Coronavirus: Can I still go on holiday?

From Thursday, holidays both inside England and abroad will be banned until 2 December, as the government tries to stop a second wave of coronavirus from spreading.

The government has also said people must not travel to second homes either in the UK or abroad.

“Sadly… our message is people should stay at home,” Cabinet Minister Michael Gove told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

However, people travelling for work or education are exempt from the new rules.

If you’ve booked a package holiday that includes flights and accommodation abroad, then you are entitled to a full refund.

However if you booked flights yourself and your airline chooses not to cancel them, you could lose your money, according to the consumer group Which?.

Johan Lundgren, chief executive of EasyJet, said “it is likely” that much of EasyJet’s UK schedule will be cancelled during lockdown, with flying set to resume in early December.

British Airways said all passengers booked to travel during lockdown can change the date of their flights without being charged. Alternatively, they can cancel the booking and take a voucher that can be put towards future flights.

Many airlines urge customers not to try to contact them – they say passengers will be notified about changes to their bookings once more detail is made available from the government.

Meanwhile, TUI advised that customers will be refunded in full or offered a credit note for holidays or flights that can’t take place.

Which? has warned that not all travel companies met their promises to refund passengers after the first lockdown began.

“Millions of people were left struggling to get refunds for cancelled flights and holidays when the government banned international travel back in March. Many still haven’t been refunded,” said Rory Boland, Which? travel editor.

“As travel restrictions are re-introduced in England, the government and regulator must do a better job of ensuring customers aren’t again left to bail out companies through refunds being unlawfully withheld,” he said.

The government is not requiring people already on holiday to cut short their trips.

“British nationals currently abroad do not need to return home immediately,” said a government statement.

Those on domestic holidays in England don’t need to rush home either. But the government warns that – because of the new coronavirus restrictions – restaurants and leisure venues will be closed from Thursday.

A government statement said: “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”.

Foreign nationals planning to arrive in the UK from abroad between 5 November – 2 December may still do so, however they will need to follow the appropriate lockdown rules in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Anyone arriving in England from abroad will need to quarantine for two weeks if they are coming from a country that isn’t on the official travel corridor list.

The ban on upcoming holidays comes just days after the government added the Canary Islands to the travel corridor list, meaning holidaymakers could travel there without having to self-isolate on their return – a move that was regarded by some as a lifeline for airlines and tour firms already struggling from the pandemic.

“The UK Government should surely have seen a week ago that it shouldn’t have been reopening travel corridors if there was a possibility that it would need to then completely reverse that decision and implement a lockdown,” said Emma Coulthurst from the holiday price comparison site TravelSupermarket.

The first wave of coronavirus – and the travel restrictions that followed – have already caused huge financial damage to companies that rely on tourism.

Industry groups representing airlines and airports say financial support from the state is vital for their sectors’ survival.

“Aviation has been devastated by the pandemic, and has essentially never had the opportunity to recover,” said a joint statement by Airlines UK chief executive Tim Alderslade and the boss of the Airport Operators Association, Karen Dee.

“A ban on international travel means airlines and airports, already hamstrung by quarantine, are closed businesses and will require financial support now – which other sectors like hospitality have received – alongside a comprehensive restart package.”

EasyJet boss John Lundgren echoed those calls: “The government’s own statistics show that activity in aviation is already 90% down on pre-pandemic levels, yet to date the government has still failed to provide any sector specific support,” he said.

“A government financial support package for UK aviation companies must be provided now.”

Last month, EasyJet warned it faces losses of more than £800m this year – the annual loss will be the first in EasyJet’s 25-year history.

Nottingham Covid breach students should be expelled

A police chief has said some students should be expelled for breaching Covid rules after at least 10 city parties were broken up over the weekend.

The gatherings, all in Nottingham, came after Nottinghamshire became subject to tier three restrictions on Friday.

One party, in Plumptre Street, led to the organiser being fined £10,000 and 38 guests fined £200 each.

Chief Constable Craig Guildford said students were not grasping the gravity of the Covid-19 situation.

As well as the Plumptre Street gathering, which was raided at 00:45 GMT on Saturday, Nottinghamshire Police said it had broken up at least nine other parties in the city on Friday and Saturday.

These included a student party in Forest Road East, where officers spotted people hiding in the garden and trying to escape through a window.

