Travel restrictions

Hancock tries to calm holiday confusion

The government is sounding increasingly upbeat about the prospect of sticking to the roadmap. At this evening’s coronavirus press briefing, professor Jonathan Van-Tam said the Indian variant was probably no higher than 50 per cent more transmissible than the Kent strain, at least according to initial assessments. Meanwhile, Dr Jenny Harries said there was currently no evidence to suggest that the variant was driving up hospital numbers. But Matt Hancock was keen to remind viewers that 14 June is when the final decision will be taken on whether to stick to 21 June as the unlocking date. The Health Secretary also had to deal with the ongoing confusion over the amber list. He had

Why Boris was so reluctant to cancel his India trip

Just a few hours after Boris Johnson confirmed that his trip to India had been postponed, the country has been placed on the government’s red list. Following reports of a new India variant of Covid, travel to the UK is to be banned — with those returning from the country facing hotel quarantine as of 4 a.m. Friday. Announcing the news, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs that initial data on the new strain meant that the travel ban had been put in place on a ‘precautionary basis’.  Johnson’s supporters believe he works better in person than on Zoom calls The decision was viewed as inevitable after the Prime Minister’s trip to India

Ross Clark

How worried should we be about the Indian variant?

The Prime Minister has cancelled his trip to India, due to happen next week, though travellers coming from the country are yet to be told to quarantine for two weeks. But the fact India is yet to be put on the red list has caused some surprise given the surge in cases of Covid-19 — up from 12,000 a day in early February to 270,000 on Sunday, many of which will be the new Indian variant. The whole reason for the red list was to guard against new variants gaining a foothold here. Is India heading for the red list shortly — possibly even later today — or on what grounds might it escape?

Johnson is learning to curb his vaccine enthusiasm

Boris Johnson had a few positive things to offer this evening’s coronavirus briefing. Speaking alongside chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, the Prime Minister announced that 3.3 million people had received their vaccines, including nearly 45 per cent of the over-80s. Whitty, meanwhile, had the sort-of good news that the government thinks the peak of infections has now passed in London, the South East and East of England. The considerably less cheery flip side of that, of course, is that we have yet to reach the peak of hospitalisations and deaths in these regions, let alone the rest of the country. Johnson is