Transport secretary Grant Shapps has advised Britons not to “take travel advice from me” after being asked whether they should book a holiday in the current pandemic.
Shapps made the comment on BBC Radio 4 during a round of media interviews on Friday (15 January) morning.
He also told LBC: “Don’t take advice from me on where to book your holidays, that’s all I’m saying.”
Shapps added: “I had this question last year, I said at the time I wouldn’t at that time.
“We then had the travel corridors – I booked my holiday, I went to Spain, and the first thing I did within an hour of getting there was take Spain off the travel corridor list and came back home to start my quarantine, leaving my family there.”
When asked on Radio 4 if he would book a holiday at the moment, Shapps replied: “Not right now”.
But he added there was “hope” due to the vaccination programme which has already seen three million people in the UK receive their first jabs.
Shapps said that the delay to the implementation of the requirement to provide a negative pre-departure Covid-19 test for arrivals in England had been a “matter of practicality”.
“There are 200 countries and territories in the world and they are all using different types of tests,” he explained. “We needed to check them all in order to inform people which ones will be adequate to meet our very exacting standards.
“We don’t want to end up in a situation where we strand a lot of people who are unable to return because we were not able to provide detail about which tests you can take if they happen to be returning from X or Y location.”
Shapps again stressed the importance of the current quarantine regime which he described as the “primary tool” in preventing new cases and variants of the coronavirus coming into the country.
Although he admitted that only “one tenth of one percentage” of infections in the past month had come from people who had travelled.
“The pre-departure test is only a secondary check – quarantine is the absolute key and that’s not changed,” said Shapps.
He also dismissed the importance of airport on-arrival Covid testing by saying the reliability of such tests “can be as low as 7%”. Whereas “quarantine is 100%” because people can’t pass on the disease.