But can we actually travel around the UK freely? Are Airbnbs and hotels accepting guests? Can we holiday in the UK with members of other households? So.many.questions.
The next question on everyone’s lips, it seems, is ‘when can we travel?’. Some of our favourite European countries are actually starting to relax travel restrictions, keen to lure us back to their sun-soaked shores in time for a holiday as the number of new Coronavirus infections falls – although there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the rules so a UK holiday seems a much more feasible option right now.
After three months (I think?) of being holed up at home, the lockdown is slowly but surely starting to lift. Hallelujah! Indeed, the high street opened up today to kickstart the economy, there’s whispers of pubs opening soon and our much-anticipated hairdressers are preparing to welcome us back.
We’ve called on Nicky Kelvin, Head of Content at The Points Guy UK, to answer our most pressing UK travel questions so we can finally have something to look forward to.
Can we travel and stay overnight at hotels and Airbnbs in the UK yet?
Firstly, it’s important to clarify that UK travel isn’t currently allowed and whilst no concrete date for UK hotel openings has been set by the government, Boris Johnson stated that he hopes “to reopen at least some of the hospitality industry and other public places provided they’re safe and enforce social distancing” in phase three of the lockdown exit plan, which would be July 4 at the earliest.
On the back of this information, plenty of hotels and Airbnb owners are preparing to reopen on July 4 (and beyond) and making the necessary preparations to ensure they reopen to guests safely.
The current rule for people in England is that they ‘may drive to outdoor open spaces irrespective of distance, so long as they respect social distancing guidance while they are there, because this does not involve contact with people outside your household.’ But ‘when travelling to outdoor spaces, it is important that people respect the rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and do not travel to different parts of the UK where it would be inconsistent with guidance or regulations issued by the relevant devolved administration.’
Demystifying this for us, Nicky explains: “This stops short of allowing you to stay away from home overnight, but with the lockdown rules being eased slowly but consistently, it shouldn’t be too long until we can have a weekend break in the Lake District again!”
Can we holiday in the UK with people outside our household?
Boris recently introduced ‘support bubbles’, which allows people to form a bubble with one other household. They can visit each other’s homes and stay overnight and won’t have to observe the two-metre social distancing rule.
As Nicky explains: “If someone is now able to get in a car with a friend who is part of their support bubble, you could now drive together to outdoor open spaces irrespective of distance, so long as they continue to respect social distancing guidance while they are there.
However, the guidance does not currently allow Brits to stay away from home – or a member of your bubble’s home – overnight, but with the lockdown rules being eased slowly but consistently, it may not be too long before staycations with people outside of our household become a reality.”
When can we stay in Airbnbs in the UK?
Again, Airbnbs can’t currently offer overnight stays unless essential (e.g. for key workers), until Boris has made the new rules clear but it seems UK Airbnb stays will boom when restrictions are lifted.
“As we approach a ‘new normal’ in the weeks and months following the Coronavirus pandemic, short-term rentals stand to be more popular than ever,” explains Nicky. “After all, travellers can book a private home with a kitchen and a pool, eliminating the need to have dinners out, stand in queues to check in or vie for a sliver of crowded beachfront.”
In fact, the company has already started to offer a glimpse into what exactly post-Coronavirus vacation rentals will look like. For example, travellers can expect updated cleaning protocols, including a 72-hour buffer period between stays.
“The way we travel is different now, and guests are expecting a higher standard of cleanliness more than ever,” says the travel giant. “In a recent survey by Airbnb, guests said that concerns about cleanliness were the biggest barrier to booking a place to stay. Government authorities are also looking at cleaning practices in the home sharing sector as they create guidelines to reopen and protect their communities.”
Whilst we can’t officially travel in the UK yet (and we will of course be updating this article as and when things change), here are the best UK cottages to consider booking in the future and a look at what a post-lockdown hotel stay could look like. If you’re not ready to leave the house yet, here’s our guide to having the ultimate ‘facation’. Happy holidays!