The UK government has said it will keep restrictions on overseas travel in place to control an increase in coronavirus infections and the risk of new variants of the virus taking hold.
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has said “normal” vacation will “never be the case” this year due to the increase in Covid-19 cases. His comments indicate growing concern over a third wave of cases in the UK despite one of the most aggressive vaccination programs in the world.
“We’re going to have to make some big compromises,” Buckland said on Sky News’ Trevor Phillips Sunday show. “We have tried to strike the right balance between the natural urge in some cases to travel internationally, but also the imperative of ensuring that we do everything possible at home to contain and prevent the accidental spread of new variants. “
The remarks are a blow to airlines and a growing number of MPs in the decision The Conservative Party is calling on the government to ease restrictions. As the United States and the European Union begin to open borders for travel, Britain has rules requiring quarantine and Covid testing for travelers arriving from most places.
Liam Fox, the former Tory minister responsible for trade policy, urged the government to find a way for those who have received two doses of a vaccine to travel without having to self-quarantine.
“The world cannot be closed and that sooner or later we will have to learn to live with Covid-19 just as we have learned to live with other viral illnesses over time,” Fox wrote in a column of the Mail on Sunday newspaper.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office last week confirmed that authorities are considering opening international travel to fully vaccinated passengers. They have not indicated when the measures could be in place.
For now, health officials are urging the government to act slowly to lower restrictions, especially on overseas travel.
“The extra time to vaccinate more people, getting two doses of vaccination in as many people as possible will hopefully mean that what we are seeing with this wave will not look like the previous waves we have seen in this country,” Susan Hopkins, Director of Strategic Response at Public Health England, said the British Broadcasting Corp.’s “Andrew Marr” show.
While Hopkins said the country is preparing to live with Covid-19 as it does with the flu and other respiratory infections, “we may have to do more closures this winter” if hospitals are overwhelmed. “We should mainly be vacationing at home this summer. “
Under current rules, destinations are coded in red for the highest risk of coronavirus infection, in orange for the medium risk, and in green for the lowest risk. Travelers are not recommended to travel to countries on the orange or red list.
People arriving in England from Orange List destinations must quarantine themselves at home or where they are staying for 10 days, and pass at least two Covid-19 tests during the period. Airlines have criticized the policy, especially after Portugal was abruptly taken off the green list earlier this month, dealing a blow to the summer travel season.
The number of flights to and from the UK has fallen 73% from 2019 levels, eliminating or laying off 860,000 travel and tourism jobs that are now at risk of being lost, according to the British Airline Pilots Association.
“The British aviation industry is the hardest hit in Europe,” said Sunday Brian Strutton, general secretary of the industrial group, in a statement. “Unhappy ministers appear to be deliberately attacking aviation and tormenting the public with their mixed messages during the summer recess. “
Buckland told Sky News “we are doing our best to maintain this balance with regular reviews of the regulations to allow maximum flexibility.”