Scientists and ministers are suggesting a summer of UK holidays (Image: SIPA USA/PA Images)
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Travel chiefs will this week pile pressure on the Government as ministers prepare to announce the updated coronavirus traffic light list for overseas trips.
A top scientist today braced families for a summer of UK-based holidays.
Public Health England's director for Covid-19, Dr Susan Hopkins told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show: “I think we should be predominantly deciding to holiday at home this summer while we get all of our population vaccinated.”
On Wednesday, 800 staff from airlines including easyJet, Virgin Atlantic, British Airways and the holiday company TUI will march on Westminster demanding Boris Johnson add traditional tourist destinations to the green list for quarantine-free travel.
Manchester Airports Group chief of staff Tim Hawkins said: “We are really concerned we are facing a summer with the prospect of so little traffic.
Over a million jobs rely on the aviation industry in the UK. We would really hope Ministers will listen to these concerns.
There is a huge disparity of the UK's approach and other countries, where travel is being allowed under much less stringent conditions – people with vaccines can travel, and if you haven't been vaccinated you need a pre-departure test.”
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said travel rules were kept under review.
“Of course there's frustration – all of us want to have a holiday in the sun wherever possible, but we are right to balance that with variants of concern,” he told the BBC.
“People have got to make individual choices. I think a lot of us are staying at home, I think that's an entirely reasonable decision.”
Dr Susan Hopkins
Speaking to Sky News, he added: “Inevitably in a situation as unprecedented and demanding as this, there are going to have to be significant trade-offs and it's clear that holidays as normal or travel as normal was never going to be the case, bearing in mind the rise of particular variants, most notably the Delta variant.
"I think all throughout this crisis we've tried to strike the right balance between the natural need in some cases for international travel, but also the imperative of making sure that we do everything we can at home to contain and prevent inadvertent spread of new variants of concern.
"This is a huge, difficult situation.”
He also boosted hopes that fully-jabbed people who are “pinged” by the NHS Covid app as having been near someone who was infected could be able to avoid self-isolating.
Mr Buckland said data “looks great, it looks really encouraging”, adding: “We are trying to be as flexible as we can.”
Hailing the success of the vaccine scheme, Dr Hopkins said infections were stabilising in the North West. "We are definitely seeing some signals in some areas of cases slowing down, Bolton for example has definitely reversed, Blackburn and Darwen has stabilised,” she said.
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"But there are other parts of the country, particularly in some parts of the North East, some parts of London that are still rising quite fast. I think this is not all doing the same thing all over the country, and we're seeing rises and falls as people go out and get tested and I think we are seeing the impact of vaccination and that is good news.
"The extra time to vaccinate more people, get two doses of vaccination in as many people as possible will hopefully mean that what we're seeing with this wave won't look the same as the previous waves that we've seen in this country."
Eighteen to-20-year-olds booked eight jabs every second as the scheme was opened to the age group on Friday. A total of 721,469 appointments were arranged on Friday through the NHS bookings – and the true total was higher because that figure did not include appointments made at doctors' surgeries or walk-in centres.
But a top scientist warned the drive to vaccinate all adults could lead to the concentration of Covid-19 cases in children.
“The virus will concentrate in school-age populations, which will eventually become a reservoir and driver of any ensuing Delta variant epidemic, as well as being a hotspot in which new mutations may arise," Leicester University virologist Julian Tang told The Observer.
Reports emerged today that education chiefs were piling pressure on No10 to vaccinate kids. Downing Street is waiting for the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to issue its recommendation on whether to jab children.
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Meanwhile, the Department of Health was forced to insist Matt Hancock had shown Boris Johnson key data on the success of vaccinations before the Prime Minister decided to delay the lifting of coronavirus restrictions by four weeks.
The ministry said: “The effectiveness of the vaccines against the Delta variant was discussed in the meeting that agreed the delay. Importantly, the SPI-M modelling that was presented, which was based on real world data, was in line with PHE conclusions and therefore ministers had access to the equivalent data when they made their decision.”
However, critics who wanted the curbs relaxed sooner said the data should have been made available earlier.