Travel and hospitality businesses oppose government’s quarantine plans
Numerous travel companies and hotel chiefs have written to home secretary Priti Patel urging the government to abandon its plans for a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all new arrivals in the UK.
Under the plans, anyone entering the UK from abroad must self-isolate for a period of 14 days, subject to spot checks from health authorities. Non-compliance would result in a fine of £1,000.
Travel firms and hotels are concerned that the strict measures will reduce the number of tourists visiting the UK, which would further hamper business that has already been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The figureheads behind the letter are also concerned that the UK’s strict measures could make it more difficult for British citizens to travel abroad.
The letter reads: "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.”
The letter also suggests that a quarantine on new arrivals should have occurred in the early stages of the pandemic, and the time for its introduction has now passed.
It adds: "Many people urged the government to impose quarantine regulations during the early phases of Covid-19. Instead, no action was taken and flights from many infected countries were allowed to land, making it easy for thousands of potentially affected passengers to spread the virus into the wider UK community."
The letter goes on to highlight that the travel industry contributed £200 billion to the UK economy in 2019, equating to roughly nine per cent of the nation’s GDP, and urges the government to “switch the emphasis” of its strategy from “protection to economic recovery”.
It says: "The people of this country do not wish to be prevented from travelling."
The Home Office has already outlined some exemptions to the plans, including road haulage and freight workers, medical officials, seasonal farm labourers and any arrivals from Ireland, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man. It has, however, u-turned on a previous suggestion that arrivals from France would not need to comply.
A spokesperson for the Home Office said that the quarantine measure comes with the aim of “reducing the risk of cases crossing our border.”
The spokesperson added: "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."