Matt Hancock has said summer holidays abroad will ‘not be possible this year’ as ministers urge Britons not to holiday in France despite its exception from quarantine.
Speaking on This Morning, the Health Secretary poured cold water over some Britons’ plans to fly abroad this summer, as holiday companies revealed a spike in interest for trips abroad.
Asked whether ‘summer was cancelled’, Mr Hancock told the ITV programme: ‘I think that’s likely to be the case.
‘It is unlikely that big, lavish international holidays are going to be possible for this summer.
‘I just think that’s a reality of life.’
He added: ‘It is clear that we will seek to reopen some hospitality from early July if we reduce the spread.
‘But social distancing is going to continue. I think it is unlikely big lavish summer holidays will be possible this year’.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised against all but essential international travel since March 17, while domestic holidays are not allowed due to the Government’s lockdown orders issued six days later.
Speaking on This Morning, Health Secretary Matt Hancock poured cold water over some Britons’ plans to fly abroad this summer
British tourists could travel to Greece without restrictions as Greek government launches plan to restart tourism sector
British tourists could holiday in Greece without restrictions from June 1, according to the Greek government.
Last week, the EU country announced its plans to reopen its tourism sector in three stages which could see free travel to the country from the start of next month, should no further problems arise.
However, the chances of British tourists being able to visit the country once again rest on whether airlines will be willing to transport them there on a regular basis.
So far, Greece has managed to record 2,726 coronavirus cases within its borders, with 151 people dying due to the global pandemic.
Last year, four million Britons travelled to either mainland Greece or its islands on holiday.
Greece’s Interior Ministry announced that the country will adopt a three-stage process to open up travel between mainland Greece and its islands.
Downing Street has said that passengers entering the UK from most countries would have to self-isolate for two weeks in the battle against coronavirus.
But after talks with President Macron, it was jointly announced that France would be exempt from quarantine for the time being, and any restrictions would be ‘reciprocal’.
Official plans are expected to be announced on Friday, with the quarantine possibly being implemented by next Thursday – but sources indicated it would more likely be early June, the Times reports.
Holiday companies revealed a spike in interest for trips to France after the statement, but a Downing Street source insisted: ‘The official advice says don’t go on holiday abroad. There is no end date to the guidance.’
And Mr Hancock’s comments came just hours after Ryanair announced it will operate nearly 1,000 flights per day from July 1 subject to European countries lifting flight restrictions and ‘effective public health measures’ being put in place at airports.
The plan involves 90% of the airline’s pre-Covid-19 route network being restored, but on reduced frequencies.
Since mid-March it has operated a skeleton daily schedule of 30 flights per day between the UK, Ireland and the rest of Europe.
Passengers and crew will be required to wear face masks or face coverings, and pass temperature checks.
Queuing for toilets will be banned, but ‘toilet access will be made available to individual passengers upon request’, according to the airline.
Ryanair is planning to restart flying around 40 per cent of its normal flights from July
Asked whether foreign summer holidays would be impossible, Matt Hancock said: ‘I think that’s likely to be the case (pictured: Alicante, Spain, 2018)
A limited range of refreshments will be sold on board, and no cash will be accepted.
Ryanair said all surfaces in its cabins will be disinfected every night with chemicals which are effective for more than 24 hours.
What is the 14-day quarantine rule and who will it apply to?
From June, all arrivals in the UK – including returning Britons – will be quarantined for 14 days and face £1,000 fines or deportation if they fail to do so.
Which countries will it apply to?
Boris Johnson yesterday phoned French President Emmanuel Macron and agreed a mutual exemption from the measures for holidaymakers from both countries.
All journeys within the common travel area – which covers the UK, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man and Ireland – are be exempt from the measures.
No other countries have been named.
These exemptions will be in place to provide ‘continued security of supply into the UK’ as well as not impeding work in national security or critical infrastructure, today’s report said.
What will happen at the British border?
People entering the UK must supply their contact details and details of their accommodation, and to self-isolate in their accommodation for 14 days, other than those on a short list of exemptions.
Is this for foreign travellers only or British people returning home from holiday or living overseas?
All arrivals including British nationals will be required to provide their contact information and self-isolate upon arrival, other than those on a short list of exemptions.
