CORONA PASSPORT TO SAVE HOLIDAYS
Hope for Britons in new quarantine regime
VIRUS passports and travel corridors could allow families to travel abroad this summer. a quarantine regime will be introduced on June 8 requiring arrivals to the UK to self-isolate for 14 days. But ministers hope to strike quarantine-free pacts with summer destinations – such as France, spain and Greece – by august and possibly July.
They are also examining the idea of ‘Covid passports’ to let those who have had the disease travel more widely and without having to go into
quarantine on their return. The new border regime will apply to almost all arrivals, including incoming Britons. Rule breakers face fines of £1,000.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said quarantine was vital to prevent new cases of coronavirus being brought in from abroad.
But the policy was criticised by the aviation and tourism sectors, the wider business community and even some Tory MPs.
They questioned why the restrictions were not introduced in February and March when the virus was coming into the country from China, Italy and Spain.
Tim Alderslade, of the industry group Airlines UK, said: ‘All a blanket quarantine will do is shut down aviation and the travel industry.
‘We need to be much more targeted and risk-based, opening up travel corridors with low-risk countries that more effectively achieves our public health objectives while enabling people to get away this summer.’
Adam Marshall, of the British Chambers of Commerce, said blanket restrictions would ‘damage international business and investor confidence at a time when it is vital to demonstrate that the UK can open for business safely’.
Limited quarantine exemptions will be allowed for truck drivers, seasonal fruit pickers and a small number of essential workers.
The rules, which will be reviewed every three weeks and do not apply to Ireland, came as:
It emerged London could lead the way out of lockdown, with talks next week on letting cafes and restaurants open for outdoor service;
An exclusive Mail poll suggested employees do not want to go back into work because they fear the lockdown is being eased too quickly;
Health officials suggested that the two-metre rule could be eased;
A row broke out over the official advice from Government scientists about the reopening of schools;
The country’s top obesity and diabetes doctor said families were likely to have piled on weight in the lockdown;
Official figures showed government borrowing hit £62billion last month – almost as much as the figure for the whole of last year;
Scientists hit out at the official response to the pandemic, suggesting the lockdown delay may have cost lives;
Council bosses and police forces began taking drastic measures to keep holidaymakers away from beauty spots over the bank holiday;
The leader of the NHS suggested it could fill thousands of vacancies by retraining staff from troubled industries such as airlines;
The testing tsar said thousands of kits posted to homes have not been returned;
Whitehall sources claimed Transport Secretary Grant Shapps had fought to keep alive the idea of air bridges and travel corridors, which were initially resisted by Miss
Patel who last night said the advice was not to book holidays now. But Mr Shapps has already set up a working group to consider how travel corridors could be established in time for the summer break.
Ministers are also examining whether those who have had coronavirus could be exempted from quarantine.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed on Thursday that Britain has purchased 10million antibody tests that can tell whether an individual has had the virus.
A spokesman for the Association of British Travel Agents said quarantine would ‘have a hugely damaging impact on the UK inbound and outbound tourism industries’.
A spokesman for Ryanair said the airline was ‘strongly opposed to ineffective nonscientific measures’.
Former Brexit secretary David Davis said it was ‘very, very difficult to see how this is actually effective or cost-effective or balanced’.
Ministers fearful of a Tory rebellion over the issue have drawn up the new regulations in a way that means they will not need to hold a vote in the House of Commons.
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