A cross-party group of MPs, including seven former ministers, are calling on the government to scrap the proposed 14-day quarantine period for all arrivals in the UK.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has said, starting June 8, all travellers arriving in UK will be made to self-isolate for two weeks. The police will have the power to carry out spot checks during that time, with anyone not following the rules running the risk of receiving a £1,000 fine.
Dozens of MPs have now joined a taskforce urging the government to rethink the plan. In a letter to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, the Future of Aviation Group warned that failure to successfully reboot air travel could lead to the loss of millions of jobs.
Travel giants such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, along with key airplane engine supplier Rolls Royce, have already announced a series of job cuts just weeks after furloughing staff.
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The Future of Aviation Group is made up of 40 MPs, including former Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, ex-aviation minister Paul Maynard, former immigration minister Caroline Nokes, ex-transport and health minister Stephen Hammond and ex-Brexit minister Steve Baker.
Tory MP Henry Smith, chair of the new taskforce, told the Daily Mail the government should ‘abandon quarantine as soon as possible’.
He continued: ‘If we were ever going to have a blanket quarantine policy, it should have come in two or three months ago – we should be coming out of it now, not going into it.’
The group is urging the government to prioritise plans for ‘air bridges’ between countries where the coronavirus pandemic is under control. Boris Johnson previously said this will allow quarantine-free travel to places such as Spain, Portugal and Greece by the end of June.
Demands from MPs also come as more than 70 company heads co-signed a letter to Patel also calling for the abandonment of the 14-day quarantine period. The letter asks for them to switch from protection mode to prioritising economic recovery.
The letter says: ‘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, as France has already announced.
‘Many people urged the government to impose quarantine regulations during the early phases of Covid-19. Instead, no action was taken and flights from infected countries were allowed to land, disgorging thousands of potentially affected passengers into the wider community.’
It continued: ‘Covid-19 is now under control and we commend the government for its handling of what was an extraordinary and unprecedented situation. However, the economic cost of the government’s action is yet to be seen, apart from the early indicators which paint a grim picture.’
The companies pointed out that together they employ ‘thousands of people in the UK’, adding that the tourism and travel sector accounted for almost four million jobs, or 11% of the country’s work force.
Signatories include the heads of Ritz, Dorchester and Hyatt Regency London hotels, as well as tourism groups including Cookson Adventures and Original Travel.
The letter said the government had been ‘woefully slow to react and has procrastinated to the point of absurdity’ in either providing support for, or ruling against, the concept of refund credit notes in the tourism and travel industry.
Patel has continuously spoke in favour of the 14-day quarantine period, stating that the UK must ‘take steps to guard against imported cases triggering a resurgence of this disease’.
Speaking at the daily Downing Street briefing on Friday, she said: ‘As the transmission rate falls, imported cases could begin to pose a larger and increased threat. Any new arrivals with the disease will have a much bigger impact, potentially causing a second wave.’
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Source: Metro News UK