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UK transport secretary becomes first senior politician to book foreign holiday

Grant Shapps previously warned that those booking a holiday in August would be taking a chance.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps (file photo)
UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps (file photo)
Image: DPA/PA Images

UK TRANSPORT SECRETARY Grant Shapps has become the first senior politician there to declare that he is taking a summer holiday abroad – despite previously warning Britons against doing so in August.

Shapps said he and his wife Belinda had decided to take advantage of the relaxation of Foreign Office guidance on non-essential overseas travel.

The UK government this month released a list of more than 50 countries it says now pose ”a reduced risk” from Covid-19.

The exemption covers a number of European countries, as well as those within the Common Travel Area – including Ireland – and British overseas territories.

In many cases, people flying into the country – tourists and those living in the UK – still have to self-isolate for 14 days as part of the strategy to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Before the release, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised British nationals against all but essential international travel.

In April, Shapps told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he wouldn’t at that point book a summer holiday.

And as recently as last month, the transport secretary also warned against the dangers of foreign travel.

He said: “What we don’t want to do is re-import it and the idea of the quarantine is the right thing to do and it has broad public support.”

But today, Shapps said his wife had looked at the latest changes and booked a break “for the first time for a couple of years”.

Senior politicians had previously been queuing up to indicate they would be staying in the UK after the coronavirus pandemic threw international travel plans into disarray.

Earlier this week Boris Johnson – who spent new year in the Caribbean with his fiancee Carrie Symonds – confirmed he had opted for a “staycation”.

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“This country is uniquely blessed with fantastic places to holiday, whether coastal or otherwise,” he told reporters on Monday.

“And I am certainly going to be doing that, but I won’t necessarily tell you where at this stage.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has also chosen to enjoy the attractions of the UK while Chancellor Rishi Sunak has let it be known that he too has decided not to venture abroad.

As far back as May, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced he would be remaining in the UK, amid fears that foreign holidays would be off the cards completely this year.

Shapps had previously warned that anyone booking a holiday for August would be taking a chance, but he told the BBC: “Of course, since that time the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have been able to change their travel advice.

“We have established air bridges or international travel corridors to a number of different countries allowing that to happen.

“These are personal choices but we have issued guidance now for airlines to ensure that people can travel in a Covid-safe manner as well.

“So there is much more structure in place now as we approach the summer.”

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