A third wave of coronavirus which is sweeping Europe could threaten summer getaways to the Continent, experts fear.
German officials warned today there are not enough vaccines to prevent another huge outbreak – and France started a new lockdown in a desperate bid to avoid a surge.
Which? travel editor Rory Boland said: “The threat of a third wave will come as a blow to holidaymakers and those looking to reunite with family and friends abroad.
“We continue to advise against booking trips until the Government’s plans for restarting international travel become clearer.”
Public Health England data suggests outbreaks could be imported to Britain by returning holidaymakers.
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It raises the prospect of strict quarantine periods after visits to Euro hotspots such as Greece and Spain – if they manage to avoid new outbreaks.
The UK is on schedule to continue the gradual lifting of lockdown and vaccinate all over-50s by mid-April, despite the likely shortage of vaccines next month due to delays in India.
PM Boris Johnson, 56, who has said tourism abroad could restart from May 17, had his first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab yesterday.
After receiving the vaccine from nurse Lily Harrington at St Thomas’ Hospital in Central London, he tweeted: “Let’s get the jab done.”
Figures showed yesterday that 660,276 doses were administered nationwide on Thursday, a new daily record. They consisted of 528,260 first jabs and 132,016 second doses.
Leisure travel both home and abroad has been banned since January 4.
But Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: “There is every reason to believe that millions will be able to travel overseas safely from May.
“European countries which are unable to keep out variants will, sadly, be out of bounds but they still have time to reduce infection rates.”
Professor Keith Neal, epidemiologist at Nottingham University, feared that a quarantine period may still be required on return – even for holidaymakers who have had both jabs.
He said: “I suspect vaccinated tourists from the UK will be the most popular in Europe.
“The big issue will be what restrictions, if any, are needed on return. If 10 days’ isolation is required for fully vaccinated persons then some will begin to question the benefit of vaccination.”
PHE found that travel corridors, which exempted people from self-isolating, could have had a big impact on the spread of imported cases from May to September.
Travel from European countries accounted for 86%. Greece was “the source of greatest imported” cases.
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It accounted for 21% of travel-linked cases in the study of 4,207 people who contracted Covid. Next highest were Croatia and Spain.
German health minister Jens Spahn warned todaythat strict restrictions are likely to be reimposed. He said it will take “some weeks” for those most at risk to be fully inoculated.
France yesterday put Paris and 15 regions – home to 21 million people – back into a month-long lockdown.
Bulgaria Latvia, Lithuania and Slovenia began using the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab again, after the European Medicines Agency reiterated that it is safe.
Portugal and the Netherlands will follow suit next week.
Here, along with the PM, pop star Sinitta, 52, was given the vaccine in Fulham, South West London.
And 103-year-old Khanim Bi had her vaccination in Bradford, West Yorks, after initially being hesitant.
Dr Tamjeed Hakeem said: “We were very surprised and honoured to see a person of her age attending our clinic.”