Well, did they or didn’t they? Some reports say Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French president Emmanuel Macron discussed a reciprocal arrangement to allow holidays to go ahead this summer in their respective countries without any need to self-isolate; others, including a No 10 spokesman, said it ‘didn’t come up’.
Which is symptomatic of the shambolic way the Government has handled travel to and from the UK during the Covid-19 crisis.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab and others have talked about a ‘road map’ so that companies can ready themselves for the peak summer season — but what sort of map is it when Boris can only come up with a ‘watch this space’ soundbite.
A map showing countries around Europe and whether you should count on being able to visit them this summer
That’s why we are helping readers find a way through the quagmire.
Should you cancel your villa booking for July or August? Will you be welcome wherever it is you had planned to go?
Wait and see is one sure-fire strategy, with the PM expected to make a pronouncement next week.
But time is running out — for summer holidays, travel firms and hotels and B&Bs. Here we reveal, where we’re welcome and where we’re not…
UNSURE IN SPAIN
Spain re-opens to all EU citizens tomorrow… except us. Most restaurants and beaches are open. Pictured is Benalmadena on the Costa del Sol
Britain’s favourite holiday destination reopens to all EU citizens tomorrow… except us.
Spain is upset about our 14-day quarantine, so is maintaining reciprocal rules.
Common sense may soon prevail in the form of a quarantine-free ‘air corridor’. Most restaurants and beaches are open, shops are at 50 per cent capacity and groups of up to 30 tourists can gather in public.
CYPRUS WAITING GAME
The first tourists no longer needing to produce proof of a negative coronavirus test will be welcomed today from 22 countries. Britons will be allowed in when the UK infection rate falls.
The Cypriot government has announced it will pay for accommodation, medicine and food for tourists who test positive during their stay on the island, and their families.
A 100-bed hospital is being set aside for holidaymakers, as well as ‘quarantine hotels’ for patients’ families.
PORTUGAL WANTS YOU!
Portugal lifted travel restrictions for British visitors on June 6 but visitors are warned that the nightlife will be limited
Travel restrictions were lifted for British visitors on June 6.
‘Air corridor’ discussions are said to be advanced. Portugal’s foreign minister warns that nightlife will be limited to prevent people congregating in large numbers.
Restaurants, hotels and beaches are open with social distancing.
GOOD CHANCE IN FRANCE
Borders opened to most European countries on Monday except for travellers coming from nations with quarantine measures, including Britain, where rules are reciprocal.
It is unclear whether PM Boris Johnson discussed the possibility of an ‘air bridge’ when he met with French president Emmanuel Macron.
It is understood to have been discussed between officials, instead. France reopened its bars, cafes and restaurants on June 2. P&O is operating reduced ferry services on cross-Channel routes, as is Eurostar on London-Paris rail journeys.
LOOKING GOOD IN GREECE
Greece has said it is open to creating an ‘air bridge’ with the UK. Pictured is the Sithonia in north-east Greece
The country has said it is open to creating an ‘air bridge’ with the UK. Currently, tourists from countries, such as Britain, deemed too high risk face testing on arrival. A negative result will mean self-isolation for seven days; a positive test will result in 14 days’ quarantine.
However, these restrictions will be lifted on July 1, when international flights will resume and tourists will be tested randomly.
Hotels, restaurants, bars and beaches have reopened with restrictions.
ITALY OPENS UP
Italy opened up to tourists, including those from the UK on June 3. Most hotels and restaurants have re-opened with reduced capacity
THE EXPERT VIEW BY MIKE GOOLEY, CEO OF TRAILFINDERS
It is not so much the pandemic itself which is denying us our so-needed anti-viral summer holidays, but the overblown blanket FCO advice not to travel anywhere, followed by the irrational quarantine of arrivals.
Each week, tens of thousands are missing out on their longed-for break — and the only present relief is to book later in 2020, into 2021 and even 2022.
For the time being, there are some unprecedented discounts out there, but costs will rise as pent up demand brings scarcity.
A few people have developed a new fear of flying, not understanding that the filtration of cabin air equates to the quality found in a sterile operating theatre.
