PM: People wanting to book summer holiday must be ‘patient’

Boris Johnson has urged people wanting to book a summer holiday to be “a little bit more patient”.

The Prime Minister told the Downing Street press conference it is “too early for people to be certain about what we will be able to do this summer”.

He went on: “I understand why people want to make plans now but we’re just going to have to be a little bit more patient.”

This came hours after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said foreign holidays will remain banned until “everybody” has had a coronavirus vaccine.

Asked on BBC Breakfast what needs to change for restrictions on overseas travel to be lifted, the Cabinet minister 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 Mr 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 told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “people shouldn’t be booking holidays right now – not domestically or internationally”.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said booking a summer holiday was “a choice for individuals”.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in December he has already booked a break in Cornwall, adding that he had “high confidence that the summer of 2021 will be a bright one”.

Leisure travel is prohibited under the UK’s Covid-19 lockdown, but the travel industry is desperate for rules to be relaxed in time for the vital summer season.

A spokeswoman for travel trade organisation Abta said waiting until the UK’s vaccination programme is completed before allowing people to travel abroad means “we’ll lose another summer season to the pandemic”.

This is “something the travel industry can’t afford”, she added.

“You can book a summer holiday now with confidence by booking a package holiday.”

Brian Strutton, general secretary of pilots’ union Balpa, said airlines are “drowning” and Mr Shapps had “thrown a bucket of cold water at us”.

He called on the Government to “provide economic support immediately” if it wants the airline industry to survive.

England's deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam
England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam (Tolga Akmen/PA)

Senior Conservative MP Sir Charles Walker, vice chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee, accused the Government of “ripping out” the goalposts on the timetable for lifting restrictions.

People “need to have something to look forward to”, he told Radio 4’s The World At One.

England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam told ITV News that more knowledge about the effectiveness of vaccines is required before the ban on holidays can be safely lifted.

He compared the situation to a car on a “very steep hill”, with vaccines acting as the handbrake and restrictions acting as the footbrake.

“I don’t want to take the foot off the pedal in a rash and silly way until I know that the handbrake is holding,” he said.

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