Friday, 3 Jul 2020

Quarantine travel: ‘Scrap the rules!’ Travel firms warn rules must be dropped in letter

Home Secretary Priti Patel announced last week that new quarantine rules for anyone arriving into the UK will be enforced from June 8. The new rules state that anyone arriving into the UK from abroad, except from the Common Travel Area, will be subject to 14 days in quarantine. Anyone caught breaking the rules could face a fine of up to £1,000.

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But now holiday firms, travel chiefs and hotel owners are worried that the rules could have a further detrimental effect on the already battered travel and tourism industry.

Signed by more than 70 travel bosses, a letter has been written and given to the Home Secretary in a bid to scrap the rules.

The letter suggests that the move could “deter foreign visitors from travelling to the UK” and “deter UK visitors from going abroad”.

The travel firms say the sector contributed a staggering £200billion to the UK economy last year – around nine percent of the UK’s GDP – meaning that the rules could have a devastating economic impact on the country.

The letter said: “The very last thing the travel industry needs is a mandatory quarantine imposed on all arriving passengers which will deter foreign visitors from coming here, deter UK visitors from travelling abroad and, most likely, cause other countries to impose reciprocal quarantine requirements on British visitors, as France has already announced.

“Many people urged the government to impose quarantine regulations during the early phases of COVID-19.

“Instead, no action was taken and flights from infected countries were allowed to land, disgorging thousands of potentially affected passengers into the wider community.”

The letter continued: “COVID-19 is now under control and we commend the government for its handling of what was an extraordinary and unprecedented situation.

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“However, the economic cost of the government’s action is yet to be seen, apart from the early indicators which paint a grim picture.”

The letter also stated that the Government had been “woefully slow to react and has procrastinated to the point of absurdity” in offering refund credit notes in the tourism and travel industry.

The letter continued: “Unlike many businesses who can scale down their workforce very rapidly, travel companies still need to employ staff when business stops, either to cancel or rearrange existing, often complex, bookings.

“The government has done its best to suppress and control the invidious viral contagion but it should not, and must not, exceed its mandate.

“The people of this country do not wish to be prevented from travelling.

“Quite simply it is time to switch the emphasis from protection to economic recovery before it is too late.”

George Morgan-Grenville, CEO of tour operator Red Savannah said that the quarantine plans were “poorly thought-out” and detrimental to the industry.

He said: “Signatories to this letter are more used to competing ferociously but, on this issue, we are united.

“The quarantine plans are poorly thought-out, wholly detrimental to industry recovery and are more or less unworkable.”

However, the Home Office said in response that the rules are being put in place in order to avoid a second wave which could be “devastating”.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “As the world begins to emerge from what we hope is the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, we must look to the future and protect the British public by reducing the risk of cases crossing our border.

“We continue to support businesses in the tourism sector through one of the most generous economic packages provided anywhere in the world.

“However, it is right that we introduce these new measures now to keep the transmission rate down and prevent a devastating second wave.”

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