Keep foreign holiday restrictions to prevent more lockdowns, say MPs

Woman backpacker holding passport and map with suitcase standing at check in baggage at airport term

Restrictions on foreign holidays should be maintained to protect the UK from Covid-19 variants, MPs have warned. - Credit: Weedezign/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Restrictions on foreign holidays should not be lifted on May 17 to protect the UK from Covid-19 variants, MPs have warned.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on coronavirus urged the Government to "discourage all international leisure travel" warning new coronavirus variants could "lead to further lockdowns, and inevitably, further loss of life". 

The warnings come as attention turns to the summer holiday season and May 17, the next stage of the government's roadmap out of lockdown when the ban on foreign holidays is expected to be lifted for people in England.

But the APPG wants the Government to "maintain curbs on international leisure travel" beyond May 17.

It described airport arrival halls as "a breeding ground for infection".

It recommended that passengers returning from green, amber and red countries under the new risk-based traffic light system do not mix. Passengers' documents should be checked before they enter an arrival hall, where possible, so those being transported to quarantine facilities are moved "rapidly", the group added.

It also called for "adequate financial support" to be provided to travel firms, and for a reversal to the reduction in funding for international research projects assisting the fight against the virus.

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Lucy Moreton, professional officer for the Immigration Services Union, which represents border immigration and customs staff, told a hearing held by the group last month that around 100 people are trying to enter the UK each day with "fake" certificates showing recent negative coronavirus tests.

Lib Dem MP Layla Moran, who chairs the APPG, said: "It is staggering that the Government is even contemplating encouraging overseas holidays when airports are already struggling to keep the virus and new variants at bay."

A Government spokesperson said: "We introduced robust border controls to stop coronavirus variants in their tracks and every essential check we've introduced for arrivals has strengthened our defences against new mutations.

"As the UK unlocks domestically and with many British families spread far and wide, we understand that people may need to travel abroad for all sorts of reasons. But we can only permit it if it is done safely, which is why the Global Travel Taskforce has produced the Traffic Light system allowing us to manage the risk from imported cases by varying restrictions depending on the risk of travel from a specific location."