politics

Summer holiday plans to be on hold for weeks as Covid picture 'still too bleak'


Sun-starved Brits hoping for a sunny summer holiday will have to wait weeks before making plans, it has been reported.

Insiders are said to believe the coronavirus outlook is ‘still too bleak’ to make any concrete decisions on re-opening borders to foreign travel.

Next week international travel is set to be reviewed as part of Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown.

Reports say that the conclusion will be that it’s too soon to say when borders can re-open and it could be weeks before any decision is made.

The Sun c ites government sources as saying: “The picture is still too bleak to make a clear decision.”

The Prime Minister is set to give more information about foreign travel on April 5, a week before the government’s global travel task force is due to report.



Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson is expected to make further announcements on Monday

But sources reportedly told the newspaper of that timetable: “Don’t expect a firm date then.”

Europe is battling a third wave of the Covid pandemic, with earlier reports suggesting that foreign travel to the continent might not be available until August.

Countries such as France, Spain and Italy have also been plagued by a slow vaccine rollout, in stark contrast to the rapid deployment of jabs in the UK.

Earlier, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the prospect of foreign holidays had not been completely ruled out this summer.

“The door is not shut, it’s just too early to say,” he told ITV’s This Morning.

It comes amid fears of a new wave of the disease spreading from Europe.

France is currently experiencing 36,000 cases a day, while there are 22,000 a day in Italy and 16,000 a day in Germany. The UK recorded 4,654 cases on Sunday.

Another 23 people died from coronavirus, while the number of first vaccine doses topped 30m.

Professor Sir Mark Walport, a former Government chief scientific adviser, warned of the rising cases on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme and said: “The numbers speak for themselves.”



A tourist in a bathing suit wearing a mask walks along Caleta beach
No official date has been fixed for the re-opening of foreign travel



A man wearing a face mask opening an umbrella on the beach
The tourist trade has been hit hard by Covid restriction

The UK is bracing for another wave of infections at some point, mostly among the unvaccinated, but some scientists have suggested this will not be until the autumn or winter.

Professor Calum Semple, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said earlier this month a “very strong” third wave being seen in Europe, including Italy and France, could be the “perfect breeding ground” for highly-contagious variants.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson appealed to the public to exercise caution as Covid lockdown restrictions in England were eased on Monday.

At a Downing Street press conference the Prime Minister acknowledged it had been a “big day” for many people as some restrictions ease and they were able to see friends and family outdoors for the first time since the latest controls were imposed.

However, he said it was still not clear how “robust” the defences provided by the vaccination programme would prove if the rise in infections on the continent was repeated in the UK.

“What we don’t know is exactly how strong our fortifications now are, how robust our defences are against another wave,” he said.

“We have seen what is happening with our European friends. Historically, at least there has been a time lag and then we have had a wave ourselves.



People are seen circulating around the beach
It comes as some lockdown measures are lifted

“That’s why I stress the importance of everybody maintaining the discipline people have shown for so long.”

His warning was echoed by the chief medical officer from England, Professor Chris Whitty, who said there was a “high likelihood” cases would rise as lockdown restrictions were steadily lifted according to the timetable set out in the Government’s road map.

He said that while most of those at the greatest risk of death or serious illness, had now received the vaccine, the disease spread most rapidly among younger age groups who had yet to receive the jab.

There were already signs of an increase in infections among children of school-age following the reopening of schools in England earlier this month.

However, Prof Whitty said the impact should be “modest” if people continue to follow social-distancing guidelines.

“Yes, there is a high likelihood that there will be some uptick as a result of the relaxations today, and that was anticipated right from the beginning of trying to lay out where the road map would go,” he said earlier.

“But if people stick to social distancing rules and they are outside, the risk of transmission is massively lower than if they are very close together and inside.

“Provided people stick to outdoors and at a distance if it’s people who are not in their households, the impact in terms of an uptick should be modest.

“I think it would not be realistic to think there will be no impact, and that is something we are all aware of.”





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