Britons hoping for a summer holiday abroad have been given hope by a plan to exempt those travelling to countries with low infection rates from quarantine when they return home.
The proposal to come up with so-called “air bridges” between the UK and destinations where the coronavirus outbreak is under control was backed the transport secretary.
Grant Shapps approved of the idea floated by senior Tory MP Huw Merriman, as the public were warned by a top government adviser, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, they may have to live with COVID-19 for “several years”.
Sunseekers’ hopes of a trip abroad have been dampened in recent days, as the number of coronavirus-related deaths in the UK climbed to more than 34,000.
Asked if summer was cancelled last week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock admitted: “I think that’s likely to be the case.
“It is unlikely that big, lavish international holidays are going to be possible for this summer. I just think that’s a reality of life.”
But they may have been salvaged by the idea of air bridges, which would see agreements sought with countries with low R numbers – the average amount of people someone with the virus infects – to let passengers travel between them without going into quarantine.
Currently, plans are for all those arriving in the UK to be told to go into self-isolation for two weeks, which could put many people off jetting off abroad.
Mr Shapps signalled those returning from countries where air bridge agreements have been secured may avoid the quarantine.
“It is the case we should consider further improvements – for example, things like air bridges enabling people from other countries who have themselves achieved lower levels of coronavirus infection to come to the country,” he told the Commons on Monday.
“So, those are active discussions that go beyond what will initially be a blanket situation.”