LONDON – The BBC reports today that UK government advisors believe ‘summer holidays abroad are “extremely unlikely”’.
Dr Tildesley, a member of the government’s Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, which feeds into Sage, spoke on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. He said there was a danger holidaymakers could bring back variants which were less susceptible to vaccines.
UK citizens must ‘stay at home’ until May 17th
Currently, UK citizens cannot take foreign holidays, and anyone returning to the UK must quarantine. There are a limited number of permitted reasons to travel abroad. Anyone who does has to fill in a ‘Declaration to Travel’ form, stating a valid reason for leaving the country.
Dr Tildesley told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think that international travel this summer is, for the average holidaymaker, […], extremely unlikely.
“I think we are running a real risk if we do start to have lots of people going overseas in July, for instance, and August because of the potential for bringing more of these new variants back into the country.
“What is really dangerous is if we jeopardise our vaccination campaign by having these variants, where the vaccines don’t work as effectively, spreading more rapidly.”
Travel to countries with high infections rates ‘unlikely’
Prof Andrew Hayward, from Sage, told Times Radio: “I think it’s unlikely that we would want to encourage travel to those countries whilst they have high levels of infection.”
He continued, “I suppose one of the more worrying things about this resurgence is that in some parts of Europe the South African variant is beginning to creep up to higher levels.”
Thousands of variants
Focus remains on variants first found in Brazil, the UK and South Africa. However, there are thousands of different versions, or variants, of Covid in circulation.
Variants could be much more contagious or easy to catch. Current vaccines should work against the variants, though may not be as effective. This is due to the vaccine design using earlier versions of the coronavirus.
Government figures state more than 26 million people in the UK have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
How would Spain’s tourism sector fare?
Spain is not currently facing a surge in Covid-19 cases, unlike other countries in Europe. Austria, Italy, France, Denmark, Germany and Poland are all seeing cases rise. France and Poland are bringing in new restrictions to deal with the rising numbers.
In 2019, before Covid-19 affected international travel and tourism, Spain had a record year with 83.7 million inbound tourists. Of those, 18 million were from the UK. If Spain maintains its downward trend with infections, it may escape any UK summer holidays restrictions.
The opening of Covid-19 testing centres at Spanish airports is also a positive step in attracting inbound tourists and reducing the chance of restrictions.