Has it ever been more difficult to plan a family holiday? At the time of writing, it is illegal to travel abroad from the UK for non-work purposes. That restriction is expected to be lifted in due course, although not before 17 May, and replaced by a traffic light system, with countries ranked green, amber or red depending on how they’re coping with the virus. Only eight places are expected to be on the green list — Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Israel, Gibraltar, Iceland, Malta and the USA — and holidaymakers will be required to take a PCR test before boarding a plane home and another within 48 hours of returning. At present, the cost of a PCR test from a government-approved provider is around £120 — so if, like me, you’ve got four kids, that adds £1,440 to the cost, assuming the official test costs no more when you’re abroad.
Not that I can afford to book anywhere. Malta, for instance has just 39,500 hotel beds. As the Telegraph recently pointed out, this means that 458 people will be competing for each bed if the 18.13 million Britons who visited Spain in 2019 decide to go to Malta this summer. Just imagine if those hotels have surge pricing!
Then there are the queues at Arrivals back in the UK. The waiting time at Heathrow can be up to six hours at the moment thanks to all the Covid security checks. God knows what it’ll be like when the travel ban is lifted. I suppose the Home Office may deploy more Border Force officers to ease the bottlenecks, but I’m beginning to suspect the government is deliberately making it difficult to go abroad this summer because it wants us to spend any money we’ve saved during the lockdowns at home.
The Young family had planned to go on a driving holiday in Transylvania in late August last year, but had to cancel over concerns that Hungary might close its borders.