With the October half-term approaching, many people would normally be thinking of taking a short holiday in the UK.
However, with many local restrictions being put in place – some at short notice – making travel plans may be a complicated business.
What are the rules for England?
If you live in an area that is not under local restrictions, you can holiday anywhere in England that is not itself subject to local restrictions.
You can holiday with people from other households (as long as you socially distance), but you can only travel in groups of six and under.
If you holiday in an area which faces local restrictions, such as Northumberland, you can only stay in private accommodation (such as a cottage or apartment) with members of your own household or support bubble.
You can stay in a hotel or B&B with another household, but you should avoid sharing rooms with people you do not live with, and you should avoid socialising with them indoors – for example in restaurants or bars.
If you live in an area of England with local restrictions, you can holiday outside that area, but you must not stay in private accommodation with anyone from outside your own household or support bubble, or socialise with them in any indoor setting.
Where can you travel in Scotland?
You can travel anywhere within Scotland, unless there are local restrictions in place advising you not to do so.
The government has advised people living in the central belt region – which stretches from Glasgow to Edinburgh – not to travel outside their area from 10-25 October inclusive, if they don’t need to. Likewise, people elsewhere in Scotland have been asked not to visit the central belt unless it is necessary.
However, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also said, “We are not insisting that people cancel any half-term breaks they have planned.”
You cannot visit another household, or stay with them.
You can stay in private accommodation, such as a flat, caravan or holiday cottage, but only with members of your own household.
You can stay in a hotel or B&B, but you cannot share rooms with someone from outside your household.
People in Scotland are advised not to travel to areas of England where local restrictions are in place, unless the journey is absolutely necessary.
Where can you visit in Wales?
Travel in and out of any area under local restrictions is limited to essential journeys only.
You cannot travel into any of these areas to take a holiday, and likewise, if you live in a restricted area, you cannot leave to go on holiday elsewhere in the UK.
Police can issue fixed penalty notices for breaking this rule, or you could be prosecuted and fined by the courts.
People who live in an area with no local restrictions are free to travel to anywhere else that has no local restrictions – whether inside or outside Wales.
What are Northern Ireland’s travel rules?
If you live in an area which is not under local restrictions, you are allowed to travel elsewhere in the UK, while following local regulations.
Mixing indoors with other households is not permitted in Northern Ireland, and neither is staying with another household outside your support bubble.
Only one local authority area – Derry City and Strabane – currently faces local restrictions.
People living in this area have been advised to avoid all unnecessary travel. Likewise, people are recommended only to travel to the area if it is absolutely necessary.
What if my holiday accommodation is closed because of local restrictions?
If you’re not able to take a planned holiday because of local restrictions, the government says it “encourages” accommodation providers to offer alternative dates, or – if that cannot be arranged – provide a refund. However, it says this would depend on the terms of the booking contract.
Many companies are trying to be flexible. For example, Haven Caravans and Center Parcs are among those offering cancellation, refund or free re-booking if a break is cancelled because of Covid-19.
How can I protect myself financially if my holiday is cancelled?
Make sure you carefully read any terms and conditions before you make a booking,
You will be better protected if you pay for your holiday using a credit or debit card than by bank transfer to a private property owner.
What happens if I have to cancel because I’m self-isolating?
The Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) says that if this happens, strictly speaking, it’s your fault you can’t go on holiday rather than the fault of the travel company.
It says that holiday companies want to be flexible because they want to encourage people to travel, but ultimately it’s “entirely up to them”. There are no rules or laws to compel them to look kindly on you.
Should I get travel insurance for UK holidays?
Insurance is all about covering losses from unforeseen circumstances – and, unfortunately, coronavirus and the consequences of it no longer count as unforeseen, the Association of British Insurers says.
Insurers are offering increasingly flexible policies, though. Trailfinders, for example, offers Covid-19 cover which includes trips being cancelled, shortened due to illness or lengthened due to having to self-isolate after falling ill while on holiday.
What should I do if I get coronavirus while I’m on holiday?
The current guidance from the UK government is that anyone who develops coronavirus symptoms should self-isolate for at least seven days. So things get a little tricky if you become unwell with a couple of days of your holiday left.
Abta says it’s possible the booking providers might let you stay in their accommodation for the duration of your illness, if you become ill while away – but it’s unlikely they’d cover the cost of this.
But there is no legislation to cover any specific rights that holidaymakers may have if they get coronavirus symptoms and need to extend their holiday.