Boris Johnson has not “given up” on allowing Britons to jet abroad from 17 May as he raised the prospect of holidaymakers being able to use cheaper and faster COVID tests on their return to the UK.
Under the prime minister’s roadmap for lifting lockdown restrictions, international travel without a reasonable excuse will not be allowed to happen earlier than 17 May.
However, with many countries across Europe suffering a third wave of COVID infections, the government has not yet been able to confirm whether foreign holidays will be allowed beyond that date – leaving many families uncertain whether to book a summer break abroad.
Speaking on a visit to an AstraZeneca laboratory in Macclesfield on Tuesday, Mr Johnson acknowledged people were “impatient” to book their holidays as soon as they can.
But he said the government needed to be “prudent at this stage”.
Leading travel industry figures have reacted with dismay to Boris Johnson’s latest comments on the lockdown roadmap, saying they need more clarity.
The prime minister said he was “hopeful” that foreign travel could begin again on 17 May.
In a Downing Street briefing on Monday, Mr Johnson said he did not want to see coronavirus re-imported from abroad and urged people to await a report from the Global Travel Taskforce on 12 April.
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said to the BBC: “Whilst we support the establishment of a framework for restarting international travel and welcome the removal of self-isolation for arrivals from ‘green countries’, today’s announcement does not provide the clarity we were seeking on the roadmap back towards normality.
“We await further details, but the measures indicated, including the potential for multiple tests for travellers even from ‘green countries’, will prevent meaningful travel even to low-risk destinations.”