U.K. Says Britons Should Take Holidays But Beware Rule Changes

Boris Johnson’s government said Britons should stick to their holiday plans to countries not on the U.K. coronavirus quarantine list, but warned advice could change suddenly and urged airlines and tour operators to show “understanding” by offering refunds and re-bookings.

“Do go to France, to Italy and other places on your holidays but do appreciate that we are at a very risky moment in this pandemic,” U.K. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told Sky News on Wednesday. Asked on the BBC about reports airlines including Ryanair are refusing to refund tickets, he replied: “People should not be penalized for doing the right thing.”

Dowden was speaking as ministers faced a backlash from travelers and airlines after advising against all non-essential travel to Spain and imposing a 14-day quarantine on people arriving from the country. The minister’s comments on Wednesday will do little to allay fears that more countries could be suddenly added to the quarantine list if Covid-19 cases rise.

U.K. Says Britons Should Take Holidays But Beware Rule Changes

On Tuesday, Johnson said the U.K. must remain “vigilant” about a spike in infections in Europe, and said the government “will continue throughout the summer to take such action where it is necessary.”

The U.K.’s blanket rule on travelers returning from all of Spain, as opposed to a region-based approach taken by other countries, is a significant blow to the country’s hotel industry and angered Madrid. It’s also a major setback for the beleaguered airline industry, which was hit by the collapse of international travel during the pandemic.

“This is sadly yet another blow for British holidaymakers and cannot fail to have an impact on an already troubled aviation industry,” British Airways said in a statement, adding that the company is “disappointed” about the advice on travel to Spain.

Both British Airways and Ryanair say they allow customers to change bookings to a later date if they decide not to travel on operating flights, but do not allow refunds. Ryanair has said it plans to fly to Spain as usual despite the new U.K. guidance.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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