Covid travel: 'Door is not shut' on international holidays, Matt Hancock says

The health secretary has said "the door is not shut" on international travel this summer as England begins to ease Covid restrictions.

Speaking on ITV's This Morning, Matt Hancock also urged the country to minimise travel - but encouraged people to travel within England to see family and friends.

He said: "We’re saying that you should minimise travel but if you want to travel to see friends and family then that is absolutely fine.

"For instance, I haven’t been home to Suffolk since November. I’m planning to go this weekend, but only go for the day because there’s no overnight stays, but I’m going to go for the day on Easter Sunday."

When asked if there may be foreign holidays this summer, Mr Hancock said: "There may well be, I wouldn’t rule that out.

"The door is not shut, it’s just too early to say, but what we can say with confidence is that the unlocking home is on track."

The health secretary also told ITV's This Morning he is planning to take a summer holiday in England this year.

Mr Hancock said: "I can’t wait. I love this country, I’ve had my holiday booked since last year… I’m very confident that we’re going to have a great British summer, we’re going to have great holidays here, cases are coming right down."

His comments come as the government is reportedly considering a four-tier traffic light system which could allow people to travel abroad this summer.

Heathrow Airport had recommended a traffic light system that would involve four levels, Green, Yellow, Amber and Red, according to The Telegraph.

Green list countries would have no travel restrictions attached but those coming from nations on the yellow list would need testing and/or vaccination certificates but no quarantine.

It is unclear which countries will be green on the traffic light system - meaning no isolation upon return. Credit: PA Images

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has said there are "challenges around international travel", pointing towards rising infection rates in Europe, but added "all options" are currently being considered.

When asked about a proposal of a traffic light system that could allow shorter quarantine periods with greater testing, he told Sky News: "We’re exploring all these issues as part of the international travel taskforce.

"We consider all options as part of the travel taskforce.

"Clearly there are challenges around international travel, you only have to look across the continent and see the rising case rates in many of our nearest neighbours," he added.

Hundreds used specialist testing centres set up to help detect the South African Covid variant.

Mr Hancock also told ITV’s This Morning the "biggest problem" was from variants, adding: "We’re also working on a new vaccine that we might have to roll out in the autumn to give people a third dose that will deal with this problem. So we’re working on that now."

Mr Hancock said he had a "lot of sympathy" for the travel industry, adding: "We all want to get that going as soon as possible but the most important thing is to protect the recovery here at home, so people can see their loved ones and don’t have to go into lockdown again.

"We may get to a position where if you’ve had your jab, then other countries will say ‘you’ve got to have the jab to come in’. And so we’ll make sure everybody can do that…"