The UK government is set to lay out its plans for a 14-day quarantine period on arrivals later today.
The Independent reports that the measure will be announced by Secretary of State for the Home Department Priti Patel “shortly after 5pm” today (Friday May 22).
Meanwhile the BBC is reporting that those failing to adhere to the quarantine rules could face a £1,000 fine. The broadcaster also reports that Australian officials want the country to be exempted from the restrictions, referring to its travellers as “low risk”.
The exact date that the mandatory quarantine period will come into force has yet to be confirmed, but it is widely expected to start next month.
There will be certain exemptions – trucks drivers and medical professionals will not have to self-quarantine on arrival into the UK, and nor will those arriving from the Common Travel Area (Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands).
Unsurprisingly airlines have not reacted favourable to the idea of a quarantine period being enforced just as they start to resume flights.
British Airways is planning to return to “a meaningful service” in July, but IAG’s chief executive Willie Wash said earlier this month that “I would imagine that our capacity into and out of the UK would be pretty minimal” in the event of a quarantine period being introduced.
And this week Ryanair Group’s CEO Michael O’Leary called on the government to abandon the plans, stating that “Requiring international arrivals to quarantine only after they have used multiple public transport providers to get from the airport to their ultimate destination has no basis in science or medicine”.
O’Leary also referred to the forthcoming measures as “unexplainable, ineffective, and unimplementable”.
A recent survey by The International Air Transport Association (IATA) shows that over two thirds of air travellers will not take a trip if it involves a 14-day quarantine period.
The Quarantine has now been announced.
Clive Wratten, CEO of the Business Travel Association:
“The quarantine measures announced today will cause enormous damage to an economy struggling to get back on its feet. Business travel would normally contribute £600 million a day to UK GDP and quarantine will put the brakes on this vital economic enabler. It also threatens the survival of many companies in the business travel supply chain employing thousands of people whom British business rely on to arrange trips that enable them to trade.”
“Public health and safety is of course paramount, but there are better ways to achieve this than a quarantine. The BTA is calling for the introduction of globally consistent guidelines on contact tracing, social distancing, the use of masks and other hygiene measures which protect the end to end journey and make business travel possible. We urge the Government to engage with the business travel sector to make this vital measure a reality.”
Joss Croft, CEO, UKinbound:
“Imposing a 14-day quarantine on international arrivals is another blow to the UK’s struggling tourism and hospitality industry – worth £28bn per year. It’s imperative that this policy is implemented for as short a time as possible. While the highest priority for businesses across the industry continues to be the health and safety of customers and staff, we implore Government to fully explore all options available such as air bridges and extensive testing, so that international tourists can return as soon as safely possible. If the 14-day quarantine measures need to be in place longer-term, our industry will need significant and extended support.”
The Board of Airline Representatives in the UK (BAR UK) issued the following statement.
“The Government needs to urgently bring forward plans to lift blanket travel restrictions through alternative risk-based measures that will enable airlines to restart safe and low risk international travel. The restart and recovery of aviation is intrinsic to reviving the UK economy and only through implementing more targeted and internationally aligned measures can the UK reconnect to its global markets.”