Covid: Work begins on plan for return of international holidays in May as Global Travel Taskforce meets

The government hopes it can allow international travel to resume no earlier than May 17. Credit: AP

Work in government on the return of holidays abroad has begun, with a dedicated taskforce meeting to work on a plan for safe international travel to restart.

The government's Global Travel Taskforce has been tasked with developing a framework for international travel, which will help Boris Johnson determine when and how it can resume.

The taskforce will provide a report to the prime minister on April 12 to help him make a decision on the restart of international travel, which the roadmap out of lockdown says will happen on May 17 at the earliest.

The report will look at how existing measures, such as the test and isolate schemes, could be used to facilitate travel while managing the risk from imported cases and "variants of concern" - such as the recently imported Brazilian strain.

Decisions on when and how international travel can resume are dependent on the global pandemic situation, the prevalence and location of variants of concern, the progress of vaccine rollouts at home and abroad, plus what more has been learned about the efficacy of vaccines on variants.

"All measures will be kept under review," the Department for Transport said.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who chairs the taskforce, said their job is to explore "safe and secure ways to restart international travel when the time is right".

He said: “By planning carefully considered steps, we will protect the excellent progress made through our vaccine and advanced testing programme, whilst ensuring we are ready to kick-start our travel sector when current travel restrictions can be lifted.

“We will not only consider the progress of our world-beating domestic vaccine programme, but also need to review where destination countries have got to with both vaccine and testing capabilities.”

The taskforce is made up of several government departments, industry bodies, transport operators and travel agencies.

The taskforce will be "closely integrated" with the review being carried out by Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on how vaccine certificates - also known as passports - can be used to allow international travel.

Some countries have indicated tourists would need to prove they've had a coronavirus vaccine before being allowed to enter.

Taking a holiday is currently banned in the UK, but the PM hopes it can be allowed before the summer.

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