The carrier will require all passengers flying in July and August to complete a form when they check in, stating how long their visit will be and where they are staying.
This information will be provided to EU governments to ‘help them to monitor any isolation regulations they require of visitors on intra-EU flights’.
Ryanair chief executive Eddie Wilson said: ‘It is important for our customers and our people that we return to some normal schedules from 1 July onwards.
‘Governments around Europe have implemented a four-month lockdown to limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
‘After four months, it is time to get Europe flying again so we can reunite friends and families, allow people to return to work and restart Europe’s tourism industry, which provides so many millions of jobs.’
It comes as aviation bosses warned of the ‘devastating impact on the UK aviation industry’ and ‘on the wider economy’.
This morning Ryanair group chief executive Michael O’Leary said the 14-day isolation measures would not be ‘effective’.
He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘It will have no credibility among the travelling public, but it is manageable.
‘We know from our own customer feedback, there’s a huge pent-up desire of families who want to get away to the beaches of Spain and Portugal, where, by the way, there will be no spread of the virus.’
He added: ‘What’s ineffective is these kind of idiotic measures like a 14-day quarantine, which is completely non-science-based, when you can exempt the French and you can exempt the Irish.
‘It’s nonsense and it has no effect in limiting the spread of Covid-19.’
Tourists and locals returned to the bars and terraces in Benidorm on Monday
This morning Ryanair group chief executive Michael O’Leary said the 14-day isolation measures would not be ‘effective’
MORE international travel anarchy as Boris’s roadmap says a ‘shortlist’ of countries will be exempt from 14-day quarantine
More countries could be exempted from the strict 14-day quarantine rules set to be imposed at the UK border from June – but the Government won’t release the final list yet, its new exit plan document has revealed.
France and Ireland are on the ‘shortlist’ but it is not known if other of the most popular destinations for millions of Britons each year such as the Spain, Germany and the United States will join them when the coronavirus lockdown eases.
The exemptions will be handed out to provide ‘continued security of supply into the UK’ as well as not impeding work in national security or critical infrastructure, today’s report said.
French President Emmanuel Macron had threatened to enforce ‘tit-for-tat’ action against British travellers – but Mr Macron and Boris Johnson agreed a mutual exemption deal yesterday.
All journeys within the common travel area – which covers the UK, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man and Ireland – will also be exempt from the quarantine rules.
But critics have said excluding countries such as France and Ireland – who are both EU members – opens up travel to the rest of Europe for Britons, who would be able to travel onwards to the rest of the world from either. They would also be able to return by the same route.
There is also growing confusion about whether the quarantine rules will apply to air travellers only – or also include those travelling by ferry or train via the Channel Tunnel.
Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man will reportedly be exempt from quarantine measures. Freight drivers and other key workers will also not be subject to the restrictions.
One measures under consideration is allowing France a time-limited exemption from quarantine measures.
Mr O’Leary said the ‘reality’was that Britain is now ‘over the peak of the virus’.
He said: ‘What we now need is to take effective measures, and effective measures certainly in air travel will involve masks and temperature checks.
‘They’re not going to involve measures that have no public support like lockdown, isolation. They’re utterly unimplementable anyway because you don’t have the police resources to go and check the people.’
He also called for making face masks mandatory on trains, the Tube and at airport terminals.
Peak Retreats – which specialises in French mountain holidays – revealed a 43 per cent increase in web traffic yesterday, while another tour operator Abercrombie and Kent said inquiries for French holidays were up by nearly 25 per cent.
France has allowed businesses to reopen, with citizens permitted to travel 60 miles from their homes – but the border will stay closed until June 15 at least, with all those entering having to fill out a permit.
The French embassy in London says Britons should only travel there if it is ‘strictly necessary’, and the country’s prime minister Édouard Philippe stressed that ‘now is not the time for weekend trips’.
Airport Operators Association (AOA) chief executive Karen Dee said: ‘Quarantine would not only have a devastating impact on the UK aviation industry, but also on the wider economy.
‘If the Government believe quarantine is medically necessary, then it should be applied on a selective basis following the science, there should be a clear exit strategy and the economic impact on key sectors should be mitigated.’