Why your summer holiday could still be ruined by COVID

·Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
·3 min read
The government is set to ease international travel restrictions – but could holidays abroad be ruined by domestic self-isolation rules? (PA)
The government is set to ease international travel restrictions – but could holidays abroad be ruined by domestic self-isolation rules? (PA)

On Thursday, transport secretary Grant Shapps is set to drop quarantine requirements for people who have travelled to “amber list” countries.

The anticipated new international travel policy will mean people won’t have to self-isolate for 10 days upon their return to England. It’s set to come into force on the 19 July “freedom day”.

Given the majority of countries are on the amber list, it would mean summer holidays abroad have been saved.

Or have they?

Domestic self-isolation rules are likely to pose a major problem for would-be holidaymakers this summer.

Watch: PM says double jabs to be a 'liberator' for international travel (from 2 July)

This is because, by Boris Johnson’s own admission, coronavirus infections are likely to reach 50,000 a day by 19 July, when the vast majority of England's restrictions are set to come to an end.

Health secretary Sajid Javid even went further and said cases could reach 100,000 a day.

An analysis by The Guardian has suggested 2 million people could contract the virus over the summer – which could mean up to 10 million being forced to isolate in the space of six weeks.

The government has announced it will drop 10-day isolation rules for fully-vaccinated people who have come into contact with a COVID carrier on 16 August. The same will apply for under-18s, who are not being vaccinated.

However, this date is a full four weeks after “freedom day” – and so during those four weeks, double-jabbed people could still be contacted by the NHS Test and Trace system and told to isolate.

Given the exponential rise in cases due to the 60% higher infectiousness of the dominant Delta variant, any double-jabbed person who books a holiday in this period would run a high risk of being forced to isolate before they can get away.

In practical terms, this could mean double-jabbed people who have booked a holiday in this period may choose to isolate ahead of their getaway anyway, in order to stay clear of COVID and NHS Test and Trace.

Meanwhile, 28,432,362 people in England had received both vaccines as of Monday, the latest date for which figures are available.

Read more:

New lockdown would last much longer if ‘freedom day’ unlocking backfires, government advisers tell PM

No isolation for double-jabbed after contact with positive case from 16 August, Javid confirms

Even when isolation rules are dropped for the double-jabbed, there will likely be about 10 million adults in England who aren’t fully vaccinated, meaning they will remain subject to the 10-day isolation rules.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told Johnson at Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday: "It won’t feel like ‘freedom day’ to those who have to isolate, when they’re having to cancel their holidays, when they can’t go to the pub or even to their kid’s sports day."

The PM said the country would be “moving to a system of testing rather than self-isolation”.

Watch: Wednesday's politics briefing

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