Whilst there are many people anxious to go abroad this year, it seems unlikely that international travel for holiday purposes will be allowed this year, despite what the current government rules say. Medical experts fear that whilst the UK is so ahead in its vaccinations, holidaymakers who go abroad could bring back variants of the coronavirus that the vaccine isn’t effective against.
What are the current rules?
Under the government’s roadmap, the current rules mean that international travel is definitely banned until 17th May. Anyone who goes to the airport intending to leave the country needs to provide evidence of a valid reason, such as work, education, medical or bereavement reasons, and failure to do so could result in a £5000 fine. This has recently been extended until 30th June, though the government has stated that this is purely for legislative reasons and it may be possible to travel internationally after 17th May.
What are the experts saying?
Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Spi-M modelling group, told BBC Radio 4 that “I think that international travel this summer, is for the average holidaymaker, sadly I think, extremely unlikely.” He also stated that “we are running a real risk if we do start to have lots of people going overseas in July and August because of the potential for bringing more of these new variants back into the country.” Professor of infectious disease epidemiology at UCL, Andrew Hayward, appeared on the Radio Times to also talk about the possibility of a travel ban. He mentioned that whether or not international travel will be allowed depends on what is happening in Europe at the time, and how high other countries infection rates are.
What is the government saying?
The government haven’t said anything definitive about how likely an international travel ban will be this summer and are still set for travel to resume by 17 May. The Global Travel Taskforce will reconvene to release a report by 12 April recommending how international travel can be carried out safely.
Boris Johnson said that “this will give people time to make their plans for the summer.” The Department of Transport stated that re-opening international travel would depend on “the prevalence and location of any Variants of Concern, the progress of vaccine rollouts here and abroad, and what more the Government has learned about the efficacy of vaccines on variants, and the impact on transmission, hospitalisation and deaths.”
So will international travel be possible this year?
Whilst the government are being vague on what the plans are until 12 April, when taking advice from the experts, it seems unlikely that international travel will be going ahead. It might be too premature to start booking holidays abroad for the summer, but staycations in the UK should be possible. If you book a summer holiday now, then you are likely to get your money back if the international travel ban is extended throughout summer, but depending on your insurance company, you may find it hard to be refunded if you are required to self-isolate and therefore have to miss the holiday.