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Published on Monday, November 9, 2020

Different lockdown rules 'completely mad', says Miles Morgan

Miles Morgan Travel reopens its shops in Wales today, just five days after shutting its English agencies, in a situation described by its founder as 'completely mad'.

With the Wales lockdown ending today, the agency can reopen its shops across the Bristol Channel after a two-week 'circuit breaker' to stem the spread of Covid.

But just as Miles Morgan began to plan its Wales reopening, its English locations were being boarded up until December 2.

"This is the bizarre thing, just as we reopen our shops in Wales we announce the closure of our shops in England. it's just completely mad," Morgan told TravelMole.

"October was a cracking month, we had the best month since lockdown, and momentum was building.

"But just as what happened with Spain in July when the air corridor opened but was shut two weeks later, the same has happened with Canaries.

"You have to ask, why did they even open the Canaries?

"The left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing.  This is Shapps' lot not talking to the other lot. It's schoolboy stuff."

Nevertheless, Morgan painted an upbeat picture - relatively speaking, at least - by predicting a stronger-than-expected January.

"I'm hoping in January not to take advantage of the furlough scheme too much, as I am hoping business will pick up sufficiently," he said.

"Anyone who thinks there isn't anyone out there booking is wrong. Maybe not in the volumes we want but there are people around.

"As the winter ploughs on, the lockdown will be miserable and will result in people thinking 'my god this is horrible, I desperately need something to look forward to'.  Top of that list is always holidays

"That is why I am optimistic. January trading won't be a classic, but it could be better than everyone expects simply because people need something in the diary to look forward to. Whether it's late 2021 or 2022, they want something.

"I also see things turning. It was a long dark tunnel over summer. but the vaccine is getting louder and testing is improving. And I don't care about the cost of the Boots test because the price will be forced down over time.

"The fact we have got the test is the key thing."

Despite welcoming the furlough extension announced last week by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Morgan said the planned government review of the scheme in January made planning difficult.

"What might he do then?" Morgan said. "We don't want to get staff back and lose them again. This is the problem - the goalposts keep changing.

"I know it's challenging for the government but I think a lot of people lost their jobs who might not have done when the Job Support Scheme was announced to replace furlough.

"The JSS was seemingly the only way forward, but the money was found from somewhere to keep furlough going."

Morgan said the Chancellor's change of heart in retaining the furlough scheme offered hope that tailored support for the travel industry might still materialise.

"I think it's highly unlikely now, as it should have happened by now. But we can never give up. Rishi Sunak said he wasn't going to extend the furlough scheme but he did, so there is always hope.

"I haven't given up because things are constantly changing."

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