Airlines, airports, travel firms and travellers remain in the dark about government plans to impose a 14-day quarantine on arrivals to the UK from later this month.
Prime minister Boris Johnson announced the quarantine on Sunday, but as yet no start date and no details have been released to allow airlines, airports and travel companies to plan.
A senior aviation industry source said: “We still don’t have a date. We still don’t have the exceptions.”
However, it’s understood the quarantine measures won’t be imposed indefinitely, but will be subject to regular review on specified dates.
The source said: “The one positive message is this won’t be indefinite like the Foreign Office advice against all but essential travel.”
Industry representatives attended a regular ‘restart and recovery’ group meeting with Department for Transport officials on Thursday.
However, it is the Home Office, the Cabinet Office and the government’s scientific advisory group Sage making the decisions on the quarantine rules.
Government documents released on Monday revealed only that the government “will introduce a series of measures and restrictions at the UK border” which will require “all international arrivals to supply their contact and accommodation information” and all “not on a short list of exemptions to self-isolate in their accommodation for 14 days on arrival into the UK”.
“Where international travellers are unable to demonstrate where they would self-isolate, they will be required to do so in accommodation arranged by the government.”
The exemptions will be for journeys within the ‘Common Travel Area’ of the UK, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.
The government said the measures “will be introduced as soon as possible”.
Aviation industry leaders wrote to the prime minister this week expressing “serious concern and frustration” at the announcement, pointing out: “People will simply choose not to travel to and from the UK.”
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of airline association Airlines UK, said: “Ministers are telling people they can no longer travel for the foreseeable future and airlines will respond by grounding their operations.”
Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways parent IAG, told MPs on Monday: “I wouldn’t expect us to be doing any flying, or very little [with the restrictions].”
Spain imposed 14-day self-isolation requirements on arrivals from Friday May 15, but with an initial end date of May 24, when the existing state of emergency in the country expires.
The Spanish quarantine excludes “Spanish citizens, residents, cross-border workers, healthcare professionals or those caring for the elderly” and reflects an easing of existing restrictions.
By contrast, the UK quarantine will impose restrictions where borders are currently open.
The French government has also proposed a two-week quarantine for international visitors.
News of an agreement to forego quarantine rules at UK-French borders raised hopes of less restricted travel between Britain and France.
But foreign secretary Dominic Raab said the arrangement would merely focus on “common sense measures” to maintain shipping between Calais and Dover.