Complete shut down for travel businesses already severely damaged by the pandemic
The travel industry has reacted to the news that, under new lockdown measures in England, people will not be allowed to take holidays.
From November 5 until December 2, foreign travel and overnight stays in the UK are now banned. The move comes shortly after the Canary Islands were added to the travel corridors list in what was considered a major boost for the beleaguered travel industry.
The new lockdown measures – which will see the closure of restaurants and pubs – means that the furlough scheme will be extended until December, a move welcomed by ABTA.
Mark Tanzer, chief executive, said: “The announcement that holidays in the UK and abroad will not be allowed under lockdown in England will mean a complete shut down for travel businesses which have already been severely damaged by the pandemic – but public health must come first.
“We’re pleased to see the government has recognised the significant impact the latest lockdown will have on businesses and has extended the furlough scheme. The government must also make good progress with The Global Travel Taskforce, ensuring a testing regime is ready to go as soon as lockdown is lifted.
“We will be seeking further clarification from government on the full implications of these latest measures for the travel industry, as well as assessing the support measures available for the sector. Anyone due to travel imminently on a package holiday should speak to their travel company to discuss their options.”
Johan Lundgren, chief executive of easyJet, said: “Following the government’s sudden announcement today, easyJet will operate its planned schedule until Thursday and will be reviewing its flying programme over the lockdown period.
“It is likely that much of the UK touching schedule [ie flights to, from and within the UK] will be cancelled during lockdown with our planned flying set to resume in early December.
“We will advise customers who are booked to travel over the next month of their options with a view to assisting customers to return to the country in the coming days.”
Advantage Travel Partnership chief executive Julia Lo Bue-Said said the extension of furlough was “more tokenistic than helpful”.
“These measures could mean the make or break for many travel agents up and down the country,” she said. She called for the chancellor to “urgently consider an extension of the provision of government underwritten loans” and a tax holidays of six months for the travel industry.
The government said that inbound international travel will continue to be governed by the travel corridor approach.
The transport secretary Grant Shapps has said he is “very hopeful” a new testing regime can be in place by December 1 for arrivals into the UK. The move would mean a single test for international arrivals, a week after entering the country – cutting quarantine time in half for those travelling from countries deemed “high-risk.”
Those currently on a domestic holiday will be allowed to finish their holidays, but are still subject to the requirements in England not to “go out without a reasonable excuse,” the government said.