Transport secretary Grant Shapps has confirmed there is a chance of international travel resuming from 17 May.
But Shapps told ITV’s Peston programme that reopening up travel abroad “depends on lots of factors – many of which are not in our control”.
Shapps stressed that international travel would not be “unlocked” before 17 May “at the earliest”, as part of the government’s phased schedule to end current Covid-19 restrictions.
The transport secretary said that the Global Travel Taskforce would set out plans of how to reopen international when it reports to prime minister Boris Johnson by 12 April.
Shapps raised a number of potential issues around reopening foreign travel including the rate of vaccinations in other countries.
“The vaccine programme is going great guns with over 18 million people vaccinated in the UK – unfortunately that’s not the case everywhere else,” he said.
“We have to look at what happens if other places are not as vaccinated. It depends what happens to the virus between now and then.”
Shapps said another issue would be those people who are not currently being vaccinated – particularly children, who make up 21% of the UK population.
He also said a testing regime could be a “possibility” to reopen travel, but asked whether other countries would be “happy to use that as an international approach”.
When it came to potentially maintaining travel restrictions on “high-risk” destinations, Shapps said that the government was now “more interested” in the emergence of new Covid-19 variants than just the number of cases in each country.