Going on holiday and travelling in 2021

With Christmas out of the way there’s one thing on every holiday maker’s mind – when will it be safe to travel again?

The coronavirus vaccine has been ramped up and we’ve seen thousands  of people vaccinated each day.

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Boris Johnson has also pledged that the future will be looking brighter for Britain by Easter. 

With that in mind, many of us will start looking at school holidays and planning our trips for 2021.

There are thousands of beautiful small businesses to support across the UK for a holiday at home.

The UK has a vast landscape filled with plenty of golden coastline, craggy mountain ranges and an abundance of forests and lakes there is a lot to explore at home. 

However if you’re desperate to get abroad then there are a few things you should be aware of:

What is the advice from travel agencies? 

Royal Borough Observer:

If you’re hoping to bag a bargain on a holiday at home or abroad then booking in advance with flexibility is your best bet, according to travel site Expedia. 

A spokesperson for Expedia said:  “ For flights, choose a ticket which has the option of changing your travel dates or destination built-in, so you can alter your plans if necessary. 

“Similarly for accommodation, there are some great deals available on hotels with free cancellation, as many places are offering discounts to attract customers when travel restrictions are lifted.” 

An ABTA spokesperson said: “Easter is traditionally one of the busiest times of year for the travel industry and people are already booking ahead for 2021”

ABTA have also warned that holiday makers should also be aware that travel in Europe next year will be slightly different, following the end of the EU transition period.

Advice on any extra steps you may need to take can be found on the ABTA website

What are the current rules

Anyone arriving in the UK from most countries, including British nationals, must self-isolate for 14 days. 

Exceptions are made for anyone arriving from the Common Travel Area of Ireland, Channel Islands or the Isle of Man – or countries in travel corridors with the UK. 

Travellers must fill in a “passenger locator” form with contact details and their UK address. 

If you fail to provide accurate information then you could be fined up to £3,200 in England or £1,920 in Wales. 

There is also a fine of £100 for not filling in the passenger locator form. 

During the 14 day self-isolation period, starting the day of arrival,  people should not: 

– Use taxis or public transport

– Go to work, school or public areas

– Have visitors except for essential support

– Go out to buy food or other essential items if they can rely on others. 

Can I pay for a test to shorten quarantine? 

Yes, from December 15 people arriving in England can reduce their quarantine period by at least half if they pay for a private Covid test after five days. 

Tests cost between £65 to £120 and results normally come back within 24 to 48 hours meaning that some people could stop self-isolating six days after returning home if they test negative. 

What happens if I break the quarantine rules? 

It is against the law to break quarantine rules and people who do it face a fine and could get a criminal record. 

Anyone not self-isolating when they should be can receive a £1,000 fine in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, or £480 in Scotland. In England persistent offenders can be fined up to £10,000. 

Am I entitled to statutory sick pay if I have to self isolate? 

You may not get statutory sick pay if you have to self isolate, unless you meet the required conditions such as showing coronavirus symptoms.  

If you are self-isolating you can also get an ‘isolation note’ online from NHS 111 if you’re off work for seven or more days due to the coronavirus – you do not need to go to your doctor or a hospital. 

Can I get a refund if I need to cancel my holiday? 

Royal Borough Observer:

If you’ve booked the flights and accommodation yourself you are unlikely to be granted a refund if you cannot make your trip due to the coronavirus. 

Flights, trains and ferries are likely to continue to run to the destinations recently added to the UK’s quarantine list. 

If your trip is not cancelled by the operator, you will most likely not be able to claim a refund.

If you have booked a flexi travel option you may be able to rebook your flight, train or ferry for a different date – however this could incur a cost but is the safest way to ensure you keep your money. 

Some accommodation sites, such as Airbnb, have filters that allow you to select accommodation with “cancellation flexibility”.  

ABTA state that booking a package holiday offers the best level of protection because customers will not lose out if circumstances around the pandemic change, such as updates to Foreign Office advice, which mean that their holiday could not go ahead as planned. 

When booking your holiday it is worth signing up to the Foreign Office email alerts to get the most up to date information ahead of departure. 

Can I get a Covid test at the airport? 

The aviation industry have reiterated calls for a rapid testing scheme to replace quarantine after the sector saw huge losses this year as a result of the coronavirus. 

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has suggested rapid testing – which can give a result in under an hour – could eventually “open the way” for quarantine-free travel.

Heathrow currently offers an £80 pre-flight coronavirus test on some flights to Hong Kong, which requires a recent negative test for entry from the UK.

The results of the rapid saliva swab are not accepted by some countries because, unlike the NHS-preferred PCR test, they do not require analysis in a lab.

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Where can I go on holiday? 

People in England and Wales are currently not allowed to travel abroad unless it’s for work. 

In England, leaving home in order to travel for holidays can be punished by a fine with penalties up to £6,400. 

People can only travel in and out of Wales with a reasonable excuse, such as going to work or school because the country is in lockdown.

People travelling to destinations on the UK travel corridor list will not need to quarantine when they arrive in either country. 

Check the travel corridor list on the government website. 

Royal Borough Observer | News WIndsor