‘Too soon’ to book a holiday, says Shapps

Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent
·2-min read

It is “too soon” to book a holiday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has warned.

The Cabinet minister told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “people shouldn’t be booking holidays right now – not domestically or internationally”.

He went on: “The Prime Minister will say more about the route to unlocking this country, starting when he speaks about it on February 22.

“But we don’t know yet whether that will include information on things like holidays, simply because we don’t know where we’ll be up to in terms of the decline in cases, deaths, vaccination.

“And not just the vaccination programme here, but the vaccination programme internationally, because people will be going outside of our borders.

“So it’s too soon.”

Mr Shapps indicated that travel restrictions may not be eased until everyone in the UK – and potentially in overseas destinations – has had their coronavirus vaccinations.

Asked in an interview on BBC Breakfast what needs to change for travel restrictions to be lifted, he replied: “First of all, everybody having their vaccinations.”

Pressed on whether the rules will remain in place until that happens, he said “yes”, before explaining that Boris Johnson will set out a “road map” for relaxing lockdown measures on February 22.

He added: “It depends on both the level of vaccination here and, critically, elsewhere.

“We’ve done 13 million-plus vaccinations, which is just more than the whole of the EU put together.

“So we’ll need to wait for other countries to catch up as well in order to be able to do that wider international unlock, because we can only control the situation here.”

Mr Shapps claimed last month he is “the last person you should take travel advice on this from” as he was forced to leave a family holiday in Spain just hours after arriving due to a change in quarantine rules.

England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said it was “plausible” for other countries to require people be vaccinated against Covid-19 before they travel.

He told the BBC: “I can’t tell you how other countries are going to react to us, react to the idea of international travel in the post-Covid pandemic world, and whether in fact other countries will themselves insist that visitors are vaccinated, I don’t know the answer to that.

“And I don’t think other countries yet know the answer to that. ”

He added it was “certainly plausible that people will start to frame things that way” because of concerns about the spread of variants.