What will the Johnson government's view be regarding foreign travel? | Archive

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It was reported in The Times last week that British ministers were split over whether an opening-up of foreign travel should still mean that quarantine on return would be required.

Since then, the debate has moved on. It is increasingly centred on whether there should be an opening-up at all. Defence secretary Ben Wallace, speaking to Sky News on Sunday, said that the gains of the vaccination campaign cannot be put at risk. "If we were to be reckless in any way and import new variants that put out risks, what would people say about that?"

Wallace was echoing the views of transport secretary Grant Shapps, who last week said that it was too early to tell when holidays abroad would be allowed. He expressed concerns about the rising number of infections in parts of Europe. An opposing view, that for example of former minister for international development, Desmond Swayne, is that "the whole point of having a successful vaccine campaign is that we want to take advantage of it".

The Shapps-Wallace position echoes that of scientific advisors such as Professor Mike Tildesley who has warned that foreign travel this summer is - "for the average holidaymaker" - sadly extremely unlikely because of the fear of importing variants.

While a date of May 17 has been given for a resumption of foreign travel, April 12 is when Boris Johnson is due to be updated on the possibilities for foreign travel.