The force said 83 fines, totalling more than £26,000, had been handed out at the parties.

Mr Guildford said: “It’s quite unbelievable how some people are completely ignoring the fact that people are dying and the NHS is already so stretched, with cancer treatment being halted, because of the continued spread of Covid-19.

“Sadly many of the incidents we attended overnight again were student parties.

“We know that both universities have been trying to help get the message across to students, but for some it doesn’t seem to be getting through.”

He said he would like to see the city’s two universities expelling rule-breaking students “as a deterrent”.

Can I still go on holiday?

From Thursday, holidays both inside England and abroad will be banned until 2 December, as the government tries to stop a second wave of coronavirus from spreading.

The government has also said people must not travel to second homes either in the UK or abroad.

“Sadly… our message is people should stay at home,” Cabinet Minister Michael Gove told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

However, people travelling for work or education are exempt from the new rules.

If you’ve booked a package holiday that includes flights and accommodation abroad, then you are entitled to a full refund.

However if you booked flights yourself and your airline chooses not to cancel them, you could lose your money, according to the consumer group Which?.

Johan Lundgren, chief executive of EasyJet, said “it is likely” that much of EasyJet’s UK schedule will be cancelled during lockdown, with flying set to resume in early December.

British Airways said all passengers booked to travel during lockdown can change the date of their flights without being charged. Alternatively, they can cancel the booking and take a voucher that can be put towards future flights.

Many airlines urge customers not to try to contact them – they say passengers will be notified about changes to their bookings once more detail is made available from the government.

Meanwhile, TUI advised that customers will be refunded in full or offered a credit note for holidays or flights that can’t take place.

Which? has warned that not all travel companies met their promises to refund passengers after the first lockdown began.

“Millions of people were left struggling to get refunds for cancelled flights and holidays when the government banned international travel back in March. Many still haven’t been refunded,” said Rory Boland, Which? travel editor.

“As travel restrictions are re-introduced in England, the government and regulator must do a better job of ensuring customers aren’t again left to bail out companies through refunds being unlawfully withheld,” he said.

The government is not requiring people already on holiday to cut short their trips.

“British nationals currently abroad do not need to return home immediately,” said a government statement.

Those on domestic holidays in England don’t need to rush home either. But the government warns that – because of the new coronavirus restrictions – restaurants and leisure venues will be closed from Thursday.

A government statement said: “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”.

Foreign nationals planning to arrive in the UK from abroad between 5 November – 2 December may still do so, however they will need to follow the appropriate lockdown rules in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Anyone arriving in England from abroad will need to quarantine for two weeks if they are coming from a country that isn’t on the official travel corridor list.

The ban on upcoming holidays comes just days after the government added the Canary Islands to the travel corridor list, meaning holidaymakers could travel there without having to self-isolate on their return – a move that was regarded by some as a lifeline for airlines and tour firms already struggling from the pandemic.

“The UK Government should surely have seen a week ago that it shouldn’t have been reopening travel corridors if there was a possibility that it would need to then completely reverse that decision and implement a lockdown,” said Emma Coulthurst from the holiday price comparison site TravelSupermarket.

The first wave of coronavirus – and the travel restrictions that followed – have already caused huge financial damage to companies that rely on tourism.

Industry groups representing airlines and airports say financial support from the state is vital for their sectors’ survival.

“Aviation has been devastated by the pandemic, and has essentially never had the opportunity to recover,” said a joint statement by Airlines UK chief executive Tim Alderslade and the boss of the Airport Operators Association, Karen Dee.

“A ban on international travel means airlines and airports, already hamstrung by quarantine, are closed businesses and will require financial support now – which other sectors like hospitality have received – alongside a comprehensive restart package.”

EasyJet boss John Lundgren echoed those calls: “The government’s own statistics show that activity in aviation is already 90% down on pre-pandemic levels, yet to date the government has still failed to provide any sector specific support,” he said.

“A government financial support package for UK aviation companies must be provided now.”

Last month, EasyJet warned it faces losses of more than £800m this year – the annual loss will be the first in EasyJet’s 25-year history.

Covid: Furlough backlash amid Welsh firebreak snub claims

Extending furlough mid-way through Wales’ firebreak is “not fair at all”, the first minister has said.

