Lockdown restrictions continue to be eased in the UK according to the roadmaps of the various devolved nations.
As domestic travel for one household becomes possible once more, many Brits are wondering when they can stay in a hotel or B&B again.
Here are the key questions and answers.
Are hotels currently open?
The ban on leisure travel between England, Scotland and Wales has now been lifted. Most hotels in England and Wales are still closed - a few have remained open for key workers and for those with no other alternative.
The government advice reads: “Guest accommodation providers such as hotels, B&Bs and caravan parks may remain open for the specific reasons set out in law, including where guests are unable to return to their main residence, use that guest accommodation as their main residence, need accommodation while moving house, are self-isolating as required by law, or would otherwise be made homeless as a result of the accommodation closing.”
However, all tourist accommodation, including hotels and B&Bs, was permitted to reopen in Scotland from 26 April.
When might hotels reopen?
Hotels and B&Bs can open on 17 May at the earliest in England and Wales, which is also the date that international travel will be unlocked.
Scotland’s tourist accommodation, including hotels, has been able to open (with restrictions in place) since 26 April.
Northern Ireland’s “stay at home” order was lifted on 12 April, replaced with “stay local”. Hotels and indoor attractions can open from 24 May.
When might self-catering accommodation open?
Self-contained accommodation, where there are no shared facilities for guests, reopened from 27 March in Wales and 12 April in England. Stays are permitted for single households or support bubbles only.
Scotland’s self-catering accommodation reopened, along with the rest of the tourist industry, on 26 April.
Northern Ireland has allowed self-contained accommodation to reopen since 30 April.
When might overseas travel be allowed?
The government has confirmed that international travel can restart from 17 May in England - which is also the date that hotels and B&Bs will be allowed to reopen - under a traffic light system, with countries classified as green, amber or red and assigned restrictions accordingly.
For the moment, international travel for all but the narrowest of essential reasons remains illegal.
Any travellers returning to the UK from overseas must present a negative test for coronavirus that has been taken within three days of departure (or longer if an en route stop is involved). Quarantine is currently mandatory for all overseas arrivals except for those from Ireland.
The government has also imposed mandatory hotel quarantine for arrivals from the countries on the government’s “red list". The aim is to limit the spread of new variants of coronavirus.
Scotland and Wales have not yet given a date for the restart or international leisure travel; Northern Ireland guidance currently states: “You should carefully consider your holiday and travel options, in light of the continuing Covid-19 threat.
“A 'staycation' is one way of mitigating the risks - while also supporting the local economy.
“You should not travel unless it is essential. If you do have a permitted reason to travel, you will have to isolate for a period of 10 days on your return home.”
What is hotel quarantine?
The UK government has contracted 4,600 rooms in 16 hotels, with more available if necessary, for travellers from "red list" countries.
Travellers self-identify in advance. Everyone from red list countries must pre-book a room through a dedicated online portal, at a cost of up to £1,750pp (less for couples or families staying together). For a single traveller the price works out at £159 per night.
Heavy penalties apply to anyone who misrepresents where they have visited or who fails to go into hotel quarantine when they should.
The package price includes transport from the airport to the “government-approved facility” (the hotel), three meals a day, security and testing. During the stay, “quarantinees” will undergo two Covid tests: one on day two, the next on day eight. Those who test positive are likely to have their stay extended, unless hospital treatment is needed.
The cost for additional people in the same room is significantly less than the single traveller rate. A second adult pays £650, and it costs £325 for a child aged five-12. Over 12s are counted as adults, under fives are free.
Travellers are not free to choose either their hotel or their room.
In Scotland the system is different, with all international arrivals required to complete hotel quarantine.
What are hotels doing to limit the spread of Covid-19?
Hand sanitiser stations abound, while reception staff are kept safe behind plastic screens. In-room minibars have been removed and rooms are deep cleaned between guests, as well as being left fallow for up to 72 hours in some cases.
One-way systems have been introduced and doors modified to enable digital rather than physical keys. Staff are given regular health and temperature checks, with some employees put in “bubbles” that work the same shift patterns to limit any potential virus spread.
A number of properties have signed up to one of two schemes designed to outline best practice for hotels here in the UK. Both the AA’s Covid Confident programme and Visit Britain’s We’re Good To Go industry standard give accommodation providers a detailed guide on how to change the way they operate to protect both staff and guests.
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