A public health expert says it is still not safe to holiday abroad despite the expansion of the ‘green list’.
Yesterday the Government updated the travel restrictions for holidays abroad, with popular destinations like Malta and the Balearic Islands added to the ‘green list’.
However Prof Scally, who is a member of the group of scientists Independent SAGE, discouraged travel even to those countries.
He said: “This is not the year for travel. This is a year for staying at home, for several reasons.
“Firstly, the UK has the highest rate of infection of new cases at the moment in Europe, and a very high proportion of those are the Delta variant, which is highly transmissible.
“We are not vaccinating anyone under the age of 18 [yet], and 21 per cent of the UK population is under 18, so they are open to the virus and open to transmitting the virus and taking the virus with them on holiday or bringing it back again.
“We are in a dangerous situation – it’s a race between the virus and the vaccine at the moment and the only thing that international travel does is help the virus.”
He joined a discussion with former Atomic Kitten singer Jenny Frost, who owns a hotel in Ibiza and said she is looking forward to welcoming Brits back now that it is on the green list.
She said businesses have been taking the necessary safety precautions to prevent the spread of the virus when holidaymakers return, adding: “As an island we rely so heavily on the British tourist industry.”
Prof Scally said he loves Ibiza and had planned to attend a festival there this year, which did not go ahead, and he hoped to return next year.
However, he said said the numbers are “going up dramatically” at the moment and more needs to be done to prevent the spread.
Improving test and trace, ventilation in shared spaces and support for people self-isolating were among the measures he suggested need looking at.
He also called for the vaccine to be rolled out to under-18s because “they are major transmitters at the moment”.
He added: “It was international travel openness that brought the Delta variant to our shores in the first place.
“The record isn’t good.”
Co-host Kate Garraway pointed to “fatigue” in following the rules, particularly given the crowds being allowed elsewhere such as inside football stadiums, and noted that many people fed up with the situation will be looking forward to a holiday.
What are your holiday plans now? Please log in and leave your comment in the thread on this story.
Prof Scally agreed and said he felt it is “peculiar” that such pilots are being allowed to go ahead while other activities, such as parents being able to attend their children’s sports days, are still being restricted.
He added: “We do need to get the numbers way down, just look what’s happening.
“Things are going the wrong way – if we want to get rid of the rest of the [restrictions] in due course, we need to win this race for the vaccine against the virus, and not do things that help the virus.”