As air travel to and from the U.K. takes off, but threats of quarantine and travel bans lurk, summer trips abroad for British travelers are on hold, not over.
Even with the much-feared U.K. quarantine coming into effect June 8, summer holiday hopes are within view. There is still a possibility of future exemptions to the quarantine, the British government said in a statement on Friday. It will continue to look at the option of “air bridges”– similar to travel bubbles–between countries with low transmission rates. Together with bolstered screening measures, this would “remove the need for quarantine measures for incoming passengers.”
This could dramatically change holiday outlooks for Brits. For now quarantine will apply to all travelers, (bar the Irish). That includes returning British holidaymakers. There is no end date to the measures, which will be reviewed every 3 weeks. “This is absolutely not about booking holidays. We want to avoid a second wave and that is absolutely vital,” said Home Secretary Priti Patel announcing the move.
While this creates huge holiday uncertainty, trips overseas should not be ruled out. If quarantine stops in late June, even into July, that’s still far from too late to miss the boat for the summer holiday season. Then there’s the exemption possibility. Once U.K. travel restrictions lift, some travelers may even factor the quarantine threat into a long summer break.
With the ongoing corona crisis in the U.K., in any case, borders may not open up to British travelers at the same pace as other tourists. Here are some destinations that are looking hopeful in Europe and beyond, for down the line.
So When And Where Can I Leave On Holiday?
Airlines are returning to the skies, and reconnecting the U.K. to dozens of destinations in Europe and worldwide in June and July. Yet current travel restrictions in Britain still rule out holidays.
Thousands of travelers are waiting anxiously in limbo to see if their booked holidays can go ahead. For others, it’s a question of whether they can start planning even late summer breaks.
So just when do travel experts think Brits will get the green light for international travel?
“It’s a (how long is that) piece of string question,” says Liz Edwards, a travel editor at The Times. “There’s a lot of optimism and a lot of desire to get traveling again, but until the Foreign Office lifts the travel advisory on non-essential travel that won’t happen. Then there’s the quarantine gloom, which will scupper holiday hopes. Both have to go before any overseas travel is possible.”
It may well be that many countries are prepared to welcome Brits back with open arms, weeks even months before they get the nod to travel abroad.
Once restrictions lift at home, some countries–or regions–are already preparing for U.K. travelers to return, as early as mid June and into July. They include Italy, Ireland, France, Croatia, the Canary Islands, Portugal, Cyprus, Malta and Turkey.
“Though Italy, Greece and Croatia seem to be looking more to the Germans to get tourism going before Brits arrive,” says Liz Edwards. “France and Ireland are 2 top candidates. Portugal too is doing a lot to woo the Brits back with its marketing efforts.” A clear message that the door is open.
For now, with U.K. hotels, holiday parks and tourist attractions due to reopen on July 4, staycations are looking rosy Edwards says. “As we exit weeks of travel hibernation, the obvious contenders for first trips are those close to home.”
Another factor weighing in on the timing of overseas trips is the U.K.’s corona infection rates. Because it is seen as a high-risk country, Brits will not be the first to get entry to some European countries for summer. Greece for example is yet to specify when Brits can arrive, though it is likely to be July. When it welcomes international tourists from mid June, only those from low-risk countries can enter.
For long-haul trips, many countries worldwide are still off-limits: The U.S., Australia, New Zealand and China among them. But what a difference a month may make there. “Things are changing so fast,” Edwards concedes. (The U.S. is one country–along with France, Italy and Germany–with whom Visit Britain is hoping for quarantine exemptions).
Meantime Israel, the Seychelles and others are paving the way for a return of British holidaymakers. Several Caribbean islands including Saint Lucia, Barbuda and Antigua are opening up to international tourists in June, as airports reopen. With BA set to fly there again in July, British travelers may return if current quarantine and travel restrictions vanish.
Japan, South Korea and Vietnam are among Asian countries preparing to launch tourism, though starting with low-infection countries, and lots of testing. Thus it may be a while until the invitation extends to British travelers.