Boris Johnson ‘optimistic’ Britons will be able to go on holiday this summer
But warns ‘things have got to go right’ in terms of COVID infection and vaccine numbers
It comes as Sage adviser predicts normal summer if vaccine blocks transmission
Boris Johnson has said he is “optimistic” people will be able to go on a summer holiday this year.
The prime minister, however, also warned “things have got to be right” in terms of low coronavirus infections and high vaccination numbers in order for Britons to enjoy a summer break.
Speaking during a visit to a vaccination centre in Batley, West Yorkshire, on Monday, Johnson said: “I don’t want to give too much concrete by way of dates for our summer holidays.
“I am optimistic – I understand the reasons for being optimistic – but some things have got to go right.”
It’s not clear whether the PM, who last week set out 8 March as the earliest date lockdown restrictions will be eased, was speaking about holidays abroad or in the UK.
He added: “The vaccine programme has got to continue to be successful. We have got to make sure we don’t get thrown off course by new variants, we have got to make sure that we continue to keep the disease under control and the level of infections come down.”
Watch: Boris Johnson ‘confident’ of vaccine supplies despite EU ‘toings and froings’
As of Saturday, 8,977,329 people had received their first dose of the vaccine, with 491,053 having had their second. According to the Our World in Data website, Britain has issued the third most jabs per 100 people in the world.
Meanwhile, there were also encouraging words about summer from a Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) adviser on Monday.
Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of Sage’s Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M) sub-group, said the UK could be easing out of restrictions in March and back to almost normal by summer if vaccines are 70% to 80% effective at blocking transmission.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “If the vaccine rollout continues at high levels, and we do find that actually these vaccines are very good at blocking transmission as well as preventing severe infection, then we’re in a good position.
“Hopefully by the summer we can get back to something pretty close to what we have seen before the pandemic was normal.”
Dr Tildesley said more will be known about the vaccine’s impact on blocking transmission within the next month, and that a 70% to 80% rate of stopping the virus spreading would “probably [mean] we’re in a good place.”
On Sunday, health secretary Matt Hancock also predicted a “happy and free” summer, saying he has a “high degree of confidence that by then the vast majority of adults will have been vaccinated”.
The government aims to have given 14 million people in the top priority groups – over-70s, care home residents, frontline health and social care workers and clinically extremely vulnerable people – their first jab by 15 February, with every single adult offered one by 1 September.
Watch: Should I book a holiday in 2021?