All the sensible precautions we have in place in the UK are now universal to wherever you travel.
Many lessons have been learned from the crisis and many more will be realised in the future. The unseen risks of booking direct and being unsupported when things go awry has been starkly exposed, especially when it comes to refunds and repatriation.
Border controls were lifted for travellers, including those from the UK, on June 3, when the 14-day quarantine policy was also dropped.
Most hotels, beaches, restaurants and bars have reopened with reduced capacity and a 1.5-metre distancing policy.
KEEN IN CROATIA
Britons must complete online forms before going, providing proof that accommodation has been booked.
Hotels have reopened, some with tempting rates.
For example, a week at a four-star hotel in Split is from £705 B&B (booking.com).
ALL GO IN GERMANY
Last Monday, travel restrictions for British holidaymakers were lifted.
Some hotels, bars and restaurants have reopened.
Rules governing social distancing vary slightly within Germany’s 16 federal states.
Confusingly, the border is open for quarantine-free visitors from Northern Ireland, but those from the UK mainland require a 14-day quarantine.
Travel restrictions of 14 miles are in place within Ireland.
Hotels, restaurants and pubs serving ‘substantial meals’ can reopen from June 29.
MALTA IS A MAYBE
Tourists from some EU countries can visit without quarantine from July 1, when airports also open.
No date has been announced for UK tourists.
Masks are mandatory in shops and on public transport. Some restaurants and hotels have reopened.
Officials from the UK and Turkey have reportedly been in talks about creating a quarantine-free ‘air corridors’, possibly by July 15.
Turkish Airlines flights to and from the UK resumed on June 11.
DON’T BET ON BULGARIA
Tourists from Belgium, Portugal, Sweden and UK are subject to 14 days of quarantine.
Some direct flights are operating from the UK. Most hotels, bars and restaurants have reopened.
Masks are mandatory on public transport and enclosed public spaces.
CZECH? NOT YET
The Czech Republic has a traffic-light system with people from safe countries marked green. Tourists from the UK are currently orange (medium risk)
A traffic-light system was introduced on Monday.
People from safe countries, marked green, are able to travel to the country, but tourists from orange (medium-risk) countries, including the UK, and red (high-risk) countries are denied entry.
Countries are assessed weekly. Hotels, outdoor restaurants and museums are open, and events of up to 500 people are allowed.
Tourists from Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are permitted.
Other EU countries may be welcome from July 14.
Hotels are open and bars and restaurants must close by 11pm.
A quarantine for visitors has recently been lifted and hikes in the mountains and lakelands await. EasyJet had flights to Geneva.
It has been possible for visitors to travel to Sweden throughout the lockdown. Pictured is the capital Stockholm
Throughout the lockdown it has been possible to visit Sweden — where a liberal approach to coronavirus has been applied.
Ryanair has flights to Stockholm, which could be perfect for a city break.
Border restrictions were relaxed on Monday, though travellers from some countries, including the UK and Spain, must provide proof of a negative coronavirus test or self-isolate for 14 days.
Restaurants, bars and hotels are reopening.
Masks are mandatory on public transport and also in shops.
BELGIUM IS OPEN
Belgium is open after all travel restrictions for European visitors were dropped on Monday. Pictured is the city of Bruges
All restrictions were dropped for European travellers on Monday.
Eurostar has a reduced service, while public transport is running, with masks mandatory.
Museums, shops, restaurants and some tourist attractions are open.
DANES DASH HOPES
Closed for tourists except those from Norway, Germany and Iceland.
Restaurants, shops and some hotels are open.
The border will remain closed for most tourists until at least September 1.
NETHERLANDS – STANDBY
Tourists from Britain may be allowed in the Netherlands from June 28. Pictured is the capital Amsterdam
Visitors from the EU and the Schengen countries, except Sweden and the UK, are permitted to enter the country with no quarantine.
Tourists from Britain may be allowed in from July 1. Hotels, restaurants and cafes have re-opened.
Eurostar is due to operate to and from the UK from June 28. Masks are mandatory on public transport.
