deals saw an even larger rise in demand - up seven-fold.

So when will travel abroad and foreign holidays be allowed again? Which are the safest countries to travel to? What could scupper holiday plans?

Airlines saw a surge in demand following Boris Johnson's roadmap announcement
Airlines saw a surge in demand for abroad holidays following Boris Johnson's roadmap announcement. Picture: PA Images

When will holidays abroad be allowed again?

The PM confirmed on Monday that foreign holidays could be permitted as early as May 17.

A Government taskforce is currently working on a report, to be published by April 12, setting out how trips abroad can resume for people in England.

While bookings have spiked since the announcement, there is no guarantee the flight will take off if Covid-19 cases begin to spike in the UK or the destination country.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the effectiveness of vaccines against virus strains will play a major part in the international travel review.

He said the UK "can be much more relaxed about international travel" if vaccines work well against mutations of the virus from South Africa and Brazil.

Will holidaymakers need a vaccine passport?

Currently, there are no plans for the Government to issue documents that allow people to travel to certain places, but the idea is being considered by other countries and some airlines.

On Tuesday Mr Hancock told LBC that a vaccine certificate "XX" in future to ensure other passengers' safety and reassure destination countries.

At a Downing Street conference following the unveiling of his plan Boris Johnson acknowledged the ethical complications around the idea.

He said: "There are clearly some quite complex issues, some ethical issues, issues about discrimination and so on, to what extent can governments either compel or indeed forbid use of such certification.

"I think all that needs to be gone into so we are going to have a review of the whole issue before we come to it."

Where are the safest countries to visit?

Holidaymakers have been fast to book up flights to Britain's top tourist destinations across Europe.

The hotspots of Greece, Spain and Turkey from July onwards are the most in-demand locations at the moment.

Spain and Turkey have fared poorly during the pandemic, with millions of infections and tens of thousands of deaths, and infection rates remain high after a surge similar to the UK following Christmas.

But Greece has seen comparatively better outcomes throughout until it began to spread widely once again towards the end of last year and into 2021.

Among the countries in Europe with the lowest infection rates currently are Ireland, Denmark, Norway and the Baltics, with infection rates remaining high across most of the rest of the continent.