Industry fears limited changes to outbound rules after inbound easing

Industry sources fear further changes to outbound travel rules for the August peak could be limited despite the government easing restrictions on inbound travel and international cruising on Wednesday and the prospect of additions to the green and amber lists next week.

One source described this week’s review as “the last chance saloon” for the summer season ahead of a review of destinations’ red-amber-green (RAG) status next week.

A senior industry source told Travel Weekly: “If nothing happens this week we’re really in trouble.

“Nothing will happen in August. MPs go to ground. Officials disappear. The government is aware of what we need. It has an opportunity to make things better. But it’s the last chance saloon.”

The government confirmed on Wednesday the removal of quarantine restrictions on double-vaccinated travellers from the US and EU, excluding France, from August 2.

However, the EU has yet to reciprocate and the decision for US arrivals was made unilaterally after the US reaffirmed it remains closed to international visitors on Monday. So the move means no change for UK outbound travellers.

The source warned: “There is no appetite in the White House for lifting the order suspending entry. There will be no imminent change to that.”

Speaking ahead of the announcement, a second source said: “Anything would be good at this stage. Recognition of the EU DCC is what we hope for.”

Concerns have been raised over delays at the UK border as passenger volumes increased last week.

The sources attributed the problems to inadequate Passenger Locator Form (PLF) technology, which were exacerbated after the government chose to bring forward the planned date for recognising fully vaccinated passengers by a week to July 19 to coincide with the UK’s domestic ‘freedom day’.

They described the decision as “crazy”.

One source explained: “The PLF was a disaster. The IT wasn’t ready. It wasn’t working properly until this Monday because the government was working to a July 26 deadline.

“That is the behaviour of a country with crazy ministers and a dysfunctional civil service.”

A second source confirmed: “The PLF wasn’t up to scratch. They made some modifications.

“The problem is people can’t understand the PLF. They fill it out wrong. It’s still not where it needs to be but it’s better. The PLF front page now indicates whether a passenger is fully vaccinated which helps.”

The source stressed: “A key ask of the government is that these reviews focus on simplicity and pragmatic solutions so people can understand what is expected of them and why.”

There remain hopes that quarantine restrictions on France could be lifted next week, but fears stoked by media speculation that the Balearics, mainland Spain and Italy might join the amber-plus category imposing quarantine.

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