European Union bosses have proposed easing restrictions on travel to countries in the bloc – paving the the way for British holdaymakers to get sunshine breaks on the continent this summer.
But at the same time, Boris Johnson has sounded a note of caution, arguing the UK”s approach to foreign travel this summer will be sensible and cautious to avoid “an influx of disease”.
The prime minister was speaking ahead of the expected announcement of how many countries will appear on its “traffic light” system from May 17, which will set out where Brits can travel quarantine-free.
Amid progressing vaccination campaigns and lower infection rates, the European Commission said vaccinated travellers will be able to fly to Europe from June.
It said it is proposing “to allow entry to the EU for nonessential reasons not only for all persons coming from countries with a good epidemiological situation, but also all people who have received the last recommended dose of an EU-authorised vaccine”.
Under current restrictions, people from only seven countries, including Australia and Singapore, can enter the EU on holiday, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated but subject to tests or quarantine.
New proposals from the the EU’s executive would allow in fully vaccinated foreign citizens and those from countries with a “good epidemiological situation”.
“Time to revive tourism industry and for cross-border friendships to rekindle - safely,” Commission president Ursula von der Leyen wrote on Twitter.
People arriving from Britain, Russia and a number of other countries would meet the new criteria, according to data provided by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the UK, the prime minister said there will be “some opening up” on May 17, but that things must be done in a way “to make sure that we don’t see the virus coming back in” to the UK.
Johnson told reporters during a campaign visit to Hartlepool: “We do want to do some opening up on May 17 but I don’t think that the people of this country want to see an influx of disease from anywhere else.
“I certainly don’t and we have got to be very, very tough, and we have got to be as cautious as we can, whilst we continue to open up.”
Asked if people should be planning foreign holidays, he told reporters: “We will be saying more as soon as we can.
“I think that there will be some openings up on the 17th, but we have got to be cautious and we have got to be sensible and we have got to make sure that we don’t see the virus coming back in.”
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Coronavirus has claimed the importation of new variants could “lead to further lockdowns, and inevitably, further loss of life”.
The cross-party group described airport arrival halls as “a breeding ground for infection”.
It recommended that passengers returning from green, amber and red countries under the new risk-based traffic light system do not mix.
Passengers’ documents should be checked before they enter an arrival hall, where possible, so those being transported to quarantine facilities are moved “rapidly”, the group added.
It also called for “adequate financial support” to be provided to travel firms, and for a reversal of the reduction in funding for international research projects assisting the fight against the virus.