“Let’s fly,” says the email to me from Ryanair. “We’ve got 1,000 daily flights from 1 July.” Over at easyJet, there’s a “SUMMER SALE NOW ON! Over 1 million seats at £29.99 – book now”. Tui’s site is rather more restrained but it’s open for booking to all the usual destinations from the end of June.

We all know bosses and shareholders of travel industry firms are desperate to restart their businesses. Plenty of their staff are too, as are quite a number of families who reckon the whole coronavirus thing is overblown.

But before you book, consider the following facts. They may all change in the days and weeks to come but this is the situation right now:

1. You’re not really supposed to be leaving the country

The crucial thing here is the official advice on the Foreign & Commonweath Office site. It usually lists dangerous locations such as Syria and Yemen as no-go areas for Brits but at the moment it states: “The Foreign & Commonwealth Office currently advises British nationals against all but essential international travel.”

Yes, the advice is under constant review but until it changes – and the government has given no date as to when it might be lifted – as the home secretary, Priti Patel, said in the Commons this week: “Currently, there should only be essential travel.”

2. Your travel insurance is invalid

The wording in nearly all travel insurance policies is that if you travel to a region the FCO advises against visiting, your insurance will be invalidated. While that advice remains in place, the chances of your travel insurer paying out are the same as wandering down to the pool at 10am and expecting to find a sun lounger not covered by someone else’s towel.

3. Planes pose a risk of virus transmission

Being outdoors on holiday isn’t much of a worry – it’s getting to your destination that is. Especially if it means sitting in close proximity to 100 people or more for several hours inside a plane.

Planes use high-efficiency particulate air (Hepa) filters to purify the air inside them and researchers think they should be pretty good at reducing coronavirus risks. Jean-Brice Dumont, the head of engineering at Airbus, discussed the filters in its planes this week: “Every two to three minutes, mathematically, all the air is renewed.” But that doesn’t help if the person squashed up next to you coughs or sneezes. Michael O’Leary of Ryanair may be telling us it’s safe to fly but he does have something of a vested interest.

Travel through airports is also going to be even more excruciating than before. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in May published 28-pages of guidelines that will radically alter the experience of flying. These include physical distancing measures that Heathrow’s chief executive previously said would be impossible to implement. 

4. There may be outbreaks at your destination

What if there is a coronavirus outbreak in your resort and the authorities understandably go back into lockdown? Remember, the European lockdowns were rather more restrictive than the one in Britain. Staysure, one of the big travel insurance providers, said this week it will cover you if you catch coronavirus while abroad but most other policies don’t yet include cover. Even if you don’t get ill, it might not be much of a holiday if everything is closed.

5. There’s quarantine when you get back

All international arrivals into the UK, including returning British residents, will be required to self-isolate for 14 days from 8 June. Despite fierce opposition from the travel industry, Patel confirmed the rules this week.

The best holidaymakers can hope for is the “international travel corridors” that Patel said are under discussion. But it’s not clear why other European countries will be keen to accept visitors from one of the worst-affected parts of the continent.

Tui is rather less gung-ho than some of the airlines. At least if you book now and the FCO no-travel advice for that destination remains in place, TUI should give you your money back (eventually). It told me: “If the advice against all but essential travel remains in place beyond 30 June, we will cancel affected holidays and be in direct contact with customers. Should their holiday be cancelled at a later date, they will have the option to receive a refund credit plus an additional 20% as booking incentive, or a full cash refund.”

Last summer I had an idyllic week of e-biking in the Alps and am desperate to go again this summer. But it’s the air travel issue that, for this year only, means I’ll reluctantly follow the path of the health secretary, Matt Hancock, who told the BBC’s Today programme: “I was already going to not leave the UK this summer, I’d already made that decision.”

Meanwhile, we can safely ignore the travel businesses warning the industry needs to reopen to save the economy. Whose economy are they talking about? Last year, British holidaymakers spent £62.3bn on overseas visits, while overseas residents spent just £28.4bn when they came here. The UK has one of the biggest travel balance of payments deficits in the world. Save the economy? Go on holiday to Skegness.

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