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Are summer holidays cancelled for 2021?

With the rollout of the vaccine well underway, many people have started thinking optimistically about booking holidays, but there has been some concern about whether summer holidays will be feasible this year.


This is unsurprising given that, at the time of writing, England is still under a national lockdown and a general ‘stay at home’ order has been issued across the UK.


Under Coronavirus lockdowns, journeys are only allowed under a few circumstances, such as for exercise, essential shopping, and work that cannot be done from home. You cannot stay anywhere overnight outside of your main residence unless you have a “reasonable excuse” such as visiting your support bubble. 


10 Downing Street has suggested that schools will not reopen until March 8th at the earliest and that the plan out of lockdown will be “cautious but irreversible”. While some easing of the restrictions may be coming, the sentiment seems to be that not everything will be back to normal just yet.


Indeed, speaking to Wired, Paul Lyons, a principal research associate working in immunology at the University of Cambridge said that we shouldn’t be counting on the prospect of travelling abroad. In the same interview, Mark Jit, a professor of vaccine epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, has said that while he hopes to be able to get out of the house and meet a couple of friends, he doesn’t  “anticipate getting on a plane or even a long distance train” this Summer.


However, TUI, speaking to The Guardian, said that they had received 2.8m bookings for summer breaks and that they expected a return to foreign travel, thanks to the vaccine rollout and rapid testing. It seems the cautious outlook that ministers and scientists have about what we will be able to do this summer hasn’t fully translated to hopeful holidaymakers.


The main reason for this is the classically inconsistent and mixed messaging we have had from policymakers on this issue. Whilst at the end of January Matt Hancock expressed hopes of “a happy and free Great British summer”, on the 10th of February, Grant Shapps refuted any prospect of types of holiday taking place.  Specificaly, he asserted that “people shouldn’t be booking holidays right now- not domestically or internationally”.


The scientific guidance suggests we need to be adopting a cautious approach. While summer might be freer than things are now and it is likely we will be able to see some family and friends again, big and extravagant plans are not on the horizon.


Last year, the lockdown left many summer holidaymakers out of pocket. This year the travel industry has made flexible provisions for Covid-19, including entitling passengers who have booked a package holiday to a full refund if the tour has not gone ahead.


However, while the financial risk has been minimised, if ministers do not make the prospect of a minimal and cautious summer clear, it could result in people feeling similar disappointments to the one they had at Christmas.


Furthermore, for travel companies who betted on the travel scene opening up, this could be another dashed financial hope. The government should be providing certainty to the travel sector so that they do not further hinder its recovery.


Of course, a dose of optimism and the prospect of an unfettered summer is tempting to me, but I’d rather the Government was firmly pragmatic and practical in its messaging rather than leaving the door open for false hopes to rise again.

Social Media Manager for Her Campus Bristol, Second year English literature student, Aspiring Journalist
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