When will travel be allowed again? Latest FCO advice as Italy, Spain and France refresh lockdown restrictions
The UK lockdown has been extended for another three weeks, with restrictions to last until at least 7 May
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced the extension on Thursday (16 Apr), after stating the latest data suggests the UK is “starting to win” the battle against coronavirus.
A number of countries have now started to ease their restrictions, but with the UK still following strict guidance, what does an extended lockdown period mean for travel?
When will we be able to travel again?
On 17 March, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advised against all but non-essential travel for a period of 30 days.
This advice was later updated to warn Britons against all travel abroad indefinitely, due to unprecedented international border closures and restrictions.
The advice from the FCO still remains in place, but with a number of countries now starting to ease restrictions, flights are starting to become operational again.
The lockdown in Wuhan, China, where coronavirus is said to have originated, was officially lifted on Wednesday (8 Apr), almost three months after it came into force.
Road and rail connections have since been reopened, and a limited air service of 200 flights departed on Wednesday (8 Apr), carrying 10,000 passengers.
If restrictions begin to ease in line with Wuhan, the UK could see passenger flights start to become operational again three months after the lockdown was imposed on 23 March - so around mid-June.
Aito, the Association of Independent Tour Operators, said it anticipates UK travel to return in time for the summer, with a spokesperson telling the Express: “If luck is on our side, then three months hence should see things calm down on the virus front.
"It’s likely that the first travellers within the UK will venture out again to explore their own country at the traditional start of the summer season."
What is the earliest date expected?
Several airlines have revealed their expectations as to when flights will become operational again, although this could change depending on how the outbreak develops.
Tui has said all holidays up to and including 14 May, along with all Marella Cruise holidays up to and including 31 May, will not go ahead.
All other holidays are continuing to operate as planned, suggesting flights will hopefully be running again by June.
Virgin Atlantic has cancelled a wave of flights for the week of 20 April, and will instead be running as a cargo-only service to help speed up medical supplies to the NHS.
The airline said the temporary changes have been made due to travel restrictions and a drop in customer demand, and is reviewing its flight programme on a daily basis.
Both Jet2 and Ryanair will not commence their normal schedule of commercial flights until at least 17 June, while easyJet said it currently has no fixed date to start running flights again.
All airlines are constantly reviewing the situation and making decisions based on the latest government advice.
What updates have been made to lockdowns in France, Spain and Italy?
In Spain, some non-essential industry workers were allowed to return to their jobs on Tuesday 14 April, including those who work in manufacturing, construction and some services. However, they must still adhere to strict safety guidelines.
The rest of the population is still being asked to work from home, with schools, bars, restaurants and other services still closed to the public.
Shops remain closed, except for supermarkets, fruit stands, bakeries, butchers, pharmacies and newsstands.
The lockdown rules in Spain are expected to last into May at the earliest, meaning tourists still have a long wait until travel to the country is allowed.
Beaches across Spain currently remain off-limits to everyone, including swimming in the sea, under the Spanish government’s state of emergency rules.
Similarly, in Italy a limited number of businesses and shops were allowed to reopen on Tuesday (14 Apr), including book shops and stores selling children’s clothes, although there are still strict rules on customer numbers and hygiene.
The general lockdown is still in place until at least 3 May, and social distancing and travel bans still remain in place across the country.
In France, lockdown measures are continuing as they are, much like in the UK, for at least another three weeks, with a deadline of 11 May for the next review of the situation.
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