UK Covid live news: Brazil variant may make foreign summer holidays impossible, ministers warned | Politics

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Good morning. As my colleague Linda Geddes reports in our overnight story, the discovery of six cases of the highly transmissible Brazilian coronavirus variant in the UK – three in England, and three in Scotland – has revived concerns that the border controls imposed by the UK government are not tough enough. Her story is here.

Yvette Cooper, the Labour chair of the home affairs committee, was on the Today programme this morning saying that ministers have repeatedly been told that the measures currently in place in England may be inadequate. She made the same points in a thread on Twitter last night with accompanying “I told you so” evidence.

Yvette Cooper

Cases of the Brazil variant now in the UK arrived a month after I first raised this issue with the PM.

People travelled on indirect flights – an issue I also raised with PM that day.

When it’s so important to protect vaccine programme, why has Govt been so slow to act? /1

February 28, 2021

Yvette Cooper

Delays bringing in measures like hotel quarantine have made it easier for Brazil variants to spread across UK.

But even now 99% of arrivals aren’t covered by hotel quarantine as we heard this week.

And notable that tests up to 72hrs pre-flight didn’t catch these cases /2

February 28, 2021

Yvette Cooper

“three Scottish residents had flown to NE Scotland from Brazil via Paris & London”

Repeatedly I’ve asked Ministers why not test travellers on first arrival in UK before they go home on public transport (tube/train/plane)? Why do they refuse to do this? /3

February 28, 2021

On the Today programme she made a further point, saying that the latest development illustrated why summer holidays abroad might not be possible this year. When she was asked if she thought the government would have to ban holiday flights over the summer, she replied:

You’re right, there is a concern about whether the government is raising expectations about summer holidays that they may not be able to meet, because this will depend on the relationship between the spread of these new variants and what happens with the vaccine, and the timetable about things like boosters for the vaccine.

And we’ve been advised on the committee by scientists that these border measures, and the strength of these border measures, becomes even more important as domestic cases fall. So as our own cases fall, and as the economy and society opens up, they argue that that’s when you actually need stronger measures at the border, rather than reducing them.

The trouble is at the moment the government is encouraging people to think that those summer holidays are all going to be possible and international travel is going to return.

To be fair to the government, ministers have never said that foreign summer holidays will definitely be possible. Going abroad for a holiday is currently against the law, and, when asked, ministers say it is too soon to say what will be allowed in the summer.

But when Boris Johnson published his roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions in England last Monday, he announced a review of the rules for global travel that will report by 12 April, and the roadmap (pdf) said that once the review was published, “the government will determine when international travel should resume, which will be no earlier than 17 May”. That prompted a surge in foreign holiday bookings.

Here is the agenda for the day.

9.30am: The ONS publishes its latest Covid schools infection survey for England.

10.30am: Anneliese Dodds, the shadow chancellor, gives a speech on the economy.

12pm: Downing Street holds its daily lobby briefing.

12.15pm: Mark Drakeford, the Welsh first minister, holds a coronavirus briefing.

12.15pm: Jeane Freeman, the Scottish government’s health secretary, holds a coronavirus briefing.

4pm: David Cameron, the former PM, gives evidence to the joint committee on national security strategy.

5pm: No 10 may hold a press conference.

Politics Live is now doubling up as the UK coronavirus live blog and, given the way the Covid crisis eclipses everything, this will continue for the foreseeable future. But we will be covering non-Covid political stories too, and when they seem more important or more interesting, they will take precedence.

Here is our global coronavirus live blog.

I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: UK Covid live news: Brazil variant may make foreign summer holidays impossible, ministers warned | Politics

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