All of London, Kent and other areas of Southern England put under new tier.
People living in many parts of South East England are no longer allowed to travel abroad after the prime minister announced a new Tier 4 alert level.
The decision has been attributed a rise in infections because of a new variant of Covid-19, which has seen the curtailing of plans for a relaxation of rules over Chrismas.
As of Saturday December 19, the following areas have moved from Tier 3 to Tier 4:
- Kent, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Surrey (excluding Waverley), Gosport, Havant, Portsmouth, Rother and Hastings;
- London (all 32 boroughs and the City of London); and
- the East of England (Bedford, Central Bedford, Milton Keynes, Luton, Peterborough, Hertfordshire, Essex excluding Colchester, Uttlesford and Tendring).
An ABTA spokesperson said: “ABTA has always maintained that public health must, of course, come first. But it is clear that travel businesses will need additional support to get through the next few weeks. More than nine months into this crisis, official statistics from the ONS already show that travel is the hardest hit service sector in the UK economy, worse than hospitality and other areas.
“Tailored financial support for the travel industry is long overdue, and must be urgently addressed by the Chancellor in the wake of this announcement. The Scottish Government has recognised this already, and promised funding from January. Other parts of the UK must follow suit without delay.”
The introduction of new restrictions has seen a number of countries, including Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Italy and the Netherlands, banning travel from the UK.
Julia Lo Bue-Said, CEO at Advantage Travel Partnership, said: “Following today’s announcement that Christmas rules will be tightened across the UK and the introduction of Tier 4, it is unclear from the rules what travel agents should be advising their customers who are due to travel.
“We’ve already seen some operators and airlines making cancellations from London airports who we understand are in Tier 4 on the back of the Prime Minister announcing that travel abroad will not be allowed. We don’t know if this means that all flights from London airports in Tier 4 will be cancelled or what position this leaves travellers in if their flight is still operating but they choose not to travel.
“As an industry we urgently need clarity on this, especially coming up to a period where many people were due to travel, both for holidays and to visit loved ones. Given that many people will be due to travel over the next few days from London airports, this new tier will cause absolute disarray for travellers and the industry which has already been decimated with nine months of hardship.
“What’s more, with non-essential retail shops in Tier 4 now being forced to close again under the new rules, this only further demonstrates that urgent support is needed for travel agents as recognised recently by the Scottish government on the back of lobbying by the SPAA. A targeted financial support package is desperately needed to save the travel industry, without which we will see more job losses and business failures.”