Coronavirus: People told not to book summer holidays

Downing Street has said 'it is a fact' that current guidelines 'do not allow for people going on holidays'.

People have been advised against booking holidays until strict rules on social distancing have been loosened.

Downing Street has said “it is a fact” that guidelines during the pandemic “do not allow for people going on holidays”.

The sentiment of the warning was echoed by UK Government transport secretary, Grant Shapps, who revealed he “won’t be booking a summer holiday at this point”.

Scotland and the rest of the UK have been in lockdown since the evening of March 23, while the Foreign and Commonwealth Office had already advised against all but essential travel from March 17.

As a result, No 10 has suggested summer holidays should not be booked yet as there is no certainty of when travel can resume.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “It is a fact that both the guidelines and the official Foreign Office advice do not allow for people going on holidays.”

Speaking on the radio on Friday, Mr Shapps said: “I won’t be booking a summer holiday at this point, let’s put it that way.”

He added that people will “want to see what the trajectory of this disease is in the next few weeks”.

However, his comments sparked an angry response from Abta, which represents UK travel firms.

It said in a statement: “It was a thoughtless comment and not based on any facts about what we know today about the future of the pandemic, but it shows complete disregard for the UK travel industry, the hundreds of thousands of people it employs and the struggle it is facing in this current crisis.

“It would be better if the Government focused on taking the necessary steps to support the sector rather than undermining confidence in it.”

Abta has warned that many travel firms will not be able to survive unless the Government amends refund rules.

Under EU law, travel companies must refund customers within 14 days if their package holiday is cancelled.

But Abta says the number of claims means many firms will collapse if they are forced to pay out cash refunds.

It wants the Government to allow companies to offer credit notes as a short-term alternative.

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