No foreign holidays ‘until August,’ government sources warn

Foreign holidays are unlikely until at least August, government officials are warning / Pa

By John Dunne

International travel is unlikely to restart on May 17

Foreign holidays are unlikely to get the go-ahead until August, according to senior government figures. Officials have warned that the government’s review of foreign holidays, due on April 12, will not recommend the restarting of international leisure travel until later in the summer.

The government’s roadmap out of lockdown has touted May 17 as the earliest possible date people would be able to take foreign holidays. But this is looking increasingly unlikely and those who attempt to leave England to go on holiday will be fined £5,000 under new laws that kick in on Monday.

A high ranking source told the Sunday Times that the May 17 date was now looking “very optimistic” and said: “August is looking like the most likely moment.” Officials have warned that even when the ban is lifted people will only be able to travel easily to countries with good vaccination rates, like Israel.

A Whitehall official familiar with discussions between the Department for Transport and the travel industry said: “There will be a system of travel corridors to green-list countries with good vaccination rates. Israel, here we come!” One plan under consideration is a traffic-light system that would allow travel to “green list” countries with very low rates of infection.

Passengers coming from safe countries would simply take a lateral flow test on their return without needing to quarantine. Those coming from a country on the “amber list”, nations with moderate rates of infection, would need a negative PCR test before travel. They could also be required to quarantine and take a lateral flow test on their return. Anyone coming from a “red list” country, with very high cases of coronavirus, would be required to quarantine in an airport hotel for two weeks.

Europe is currently in the grips of a third wave of Covid-19 and countries like France, where the virus is surging, could be added to the red list. Out of popular summer holiday destinations, only Portugal has a lower infection rate than Britain, with 30 cases per 100,000. The figure is 130 in Germany, 260 in Italy, 350 in Sweden and 370 in France.

Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M), told Times Radio: “What we don’t want is new variants coming in that undo all the good that our vaccination programme has done.” In England, people will be able to stay in self-contained accommodation from April 12.

Hotels and holiday parks are expected to follow on May 17. But with most hotels, cottages and guest houses in Britain booked up, another official told the Sunday Times: “A lot of people are going to be taking a lot of expensive holidays in not very nice places.”

Source: Evening Standard