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Published on Thursday, June 4, 2020

Agents to lobby MPs over quarantine and blanket travel ban

Agents are being urged to lobby their MPS over the 'damaging' quarantine and existing blanket travel ban.

Travel Counsellors has provided its business owners with a letter to send to their local MP requesting a withdrawal of mandatory 14-day quarantine periods on UK arrivals.

Home Secretary Priti Patel confirmed yesterday that the Government will insist that almost everyone entering the UK from June 8 goes into self-isolation for a period of 14 days, with the risk of £1,000 fines and prosecution if they break the quarantine.

But she said in the longer term the Government is looking to establish 'international travel corridors' to allow travel without quarantine from countries deemed to be safe.

Travel Counsellors says the quarantine will be further damaging to the UK economy and travel industry and argued the establishment of international air bridges or 'travel corridors' was the most sensible and viable solution at this time.

The letter supports the statements made by others across the travel industry, stating: "A mandatory quarantine on all inbound travellers, which will deter visitors from coming here, make UK travellers think twice about going abroad, and most likely incur reciprocal quarantine measures on British travellers to other countries, will have real consequences for the UK travel sector."

The letter also advocates a relaxation of the FCO's ban on travel and calls for more focus and resources aimed towards establishing air bridges or travel corridors with destinations deemed low risk.

Travel Counsellors CEO Steve Byrne said: "With an effective track and trace system now being put in place, together with confirmation of international air bridges or 'travel corridors', and enhanced health and safety requirements met by measures instated across the globe, we're supporting our people to make their voice heard by encouraging their local MPs to see these initiatives as the most sensible and practical solution at this time."

The WTTC said the quarantine will worsen an already 'critical situation' and delay the much-needed recovery of the UK economy.

It said its data shows the Covid-19 crisis has already put 1.2 million travel and tourism jobs at risk in the UK, with substantial losses already.

In the announcement yesterday, the Home Secretary said the quarantine would be reviewed after three weeks.

But the Business Travel Association warned travel industry jobs could be lost if the Government waits until the end of June.

CEO Clive Wratten said: "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."

Ryanair described the plan as 'utterly ineffective', pointing out that people will be allowed to travel from the airport on public transport, potentially spreading the virus before reaching their accommodation.

"This 14-day UK quarantine is ineffective, completely useless, and will have no effect on British passengers who will largely ignore it," said a Ryanair spokeswoman.

VIVID Travel boss Kane Pirie welcomed the review of the quarantine three weeks after its launch, but said: "The Government's approach to this is unfathomable. 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? This belated gesture of a quarantine is unnecessary and reckless."

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  • Intractable government

    All the points made by travel agents/tour operators are totally accurate and valid, but fall on deaf ears of a government which has made serious errors from the beginning of the epidemic and simply won't admit it. They decided the quarantine policy far too late, and obviously now understand that it is unworkable and damaging, but their concrete policy is not to change/adapt or admit wrongdoing so they blunder on with their catastrophic policies.

    By diana giannoulis, Thursday, June 4, 2020

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