Matt Hancock Says There Is "Uncertainty" Over Whether Brits Can Holiday In The UK This Summer
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that there is "uncertainty" over whether Brits will be able to holiday in the UK this year after 24 hours of mixed messages from government.
Confusion reigned yesterday when Hancock reportedly told Conservative MPs that he had booked a summer holiday in Cornwall, just hours after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told BBC Radio 4 people "shouldn’t be booking holidays right now, not domestically or internationally".
Last month Shapps said he was "the last person you should take travel advice on this from" when asked whether vaccines offered hope for summer holidays.
At midday yesterday, the spokesperson for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that whether to book a summer holiday in the UK was "a choice for individuals".
Johnson himself said on 1 February he was "optimisitc" about Brits being able to enjoy a "happy and free summer".
Despite claims of Hancock's Cornwall holiday plans, he admitted this morning that uncertainty over when the government will be able to ease lockdown measures meant ministers "cannot make categorical assurances" about whether people will be able to holiday in Britain this summer.
Asked on BBC Radio 4's Today programme whether people would be able to go on British holidays in a few months time, Hancock said: “Well, I very much hope so, but there is of course uncertainty."As the prime minister set out yesterday, we do have to be patient. What I can tell you is that we are all working incredibly hard to try to ensure not only we can have a holiday this summer, but also that even before then people can see loved ones and we can get life more back to normal".
He added: "Now it is too early to say when and the prime minister will set out the details in the week beginning 22nd of February".
Hancock said the success of the vaccine rollout was why the government would be able to set out plans for easing restrictions later this month.
As of Thursday morning 96% of 75-79 year olds had received a jab, he told the programme, adding that coronavirus cases, hospilisations and deaths were continuing to fall — though he warned that 26,000 people were still in hospital with the illness.
However, he stressed that while he understood that people were "yearning for a direct answer" about whether they could look forward to summer holidays, "unfortunately there is that uncertainty and we are going to have to be patient".