Portugal: British tourists discuss holidays in September 2020
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As summer draws closer so does the holiday season, and with millions of Brits itching to get away after months of lockdown restrictions many are wondering if a holiday abroad will even be possible this year. Even though Britain has celebrated record numbers of people being vaccinated in recent days, there are still fears that less vaccinated populations, including much of Europe currently, could provide a breeding ground for potentially vaccine-resistant strains of the virus.
The UK and Europe’s short-lived respite from COVID-19 in the summer of 2020 meant holidays were able to go ahead, with thousands of Brits jetting off to enjoy the sun.
However, the freedom was only temporary.
Travel restrictions came back in line with the second wave hitting Europe in the autumn.
Even though the UK has vaccinated half of its adult population, summer holidays may still be a distant pipe dream as cases increase on the continent, where vaccination rates are currently relatively low.
The earliest date summer holidays can resume for those in England is May 17, according to the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown.
Scotland and Wales have set the same date, but Northern Ireland has not yet announced a date for international travel.
Are summer holidays banned?
All travel out of the UK, except for essential reasons such as work or an emergency, is currently off the cards and against the law.
You cannot travel abroad unless you fill out a declaration form for international travel, with the exception of travelling to Ireland.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said on March 21 that “We can’t be deaf and blind to what’s going on outside the United Kingdom.”
Mr Wallace said: “If we were to be reckless in any way, and import new variants that put out risks, what would people say about that?
“We’ve got good direction of travel, we’re getting there, and I think we need to make sure we preserve that at all costs.”
When asked about trips abroad, Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England, said was “too early to say”.
Dr Ramsay said: “I think everyone has to wait and see. We really don’t know. The situation changes so quickly.
“Numbers are going up at the moment in continental Europe and that’s very concerning.
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She added: “Obviously the safest thing is to stay where you are.
“And to avoid anything that increases your risk and I think it’s really too early to say what sort of summer we might be able to experience.”
Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy said: “I know everyone is desperate to go on holiday but we have got to proceed with caution.
“We can’t allow the good work that has been done from the vaccine rollout to be unravelled by unlocking too quickly or by failing to secure our borders.”
Ms Nandy added: “We do need to be careful, we do need to be cautious, and frankly I haven’t booked a foreign holiday for this summer and I won’t be doing so because I don’t think we’re there yet.”
A Government taskforce is due to report to Prime Minister Boris Johnson on April 12, advising when international travel will be allowed to resume.
Travel abroad is only allowed for a limited number of reasons, such as education or work.
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