New chaos as Wales and Scotland quarantine travellers from Greece
HOLIDAYMAKERS faced fresh chaos last night after Scotland and Wales announced plans to quarantine arrivals from Greece – despite Westminster insisting the country is safe.
The Scottish and Welsh governments said action was necessary following a significant rise in coronavirus cases imported from the Mediterranean country. However, the Department for Transport said travellers from England would not have to self-isolate for 14 days because Greece is on the ‘green’ list of safe countries. Data shows the number of infections in the country over seven days is 14 per 100,000 residents. The Government’s cut-off is said to be 20. Meanwhile, Scotland’s justice secretary Humza Yousaf last night said quarantinefree travel from Greece poses a ‘significant public health risk’. It comes as travel bosses have criticised the Government’s inaction on airport testing last night as ministers came under pressure to ditch the quarantine rules. Amid mounting fury at the lack of help for the crisis-hit aviation industry, Heathrow Airport said
‘UK has hung up the Closed sign’
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps had not visited their Covid-19 testing facility – or even asked to see it.
Industry bosses are concerned Downing Street appears to be ‘uninterested’ in fast-tracking plans for an airport testing regime that could help rescue the economy and save hundreds of thousands of jobs.
They are calling on the Transport Secretary to make a public show of support with an official ministerial visit to an airport – something that has not happened during the crisis.
Yesterday Willie Walsh, boss of British Airways’ parent company IAG, warned failure to introduce airport testing could plunge the country into economic ruin.
Writing in The Times, he said: ‘Britain’s economy is powered by our international connectivity and the ease with which we do business with other countries. This is being destroyed by the Government’s blanket quarantine on travel from a staggering 160 countries. The UK has officially hung up the “Closed” sign.’
Ministers said they are open to airport testing but little action has been taken. In July, Mr Shapps said he was working with Heathrow and aviation logistics firms Collinson and Swissport on testing trials which could lead to the 14- day quarantine rule being scrapped.
But industry insiders are concerned at the minister’s apparent lack of enthusiasm for the idea.
A source told the Mail: ‘While Downing Street have been happy to parade the Prime Minister through Westfield and the Chancellor around a Wagamama restaurant, ministers have been conspicuously absent from airports.
‘Shapps has said he will work with airports on testing. But despite this, there has been a near-total lack of help for our industry.’
The Department for Transport insists it has offered ‘extensive financial support to help the aviation sector’. But this has been dismissed by industry bosses.
A spokesman for Heathrow said: ‘No serious Government can ground aviation during a recession and it is now in the hands of central Government to get a handle on this once and for all.’
It came as ministers prepared to re-add Portugal to the ‘red’ list of countries from which arrivals must self-isolate. The rules will reportedly be reinstated from Saturday morning following a sharp rise in cases.
An estimated 75,000 Britons now face a dash to flee Portugal. But limited capacity on flights home means some could get stuck there.
A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘ Work is ongoing with clinicians, the devolved administrations and the travel industry to consider if and how testing could be used to reduce the self-isolation period.’
And a Department for Transport spokesman said: ‘ The Government recognises the impact coronavirus is having on the economy and workers, and has put together an extensive package of financial support to help the aviation sector.’