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Traffic Light System for Holidays Abroad

A traffic light system could enable overseas travel, with countries such as South Africa and South America marked red, a Government scientific adviser has said. Professor Andrew Hayward, from University College London and a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), suggested holidays abroad could be possible with the right structures in place.

It comes after Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Spi-M modelling group which advises the Government, said over the weekend that international travel this summer is “extremely unlikely” due to the risk of importing variants.

Prof Hayward told Radio 4’s Today programme: “I suspect what we may end up with is some sort of traffic light system with some countries that are no-go areas, for example likely to be South Africa and South America; other areas where there will be more severe restrictions, there will be some combination of vaccine certificates, testing and maybe quarantine, and maybe there will be some low-risk countries that you can go.”

Under the current road map for easing restrictions, the earliest date people in England could go on holiday abroad would be May 17. A Government taskforce is considering how international travel will work and is due to report to Prime Minister Boris Johnson on April 12.

Laboratory studies have suggested that vaccines may not work as well against Covid-19 variants, particularly the South African variant.

Prof Hayward said: “If that strain starts to become dominant in this country, that would be a very bad thing. “We can see in some areas of Europe it is starting to creep up from very low levels to 10-15-20% (of cases) in some areas, and so that’s a worrying trend. Increasing global travel will increase the spread of these variants. That’s our main threat in this whole strategy.”

Care minister Helen Whately said it was “premature” to consider booking a holiday abroad, telling BBC Breakfast: “I know everybody feels like it is time for a holiday, we all need that. It just so happens that when I was on holiday last August, I in fact booked my next holiday, which is a UK holiday, for later on in the summer.