COVID-19: Will we be able to take a holiday this year and, if so, when?

Monday 22nd February 2021 15:15 GMT

But what are their chances of getting what they want - and equally importantly - when?

Follow live coverage on Sky News as the PM is expected to address the House of Commons at 3.30pm and lead a Downing Street news conference at 7pm

The expert view

UK Hospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said "we're all waiting with baited breath" to see the details of Boris Johnson's roadmap out of lockdown in England.

Indoor hospitality could open by May, she suggested, with hotels possibly reopening by June.

"It's a very long roadmap, double the amount of time we've already gone through in this third lockdown without any revenue," she told Sky News.

The aviation sector has been one of the worst hit by the crisis, with airports deserted and thousands of jobs axed thanks to travel restrictions designed to curb the spread of the virus.

And many of those in the sector have criticised the government for the lack of financial help and the sometimes haphazard way it has brought in things such as quarantine, testing and other measures.

One of the most outspoken has been Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary, who has criticised the government for its "mismanagement of COVID".

Mr O'Leary wants more support for the sector and a suspension of air passenger duty on flights.

Heathrow chief executive John Holland Kaye called in December for a "roadmap for vaccine rollout in the UK during 2021, so all businesses - aviation included - can plan accordingly".

At the time he warned that international travel out of Britain's busiest airport had effectively been stopped, with around 60 countries closing their borders to travel from the UK.

The airport has, like others, seen passenger numbers slump this year to levels not seen for decades, with a full recovery not anticipated for several years.

Stage One - March

Ministers are doubtless mindful of the dire predicament Ms Nicholls described and limited relief that is at hand.

From 8 March, when the lockdown easing plan starts, two people will be able to meet outside for a coffee "to address some of the issues around loneliness, and of course mental health as well", said vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi.

From 29 March, when many schools break for Easter, the "rule of six" returns, along with new measures allowing two households totalling more than six people to meet outside - giving opportunities for food and drinks sales.

Outdoor sporting activities will also resume, Mr Zahawi said.

Analysis: Why many people will be disappointed when they hear PM's lockdown lifting plan

A welcome in the hillside?

The picture is different in Wales, however, where self-contained holiday accommodation could reopen in time for the Easter period, First Minister Mark Drakeford said last week.

"The most that would be would be the reopening of self-contained accommodation where there aren't shared facilities and there isn't social mixing."

He said that they could pursue a similar policy to last summer with self-contained holiday accommodation opening first.

This could mean cottages, lodges and potentially hotel rooms taking bookings.

But he also made clear he did not expect hospitality to be part of that initial reopening of the economy.

In other words, no eating out.

Scotland

The Scottish government is expected to publish a "revised strategic framework" on Tuesday, but First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said travel restrictions are likely to stay in place and Scots were warned against booking breaks within the country during the Easter holidays.

It was "highly unlikely" that hotels and self-catering venues would be fully open by then to accommodate people, she added.

Caution at Stormont

Northern Ireland's Executive is promising "baby steps" towards easing restrictions, but from 8 March, groups of 10 or more from up to two households are able to gather in parks or other outdoor public spaces.

The public have been warned not to make any great plans for Easter weekend.

The next stage

Under the five-weeks-per-stage timetable, 12 April is when the next step towards full easing is expected.

For the hospitality industry, whose members will be hoping to be included in that second stage in some form, 5 April would be the point at which they would receive final confirmation.

Various reports suggest hospitality could return at some point between the Easter weekend and May, with an initial focus on outdoor provision.

The longer-term picture of the government's plans is not yet clear, but The Telegraph reports that April is the earliest pubs and restaurants are likely to be allowed to reopen, with service only permitted outdoors.

The light at the end of the tunnel

The detail on what is being proposed for the remaining stages is expected later, but four five-week sections starting 8 March means the plan could end on 26 July.

As parents know, that is tantalisingly close to the start of the school summer holidays and holds out the promise of a traditional summer vacation.

And, on paper, the rest of the world should welcome Britons, as 17 million adults have already had a first vaccine dose, with the aim to give all adults a dose by around the same time.

Opting to go for a 12-week gap between jabs rather than three has allowed the UK to get more of its citizens inoculated at a faster rate than many other countries.

Some, though, may not want to travel to a country where the coverage is lower, which, in turn, could mean an even sunnier summer for the UK holiday industry.

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