Brits should avoid holidays abroad until later this year due to new variants, warns public health boss

BRITS wanting to go on holiday right now have been warned to waituntil later this year due to the risk of new variants, according to Public Health England's regional director for London.

The ban on holidays abroad was lifted yesterday, which saw thousands of travellers head to the airport.

Many headed to Portugal – one of the few European destinations on the green list – while others flew to amber countries such as Spain and Greece.

However, Public Health England's Professor Kevin Fenton warned that Brits shouldn't be heading abroad just yet because of the worrying variants, in particular the Indian strain which has seen cases surge by 77 per cent.

He told BBC's Today programme: "We recognise that while things are opening up, and removing more [restrictions] and mixing more, there are still risks we need to contend with."

He also said Brits shouldn't "travel unnecessarily if you don't need to" until the summer, until more information is available about the variants.

When asked if Brits should think twice about going on holiday abroad right now, he said: "If you're able to, that would be good."

"Just until we have more certainty about what's happening with the variants and whats happening in other European countries and other holiday destinations.

"And ensuring that if you do travel – follow the guidelines on testing before, testing after you return and most importantly, isolating if returning from amber or red countries."

Yesterday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock urged people to avoid heading to amber list destinations countries "unless you have an absolutely compelling reason".

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng echoed his warning, telling told Sky News: "People are allowed to do things, but it doesn’t mean everybody should be going away at the same time."

Only countries on the red list, which includes Turkey and the Maldives, are banned for holidays.

It is feared that the new Indian strain could lead to local lockdowns again, and that vaccines may also be weaker against the Indian strain although there is confidence at this stage they will still work to a high effectiveness. 

On Friday the latest data showed 1,313 cases in the UK, and today there are 2,323.

Covid-hit Bolton and Blackburn with Darwen have seen 483 cases of the Indian variant and 27 people hospitalised, with Bedford now on the watchlist as infections rise.

Despite this holidays have been given a boost as the EU is expected to allow vaccinated Brits in without needing to have Covid tests.

If you do head abroad, here is what you need to know about travelling by plane, including social distancing and mask rules.

And here is what to expect if heading to Portugal now restrictions have lifted, as The Sun's Lisa Minot headed to Lisbon.

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