Foreign holidays are unlikely to be back on the cards until August, it was claimed today despite plans to lift the domestic
Britons booking trips abroad have been warned they are being ‘very optimistic’, with signs ministers will keep the legal ban on non-essential travel in place longer to minimise the risk of importing mutant Covid strains.
Even once the restrictions are eased destinations with higher infection rates are expected to face extra rules such as quarantine.
The grim message comes as Europe faces another wave of the disease, amid its struggling vaccine rollout.
Scientists have been cautioning that tougher borders might be the trade-off for loosening the lockdown, with households set to be allowed to mix outside from tomorrow for the first time in months.
However, Heathrow Airport is trying to salvage the situation by pushing a ‘traffic light’ plan for defending against countries where variants are identified. Under the plan putting an ‘amber alert’ on a destination would mean travellers face three days of quarantine and a tailored testing regime.
In interviews this morning, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said international travel is ‘challenging’.
Asked about the ‘traffic light’ idea, he told Sky News’ Ridge on Sunday: ‘We’re exploring all these issues as part of the international travel taskforce.
‘We consider all options as part of the travel taskforce.
‘Clearly there are challenges around international travel, you only have to look across the continent and see the rising case rates in many of our nearest neighbours.
‘It has been in the past the case that those rising infection rates have seen their way to the UK, we’re hopeful that won’t happen this time round because of our progress with the vaccine and so on, but we do need to be cautious about that.’
Britons booking trips abroad before August have been warned they are being ‘very optimistic’. Pictured, a beach in Tenerife
Boris Johnson said yesterday that he is wary of the prospect of rising coronavirus infection rates, but sees ‘absolutely nothing in the data’ to change his roadmap
Foreign holidays ‘could be off till August’
The UK could send millions of coronavirus vaccines to Ireland after Easter in a ‘poke in the eye’ to the EU, it was claimed today.
Some 3.7million doses could be handed to the Republic amid concerns that its slow rollout could prevent lockdown being eased in Northern Ireland.
Cabinet ministers are said to view the move as ‘good politics’ as well as solving a ‘genuine’ issue about the gulf in vaccination rates on the island.
However, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden insisted this morning that covering Britons remains the ‘priority’ – saying ‘currently doesn’t have a surplus’.
The UK’s beating jabs rollout is expected to move up another gear next month when the
The imminent arrival of more than 500,000 doses of the new US vaccine – to add to millions of
Doctors are expected to administer the first Moderna jabs within three weeks.
A new law coming into force this week means anyone who tries to leave England before June 30 without ‘good reason’ faces a £5,000 fine.
The government is due to unveil a plan for international leisure travel before May 17, the earliest point at which it could resume.
However, one source told the Sunday Times that the restrictions are set to last much longer: ‘August is looking like the most likely moment.’
The indication came as the nation was warned not to ‘squander the gains’ made against coronavirus as the rules ease.
NHS England national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said that Covid-19 still has the capacity to ‘wreak more havoc and ill health on a significant scale’, citing concerns over new variants.
Groups of up to six, or two households, will be able to socialise in parks and gardens from tomorrow as outdoor sports facilities reopen and the stay-at-home order ends in England.
Boris Johnson said yesterday that he is wary of the prospect of rising coronavirus infection rates, but sees ‘absolutely nothing in the data’ to change his roadmap.
The PM acknowledged cases could again spiral as restrictions are relaxed but said the ‘key difference’ this time is that the rise in prevalence should be ‘sufficiently mitigated’ by the successful vaccine rollout.
Prof Powis said the prospects ‘look immeasurably brighter and more positive’ but said that the easing ‘does not mean job done’.
‘We’ve made enormous progress that we need to build on and not squander the gains we’ve made,’ he wrote in the Sunday Telegraph.
‘We need to hold our nerve and drive for the line, so everyone can get back safely and soon to our normal lives.’
In more signs of hope for emerging from the crisis, the Mail on Sunday revealed today that the first 500,000 doses of Moderna vaccine should arrive within the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, it has been claimed the UK is ready to offer 3.7million jabs to Ireland after Easter, partly to help ease lockdown restrictions in Northern Ireland.
During a discussion at the Conservatives’ virtual spring forum yesterday, the Prime Minister said that a ‘third wave’ is being witnessed in parts of Europe and ‘bitter experience’ has taught him that this could hit the UK ‘three weeks later’.
But he added: ‘There’s lots of promising evidence that a lot of people who could be vulnerable are now protected against death and serious disease, that’s my hope, my hunch.’
Mr Johnson remained optimistic that his road map to easing England’s restrictions can continue, saying there is a ‘good chance’ of allowing non-essential retail reopening on April 12, when hairdressers are also earmarked to reopen.
‘In just a few days’ time, I’m finally going to be able to go to the barbers,’ he said in a subsequent speech.
‘But more important than that, I’m going to be able to go down the street and cautiously, but irreversibly, I’m going to drink a pint of beer in the pub.
‘And as things stand, I can see absolutely nothing in the data to dissuade me from continuing along our road map to freedom, unlocking our economy and getting back to the life we love.’
Government data up to Friday showed that 29,727,435 people in the UK have received a first jab, a rise of 411,305 on the previous day.
The Government said a further 58 people had died within 28 days of a positive test for Covid-19 as of Saturday, bringing the UK total to 126,573.
In Wales, lockdown restrictions were eased when the ‘stay local’ requirement was dropped on Saturday and people were allowed to stay in self-contained holiday accommodation.
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