Boris Johnson declines to advise on holiday plans as businesses criticise 14-day self-isolation rule
After the prime minister refused to say whether holidays abroad this summer would be possible, travellers and businesses have deplored the indefinite imposition of mandatory 14-day self-isolation for arrivals to the UK.
The home secretary, Priti Patel, told MPs that from 8 June, most arrivals at UK airports, ferry ports and international rail terminals will be required to self-isolate at home, a hotel or “other suitable place” for two weeks.
At the Downing Street daily briefing, Boris Johnson was asked whether holidays abroad would happen this summer, and what advice he would give to travellers faced with paying the balance on planned trips.
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He responded: “I’m not going to give advice on individual travel arrangements.”
The prime minister said the government was justified in waiting until well after the infection peak before bringing in the quarantine policy.
He said: “Once community transmission was widespread within the UK, new cases coming from abroad made up a tiny proportion of the total.
“Measures at the border were halted because they made little difference at the time.”
Sophie Griffiths, editor of the travel trade journal TTG, said: “The quarantine measures are, in short, devastating for the UK travel industry.
“It beggars belief the government has waited so long to implement them. These should have been in place back in March. There is little point in implementing them now.
“It is too little too late and seems to be more a PR stunt from ministers desperate to look like they’re doing something after failing the British public so spectacularly during this pandemic.
“There is also a certain irony — and arrogance — in the UK asking arrivals to quarantine, when we have the second-highest death rates in the world and highest in Europe.”
George Morgan-Grenville, chief executive of the tour operator Red Savannah, said: “We are none the wiser as to the science behind the rationale for quarantine. But what we do know, is that ‘Global Britain’ is shut for business.
“It is clear that Priti Patel has neither listened to the concerns of the travel industry, nor seems unduly bothered by them.”
The new law remains in place until 8 June 2021 unless amended.
The government has provided little clarity on the possible use of “air bridges” or “travel corridors” – bilateral deals that allow quarantine-free journeys.
Such exemptions are widely seen as the means by which the immense damage caused by quarantine can be neutralised.
Clive Wratten, chief executive of the Business Travel Association, said: “All of the country-specific criteria required for the implementation of a travel corridor must be published immediately.
“There must be transparency about why these travel corridors are being delayed.”
The president of the CBI, John Allan, said: “Business now urgently needs a clear way forward for opening up international travel options for customers and employees.
“Our economic bounce back will depend on the free-flow of a range of workers.”
Individual travellers were mainly unimpressed. Paul Slater said: “I’m living in Spain where there has been zero deaths in the last two days and a very small infection rate.
“The UK government has the bloody cheeky to quarantine me if I visit.”
Sharon Morris tweeted: “All along the powers that be have said they are being guided by the science, so why not now?
“People have been run ragged working all the hours they can to get us through this pandemic and now they can’t even go on holiday.”
Gavin Witt said: “Plenty of ways around it. Assume it’s just another guideline that can be ignored by saying you’d only been abroad to check your eyesight.”
But Jane Harris tweeted “Good. Save lives, forget holidays.”
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