Travel companies set for surge ahead of Covid rule-change

We’re all going on a summer holiday… if we’ve had two jabs: Travel companies are set for surge in bookings as Grant Shapps prepares to announce Covid rule-change for the fully vaccinated

  • Grant Shapps expected to confirm today new measures will kick in from July 19 
  • It means quarantine-free holidays will be unlocked for millions of families 
  • Measures will turn vast majority of countries green for double-jabbed people 

Holiday firms were gearing up for a bookings surge last night as Grant Shapps prepared to announce that fully-vaccinated Britons will be free to travel abroad without having to self-isolate.

The Transport Secretary is expected to confirm today that new measures will kick in from July 19 for holidaymakers returning from amber list countries. He will confirm the move during a speech in the Commons.

It means quarantine-free holidays will be unlocked for millions of families to more than 130 countries – including the US, Thailand and most European countries.

The Transport Secretary is expected to confirm today that new measures will kick in from July 19 for holidaymakers returning from amber list countries

As it stands, travellers returning from these destinations must quarantine for up to ten days – regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not.

Only travellers returning from a small list of green countries can avoid quarantine.

But the new measures will effectively turn the vast majority of countries green for double-jabbed people.

Amid growing speculation in recent days, comparison site TravelSupermarket said more than half of all new bookings were for the last week of July or first week of August – up from 10 per cent a fortnight ago. 

Meanwhile 62 per cent of all package holiday searches are for July/August, up 20 per cent on last month.

British Airways said searches for holidays to amber list countries on its website yesterday were up 45 per cent compared with the same day last week.  And Jet2 said it had seen ‘enormous demand’ for flights. 

British Airways said searches for holidays to amber list countries on its website yesterday were up 45 per cent compared with the same day last week

Martin Nolan, of booking site Skyscanner, said: ‘It is clear that people are aching to be able to travel again… as evidenced by the immediate uptick in searches and bookings.’

Paul Charles, CEO of The PC Agency, a travel consultancy, said firms were racing to bring staff back off furlough to handle the expected surge in bookings.

He said: ‘My advice is for people to lock in tomorrow on the deals they see before there’s an announcement because prices will rise when demand spikes.

‘I think we will see a lot of last-minute bookings for trips at short notice. Families will confirm some trips but then you will get a lot of couples that are fully-jabbed.

‘I think there will be a rush to the border by the double-jabbed over-40s and the silver generation.

‘The pent up demands is enormous. There will be a lot of trips to long-distance, more exotic locations. But Spain, France and Portugal will also all do really well.’

He added: ‘One issue is resources and whether firms have the staff and capacity to deliver it.

‘I know some travel firms that are bringing people back from furlough to cope with the expected increase in demand.’

Under the revamped rules, the ‘do not travel’ advice will be dropped and vaccinated UK residents will be allowed to travel home from amber countries without the need to quarantine.

Children, who are not eligible for vaccination, will be exempted from self-isolation if they are travelling with family.

But they will have to take additional tests. Ministers will also announce the finalised plans for this.

Those who have not received both vaccines will still have to quarantine when they arrive in the UK or face a £10,000 fine.

The change will make no difference to red list countries such as India, Turkey and Brazil.

Anyone returning from a red list country must quarantine in an approved hotel at a cost of £1,750 each.

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