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Ministers under pressure over foreign holidays

MPs want the initial target date of May 17 for the return of foreign holidays to remain to provide certainty for consumers and businesses as pressure mounts on ministers.

The Transport Select Committee asked the Global Travel Taskforce to lay out the criteria that passengers will need to comply with in order to go on foreign holidays.

Greece and Spain have already said that they will accept vaccinated tourists this summer.

However, summer holidays are increasingly under threat as devolved administrations lobby ministers to push back the mid-May target for resuming international travel.

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said that the idea of allowing holidays in two months “fills me with horror” and said some border restrictions should remain in place during the summer.

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, said he was “hopeful” that summer holidays would be possible this year but said that the Government “can’t provide cast-iron guarantees”.

Boris Johnson has ordered a report on how to reopen international travel safely which is due in a month’s time. The Prime Minister has stated that 17 May is the earliest possible date for foreign holidays to resume.

The Scottish government wants harsher rules on border quarantine to prevent new Covid variants from coming into the country. Mark Drakeford believes that the second wave of Covid in Wales had been “very significantly driven by people coming back from France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, bringing the virus with them”.

He stated: “The idea that we will have international travel back as it was before in the middle of May fills me with horror, really. Because I just think there is such a risk that it will lead to the reimportation of the virus just as we’ve all worked so hard to get it under control.” He added that UK ministers had reassured him that they were willing to delay the date if necessary to avoid another wave.

In an interview with Times Radio, Grant Shapps said: “I would say that it makes sense to see how the course of the pandemic unlock proceeds. I am hopeful but, as with everything to do with this virus, you can’t say for certain. There are a lot of issues that we need to work around but I am working with international partners, both governments and organisations, to try to make it happen. We can’t provide cast iron guarantees on it.”

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