Coronavirus: Matt Hancock says foreign holidays are 'unlikely' this summer

May 12, 2020

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has dealt a blow to any remaining hopes of a foreign holiday this summer, saying such trips are "unlikely" to be possible because of the continued threat of coronavirus.

Despite Ryanair announcing plans to restore 40% of its flight schedule from July, albeit with temperature checks and face masks for all passengers and crew, Mr Hancock has warned people not to get their hopes up.

Asked on ITV's This Morning whether "summer was cancelled", he said: "I think that's likely to be the case."

He added: "It's unlikely that big, lavish international holidays are going to be possible this summer.

"I just think that's a reality of life."

Britons have been advised against carrying out all but essential international travel since 17 March, and domestic trips have been off the cards since the nationwide lockdown began six days later.

Restrictions on air travel have also been enforced across the European Union, which have also remained in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

And with the UK government working on how to begin easing the lockdown, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that people flying into the country will soon be required to enter a 14-day quarantine so not to risk reviving the disease within the population.

While a reciprocal agreement struck between Mr Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron makes those moving across the Channel exempt from the new measure, it is not designed to apply to tourists.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Sky News that the arrangement with France was focused on "common sense measures" across short straits, such as to maintain shipping between Calais and Dover.

The French embassy in London also outlined various restrictions on travel between the two countries, with people required to provide documents proving that their travel is "strictly necessary".

It remains to be seen how travel restrictions might be lifted in other European countries over the coming months, however the current message from the UK government does not appear to jive with Ryanair's plan.

The budget airline has said "effective public health measures" such as temperature checks would help make sure it is safe for passengers and crew to travel while COVID-19 remains a threat.

Other measures would include fewer checked bags, online check-in, limited inflight services, no queues for toilets, downloading boarding passes to smartphones and social distancing where possible, the airline added.

Ryanair's announcement came less than two weeks after it announced it was planning to axe 3,000 jobs, with remaining staff faced unpaid leave and having their pay slashed by up to 20%.

In April, British Airways said it expected to cut a quarter of its pilots as part of wider plans to axe 12,000 jobs.

Britons hoping domestic holidays might be an alternative to going abroad have also been dealt a blow this week, as major tourist destinations in England told prospective visitors to "stay away" and "stay home".

Tourism chiefs in Cornwall and Cumbria, which includes the popular destination of the Lake District, have reacted with dismay and trepidation to the changes to the prime minister's plans to reopen the economy.

Mr Johnson has said he would like to see the hospitality sector start to get back to some form of business from 4 July, although this is dependent on how the pandemic progresses before then.

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