LONDON (Reuters) – The British public should not book any overseas summer vacation yet, the minister responsible for the country’s COVID vaccination programme said on Tuesday, ahead of an expected announcement on tougher border measures.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he is looking at the option of introducing quarantine hotels for those arriving in Britain to prevent the risk of “vaccine-busting” new coronavirus variants entering the country.
Nadhim Zahawi told Sky News there would be an announcement later on Tuesday. The BBC reported that a requirement to isolate in a hotel for 10 days will apply to arrivals from most of Southern Africa and South America, as well as Portugal.
It said there had been “no definitive decision yet” on arrivals from other parts of the world and this was “still a live issue”. Johnson will chair a meeting with senior ministers on the decision later on Tuesday.
Asked if the possible measures meant it was too soon for the public to book holidays, Zahawi said: “Absolutely”.
“I think it’s far too early. There’s still 37,000 people in hospital with COVID at the moment, it’s far too early for us to even speculate about the summer.”
Britain has suffered the fifth worst death toll in the world in the pandemic, with 98,531 people dying within 28 days of a positive test, and one of the deepest economic contractions on record.
The introduction of quarantine hotels plus the warning not to book vacations will deal a fresh blow to the travel industry which is fighting for survival. Engine maker Rolls Royce cut its forecasts for the timing of a recovery on Tuesday due to measures designed to contain the new variants.
Reporting by Michael Holden and Kate Holton; editing by Alistair Smout