SLOPE OFF TO SLOVAKIA?
Unlikely. UK visitors must show recent negative test results and also go into self-isolation for five days on arrival until you have a second negative test.
Quarantine for UK tourists has been in place since June 13. No direct flights are currently available from Britain.
WHAT YOU REALLY NEED TO KNOW: THE DEFINITIVE Q&A
Q I’ve got a fully paid package holiday to the Med this summer. Is there any point hoping that I’ll go?
A Yes, but patience is required and it depends whether you are going in July or August.
The likelihood is that only trips in August will take place. Operators are cancelling in July due to the Government’s ban on ‘non-essential’ overseas travel and controversial 14-day quarantine on returning.
Q Why should this cause so many problems?
A The travel advice against going abroad invalidates your insurance. Plus, quarantine makes moving about impossible for a fortnight on return (or else face a £1,000 fine).
Q Why is insurance so important if I have health cover under the European Health Insurance Card? And I can work from home and self-isolate when I return.
One reader asks why insurance is so important if they have cover under the European Health Insurance Card, pictured
A Insurance is key. It offers cover for repatriation in emergencies, and for travel costs if return flights are cancelled. Plus, not everyone is able to self-isolate for 14 days upon return.
Q Why is there hope my package trip could take place?
A Although it appears obvious to many that the Government should give the thumbs up to international travel and abolish the incoming quarantine, no decision is due until Monday, June 29.
Chances are the Government will change its mind then, especially as countries in Europe are safer than the UK.
Q Why doesn’t the Government bring forward the decision?
A The travel industry and many scientists are dumbfounded that this isn’t happening.
Q So, if I hang on in there, my package trip this summer could go ahead?
A Yes, on June 29 quarantine-free ‘air corridors’ (also known as ‘travel corridors’ or ‘air bridges’) could be announced between key countries.
Quite possibly, the ban on ‘non-essential’ international travel will go, too. This late decision makes August packages likeliest, as most operators plan a month ahead and will have likely cancelled flights for July by June 29.
Q If travel gets the go-ahead on June 29, would I be able to book a last-minute trip?
A Yes, if you can book to visit a country welcoming us.
Q My package holiday is not fully paid and now the balance is required. Should I pay up?
A Yes. In the case of cancellation, you would be entitled to a refund within 14 days under the Package Travel Regulations (2018).
Q Why have I read reports of refunds being rejected?
A Many travel firms have let down customers. Instead of paying up immediately, as they should by law, they have offered Credit Refund Notes (CRNs).
CRNs are recognised by industry body the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) and promise credits for later holidays or a future refund (when finances pick up).
They are not officially recognised by the Government-backed Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (Atol) run by the Civil Aviation Authority. This makes their validity uncertain. Always demand a cash refund.
Q This does not sound very reassuring. Should I really pay the final balance?
A It requires a leap of faith, but the answer is ‘yes’. Check the firm is Atol registered.
Q I do not have a package. I booked a villa ages ago and need to decide on whether to buy flights. Should I?
It’s possible the tourists could lose cash spent on villas if travel to the country where the villa is located remains impossible
A This depends on the country and also on the Government’s June 29 decision.
It’s possible you could lose cash spent on the villa if travel remains impossible. Your villa booking is not part of a package, so not covered by the Package Travel Regulations.
If travel is impossible, try asking the villa firm or owner if the booking can be deferred. It’s under no obligation to do so.
Q That’s a lot of ifs and buts. Can you be more definite?
A Afraid not. This is down to government uncertainty. However, if you did buy flights and travel is still ‘off’ due to continuing FCO advice against non-essential travel, you would be due an airline refund within seven days under EU law.
Q I have booked flights but not accommodation, what should I do?
A If the flights are cancelled — normally you get about four weeks’ notice — you will be due a refund within seven days. Hold off on accommodation until shortly before travel, when it looks certain to go ahead. By then, there could also be some great deals.
Q I haven’t booked anything. Do you reckon a summer break is still possible?
A Yes. You may be in the best position of all, as you can wait for the Government decision on June 29, then bag a last-minute bargain.