Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen
Brits have been told “we can’t be deaf and blind to what is going on outside the UK” as the prospect of international holidays remains uncertain. A third wave is taking hold in Europe, forcing Paris and other regions to implement new Covid restrictions and most of Italy into a strict lockdown, as Covid cases continue to surge and variants spread through the continent. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the Global Travel Taskforce will report to the prime minister in April on whether international holidays can go ahead. Foreign holidays are banned until at least May 17 under the current coronavirus roadmap, but with a new wave gripping Europe, it’s unclear if the UK will place restrictions on travel to prevent an import of new variants.
ITV News Europe Editor James Mates on how the continent might be impacted if Brits can't travel abroad
Mr Wallace told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme: “We can't be deaf and blind to what is gong on outside the UK.
"If you look in Europe, the increase in infection and we can’t put at risk the huge amount by the taxpayer, the NHS, our scientists by developing this vaccine and if we were to be reckless in any way and import new variants that puts that at risk. “Then what would people say about that, we’ve got a good direction of travel, we’re getting there, and I think we’ve got to preserve that at all costs.”
Mr Wallace told ITV News: "I think we should not forget that just across the channel, unfortunately a wave of growing infections, that's got to be worrying, because what we don't want is all our hard work...is undermined by a new variant getting imported, because we lifted it too quickly.
"I haven't booked a holiday and I would recommend that as much as the temptation is massive to want to have a holiday and we all want a holiday after this, first and foremost, let's see what we get in April, May and we can reflect on it."
Labour is in agreement and Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show the government is right “to be guided by the science.”
“I’ve been troubled by the fact the Prime Minister privately seems to be saying to some of his rebels he’s keen to get this done quickly,” Ms Nandy said.
“We do need to be careful, we do need to be cautious and, frankly, I’ve not booked a foreign holiday for this summer and I won’t be doing so because I don’t think we’re there yet.” Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth said Britons will not be made “bulletproof” by the vaccine and warned the virus “appears to be surging” in France, Germany and elsewhere due to the Kent variant. He said: “It’s too early to make a judgment around the May 17 date on international travel. I’m not expecting myself to go on a holiday abroad this summer, but we’ll keep these things under review.” The latest comments come after a key government expert warned that summer holidays are "unlikely" due to the risk of travellers bringing Covid variants back to the UK. Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Spi-M modelling group, said there is a danger strains from abroad may be less susceptible to vaccines.