The return of international travel may be delayed until after 17 May

Mar 4, 2021

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The return of international travel is already potentially facing delays.

The news comes just 10 days after Boris Johnson detailed the possibility of a return to international travel during his unveiling of the U.K.’s roadmap out of lockdown.

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Since Johnson laid out the lockdown roadmap, we had 17 May as the earliest date by which international travel could return. Now, aviation minister Robert Courts has cast doubts over whether it could happen so soon.

“We have laid out how we are going to make progress over the course of the next month, with the report to the prime minister on 12 April, and then looking towards travel at some point after 17 May,” Courts said during a meeting with the Transport Select Committee.

The message of some point after 17 May is contrary to what the government set out in its latest guidance in response to COVID-19.

The Global Travel Taskforce will report on 12 April with recommendations aimed at facilitating a return to international travel as soon as possible while still managing the risk from imported cases and Variants of Concern,” the government said. “Following that, the government will determine when international travel should resume, which will be no earlier than 17 May.”

During the same Transport Select Committee meeting, Labour MP Ben Bradshaw questioned Courts, asking: “Can you be a bit more specific? Most people are hoping that these stage-posts are not going to be put back by a long time. Are you talking about days, weeks? The industry needs to plan and consumers need to plan.”

“We’ve said there won’t be any travel before 17 May and we will look as soon as we can after that,” Courts responded. “But it really isn’t something I can give more detail on at the moment.”

In the meantime, the various sectors within the travel industry, as well as consumers, will have to sit tight until 12 April. It’s only then when the government will receive the Global Travel Taskforce’s findings and make its decision on when we could see international travel return.

Related: New Global Travel Taskforce begins discussions on the return of international travel

Whether its days or even weeks after 17 May, what is certain is that international travel will return at some point this year. Exactly how it will look and when remains to be seen.

Featured image by Bunhill/Getty Images

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