Prime Minister Boris Johnson has suggested that he may announce on April 5 whether holidays abroad this summer will be possible, a week ahead of the date the government’s Global Travel Taskforce is due to report.

The disclosure that the date for a clarification on overseas travel had been brought forward came at a Downing Street briefing on Tuesday.

The government has previously insisted the taskforce will report to the prime minister on April 12 when its recommendations will also be made public.

However, it is unlikely the report would be published before the prime minister signed off on its recommendations as this would risk tying the government’s hands, suggesting Johnson could see the report in advance of the April 12 deadline.

It now appears that the recommendations will be made public earlier than first thought.

Johnson said: “A lot of people do want to know about what’s going to happen on the holiday front and I know there’s a great deal of curiosity and interest.

“All I can say is it’s just too early to say and my advice is to everybody to wait for the global travel task force to report.

“We’ve heard already that there are other European countries where the disease is now rising so things certainly look difficult for the time being but we will be able to say more we hope in a few days’ time, I certainly hope to say more by April 5.”

Third wave fears

He said: “We must be wary of the potential for a third wave [here]. We are seeing distinct signs of a third wave in Europe.”

Asked how the government intends to keep ‘variants of concern’ out of the UK, Johnson said: “We have very tough tests at the border already. We keep all these measures under review to protect against variants of concern.”

The taskforce is due to make recommendations on how international travel could resume from the earliest date of May 17.

Following the briefing, Paul Charles, chief executive of the PC agency and instigator of the Save Our Summer campaign, said his latest understanding was that more countries would join the travel ‘red list’ on March 29 ahead of the Global Travel Taskforce advice to be made public on April 5.

Phased travel restart

A phased restart of travel from May 17 would involve a traffic light system, testing vaccine certificates followed by a pilot travel corridor to open between the UK and US in June.

Asked at the briefing whether it might be possible to eradicate Covid-19, government chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said: “The chances of eradicating this disease are as close to zero as makes no difference.

“We can get Covid cases right down, but anyone who looks at this seriously does not thing eradication is realistic.

“We will have Covid-19 for the indefinite future.”

Chief scientific officer Sir Patrick Vallance agreed the chances of “eradication” are “close to zero” and said: “This will become a circulating virus.”