Foreign holidays are at risk this summer amid fears they will be sacrificed to protect reopening the economy at home.
Ministers have warned it would be “premature” to book summer breaks as Covid case rates soar across Europe raising fears of new mutant variants.
Government scientists have warned holidays overseas are “extremely unlikely” because of the risk of travellers bringing those strains back to the UK.
Under the current roadmap for lifting restrictions, the earliest date people in England could holiday abroad would be May 17.
A Government taskforce will report to the PM on April 12 detailing when and how international travel can resume.
Cabinet minister Ben Wallace warned Brits against booking foreign holidays yet.
“It would be premature to do that. It’d be potentially risky, we are seeing growing variants,” he told the BBC. “We are not going to do anything that puts at risk this national effort on the pandemic. Let’s take it step by step.”
Government sources said No 10 was willing to sacrifice holidays abroad to protect domestic reopening. They claimed ministers were “increasingly sceptical” about travel restrictions ending in May, with even early summer holidays looking unlikely.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock is said to have privately confided his growing pessimism about foreign trips resuming after May 17.
Labour’s Lisa Nandy said: “We’ve got to proceed with caution, we can’t allow the good work that has been done by the vaccine roll-out being undone by unlocking too quickly or filing to secure our borders.
“We’ve seen what happened in the past.”
The biggest risk to the UK is Europe’s failure to get the South Africa strain under control, a leading member of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine team has warned.
Europe’s response to Covid-19 has meant Britain risks the South African strain “flooding in the back door” when travel resumes,
Sir John Bell told The Sunday Telegraph. France and Poland are currently experiencing third waves, with fears that Germany will follow. A new lockdown in Paris began yesterday.