Travel companies have reacted with shock to the government’s new lockdown measures and ban on non-essential travel.
The four-week lockdown for England will begin on Thursday (5 November), with non-essential shops to close. Citizens are urged not to leave their homes unless for education, essential work, exercise, or to shop for essentials.
The furlough scheme has been extended until the start of December.
Under the new lockdown measures in England, people will not be allowed to take holidays in the UK or abroad. "Overnight stays and holidays away from primary residences will not be allowed – including holidays in the UK and abroad," the guidance states.
Mark Tanzer, Abta chief executive, said: “Today’s announcement that holidays in the UK and abroad will not be allowed under lockdown in England will mean a complete shutdown for travel businesses which have already been severely damaged by the pandemic – but public health must come first.
"We’re pleased to see the government has recognised the significant impact the latest lockdown will have on businesses and has extended the furlough scheme until the start of December.
"The government must also make good progress with The Global Travel Taskforce, ensuring a testing regime is ready to go as soon as lockdown is lifted.
“We will be seeking further clarification from government on the full implications of these latest measures for the travel industry, as well as assessing the support measures available for the sector.
“Anyone due to travel imminently on a package holiday should speak to their travel company to discuss their options.”
EasyJet holidays said following the government’s "sudden" announcement, it was contacting thousands of customers with bookings through to 2 December to offer support and share their options "in light of holidays being cancelled as a result of a ban on non-essential travel".
Garry Wilson, chief executive, said: “Whilst the announcement is disappointing, as it came with no travel industry consultation or pre-warning, we are contacting thousands of our customers to share their options and offer reassurance.
“The steps the government has taken, which effectively prevents leisure air travel from the UK, has caused further disappointment for our customers who have been looking forward to well-earned holidays, many of whom have already faced disruption following the inconsistency of Covid-19 policies across the UK.
“We need to work to get Europe flying again in a more structured European-wide approach led by scientific data, with an effective testing system and consistent protocols across the continent. A standard scheme of testing across Europe is key, as it will provide more certainty for customers and get them travelling with confidence again.”
Tim Alderslade, chief executive, Airlines UK, and Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, said: “This announcement is a 180-degree reversal of policy, since the government added the Canaries to the travel corridors list just last week.
“Aviation has been devastated by the pandemic, and has essentially never had the opportunity to recover. A ban on international travel means airlines and airports, already hamstrung by quarantine, are closed businesses and will require financial support now – which other sectors like hospitality have received – alongside a comprehensive restart package.
“This needs to include immediate additional economic support for the winter and steps to support recovery, including urgent roll-out of a testing regime, business rates relief for airports and an emergency waiver of Air Passenger Duty that will be essential for enabling and stimulating international travel – absolutely vital for the UK economy – for as long as we are living with this virus. Hundreds of thousands of jobs and our economic recovery are on the line.”