England’s chief scientific adviser has warned that travel abroad may not be as quick as the people of Britain would like it to be.
Currently, England’s lockdown roadmap suggests that travel restrictions could be lifted as early as May 17th.
But Sir Patrick Vallance warned we must wait and see.
Sir Patrick suggested that global advancement in vaccination against Covid-19 was key to unlocking international travel.
He told MPs on the Science and Technology Committee that “at some point travel will inevitably reopen” and “as more countries are vaccinated and we understand how much transmission is reduced through vaccination, movement between countries will become much easier”.
He said this could include “certification or whatever,” but trips need to be reopened in a safe manner, possibly with a global screening program to detect variants.
He said the problem underscores the point that it is an international effort not to vaccinate people “nationally” and “therefore vaccines must get to other countries”.
May 17th has been set as the earliest date for resumption of international travel.
Committee member Carol Monaghan pointed out that “other countries are way behind in terms of vaccination” and asked if May 17th was a “reasonable date”.
Sir Patrick said, “We have to measure as we go and we don’t know.”
Sir Patrick said border controls worked best when domestic cases were low and systems were preventing cases from an area with a higher prevalence of coronavirus or a specific variant.
He told MPs: “The second is that in order to stop all imports, you have to put in place very strict border controls to prevent anything from coming in, and that is an extremely onerous requirement.”
Even then, “you won’t stop them completely”.
Other measures – such as self-quarantine – aimed at reducing the likelihood of cases or variants coming in will delay rather than stop what is happening.
In New Zealand there are “no or very few cases and this is claimed by a very, very strict border system”.
But “sure, at some point you have to open your border and at that point you will see an influx of infection”.