FAMILIES are being warned that it is still too early to be booking summer holidays despite a booking boom following the vaccine rollout.
Covid vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi made the warning ahead of the plans to enforce hotel quarantines on UK arrivals, expected later today.
He told Sky, when asked if it was premature to be booking a trip abroad this summer: "Absolutely. I think it's far too early."
He added "There's still 37,000 people in hospital with COVID at the moment, it's far too early for us to even speculate about the summer."
It echoes Health Secretary Matt Hancock who said earlier this month to advise caution if booking a holiday this summer: "I’m going to Cornwall. And I have said before I think we’re going to have a great British summer.
"But we’ve got a lot of work to do between now and then."
The current UK lockdown bans all non-essential travel abroad, which is expected to be in place until at least March.
This meant many families were looking further ahead to go abroad, with summer holiday destinations such as Spain and Greece seeing a surge in popularity, especially from over-50s due to the vaccine rollout.
With the UK hoping to vaccinate as many as 54m people by July, it sparked hope that holidays may be able to resume by the summer.
However, new restrictions already introduced by the UK government include a mandatory 10-day quarantine when returning to the country, along with a negative coronavirus test from all arrivals.
Quarantine hotels are also expected to be introduced by the government later today which would require all passengers to isolate at a designated hotel at their own cost, expected to be as much as £1,600 per person.
PC Agency's Paul Charles warned that if they are introduced, then the travel industry needs an end date, or risks being cut off from other countries for as much as a year.
He told Sun Online Travel: “We need the government to put an end date on these measures – what is the exit plan and roadmap for coming out.
“When do you end the policies, when the NHS is not under pressure? That could be end of March and that would be understandable."
“But we need to see an exit plan, otherwise people wouldn’t have confidence to book summer holidays and there is a danger these policies would stay in place for several months.
“The fear and concern is these would last longer than March.
“That's why we need an end date and to know what the criteria is for ending the scheme, otherwise Britain could be disconnected from the world for a year or more, which is really what's happening in Australia.”
Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that the new quarantine hotels could be a temporary period, however, and are likely to change "very quickly" depending on the vaccination programme.
He said on BBC's Today programme: "I think things could change quite dramatically in the summer months, but until that moment it's really a race to make sure that we break the transmission as much as we possibly can before we get variants that may be immune to the vaccine."
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Instead, a staycation summer holiday is looking more likely than ever, similar to last year which saw campsites and holiday parks sell out.
Visit Cornwall boss Malcom Bell told the Telegraph that bookings for the holiday hotspot are up as much as 50 per cent, not just because of advance reservations but also from people moving their 2020 holidays to 2021.
Holiday rental company holidaycottages.co.uk reported an 85 per cent increase week-on-week rise in bookings, while Away Resorts have reported a boom in bookings, which are up 14 per cent year-on-year.
Here are some staycation breaks for Brits to consider this year if a UK holiday is on the cards.
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