Travel industry leaders reacted bitterly to confirmation of 14-day quarantine restrictions on UK arrivals from June 8, but there is cautious optimism travel to some destinations could restart from July.
More than 70 UK travel and hospitality leaders wrote to Home Secretary Priti Patel on Thursday urging she abandon the restrictions, saying: “There is a glimmer of hope that some summer business might be salvaged.
“The last thing the industry needs is a mandatory quarantine.”
Patel announced the self-isolation rules at the end of last week, saying: “We must take this action as the number of travellers increases.
“It’s different to when the domestic outbreak was at a peak and international travel at an all-time low.”
She claimed to “recognise how hard these measures will be for the travel sector”. But asked if it meant an end to overseas trips this summer, Patel said: “This is not about booking holidays. The advice from the Foreign Office is you’re not to travel.”
Travel association Abta warned the restrictions, to be reviewed every three weeks, would “put many people off travelling” and a coalition of aviation, hospitality and business organisations wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson urging “a more targeted approach such as air bridges”.
UK aviation minister Kelly Tolhurst confirmed the Department for Transport is looking at ‘air bridges’ when she appeared before the Transport Select Committee of MPs last week.
Dale Keller, chief executive of the UK Board of Airline Representatives (BAR-UK), said: “Air corridors are what the industry wants.
“The industry is closely engaged with the government on this. It has to go with a layered series of measures that airports and airlines are planning.”
An aviation industry source said: “Now the announcement is out we’re in a better position to talk about the next stage.
“The problem was the length of time between the PM announcing [quarantine] and Patel confirming it. That put the brakes on. The announcement unlocked our ability to engage with the government.”
The source added: “Airlines are looking to restart in July. It won’t make a lot of difference if quarantine is just June.
“The industry’s intention is that we get confidence for a fundamental change at the first review.”
A leisure industry source agreed: “Nobody is particularly worried about the first three weeks.
“They’re interested in how robust the [government’s] three-week review is, in the bilateral steps, and in the package of measures – masks, testing, temperature checks – to remove quarantine.”
However, Tom Jenkins, chief executive of European tourism association ETOA, said: “This is not a science-based decision. It’s the Home Office attempting to hang tough.”
The French government said it would retaliate to UK quarantine rules with “a reciprocal measure” for UK arrivals.
But Greece, Spain and Portugal have already said they would work with the UK to establish ‘air corridors’.
Spain has confirmed it will drop its 14-day quarantine rules for international arrivals from July 1.
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