TRAVELLERS booking summer holidays now are “taking a chance” and could risk having to cancel it again, the Transport Secretary admitted today.
Grant Shapps said that right now Brits could book a holiday but they were gambling on the travel advice changing in the coming months.
Grant Shapps said people booking holidays were ‘taking a chance’
At the moment only essential travel abroad is permitted – but Brits can go on day trips within the UK.
However, they must not stay overnight, meaning staycations are off the cards for now.
Mr Shapps told the BBC: “Right now you cant travel abroad.
“If you are booking it then you are clearly, by the very nature, taking a chance on where the direction of this virus goes and therefore where the travel advice is in the future.
“That is not something people would want to take lightly of course.”
He hinted that Brits could lose their cash, or find it hard to get refunds.
The news comes just 24 hours after Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was “likely” that all summer holidays abroad would have to be cancelled thanks to the virus.
But European travel company TUI said on Wednesday there would still be a summer holiday season this year and it was ready to resume providing holidays.
Ryanair said it would start flying again from July.
The European Union’s executive Commission has today proposed a gradual lifting of borders in an attempt to kick-start the tourist industry.
“Our message is we will have a tourist season this summer,” said economic affairs commissioner Paolo Gentiloni, “even if it’s with security measures and limitations.”
Austria and Germany have become the latest EU countries to agree to remove travel restrictions.
But Spain yesterday announced it would implement a 14 day quarantine for anyone coming in to the country.
The UK will do the same in the coming weeks, Boris Johnson revealed at the weekend.
But those coming from France and Ireland will be exempt for now, No10 said.
The news sparked hopes of a getaway in the South of France could be on the cards in the coming months.
In the same interviews this morning Mr Shapps insisted that Britain would not be going back to a “world of austerity” after the coronavirus crisis is over.
Mr Shapps insisted the Government had made no plans to fund the furlough scheme by slashing public spending.
He was speaking after reports the pandemic will cost taxpayers an estimated £300billion and on the same day the economy shrank by 2 per cent.
He said: “I don’t think we recognise those figures.
“Right now we are right in the middle of this thing so it’s not right to come up with an end figure, because nobody can know.
“Had we not done this we’d have ended up with a much bigger bill because millions of people would be unemployed right now.
“In terms of payment, we will have to have future budgets and get to that, but right now we are still in the midst of this thing and we are clear that we are not going to go back to a world of austerity in order to do that.”
Rishi Sunak set out changes to the furlough scheme yesterday
Yesterday the Chancellor announced that the current furlough arrangement – under which workers on leave receive 80 per cent of their monthly pay up to £2,500 – would be extended until October.
Mr Shapps’ fiery defence of the Government comes after it was claimed the impact of the crisis could also bring an end to the triple lock on state pensions and a two-year freeze on public sector pay.
A leaked document dated May 5 was drawn up by officials for Chancellor Rishi Sunak and labelled “Official – market sensitive”, the Telegraph reported.
It said that, under the scenario considered most likely, the country’s budget deficit this year would be £337billion, as opposed to the £55billion forecast in March’s budget.
It projected that reducing the deficit again would require tax rises and spending cuts to raise between £25 and £30billion – the equivalent of a 5p increase in the basic rate of income tax.
Even the best-case scenario – which would see a deep but short dip in economic activity, described as “optimistic” by the Treasury – would produce a £209billion deficit this year.