COVID-19: ‘We’re doing everything we can’ to allow summer holidays this year, says Hancock
Written by Hitmix News on 11 February 2021
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told Sky News the government is “doing everything we can” to allow Britons to enjoy a holiday this year – amid confusion about whether people should be booking summer breaks.
Following the introduction of tougher border measures for UK nationals returning from abroad and the continuing lockdown restrictions, the government has faced questions about whether summer holidays might be possible.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps this week urged Britons not to book holidays, but Mr Hancock has previously predicted a “great British summer”.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said it is “too early for people to be certain about what we will be able to do this summer”.
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Image: The health secretary urged people to be ‘patient’ over summer holidays
Labour have said the “mixed messages” from government ministers on summer holidays is “creating chaos for families and businesses”.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Hancock confirmed he had booked a break to Cornwall this summer, but said he could not yet be sure if his holiday would go ahead.
“I do understand, of course, the yearning for certainty. But certainty is hard in a pandemic,” the health secretary told Sky News.
The prime minister is due to set out how England’s latest lockdown might be eased in the week beginning 22 February.
And, although he admitted it was “difficult at this point”, Mr Hancock urged people to “be patient” ahead of news of how restrictions might be lifted.
“We are doing everything we can to make sure people can have their holiday in the summer,” he added.
“And, even before then, to be able to see their loved ones.
“Even before we get to whether we’re going on holiday, or where we’re going on holiday, how soon we can see and hug our loved ones is important.
“Thankfully, because the vaccine rollout is going so well… that will all help us to get out of this and get back to normal.”
The government is facing growing unrest from some Tory MPs about how long lockdown restrictions might be in place, with one senior Conservative accusing ministers of “robbing people of hope” of a return to more normal life.
But Mr Hancock suggested the public understood that there could not yet be any definitive answers on when and how COVID measures might be eased.
“What I’m saying, and what we’ve all been saying, is we’ll do everything we can to make sure people can have a holiday, but these are times where there is uncertainty,” he added.
“I think that is something that people really understand and, especially after the last year, people really get that.
“And the fact that we’ve all been talking in exactly the same terms about the fact that there is uncertainty, but we want to bring an end to that uncertainty.
“Of course it is the vaccine programme that is our route out of this and the way through and, thankfully, that has been going really, incredibly well.”
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Dr Simon Clarke, associate professor in cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, said booking a holiday now is “one hell of a gamble” and suggested the government “had its fingers burned” by allowing travel corridors last summer.
“We don’t know where we’re going to be, not only in this country in terms of vaccinations, but in terms of spread of troublesome variants and what other countries are going to have been able to do,” he told LBC.
“So it really is too early to say. I think if people were to book holidays now, I’d like to do that myself, it would be one hell of a gamble.”
But Noel Josephides, chair of tour operator Sunvil, warned that if the government waited until everyone in the country had received a COVID vaccine before allowing holidays abroad then “by that time there won’t be a travel industry”.
“This is a huge, huge industry, a million jobs are at stake, and we don’t believe that once people are vaccinated they are going to worry about travelling abroad,” he said.