Are hotels open? Date hospitality accommodation could reopen after lockdown in England - and rest of UK
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Hospitality has been closed since the start of the third national lockdown imposed by the government in response to the Covid pandemic.
But, with encouraging news around the effectiveness and speed of the coronavirus vaccine rollout, could holidays be back on the agenda?
Let's take a look.
Why are hotels closed?
All holiday accommodation was closed when the country went into a third national lockdown on 4 January 2021.
This included hotels, hostels, bed and breakfast accommodation, holiday apartments, homes, cottages or bungalows, campsites, caravan parks or boarding houses, canal boats or any other vessels.
These businesses were only allowed to open if they were offering accommodation for a person with essential reasons for travel, such as self-isolation or if an individual is unable to return to their main residence.
Leisure or holiday is not permitted as part of the domestic travel ban under the current coronavirus lockdown rules, which were enforced by Mr Johnson at the start of the year.
This decision was made in response to variants of the Covid virus pushing up infection rates throughout society, increasing hospital admissions and sadly deaths across the country.
When will hotels reopen?
With an improving situation, as the vaccine programme continues at pace to offer the most vulnerable protection against the deadly disease, there is reason for optimism for the months ahead.
Infection rates and the number of people in hospital with Covid have fallen in recent weeks, leading to Mr Johnson and the UK government looking at ways to ease some of the restrictions imposed.
The PM outlines a four-stage plan for opening up society from lockdown, highlighting key dates from the return of schools on 8 March, the Rule of Six from 29 March and the reopening of non-essential shops from 12 April.
Travel within England was permitted again from 12 April, along with self-contained holiday stays like self-catering lets, camp sites and visiting second homes, as part of the second stage of lockdown easing.
Hotels and B&Bs, however, are not allowed to reopen until the third stage of the roadmap, which is dated from 17 May at the earliest.
Group holidays and hotel stays will be allowed to go ahead as normal from 21 June, by which point all legal limits on social contact will be removed, according to the roadmap.
People will also be allowed to go on day trips to attractions such as zoos and theme parks from 12 April, although seeing the inside pubs and restaurants won’t be permitted until 17 May.
What are the important factors?
The timetable is based on four factors:
- the continued success of the vaccine rollout and flow of supplies
- vaccines continues to have a positive impact in reducing the number of people dying and admitted to hospital with Covid
- infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations, which would put pressure on the NHS
- any variants of concern highlighted do not fundamentally change government's assessment of the risks
When can I book a holiday?
Many hotels and other accommodation providers based in the UK are taking bookings, though holidaymakers are being advised not to rush in.
Any bookings may be cancelled if overnight stays for leisure purposes are not permitted, though that hasn't stopped some Brits desperate for a change of scenery after the locked down winter months.
Cornwall and the south-west region has proven to be very popular with many eyeing a staycation this year. Some international travel will be allowed from 17 May.
When will hotels reopen in the rest of the UK?
In Scotland, tourist accommodation including hotels can reopen with restrictions in place from 16 April.
People in Wales have been able to visit self-contained holiday accommodation, such as hotels with en-suite facilities and room service, from 27 March, with a provisional date of 17 May provided for the reopening for other hotels and guest houses.
Hotels can reopen from 24 May in Northern Ireland.