Britons have been told the more “elaborate” their hopes for summer holiday plans the less certainty there is about whether they can go ahead.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, said it is “just too early to say” whether people will be able to plan getaways this summer.
At a Downing Street coronavirus briefing he said that any easing of lockdown restrictions in England will have to happen “gradually” and that contemplating what will happen in summer is a guessing game.
He explained: “Public health counter measures, non-pharmaceutical interventions, social distancing restrictions, they will have to be released gradually.
“How quickly they can be released will depend upon three things – the virus, the vaccine and the extent to which the public obey the rules that are in place, which thankfully the vast majority always do.”
He said it was too soon to say to what extent people could begin to start planning summer holidays.
“The more elaborate your plans are for summer holidays, in terms of crossing borders, in terms of household mixing, given where we are now, I think we just have to say the more you are stepping into making guesses about the unknown at this point,” Prof Van-Tam said.
“I can’t give people a proper answer at this point because we don’t yet have the data. It’s just too early.”
He added: “The key with this coronavirus is again through vaccination, to take the whole curve and shift it to the left, so the vast majority of the illness is an illness that is manageable in the community – as opposed to causing enormous pressure on our hospitals.
“And we can do that through vaccination, and if we do that we open up a whole way of living normally – much more normally – again in the future.”
The question mark over foreign holidays – which are banned during lockdown – has been a source of deep frustration to the airline and travel industries.
A hotel quarantine policy for British nationals and residents arriving in England from 33 “red list” countries scheduled to last until March and reviewed every week will also dent some hopes of a spring break.
But Sky News has confirmed the government are investigating the possibility of creating immunity passports.
Research groups are said to have been set up on the subject as attention turns to what will happen to international travel once vaccines are more widely rolled out across the world.