Tour operators and airlines dismay over possible new Covid travel curbs

Tour operators and airlines have reacted with dismay to recent proposals that the UK government will further tighten travel restrictions on Covid.

It is reported that stricter rules are being considered, even with the possibility of a blanket travel ban, to combat the spread of infectious new variants of Covid.

Alternatives include using hotels as quarantine centers and suspending the test and approval scheme to shorten quarantine times.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said it was “far too early” to speculate about restrictions when asked if people should book an overseas vacation this summer at a press conference on Downing Street.

When asked if the UK could keep its borders closed to people outside the UK until the fall, she said, “Our focus on borders and travel should of course not be on travel (now) unless it is absolute critical and essential. ”

However, World Travel & Tourism Council experts said it was time the UK put in place an internationally recognized test regime for departure and arrival rather than more radical restrictions.

Gloria Guevara, President and Chief Executive Officer, said: “The latest anticipated announcement from the UK government that it will quarantine the UK’s arrival for up to two weeks at its own expense will be another major blow to the ailing UK’s travel and tourism sectors.

“After months of forced quarantine after the trip, there is absolutely no evidence that this is working. Even government figures show that quarantines have not proven effective in reducing the spread of Covid-19.

“The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control has stated that it is not recommended to force air travelers into quarantine and that this is not an effective public health measure. Community transmission is far more dangerous than international travel.

“The UK government has put in place a strategy to avoid risk – at a huge social and economic cost to the country – when it could and should be more effective by managing risk.

“WTTC believes that the only way to revive international travel is to have an internationally recognized testing scheme on departure and arrival. Doing so would avoid exporting the virus and allow free movement of travelers while following common sense hygiene protocols like wearing masks and social distancing. “

He claimed the proposed new measures would destroy the UK travel industry.

Mr. Guevara added: “No incoming UK or international traveler wants to travel as they know they are exposed to this disruption and will have to pay an additional two weeks in a hotel upon arrival to satisfy an unnecessary and unhelpful quarantine. which will do nothing to contain Covid-19.

“Spending on international arrivals was over £ 28 billion in 2019. The longer we delay the restart of international travel, the more severe the loss will be for the UK economy and further affect the recovery from this punishment pandemic.”

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