A Health Minister has said he can't promise pent-up Brits will be able to take a foreign holiday - even by the end of this year.

Edward Argar refused to guarantee you'll have a summer getaway - despite the government hoping to install "air bridges" as soon as this month.

An air bridge is an agreement between the UK and one other country, which will let people travel freely between the two nations without going into quarantine when they arrive.

It would spare tourists and returning Brits from having to isolate for 14 days when they enter the UK - a policy that takes force on Monday.

Portugal's foreign minister today confirmed "air bridge" talks are under way and said people from the UK would be "most welcome" this summer.

People on the beach in Magaluf, in happier times

But for an "air bridge" to work, both countries will need to have a similar low infection rate to reduce the risk of a new Covid-19 outbreak.

And Britain has one of the worst death rates in the world, with thousands of new infections still spreading per day - and the alert level still at 4.

Another 324 deaths of people with Covid-19 were confirmed yesterday - as the overall official death toll in the UK topped 50,000.

Despite hopes of an air bridge system, Boris Johnson reportedly told his Cabinet yesterday that Brits may have to take holidays at home rather than abroad.

Edward Argar refused to guarantee you'll have a summer getaway

Mr Argar said he hoped people would be able to go on holiday this year.

But quizzed repeatedly by the BBC he was unable to name a single country that had a worse infection rate than Britain.

And he told BBC Breakfast: “I’m not going to say a particular date on when that might happen.

"Because we will have to be guided by how the disease behaves, controlling any risk of a second wave and controlling the disease.

“I hope that people will be able to go on holiday at some point this year.

"But I can’t make that promise because I have to be cautious and go with the science.

“And I don’t have that forward view yet of how a second wave or otherwise might behave.”

It comes despite Health Secretary Matt Hancock saying the Government was considering relaxing border quarantine rules - before they had even come into force.

Home Secretary Priti Patel will present full rules on the 14-day quarantine plan to parliament today, with spot checks and £1,000 fines for those who refuse to isolate.

There will be exceptions for jobs like lorry drivers and scientists - while people will be able to leave their homes for food, medicine or funerals.

But anxious ministers want to gradually replace the system with "air bridges" as soon as the end of June, after travel bosses warned the plan will be a “disaster”.

So-called bridges could be built to 45 countries where the virus is under control, including Spain, Portugal and Greece. 

No10 confirmed the quarantine rules will be reviewed after three weeks, which could lead to exemptions for some popular holiday destinations.

And it would be in time for school holidays.

At last night’s No10 briefing, Mr Hancock said he was growing “more optimistic” about the prospect of Brits taking holidays abroad this year.

But he said: “Clearly the number one priority is keeping the public safe.

“That is the overriding principle and it has been throughout this.”

Matt Hancock said he was growing “more optimistic” about the prospect of Brits taking holidays abroad this year

Later Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “These measures will be reviewed every few weeks, and we are working to see how we can introduce agreements with other countries when safe to do so, so we can go abroad and tourists can come here.”

Yet Mr Argar today made clear that he couldn't promise air bridges will definitely be in place.

He reminded the public that, currently, the official advice is to avoid all non-essential foreign travel - and people are still banned from staying overnight away from their homes.

“I know the huge toll this disease and the restrictions are taking on people and I know one of the things many people will desperately want to do is to have a holiday," he told the BBC.

“But you’ll know… as you would expect from a Health Minister, I am very cautious on this.”

Questioned by LBC Radio, Mr Argar said the Home and Transport Secretaries are "looking at" the idea but he did not want to pre-empt any announcement.

He said: "People do want a holiday, they have made huge sacrifices, and I know that for many looking forward to a holiday will be a part of their being able to keep going with this.

“I know the impact this is having on the travel and tourism industry.”