Britons continue to face a lack of clarity about what will happen with summer holidays abroad after the Home Secretary announced quarantine measures for people arriving in the UK.
From June 8, travellers coming to the UK will have to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival or risk being fined, prosecuted and even deported if they do not comply.
But when asked if this means holidays abroad will no longer go ahead this summer, Priti Patel said the quarantine measures were “absolutely not about booking holidays”.
Ms Patel said the measures were being brought in for “very clear” reasons, adding the Government and Foreign Office is still advising people to embark on only “essential” travel.
At the Downing Street briefing on Friday, Ms Patel was asked if it is fair to assume that most summer holidays abroad will not happen this year with the introduction of the quarantine measure – which would mean people returning from holidays would have to self-isolate for 14 days after their trip.
She replied: “Of course, you know the advice is not about booking holidays right now.
“We’re bringing in these measures for very clear reasons as I have already outlined this afternoon.”
She added: “The other point to note as well is, of course, advice from government and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is you’re not to travel and please follow the advice that they are putting on their website, which is nothing but essential travel.
“So this is absolutely not about booking holidays. We have to be clear … we want to avoid a second wave and that is absolutely vital.”
Officials have said until such time as the Foreign Office lifts the advice against all but essential travel, holidaymakers should take that advice into account and bear in mind implications for their trip and any conditions on their holiday insurance.
The quarantine rules will be reviewed every three weeks, so are expected to be in place until at least June 29.
Officials would not be drawn on whether the measure will be in place long-term.
Asked about the prospect of introducing a so-called “air bridges” scheme, Ms Patel said she would “look at all options”.
Ministers were continuing to consider forging air bridges with other nations that have low transmission rates in order to allow some international travel.
Ms Patel said: “When it comes to air bridges, I think we should be absolutely open to all ideas. This is not for today but this doesn’t mean we should rule this out in the future.”
People hoping to holiday in France this summer may have been perked up on May 10 when, in a joint statement issued by Downing Street, Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed quarantine measures would not apply between France and the UK “at this stage”.
But three days later the UK denied that those coming from France will be exempt from moves to quarantine international visitors.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters the key words in the statement were “at this stage”.