Mark Drakeford said Chancellor Rishi Sunak rejected his requests to boost subsidies for wages when Wales went back into lockdown.

“I got an answer quickly to say that was not possible for a number of technical reasons and so no,” Mr Drakeford told BBC Radio Cymru.

The decision to extend furlough comes with England facing a new lockdown.

Eligible people in Wales will also benefit – as well as from a decision to extend mortgage payment holidays.

But the head of one business group said a lot of businesses had already made decisions in terms of redundancies, ahead of the furlough extension announcement.

The Treasury said Wales was not being treated differently to England.

A spokesman added: “It is now clear that much broader restrictions are needed right across the country to contain the virus, so we have extended our financial support across the UK to help millions of people continue to provide for their families.”

It previously said it could not bring forward its replacement for furlough, the new Job Support Scheme (JSS) to cover the period of Wales’ firebreak.

Mr Drakeford said: “Now when things change in England they change their minds about the furlough plan. And that’s not fair.”

Welcoming the extension of furlough, he added: “When we were asking it was impossible to do it. Now when they have made new decisions in England it is possible.”

But Welsh Secretary Simon Hart said the Welsh Government did not ask for a furlough extension, instead the request was related to the Job Support Scheme – which was due to replace furlough.

He tweeted, attaching a copy of the first minister’s letter to the chancellor: “They asked for a different scheme to be brought forward having already been told that it was impossible.”

Mr Drakeford’s cabinet is meeting on Sunday to discuss the impact of the month-long lockdown in England.

Wales’ firebreak will end on 9 November – and the date will not change as a result of the prime minister’s announcement on Saturday night, he said.

But the English lockdown “creates a new context”, Mr Drakeford said.

He used the example of pubs in Wrexham serving until 22:00 GMT after the firebreak while pubs in Chester are still closed.

If that attracts people over the border “is that going to create problems for the police in Wales?” he said.

Mr Drakeford said he raised the issue with UK Cabinet Minister Michael Gove on Saturday.

“He said it would be illegal for people in England to travel outside England during the lockdown period they will have,” said Mr Drakeford.

Health Minister Vaughan Gething told BBC Breakfast that England’s restrictions, as he understood them, meant “normal travel won’t be possible into England because of their four week decision”.

A new set of “national rules” across Wales is due to be announced on Monday.

The furlough extension has been a bone of contention between the Welsh and UK governments.

It was due to end on Saturday and be replaced with the new, less generous Job Support Scheme.

Mr Drakeford previously asked the Treasury to extend furlough for one week to coincide with the Welsh firebreak but his requests were turned down.

Mr Sunak also declined a request for the new Job Support Scheme (JSS) – which will cover 67% of wages when it replaces furlough – to be brought forward.

The Welsh Government said it had offered to pay the cost for the difference between furlough and the JSS, which a minister estimated was £11m.

But on Saturday, the furlough scheme was extended until England’s lockdown ends on 2 December, which will include a return to the previous 80% level.

Under the scheme, the government pays 80% of the salaries of staff who were kept on by their employer while unable to work, covering wages of up to £2,500 a month.

The furlough extension and the English lockdown has to be approved by MPs – they will vote on the measures on Wednesday.

Ian Price, Wales’ director of business group the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said a lot of businesses had already made decisions in terms of redundancies, ahead of the furlough extension announcement.

“It won’t have stopped those decisions being made but I think it’ll ensure that not more people are made redundant during the month of November,” he told BBC Radio Wales’ Sunday Supplement.

Plaid Cymru MP Ben Lake said: “I welcome the chancellor’s swift action to support businesses in England, but it is regrettable that Welsh workers were not prioritised in the same way.

“People across Wales have been made redundant in recent days due to the UK government’s dithering.”

Meanwhile, Conservative member of the Senedd (MS), Andrew RT Davies, said society needed to learn to live with coronavirus and avoid lockdowns that harm the economy.

“I still don’t believe that a lockdown is the solution,” he told the BBC’s Politics Wales.

“Actually a lockdown is only introduced when governments have lost control of the situation and we have to accept that.”

Mark Hadley says the England announcement – even with furlough – will hit his family’s holiday accommodation business hard.

They run a self-catering and guesthouse site in Llandovery in Carmarthenshire.

