UK’s summer getaway takes off but nothing like pre-COVID

By PAN PYLAS
Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — With all British schools now closed for the summer, airports and airlines were looking a tad more normal on Saturday, although the number of families heading off for warmer climes remains way down from before the coronavirus pandemic.

This weekend traditionally marks the great summer getaway from Britain, with airports jam-packed with excitable children and their anxious parents heading off mostly to the popular beach resorts of southern Europe, from Portugal’s Algarve coast in the west to the sun-soaked island nation of Cyprus to the east.

However, with travel to and from many popular destinations facing varying and often confusing quarantine and testing requirements, it’s clear that many British families think it’s all too much hassle and have opted again to holiday within the U.K.

For the second year running, it’s all about the “staycation.”

What’s not to like about fish and chips and a game of crazy golf by the seaside or enjoying a marshmallow over a campfire at the Latitude music festival in eastern England that is being attended this weekend by some 40,000 people?

Still, the numbers venturing abroad are certainly on the rise, partly as a result of the U.K.’s rapid rollout of coronavirus vaccines that has seen nearly 70% of the adult population receive the requisite two doses and over 87% get at least one dose.

The British government, which has been operating a traffic-light system for overseas travel, recently tweaked its rules to make it simpler for fully-vaccinated individuals and their families to travel. Now, anyone arriving back in England from “amber” list destinations — including Greece, Spain and the United States — are exempt from the government’s 10-day quarantine requirement subject to testing requirements.

Although France is on the “amber” list, anyone returning from there to England still has to quarantine for 10 days amid concerns over the beta variant first identified in South Africa.

Industry leaders said the changes have helped buoy up the travel sector, one of the worst affected during the pandemic, as well as many destinations in Europe that rely heavily on British tourists.

Airports and airlines across the U.K. are enjoying their busiest weekend of the year so far. London’s Heathrow Airport said it was expecting about 129,000 passengers on Saturday and Sunday. Though welcome, that’s about half the number it saw two years ago.

“We look forward to welcoming back even more passengers as vaccination rates climb in the U.K. and abroad,” said CEO John Holland-Kaye.

Gatwick, Britain’s No. 2 airport, was expecting between 25,000 to 27,000 passengers a day over the weekend. Again that’s far lower than the equivalent weekend in pre-COVID times, when it could see around 100,000 travellers a day.

Holiday company Tui said it has almost double the number of passengers traveling Friday to Sunday compared with last weekend. It will be resuming flights to a series of destinations including the Greek islands of Kefalonia and Skiathos, and Marrakech in Morocco.

For most people in Britain, though, getting on those flights will have to wait. There’s always next year.

———

Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at:

https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine

Local News

From Moss Bluff to Diitabiki and back again

Crime

O’Brien sentenced to life for rape of child

Crime

Five accused of attempted ATM burglaries

Local News

I-10 bridge task force chair: Wednesday crash highlights need for new bridge

Local News

National Seat Check Saturday at Southwest Beverage

Crime

State Police investigating officer-involved fatal shooting of inmate

Crime

LC man arrested after shooting at neighbor’s home

State News

Coroner identifies man killed by alligator

Crime

Sulphur High student arrested after threat made

Crime

Sheriff: Escapee shot after firing at officers

Local News

Governor optimistic about federal hurricane aid for SW La.

Local News

Eastbound lane of I-10 bridge remains closed after fiery crash

Jim Beam

Jim Beam column:Finally, a feel-good movie

Business News

$21M rice mill should be complete by next harvest

Crime

Three more linked to Oakdale bar shooting

Local News

State confirms seventh pediatric death from COVID-19 in fourth surge

Local Business News

Jeff Davis hoping to join program designed to attract business

Local Business News

EMS Academy looking for ‘right people in right spots’

Local Business News

Four state amendments await voters Nov. 13

Local Business News

George Swift column: Recovery, rebuilding after storms

Local Business News

Names in the News: People making a difference in the Lake Area

Local News

Breaux has honed some serious culinary skills since his Crock-pot days

Local News

Cemetery Association asking for help with hurricane-damaged graves

Crime Brief

Fort Polk soldiers charged in DeRidder drive-by shooting