Government warned to ‘discourage’ foreign holidays to protect UK from Covid-19 variants

Government warned to ‘discourage’ foreign holidays to protect UK from Covid-19 variants

A group of MPs from The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Covid-19 has warned the government to “discourage all international leisure travel” to protect the UK from the different variants of the virus.

They have branded airport arrival halls a “breeding ground for infection” and warned that the importation of Covid-19 variants into the country could result in “further lockdowns and inevitably further loss of life”.

The ban on foreign holidays is set to be lifted on 17 May as part of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, but the APPG wants limits on travel to continue beyond this date.

This comes days after the first deadline for grading countries under the new traffic light system for international travel was not met.

A report last week from the Commons’ Transport Select Committee said the lists of countries should be published by Saturday 1 May “at the latest”, but they are yet to be published.

The Chair of the APPG, Lib Dem MP Layla Moran, said: “It is staggering that the government is even contemplating encouraging overseas holidays when airports are already struggling to keep the virus and new variants at bay.

“Urgent measures are needed to better detect fake Covid test certificates, reduce overcrowding in arrival halls and separate those arriving from red and amber list countries.

“The country’s biosecurity cannot rely on border staff spotting a spelling error.”

A spokesperson for the government said: “We introduced robust border controls to stop coronavirus variants in their tracks and every essential check we’ve introduced for arrivals has strengthened our defences against new mutations.

“As the UK unlocks domestically and with many British families spread far and wide, we understand that people may need to travel abroad for all sorts of reasons.

“But we can only permit it if it is done safely, which is why the Global Travel Taskforce has produced the traffic light system allowing us to manage the risk from imported cases by varying restrictions depending on the risk of travel from a specific location.”