He said cancelled bookings at Llanerchindda Farm will now top £250,000 this year, due to Covid restrictions.

He said that was on an annual turnover of £340,000 – so it amounts to almost 75% of his business.

“Ninety-nine per cent plus of our business comes from England,” he said.

“Now that people will not be able to travel from England, it really means that we will be remaining pretty much closed right until the beginning of December at the very least.

“It’s a worst case scenario. We lost out the half-term weeks, which we cancelled over £20,000 of bookings over those two weeks and three weekends. 

“We missed out on that and now we’ll miss out again because we can’t get anyone coming from over the border. It’s a double whammy for us.”

He said the problems he faces are being mirrored across the tourism and hospitality sector in Wales, but he understood governments both in Wales and the UK were under pressure to act.

“It’s such a difficult situation isn’t it? I can see there is a massive health agenda and a massive potential problem for the NHS. I would not like to be in their boat,” he said.

“Could it have been handled better? Well, maybe.”

Mr Hadley said he welcomed the extension to the furlough scheme during the England lockdown, as it meant his staff were “secure for now”.

But he added: “Support for business, although they make it out to be massive, it is minimal.

“For our compensation for the firebreak we’re guarenteed hopefully a £1,000 – possibly £3,000 if we get the discretionary top-up – but nobody in our local authority can tell me how they work that discretionary amount out.

“We will be out of pocket, there are no two ways about it.”

Non-essential shops and hospitality will have to close in England for four weeks, until 2 December.

But unlike the restrictions in spring, schools, colleges and universities will be allowed to stay open.

After 2 December, the restrictions would be eased and regions would go back to the tiered system, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

Elsewhere, Scotland’s new tiered system of restrictions will come into force at 06:00 on Monday.

In Northern Ireland, pubs and restaurants were closed for four weeks on 16 October with the exception of takeaways and deliveries. Schools were closed for two weeks.

Lockdown: Government resists calls to shut schools in England

Mayors of some of the areas hardest-hit by Covid-19 have called for England’s schools and colleges to close during the lockdown.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotherham said that education institutions should close to reduce the spread of the virus more quickly.

Scientists have also warned Covid-19 is spreading fast in secondary schools.

But cabinet minister Michael Gove said: “We want to keep schools open.”

Mr Gove told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that the government was taking the necessary measures to keep schools open.

He rejected the suggestion that it would mean a longer period of lockdown because schools staying open would contribute to the continued transmission of coronavirus.

Infection rates among secondary school children “appear to be steeply increasing”, according to the latest survey by the Office of National Statistics.

An estimated 2% of children in Year 7 to Year 11 tested positive for the virus in the most recent week of testing, the highest positivity rate of any age group except sixth-formers and young adults.

Sir Jeremy Farrar, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told the Andrew Marr Show that keeping schools open was the “big difference” between the new restrictions and the lockdown in spring.

“Because we have delayed the onset of this lockdown it does make keeping schools open harder,” he said.

“We know that transmission, particularly in secondary schools, is high.”

He said that closing schools “may have to be revisited” over the next four weeks if the transmission of the virus continues to rise.

The Manchester and Liverpool mayors said at a joint press conference that they wanted to see a period of two weeks’ closure towards the second half of November, giving schools some time to prepare online learning.

Mr Burnham said: “That would create the conditions for the biggest drop in cases that we could achieve and it would then create the conditions for some kind of Christmas for more families, because they need it right now.”

Without this, the mayors said they feared their regions would simply be back in the restrictive tier three measures.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said he supports keeping schools open, but said “we’ve got to manage the risk”.

The National Education Union has called for schools and colleges to close, saying that if they stay open the restrictions will be less effective.

General Secretary Kevin Courtney said the lockdown was “another half measure and, without school closures as part of it, it is unlikely to have the effect that the prime minister wants”.

Different parts of the UK have taken a different approach to schools during the second wave of the pandemic.

In Northern Ireland, schools are due to reopen on Monday after an extended two-week half-term holiday, as part of a four-week period of additional restrictions.

And in Wales, Years 9 and above in secondary schools will only return when the nation’s “firebreak” lockdown ends on 9 November.

But Scotland aims to keep schools open under its five-level system of restrictions, coming into force on Monday.

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