Industry leaders have hit out at Priti Patel after she confirmed the UK would introduce a 14-day self-isolation period on UK arrivals from June 8.
The home secretary confirmed the measures in the House of Commons today and officially ruled out travel corridors, or ‘air bridges’ for the first three weeks.
George Morgan-Grenville, chief executive of tour operator Red Savannah, who has led an industry petition against the implementation of the quarantine measures, said: “It is clear that Priti Patel has neither listened to the concerns of the travel industry, nor seems unduly bothered by them.
“We are none the wiser as to the science behind the rationale for quarantine and we still don’t know what the ‘enhanced border measures’ in March actually achieved. But what we do know, is that ‘Global Britain’ is shut for business.
“It is the wrong policy that is going to cause untold misery for hundreds of thousands of people who will now very likely be made redundant. The government are responsible for lives and livelihoods. Has the home secretary thought about what the loss of livelihood is going to do to the lives of so many people across the UK travel & hospitality industry? She must now take responsibility for the consequences.”
Clive Wratten, chief executive of the Business Travel Association, added: “If we leave it until the end of June before getting the first travel corridor in place, be it with Italy, Spain or Portugal, many jobs across the travel industry are at risk of being lost forever.
“Quarantine crushes the innovation and dynamism that the home secretary applauded today. At this desperately difficult time for our industry, she offered no hope to the millions employed across the travel industry and its supply chains.
“All of the country-specific criteria required for the implementation of a travel corridor must be published immediately. There must be transparency about why these travel corridors are being delayed.”
Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, said: “We are disappointed that the government is pressing ahead with the blanket, untargeted quarantine proposals, as these will have a devastating impact on the aviation sector and the parts of the wider economy which rely heavily on the connectivity we provide, putting jobs at risk as the country attempts to recover from the Covid-19 crisis. Nevertheless, we will work constructively with Border Force and others to ensure that the policy is implemented in the most sensible and practical way possible.
“Many of our trading partners and countries around the world are adopting a science-led, more risk-based approach as they exit their own quarantine measures now the crisis is abating. The concept of ‘air bridges’ must be looked at with urgency to allow travel to low-risk countries while protecting the public from high-risk arrivals. We urge the government to devote the resource necessary to move to this more targeted, common-sense approach to international arrivals as soon as possible – as our competitors are doing.”
Dee also called for more financial support from chancellor Rishi Sunak “as the aviation sector faces yet more uncertainty and reduced traffic numbers, due to the quarantine policy”.
Ryanair labelled the 14-day quarantine “ineffective and useless”, saying it would only work if passengers were “detained” at ports and airports.
The budget airline argued that the government’s plan to take mobile phone numbers of passengers to check up on them would not work as it leaves the door open for people who have contracted the virus and travelled into the country to access public transport and risk spreading Covid-19.
A spokesman said introducing the measures now was “utterly useless” and that British passengers “will largely ignore it”.
Kane Pirie, owner of VIVID Travel, called the government’s approach “unfathomable” and “reckless”. He questioned why “we do not quarantine when we are free of Covid-19 and other countries are mid-crisis, yet we do quarantine once other countries are broadly clear, but we are infected”.
“Where is the logic?” he said, adding that it would “scare off potential holidaymakers”.
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