The door ‘is not shut’ on foreign summer holidays, Matt Hancock says
By Jane Kirby and David Hughes, PA
The door “is not shut” on foreign holidays this summer and more will be known from Government scientists in the next few weeks, the Health Secretary has said.
As outdoor gatherings and sport resumes across England, Matt Hancock said international travel had not been ruled out, though the priority was enabling people in the UK to see friends and family.
He told ITV’s This Morning the “biggest problem” was from variants such as those first found in South Africa and Brazil, and it was not yet known if vaccines were effective against them.
“We’re not yet sure, but we’re doing the science in Porton Down, and watching very closely, and if that all goes well, then we haven’t got a problem and then we’ll be much more relaxed about international travel,” he said.
“We will know more over the next few weeks.”
Regarding his own summer plans, Mr Hancock told This Morning: “I’m going on holiday in the UK. I can’t wait.
“I love this country, I’ve had my holiday booked since last year… I’m very confident that we’re going to have a great British summer, we’re going to have great holidays here, cases are coming right down.”
Mr Hancock also said that with lockdown easing from now, people should aim to minimise travel but could go to see family and friends in England.
“We’re saying that you should minimise travel, but if you want to travel to see friends and family, then that is absolutely fine,” he said.
“For instance, I haven’t been home to Suffolk since November. I’m planning to go this weekend, but only go for the day because there’s no overnight stays, but I’m going to go for the day on Easter Sunday.
“I’m going to see friends in Suffolk outdoors, and then coming back again.”
On the issue of Europe’s potential for controlling vaccine exports, Mr Hancock said: “Well it would be easier if we just allowed people to deliver jabs to fulfil their contracts, which is how things ought to operate.
“I think the best thing would be if we could all work together.
“We’ve worked so hard to get this vaccination programme working so fast in the UK.
“We’ve supported the setting up of these production sites in the EU as well as here, and we’ve put a lot of British taxpayers’ cash into getting this vaccine going.
“When you have a contract for the delivery of vaccines, I think that should be fulfilled.
“But also we took the decision really early on to make sure we also produce it here at home in case we have this sort of problem. So thankfully, the vast majority of the Oxford jab is made here at home.”
His comments come as people across England have begun taking advantage of the relaxation of lockdown measures.
Groups of up to six, or two households, can socialise in parks and gardens once more, while outdoor sports facilities can reopen after the stay-at-home order ended on Monday.