Tight restrictions on international travel “should stay” in place all summer to prevent new variants from spreading in the UK, Labour MP Yvette Cooper has said.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Ms Cooper said she did not understand why the government was “going ahead with lifting some of the international travel restrictions” on Monday.
She further said that restrictions should remain in effect for months to come, particularly amid fears over the spread of the Indian variant of coronavirus, which has seen several people in Bolton hospitalised.
It comes as Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed plans to push forward with the UK’s vaccination programme, with over-35s set to be able to book their coronavirus jabs within the coming days.
“This coming week we’re going to be opening up vaccination to the 35s-and-over across the country because this isn’t just about accelerating the vaccination programme in Bolton, it’s about going as fast as we possibly can nationwide,” he told the BBC.
Mr Hancock further said on Sunday that early evidence from Oxford University has given the Government “a high degree of confidence” that vaccines work against the Indian variant of Covid-19.
Speaking on Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, the health secretary said early findings meant England could “stay on course” with its plans to further ease coronavirus restrictions on Monday.
However, he said that a “cautious, careful and vigilant” approach was still necessary and said it was too soon to say whether the spread of the Indian variant could impact plans to fully lift Covid restrictions in June.
Was Brexit the root cause of the arrival of Indian Covid variant?
Critics have been questioning whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s hope of a trade deal with India is behind a perceived delay in the decision to shut down travel from the country amid the rise of the Indian variant of coronavirus.
Here, Andrew Woodcock addresses the question of whether Brexit was the “root cause” of the arrival of Indian Covid variant in the UK?
Chantal Da Silva16 May 2021 14:32
All of the rules changing on Monday in Stage 3 of lockdown exit road map
Monday marks the start of Stage 3 in the government’s road map for lifting coronavirus restrictions.
Under the new rules, hospitality venues will reopen indoors, while restrictions on outdoor gatherings and events like weddings are also set to change.
Sporting venues, theatres and other venues will also be welcome back audiences.
Here, Ian Johnston provides a full breakdown of all the changes set to unfold under Stage 3:
Chantal Da Silva16 May 2021 14:10
Covid vaccine taskforce member says Britons should avoid travel outside UK
Sir John Bell, member of the UK’s Vaccine Taskforce, has said foreign holidays this summer are “not a good idea”.
Speaking on Times Radio on Sunday, Sir John said he did not believe people should be traveling outside the UK for the time being.
Even travel within Europe, he said, puts the country at risk of being exposed to new variants.
“Don’t forget that there are very broad swathes of Europe that are largely unvaccinated,” he said. “They have a pretty odd attitude to vaccines in Europe which really isn’t one that’s a public health approach to vaccines.”
“So there are pretty vulnerable to new variants, be it Indian or otherwise, sweeping across the continent and leaving with very high levels of disease around,” he continued.
“Having people flying around and coming back with whatever local variant they are running into, that is not a good,” Sir John said.
“People just have to get used to the fact that Cornwall or Bournemouth or whatever is not so bad and they should just enjoy the summer and then we can get back to this properly when things settle down,” he asserted.
Chantal Da Silva16 May 2021 13:55
Johnson accused of putting ‘post-Brexit trade deal’ with India ahead of public health
Lib Dem’s Layla Moran says it “does appear that Boris Johnson put the pursuit of a post-Brexit trade deal with India ahead of public health”.
She made the comments sharing an Sky News article on the spread of the Indian Covid variant in the UK:
Chantal Da Silva16 May 2021 13:48
Ministers have not ruled out a return to localised lockdowns in response to the upsurge in the Indian variant of Covid-19 in the UK, Matt Hancock has said.
Another report by our political editor, Andrew Woodcock:
Zoe Tidman16 May 2021 13:32
‘Hug carefully’ – Hancock
Matt Hancock has advised people to be “careful” when hugging others after restrictions on physical contact are lifted on Monday.
Andrew Woodcock, our political editor, reports:
Zoe Tidman16 May 2021 13:15
17 May lockdown easing and travel
With Yvette Cooper saying tough travel restrictions should stay in place over summer, here is a reminder of what will change from 17 May as lockdown measures – including ones on travel – ease:
Zoe Tidman16 May 2021 13:01
Matt Hancock says people should not travel to ‘amber’ or ‘red’ countries
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said people should not travel to “amber” or “red” list countries unless it is absolutely necessary.
Speaking with Times Radio on Sunday, Mr Hancock said people should “certainly not” travel to countries on either list “for holiday purposes”.
“The red and amber list countries are places that you shouldn’t go to unless you have an absolutely compelling reason,” he said.
Those who do travel will have to self-isolate at home for 10 days upon return and take two post-arrival tests.
Their isolation periods can end early if they get a negative test from an additional test taken after a five-day period.
Chantal Da Silva16 May 2021 12:40
Travel firms see surge in demand for Portugal trips amid easing of restrictions
Thousands of holidaymakers are reportedly making plans to travel overseas when the ban on foreign leisure trips is lifted in England and Wales on Monday.
According to PA Media, travel firms are reporting a surge in demand for trips to Portugal, especially, after the Government named the country on its “green” list for quarantine-free travel.
That means travellers returning from Portugal and other countries will not need to self-isolate upon return and are only being asked to take one Covid test after arriving back in the UK.
EasyJet said it added 105,000 extra seats to its flights serving green-tier countries.
Meanwhile, Tui is expected to use aircrafts that normally operate long-haul routes to accommodate the rise in planned Portugal trips.
Chantal Da Silva16 May 2021 12:25
British Airways cabin crew ‘not turning up for flights to India’ amid variant spread
British Airways cabin crew members have reportedly not been turning up for flights to India amid the country’s record-breaking coronavirus crisis.
According to The Sun, British Airways has reportedly stopped night stops in India to encourage cabin crews to continue flying there despite the spread of the Indian Covid variant.
Airline bosses have also reportedly been forced the write to staff asking them not to stay away from work.
Chantal Da Silva16 May 2021 11:54