Grant Shapps today issued a caution to those booking holidays when he appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain. The Transport Secretary warned the “way forward” for international travel will only be made clear on April 12. This is the date the Global Travel Taskforce will report back on how safe it is to resume jet-setting.
While May 17 has been earmarked as the “unlock” date for foreign travel, this is, in fact, only the “earliest” date, said Shapps.
“The travel sectors obviously had a terrible time of it,” the minister told GMB.
“But of course people are desperate to get a break after the year we’ve had.”
When asked if Britons can have a summer holiday, Shapps replied: “I’ve got something called the Global Travel Taskforce set up right now.
“What we’re doing is looking into all these questions, in order to be able to report back.”
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He continued: “So, two dates for the diary – April 12, is when the Global Travel Taskforce will report back on the practicalities of restarting international travel.
“It won’t be legal until at least (this is the earliest date) May 17 – that’s step three of the unlock before people will be able to travel abroad.”
Shapps warned that other nations’ stances on opening up tourism were irrelevant while the non-essential travel ban remained in the UK.
“That’s the earliest possible date,” he said, “so it doesn’t matter whether other countries say yes you can come, it wouldn’t be legal to go and take that holiday until then.”
Quizzed about whether it was safe to book a summer holiday, Shapps responded “What I was going to suggest is, it’s not too long now until April 12 when we’ll be able to describe what we think the way forward is.”
He warned that one big problem with opening up international travel is that other countries aren’t rolling out the Covid vaccine as successfully as the UK.
“Just to explain the complexity of this, we know that the UK has this world-leading rollout of vaccines, ” he said, “43 percent of the adult population have now be vaccinated which is incredible.
“But there’s nowhere else in beta economies and nowhere else in Europe at all that have got to those sorts of levels.
“So one of the things we’re going to have to look at is how vaccinated are the destinations.”
Shapps added: “April 12 will give people a lot of the answers that they’re looking for.”
The Government website explains what this date will bring in terms of clarity.
It states: “The Global Travel Taskforce will report on 12 April with recommendations aimed at facilitating a return to international travel as soon as possible while still managing the risk from imported cases and variants of concern.
“Following that, the government will determine when international travel should resume, which will be no earlier than 17 May. “
The statement continues: “A decision on the reopening of international travel will need to consider:
– the global and domestic epidemiological picture
– the prevalence and location of any variants of concern
– the progress of vaccine rollouts here and abroad
– what more we’ve learnt about the efficacy of vaccines on variants, and their impact on transmission, hospitalisation and deaths
“This taskforce will be led by the Department for Transport (DfT) and report to the Prime Minister.
“Its aim – in the context of the decision above – will be to work in partnership with industry and international partners to develop a risk-based framework that could facilitate the return of international travel, while still managing the risk from imported cases and variants.”