The hospitality and tourism industries have been particularly badly hit by coronavirus lockdowns. More than 6,000 pubs, bars and restaurants have closed in the UK since the start of the pandemic, and hotels have also been struggling.
During the first lockdown, many were used as emergency housing for homeless people.
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But with leisure travel banned, rooms have been left empty for months.
It is illegal to stay away from home during lockdown, other than for essential reasons.
But the UK’s vaccine drive has been successful so far. More than 10 million people have already received the first dose of the jab.
This means hotels can expect to reopen their doors in the coming months.
What are the rules for hotels in lockdown?
The official government guidance states: “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.”
You cannot stay in a hotel for leisure, but you can if you require accommodation for work purposes or to provide voluntary services.
Children who need accommodation for school or care can also stay in hotels.
When could hotels reopen properly?
Boris Johnson has targeted Monday 8 March as the earliest date pupils could start returning to school.
He has said that economic and social restrictions will not be relaxed until this has happened, meaning hotels will stay closed until at least March.
We should have a better idea of exactly when hospitality can reopen later this month.
The Prime Minister will set out a “route map” out of lockdown “in the week commencing 22 February”.
“By then we will know much more about the effect of vaccines, using data from the UK but also other nations like Israel,” he said on 27 January.
“We will also know how many people are in hospital with Covid – which we simply can’t predict today.
“So we will be in a better position to chart a course out of lockdown, without risking a further surge that will overwhelm the NHS.”
Public Health England’s Dr Susan Hopkins has warned that measures must be relaxed “very slowly, very cautiously” to avoid another surge in infections.
“Any releases that we have will have to happen very slowly, very cautiously, watching and waiting as we go, with a two-week period to watch and see the impact of that relaxation because it takes that to see what’s happening in the population,” she told Andrew Marr on 31 January.
Reports have suggested that shops, pubs and restaurants could start to return in a staggered approach after Easter, which is on 4 April. Hotels could be included in this.
There may not be a full relaxation of the rules until all over-50s have had their vaccine, meaning the country could return to “normal” in early July.
Can I book a hotel stay for later in the year?
Yes, many hotels are taking bookings from as early as March.
However, you should be aware that your booking may be cancelled when the Government updates its advice.
The Government has announced that travellers arriving in the UK from a “red list” of 33 countries will be made to isolate in designated hotels for 10 days, in a bid to reduce Covid-19 transmissions from abroad.
According to documents seen by The Telegraph, guests will be almost entirely confined to their rooms, and must be escorted if they wish to go outside for some fresh air or to smoke.
The Department of Health and Social Care is rushing to book 28,000 hotel rooms ahead of 15 February, many of which are near Heathrow.
Ministers have asked hotel bosses to be ready to accommodate 1,425 passengers a day.
A spokesman said: “We are now working at pace to secure the facilities we need to roll out managed quarantine for British nationals returning home from the most high risk countries, and are rightly engaging with representatives from the hospitality, maritime and aviation industry, and learning from our friends around the world.
“In the face of new variants, it is important that the Government continues to take the necessary steps to protect people and save lives.”