Furious travel industry leaders today demanded ministerial responses as “airlift” plans were effectively abandoned.
The government is expected to announce that more than 75 countries will be exempt from the 14-day global quarantine on arrival in the UK – including the main holiday destinations in Europe, Turkey, New Zealand and the Caribbean.
However, efforts to eliminate reciprocal agreements to ensure that there are no restrictions for vacationers at either end seem to have failed, threats from Nicola Sturgeon to maintain quarantine in Scotland and the Leicester epidemic being blamed.
This means that in many cases the British are still faced with the order to isolate on arrival, with Greece being one of the countries applying the rule.
The proposals seem increasingly chaotic, the government’s announcement being postponed several times despite warnings from airlines and tour operators that they are on the brink of disaster.
The ministers initially promised that a list of airlifts would be released well before the June 29 general policy review deadline.
But that was postponed from Monday to Wednesday, before being returned to today. Sources say the government “hopes” to make an announcement tomorrow.
Pictured: passengers line up to check in for flights at Stansted Airport, London, Britain, July 01, 2020. The British government is expected to announce that Britons can travel to 95 countries, but only one handle actually allows people traveling from the UK
George Morgan-Grenville, CEO of luxury travel company Red Savannah, today called Boris Johnson’s global quarantine policy “a disaster”
Travel agencies are asking the government for clarification because they claim that the delay in confirming all the details prevents people from booking a vacation.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Transport (DfT) described the policy as “developing policy” but declined to comment further.
Today, George Morgan-Grenville, chief executive of luxury travel company Red Savannah, called the government’s policy “disaster” and “ugly”.
He told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today program: “The entire quarantine was a disaster. It was a bad overriding law.
“No commercial or regulatory impact study has been carried out, no consultation has been carried out. And indeed, what it has done is prevent the industry, after four months without sales, from getting back on its feet.
“The government likes to say it has followed science, but scientists are not as fond of saying that it has followed government.
“There were many scientists … saying just the opposite, saying it would have a negligible impact on public health and that it was a very strange time to bring it in.”
Paul Charles, of the Quash Quarantine group, said: “Every day there is a delay, it is a day of lost reservations and more jobs are likely to disappear in the travel sector”.
Theresa Villiers, former Secretary of the Environment and Northern Ireland, who was Minister of Transport in the coalition, said the quarantine policy “was not worth it”.
“This policy has caused damage to the travel industry and inconvenience to vacationers, without any evidence of its effectiveness in reducing Covid risk,” she said.
Having been one of the deputies urging Interior Minister Priti Patel to delay the restrictions when they were introduced a month ago, she added: “ The air bridges had to be in place from the start to provide a risk-based approach that only imposed quarantine on thefts from places with high infection rates. “
The government is working on a traffic light system based on Covid risks in other countries and plans to allow travel to “green” and “amber” countries
The Prime Minister is expected to announce that the British will be free to travel to the majority of the European Union, to all British overseas territories and to a number of other long-haul destinations – including Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Sri Lanka.
Quarantine restrictions upon arrival in the UK were imposed on June 8 – which includes the return of British citizens – and put an end to the hope of a vacation abroad.
However, it was announced last week that the measures would be relaxed for people returning from “safe” countries from July 6.
The government has worked on a traffic light system based on Covid risks in other countries and plans to allow travel to “green” and “amber” countries.
But the announcement by Greece of the extension of its ban on flights from the United Kingdom surprised the British government – which was to publish the list on Monday – by surprise.
Pictured: tourists arrive at Nikos Kazatzakis International Airport in Crete, Greece on Wednesday July 1, 2020. Passengers – mostly from Germany – arrived from Hamburg on the first international flight to arrive on the Isle.
The country opened to tourists for the first time since yesterday’s lockout, but said visitors to the UK should wait until at least July 15.
According to the Times, other counties have sounded the alarm over the proposed airlift agreements after the Covid-19 cases broke out in Leicester.
The government has been criticized by travel industry figures for not revealing all the details of its easing measures, claiming that it prevents people from booking vacations with confidence.