The government’s planned quarantine rules are impractical and will have a negative impact on the travel and hospitality industry, according to 200 executives representing impacted companies in the UK. This is the latest in a wave of backlash about rules to be implemented starting 8 June.
According to the regulations, visitors and travellers to the country must quarantine for 14 days. They may also be subjected to spot checks and be fined for breaching isolation orders. In a letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel, businesses propose “air bridges” that will allow fewer travel restrictions between the UK and countries that have controlled local coronavirus transmission.
Businesses warn that the restrictive rules will hurt the local aviation, hotel, and hospitality industries. George Morgan-Grenville, the CEO of tour operator Red Savannah and the originator of this letter, said that this is not about chief executives looking to turn a profit.
“This is not just a group of company bosses complaining,” he wrote, “but employees from bottom to top calling for the quarantine plans to be quashed.” Morgan-Grenville says that the government’s restrictions will be deeply felt in the economy.
To save what is left, ease up on restrictions
The letter’s signatories, which include businesses like the Ritz, and Claridges, and travel companies like Kuoni and Travelbag call for the government to take advantage of this moment when the caseload appears to be manageable for hospitals all over the country.
They say that at the moment, given these circumstances, the summer season might still earn some revenue for the industry. They fear that should the UK impose such restrictive measures, other countries will reciprocate.
The businessmen also criticise the government’s inaction during the early weeks of the crisis, before Covid-19 was widespread in Europe, stressing their repeated calls to impose quarantine restrictions in January or February.
Furthermore, they slammed the government’s failure to decide on a clear set of guidelines for companies struggling to manage customer bookings. “The government has been woefully slow to react and has procrastinated to the point of absurdity in terms of either providing support for, or ruling against, the concept of refund credit notes,” they said.
The companies have also called on the Foreign Office to reconsider its blanket advice against all non-essential travel. This will further damage tourism and hospitality in the country, and prevent tourists from booking possible future holidays.
The Commons transport select committee chair, Huw Merriman, wants to reject the government’s blanket advice against all non-essential travel, which is supported by a number of Conservative MPs. They suggest air bridges, compulsory personal protective equipment for travellers, and temperature testing at airports in its place.
Home Office: we must keep transmission down
According to a Home Office spokesperson, these health measures are in place to stop a possible second wave of coronavirus in the UK. However, the International Air Transport Association said that their research suggests quarantine would discourage travellers and is “good as an outright ban.”
IATA regional vice-president Rafael Schvartzman said, “With the rest of Europe looking to move away from their quarantines and lockdowns, the question has to be asked why the UK government is now moving in the opposite direction.” At the moment, the only answer from the government seems to be more of the same.
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