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When will UK borders reopen?

When will UK borders reopen?
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If you didn’t already know, the government has announced its four-step roadmap for easing the country out of lockdown. So, what does this mean for UK borders and when can we go on holiday?

When will UK borders reopen for international travel?

International travel will restart no earlier than 17 May, so don’t book your foreign holidays just yet.

That decision will also depend on recommendations from the Global Travel Taskforce. Their report isn’t due to be published until 12 April and even then, there’s no promise of what we will or won’t be able to do. 

Plus, the government will need to make a decision about ‘Covid passports‘.

Each of the four home nations is responsible for setting its own rules on international travel. At the time of writing, no announcements have been made in Wales and Northern Ireland. A summary from the Scottish government alludes to a ‘play it by ear’ approach and no dates have been proposed.

When can we go on holiday in the UK?

If you’re desperate to get away from your own four walls, you’ll have to wait until 12 April. Again, this is the absolute earliest you’ll be able to get away, and it will depend on how Covid data evolves.

Where you can go is also still unclear as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will need to decide whether to allow people from other parts of the UK to visit.

If all goes well, you’ll be able to stay in self-contained accommodation (such as a holiday cottage) with your household. Bear in mind that hotels, B&Bs and guest houses won’t be opening until 17 May at the earliest.  

Should I book a summer holiday now?

If you’re looking at a staycation, some caravan parks and campsites have already taken a huge number of bookings for later in the year. So, if you haven’t already jumped at the chance of freedom, you might need to get in quick.

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If you decide to take the plunge and book a summer holiday in the UK, it’s a good idea to look for providers offering flexible terms just in case you need to cancel. Although, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has suggested that you should get your money back regardless (but stresses that this is subject to interpretation).

What about booking a summer holiday abroad? Well, all in all, it’s probably wiser to wait and see what the Global Travel Taskforce recommends on 12 April. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from booking two weeks in the sun and sand but again, look for operators with flexible, refundable deposits so you don’t lose out.

What happens if I’ve already got a summer holiday booked?

If you’ve already got an Easter or summer getaway planned, you’ll need to check the terms and conditions of your provider’s policy. Based on the CMA’s guidelines, you should be entitled to a refund if products or services aren’t delivered. 

Remember that you’re under no obligation to accept holiday vouchers over a refund.

If getting your money back proves tricky, you could also make a claim on your travel insurance. If that’s the case, just bear in mind that what you’re entitled to will depend on the Ts and Cs set out and when you bought the policy.

For example, since coronavirus was declared a pandemic, it’s become an exclusion for some insurers. That means you may not be covered for some or any coronavirus-related cancellations. 

Alternatively, you could claim a refund on your credit card under Section 75.

Key dates to consider

Sadly, there’s no definitive answer for when UK borders will reopen, but so far, this is what we can expect:

12 April 2021

  • Holidays in the UK permitted – single households only in self-contained accommodation.
  • Global Travel Taskforce publishes its recommendations for international travel.

17 May 2021

  • Hotels, B&Bs and guest houses can reopen.
  • International travel can resume – subject to review.

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