Illustrations by Hannah Robinson
With lockdown set to be further relaxed next week, amidst the decline of COVID-19 cases, there is one big question that the British public need answered: can we go on holiday?
Two months after the health secretary, Matt Hancock, told Britons “It is unlikely that big, lavish international holidays are going to be possible for this summer”, the EU lifted its travel restrictions, and countries like France, Portugal, and Spain are welcoming foreign travellers with open (socially distanced) arms.
Despite worries from the government urging citizens not to take non-essential journeys, airliners like EasyJet and Ryanair are ramping up their services and are operating as usual in the hope that trippers – particularly those who pre-booked flights before the pandemic – will be able to have fun abroad this summer.
As tempting as the sun of the Mediterranean seems right now, the risks of popping over the border this summer season are just too risky. Travel insurance is unlikely to exist – insurers take their cue from the state, and their priorities currently lie not with holiday-goers but with the crisis itself. Also, have we all forgotten the risk of a second spike that health officials have warned? The country has a long way left to go before eradicating coronavirus. Collectively, we have to play our part in the public health mission.
Therefore, it is time to embark on ‘The Great British Staycation’. Since the emergence of package deals, it has become the norm to look overseas. But we have been missing out on what is on offer at home.
The benefits are countless. For those that may be struggling financially, a staycation is a far more accessible and affordable option. When you factor in the savings from expenses, you and your loved ones will be able to relax in luxury. The Welsh devolved body has hinted that self-contained accommodation can be booked from 9 July onwards. Do not forget that these are situated in some stunning (I stress, stunning) locations. The Cornish coastline, the rolling hills of the Peak District, the highlands and islands of Scotland and the historic surroundings of Oxford – These can all be enjoyed without placing others at risk.
Wherever you reside in the UK, a myriad of attractions is just a car journey away; from national parks to beaches stretching miles across the coast. It is all in our grasp. This is your chance to tick off something you have always wanted to experience…if it is permissible, that is.
I can understand why some remain doubtful. Those on casual contracts or those that have been without work for the past few months may still have to work. And the most vulnerable in our society must, vitally, be protected through continued self-isolation. But for the majority of Brits, a small getaway might just be the best way to relish the next few months, and also to help restart the economy by supporting local businesses.
Not only will a holiday make us feel better, but it will help us to manage the present stress and – in the process – strengthen our relationships with our loved ones. The mesmerising beauty and unbeatable fun of the British Isles and the receding of the virus is the perfect excuse for a staycation. Boy, do we need it.