Coronavirus: Package holidays could be back by July

Holidays abroad will be “reinvented” to stop the spread of coronavirus with a ban on hotel buffets, nightclubs and beauty treatments to make sure people can still go away this summer.

On Tuesday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it is “unlikely” international holidays would be possible this year in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

But Anglo-German operator Tui says it is gearing up to start flying people out for package holidays in July, with a host of new safety measures in place to stop the spread of the virus.

A man rides on a bicycle next to the Can Pere Antoni beach in Palma de Mallorca during the hours in which individual exercise is allowed outdoors, for the first time since the lockdown was announced, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, May 2, 2020.  REUTERS/Enrique Calvo

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Test runs of the new COVID-secure measures have already taken place at Tui hotels in Mallorca

The new “reinvented” all-inclusive holiday would mean no self-service restaurants, nightclubs, saunas or childcare facilities to avoid people getting too close to each other.

Pool opening times would also be restricted to only allow a certain number of people in at a time.

Tui, which had 27 million customers last year, says guests will be expected to maintain social distancing of between 1.5m and 2m, and there will be more hand sanitiser and deep cleaning points across its 411 hotels.

Limits will be put on the number of people in communal areas and a booking system could be introduced for meal times, with fewer tables available at resort restaurants, the firm added.

Group sports on offer such as football and volleyball will be scrapped in favour of more socially distanced activities such as tennis.

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Customers will begin their holidays with temperature checks at airports, face masks on board less crowded flights, and more transfer buses.

Some Tui hotels in Germany will become the first to reopen in the coming days after case numbers there declined.

Test runs of the new COVID-secure measures have already taken place at Tui hotels in Mallorca, according to its boss Fritz Joussen.

He said: “The main candidates are the Balearics, the Canaries, Greece Cyprus, but also Croatia and Bulgaria.

“Areas, where actually, the infections are low and areas where tourism can be saved and areas where tourism is a very important driver of economic prosperity.”

Tui has revealed it will have to cut 8,000 jobs because of the pandemic and has suffered losses of €845.8m (£747m) in the first half of 2020.

On its cruise ships, customers will have to fill in health questionnaires and be screened before boarding and be subject to tight restrictions for the duration of their stay.

Mr Joussen said Tui would start offering cruises of three to five days on the North Sea departing from north German ports “soon”. Guest numbers would be restricted to 1,000 people at first, on ships that can hold as many as 2,900.

Virgin Voyages, Richard Branson’s new cruise ship venture, has also said it will make changes ahead of its maiden voyages in July and August.

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