COVID-19: Foreign holidays ‘highly unlikely’ this summer, warns Nicola Sturgeon

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned holidays abroad are “highly unlikely” this summer due to the risks posed by new COVID variants.

In a statement to the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, Ms Sturgeon dampened hopes of Scots being able to jet overseas in the near future.

Delivering a coronavirus update to MSPs, in which she confirmed the phased return of Scottish pupils to classrooms from Monday, the first minister also advised Scots against booking holidays abroad or staycations during the Easter holidays.

“We are likely to advise against booking Easter holidays, either overseas or within Scotland, as it is highly unlikely that we will have been able to fully open hotels or self-catering accommodation by then,” Ms Sturgeon said.

“For the summer, while it is still highly unlikely that overseas holidays will be possible or advisable, staycations might be – but this will depend on the data nearer the time.

“However, given the risks posed by new variants of this virus, it is hard to overstate the necessity of being careful, cautious and gradual as we exit this lockdown, if we want to avoid another one later in the year.

“And that means, for now, all of us continuing to abide by the stay at home requirement.”

Ms Sturgeon’s warning that foreign holidays this summer are “highly unlikely” goes further than UK government ministers, who have only said it is “too early” to know if trips abroad will be allowed.

Last week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News the government is “doing everything we can” to allow Britons to enjoy a holiday this year as he confirmed he had booked a trip to Cornwall for this summer.

It followed confusion about whether people should be planning summer breaks after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps urged Britons not to book holidays yet, but Mr Hancock previously predicted a “great British summer”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said it is “too early for people to be certain about what we will be able to do this summer”.

Labour accused UK government ministers of providing “mixed messages” on summer holidays and “creating chaos for families and businesses”.

Travel companies have issued warnings about the future of their industry if foreign holidays are banned until everyone in the UK has received a COVID vaccine.

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On Monday, new UK border measures were introduced which now require those arriving from abroad to take two COVID tests – at a cost of £210 per person – on days two and eight of their mandatory 10-day quarantine.

Meanwhile, those UK nationals returning from 33 “red list” countries now have to quarantine in hotels for at least 10 days, at a cost of at least £1,750.

In Scotland, all passengers returning from overseas – whether from countries on the “red list” or not – now have to quarantine in hotels.

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