THE UK should plan for travel corridors between countries with low infections from next month, Heathrow’s boss urged today.
John Holland-Kaye, the airport’s CEO, told Sky News that a 14-day quarantine scheme for travellers coming into the country could only be in place for a “relatively short period of time” and a long-term plan was needed.
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He revealed that passenger numbers at Heathrow had dropped by 97 per cent to just a few thousand a day.
The airport is now using thermal imaging to check temperatures for anyone flying, to try and stop the spread of the bug.
“We need to start planning ahead for how we start to reopen our borders so we can start to get the economy back on its feet,” Mr Holland-Kaye told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday today.
“It’s not just about holidays, aviation is the lifeblood of the economy.”
And he urged the UK Government to join forces with the US and EU to come up with a worldwide approach to get the world flying again.
Covid-19 passports would be an option, but the UK needs to work with others to internationally recognise it, he said.
If there were two countries with a low risk of transmission in each country, “There should be a free flow on passenger between those countries”, he suggested.
But any countries with high risk of transmission and a likelihood of passing on infections, should have much tighter controls.
“That is the kind of thing we could be thinking about for the next phase in a month or so’s time, as we see the infection rates coming down in this country, and we want to start opening up the economy again,” he added.
At the moment all non-essential travel is discouraged by the Government outside the UK.
Inside the country people in England can now take day trips, but must not stay away overnight.
Last week Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was “likely” overseas summer holidays wouldn’t happen this year.
And Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said booking anything now was a “risk”.
But there is hope for UK hotels and hostels opening up form July 1 – if the rate of transmission is low enough.
Britain plans to introduce a 14-day quarantining scheme at borders in the coming weeks, which will force anyone coming in to isolate.
However, Britain and France were said to be trying to sort out an exemption – to the fury of other EU nations – but those plans are likely to be dropped.
So when CAN I go holiday? We answer your biggest questions on travelling after lockdown
Travel Editor Lisa Minot answers some of the most regularly-asked questions from Sun Travel readers.
Q) My holiday was cancelled but I am still waiting for my money back and can’t get through to the company.
A) This is a familiar problem and one there is frustratingly no answer to. If you have bought a package holiday, the regulations state you should receive your refund within two weeks, for a cancelled flight it is seven days. But the sheer number of passengers now trying to get their money back mean this is just not practical with firms running with reduced workforces or trying to access new ways to work from home.
If you are struggling, try calling at unsocial hours. Email or even write a letter with your request. Sending a letter via recorded delivery or having a chain of emails will give you concrete evidence you have tried and failed to get your money back and could help you get your money back via travel insurance or your credit card instead.
Q) I have been offered a refund credit note or voucher instead of a refund – should I accept it?
A) Many travel companies, desperate to remain solvent at a time when they are simply giving money back to customers with nothing coming in, are encouraging holidaymakers to accept a voucher to use once we can travel again.
While many would like to support the industry – and get their holiday – the problem remains that the Government has not indicated if these notes or vouchers are financially-protected in the same way a package holiday would be. If you can afford to accept a refund voucher or note and are wanting to travel as soon as you can, you may want to agree.
Q) When will we be able to go on holiday?
A) Simple answer – I don’t know! While everyone is desperate for things to return to normal, it doesn’t look like that is going to happen for a long time.
What is clear is if lockdown easing measures already suggested go ahead as planned, we could be looking at holidaying at home from the start of July.
But any spike could see moves to open up the hospitality industry delayed. My feeling is that holidays abroad may really only be possible from the autumn.
Schools will open during the holidays under secret plans for summer camps
It’s likely that Ireland will be exempt from any quarantine measures as it’s in the Common Travel Area.
Spain has banned Brits from visiting the country until mid-June in new restrictions which could drag on even longer.
The World Health Organisation has also warned of a second wave of coronavirus hitting Europe if lockdowns are eased too rapidly.
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