TR lobbies for change as UK quarantine rules begin

By Luke Barras-hill |

Heathrow Arrivals image 2

The two-week quarantine ruling has been met with vehement opposition.

The UK government’s 14-day travel quarantine period for arrivals into the country entered into force on 8 June amid stiffening industry opposition.

As reported, those landing on British soil must self-isolate for the stated period to protect lives and prevent a ‘second wave’ of the coronavirus (Covid-19), as outlined by Home Secretary Priti Patel in the House of Commons last week.

Spot checks will be carried out at the UK border and all arrivals, including returning British citizens, must provide an address.

Rules will apply across the whole of the UK, although enforcement in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland could be handled differently. Reviews will take place every three weeks to ensure they are in line with latest scientific evidence and remain effective and necessary.

Anyone who refuses to comply with the regulations could be fined, including £1,000/$1,240 for travellers in England, and foreign nationals could be deported.

Francois-Bourienne-UKTRF

François Bourienne, Chair, UKTRF.

MEASURES ‘WILL DELAY RESTART’

Travellers from the Common Travel Area (Ireland, Isle of Man and Channel Islands) are exempt from the rules unless they have visited the area in the past fortnight.

Anyone refusing to complete the ‘contact locator form’ after arriving in the UK by plane, ferry or train will face a £100/$127 fine.

Among a lengthy list of others to be excluded from the policy includes foreign diplomats, those on government or defence business and border security contractors (for the full list, click here).

The UK Travel Retail Forum (UKTRF) has voiced its opposition to the policy, further details of which emerged last month, criticising the ‘halting effect’ it will have on reviving the UK’s travel sector.

François Bourienne, Chair of the UKTRF, told TRBusiness: “The UKTRF remains firm in its view that the newly introduced mandatory quarantine period rules will do little to combat the Covid-19 outbreak in the UK and will delay the travel sector’s ability to restart and recover from the Covid-19 outbreak.

“A delay to the sector’s restart is not simply a matter of waiting another month – it will affect the jobs of real workers and threaten the ability of some firms to restart at all. With many airports still operating at close to zero per cent of normal traffic, the ability of travel retailers to resume operations and begin contributing to airport cash flows as soon as possible is vitally important.”

The UKTRF says it continues to work with its members and industry partners to persuade government to relax the quarantine rules as soon as possible.

In the meantime, the association has joined calls for the government to explore options for so-called ‘air bridges’, designed to facilitate travel from low-risk areas while protecting the public from high-risk arrivals.

‘POLITICAL STUNT’

International Arrivals Heathrow small

The Airport Operators Association (AOA), which has backed an examination of the air bridges, stated on Twitter: “The UK’s 14-day quarantine begins. A devastating impact on the industry and put (sic) jobs at risk.

“We call for: Health measures and ‘air bridges’ to allow travel to low-risk countries while protecting the public from high-risk arrivals. Business rates relief for all UK airports.”

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary, a particularly vocal opponent of the rules, told Sky News the move is a ‘political stunt’ and ‘completely ineffective, calling for it to be scrapped by the end of June to avoid ‘real damage’ to Britain’s travel, leisure and hospitality industry.

Whitehall argues the quarantine measures are ‘proportionate’ and backed by ‘consistent and clear scientific guidance’ in a bid to limit the number of new cases from abroad.

The UK death toll from Covid-19 has now exceeded 40,000 people.

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