Travellers scramble to postpone half-term holidays amid 'circuit breaker' lockdown fears

Sam Meadows
·2-min read
A passenger wears a face mask in an airport - John Macdougall/AFP
A passenger wears a face mask in an airport - John Macdougall/AFP
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter

Holidaymakers are scrambling to cancel or postpone their half-term trips over fears of a “circuit-break” lockdown, hoteliers and travel agents said.

Hotels could be forced to close in the event of another lockdown and the uncertainty around the newly introduced “tier” system has led many to consider making changes to their long-awaited holiday.

Tiina Carr, of Sheffield hotel Brocco on the Park, said she had had a “mad day” on Tuesday with people phoning to cancel, while a pair of luxury travel agents said many families are pushing trips abroad back until Easter.

However, other travel industry figures said bookings for October half term were so sparse because of quarantine rules that there were not many to cancel in the first place. Brittany Ferries said its bookings for October half term were at around 10 per cent of normal levels.

Ms Carr said: “Our demand for half term is around 30 per cent but I expect more cancellations when people receive their seven day reminder email about their stay.”

A spokesman for agents Abercrombie & Kent and Cox & Kings said people are moving their half term breaks to 2021. 

“People are determined to still get away if and when they can. This is why we’re being as flexible as possible with our booking conditions,” he added.

Others who had been hoping for a last minute rush to save the season, have begun to give up hope.

Kicki Smith, of World Luxury Travel, said: “I was holding onto the hope that I might be getting a late rush, a lot of people were contacting me and saying ‘I just want to hold on a little bit and see what the situation is’. Now that rush is probably not going to happen.”

Tom Hughes, of Clickstay, a holiday rentals firm, said: “The UK was busy for staycations, but about a week ago the demand dropped off because of the changing rules.”

The coronavirus three-tier system explained
The coronavirus three-tier system explained

However, some agents were more optimistic as to travellers’ plans. 

Luxury travel firm Little Emperors said it had received a 50 per cent increase in bookings in the past two weeks and that there were still travellers keen to gamble on a last minute break. Around 90 per cent of its recent bookings were for same or next-day departure.

While, Gemma Antrobus of Haslemere Travel, said there was still a dedicated group of travellers keen to get on a plane.

She said: “My clients in their 80s are the ones that are saying ‘I don’t want to be locked down anymore, where can I go’?

“They have lived lives that have thrown much tougher things than this at them and they are saying they might not have many holidays left.”