Industry leaders reacted angrily to government confirmation of 14-day quarantine restrictions for all arrivals to the UK from June 8.
Home secretary Priti Patel announced the requirement for all arrivals to self-isolate for 14 days on May 22, saying: “This is to prevent a second wave of infection.”
Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, said: “We’re disappointed the government has decided to go ahead with a simplistic, blanket approach to quarantining all arrivals, without any consultation with industry.”
She warned: “Airlines will be reluctant to fly if there is limited-to-no demand as a result of quarantine restrictions.
“This must be reviewed more frequently than every three weeks.”
Airlines UK chief executive Tim Alderslade said: “Introducing a quarantine at this stage makes no sense and will mean very limited international aviation.
“It is just about the worst thing government could do if their aim is to restart the economy.”
He warned: “Thousands of jobs and the recovery of the UK economy depend on re-establishing air links as soon as possible.
“Ministers must ensure the review period in three weeks is robust, transparent and evidence-led, with the advice published in full.”
Dale Keller, chief executive of the UK Board of Airline Representatives (BAR-UK), said: “The government needs to urgently bring forward plans to lift blanket travel restrictions through alternative risk-based measures that will enable airlines to restart safe and low-risk international travel.”
Clive Wratten, chief executive of the Business Travel Association (BTA), warned: “The quarantine measures will cause enormous damage to an economy struggling to get back on its feet.
“It also threatens the survival of many companies in the business travel supply chain employing thousands of people.”
Wratten said: “Public health and safety is paramount, but there are better ways to achieve this than quarantine.”
Joss Croft, chief executive of inbound travel association UKinbound, said: “A 14-day quarantine on international arrivals is another blow to the UK’s struggling tourism and hospitality industry.
“It’s imperative this policy is implemented for as short a time as possible.”
He warned: “If the quarantine measures need to be in place longer-term, our industry will need significant and extended support.”
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls agreed, saying: “The longer it is in place, the more damage it will wreak.
“There needs to be an indication of how long measures might be in place to allow businesses to plan, and criteria set out so we know what criteria must be fulfilled to enable a removal or change to quarantine.”
Manchester Airports Group chief executive Charlie Cornish described the “blanket quarantine” policy as “a brick wall to the recovery of the UK aviation and tourism industries”.
He said: “The government must work quickly to create a smart, targeted approach that recognises many countries are already low risk. European countries are starting to open up and some want to agree two-way arrangements with the UK to enable travel.”
Alderslade agreed, saying: “Airlines are introducing new public health measures so they are ready to carry passengers.
“A common sense approach, establishing health corridors with low risk countries, is the only way to get passengers travelling again.
“Rather than this blanket measure, the answer lies in government taking a more targeted, risk-based approach, as happens with aviation security standards.”
He pointed out: “The Transport Secretary [has] referenced the concept of ‘air bridges’ – a measure that would enable travel between countries which share commonality in health measures, screening standards and/or low rates of transmission. This must be seen as a crucial step in the right direction.”
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