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The language and legislation surrounding the topic of travel in the UK is nothing if not convoluted. “Can we go on holiday this summer?” is met with quarantine- and Covid-19-free travel bubbles, air bridges between countries and so on. And each country within the union has separate guidelines and legislation. So what travel is possible?
On 4 July, restrictions were eased to allow domestic travel across England. There is no limitation on how far you can go, and all accommodation options except hostels are open for business so you can stay overnight. This includes hotels, self-catering apartments, campsites and caravan parks, all of which operate under the Government’s 1m (3.3ft) social-distancing rule. Spa facilities remain closed in hotels until further notice.
Meanwhile, 4 July also saw pubs, restaurants and cinemas welcomed back customers – with pubs operating table service only. The same went for cultural venues such as galleries and museums and attractions. These include Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Alton Towers, but you’ll need to book tickets for both in advance.
Brits are also be able to cross borders from England into Scotland and Wales without the need to quarantine.
International travel is permitted from England to countries with open borders, and, if you have visited a “low-risk” country, does not require you to self-quarantine on return. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has placed more than 50 countries in this bracket, including France, Italy, Spain and Greece in Europe, Barbados, St Lucia and Canada in the Americas, and Hong Kong, Thailand and South Korea in Asia-Pacific.
However, destinations including the United States and Portugal, which has reported new spikes in cases, require Brits to self-quarantine on return. This is a two-week mandatory quarantine, with a fine of £1,000 in place for breaches.
Flights are leaving London Heathrow for Lisbon twice a week via TAP Air Portugal, while British Airways is operating flights to select airports in Spain. BA, Alitalia and Ryanair are flying Brits to multiple airports in Italy. Italy is to ban all hand luggage on flight from 26 July.
In France, which Brits can reach by train via a limited Eurostar service or by air with British Airways, Air France and easyJet to select airports, a voluntary 14-day quarantine is in place and if you’re only on a short trip, you are requested to self-isolate while there.
Meanwhile, Iceland is offering screening upon arrival as an alternative to self-quarantining for two weeks, and is accessible via easyJet, Icelandair and Wizz Air from London to Reykjavík.
Greece has extended its ban on UK flights until 15 July.
Hotels and bars welcomed back visitors on 3 July as public spaces including restaurants, pubs, cinemas and theatres resumed business. There are no driving restrictions on the island of Ireland now, meaning residents can travel to the Republic of Ireland.
Since 26 June, caravan parks, camping sites and self-catering accommodation have been open, permitting tourists to enjoy outdoor escapes.
International flights are leaving Belfast International Airport via Easy Jet, Ryan Air and Wizz Air. From 7 July, destinations will also include Amsterdam, Dubrovnik, Corfu and Malaga.
On return, self-isolation is mandatory for a period of 14 days, with a fine for £1,000 if it’s breached. However, if you are travelling back from England or the Republic of Ireland, you will be exempt.
Wales has lifted its “stay local” restrictions, which had been in place since March. This means Welsh residents can travel wirthout restrictions. However, First Minister Mark Drakeford has encouraged people to think “carefully about where we go and why”.
Authorities are also advising the public to find alternative day trips if beauty spots are too busy. “Please remember that if it feels too crowded, it is too crowded and have a ‘plan B’ ready for your visit,” said a spokeswoman for the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority.
The BBC reports that no announcement has been made for holiday accommodation with shared facilities. However, from 11 July hotels, B&Bs and hostels offering ensuite rooms and room service will open. This relaxation extends to glamping accommodation and boats that have separate kitchens and bathrooms.
Restrictions are set to ease as the month continues, with restaurants and pubs reopening outdoors from 13 July.
As it stands, a decision has not been made as to whether Wales will follow England’s lead of allowing non-essential overseas travel. Restrictions are reviewed every three weeks.
Meanwhile, flights to and from Spain went ahead at Cardiff airport on 3 July, despite the Welsh government urging them to cancel.
The 5mi (8km) advisory limit on travelling has been lifted for Scottish residents. This means people in Scotland can enjoy domestic travel, such as hiking in the Cairngorms mountain range and camping in the Highlands.
Scots started enjoying local attractions such as zoos and outdoor sports courts from 29 June, while beer gardens reopened on 6 July. From 10 July, people will be allowed to meet up with two other households indoors, and as of 15 July, further openings will include hotels, along with indoor pubs and restaurants.
A gradual easing of restrictions is expected. The Scottish Government website reports that international border health measures are set to be introduced.