Travel industry demanding these changes to Covid restrictions to help sector reopen

Wednesday, 23rd June 2021, 8:57 am
The UK’s travel industry is holding a day of action to put pressure on the Government to ease coronavirus restrictions (Getty Images)

The UK’s travel industry is holding a day of action to put pressure on the Government to ease coronavirus restrictions so the sector can reopen.

Industry body Abta wants the green list to be expanded and to remove testing and quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travellers returning from green and amber locations.

Abta estimates that 195,000 travel jobs have been lost during the coronavirus pandemic or are at risk.

It accused ministers of failing to deliver a restart to travel, by “undermining” the traffic light system.

There are no viable major tourist destinations on the quarantine-free green list, and the Government has urged people to avoid holidays to locations on the amber list.

Abta estimated that 800 people - including travel agents, pilots and cabin crew - will gather outside the Palace of Westminster today while some 200 will meet at an event in Holyrood, Edinburgh and 100 set to assemble in Belfast.

As well as expanding the green list and removing testing and quarantine measures for fully vaccinated travellers, the industry body wants a package of tailored financial support introduced, such as extending the furlough scheme until April 2022.

‘Travel sector decimated by this pandemic’

Derek Jones, boss of luxury travel firm Kuoni, said: “The outbound travel sector has been decimated by this pandemic and by the Government’s haphazard response to it.

“Today, we have joined together to call upon ministers to acknowledge that the restrictions they have placed on international travel are having a deep and devastating impact on travel businesses.

“We are united in one message today: we want to see the safe reopening of international travel alongside targeted financial support for businesses which have not been able to trade for well over a year.”

A Government spokeswoman: “Our international travel policy is guided by one overwhelming priority: protecting public health.

“Decisions on traffic light allocations take into account a range of factors including genomic surveillance capability, transmission risk and variants of concern, with data behind decisions to move countries on the list published online.

“We keep all measures under review and continue to engage with industry and international partners to explore how we can open international travel safely. Both tailored and wider economic support is still available to the sector, including the furlough scheme.”

Quarantine-free travel plans

Plans to introduce quarantine-free travel for fully vaccinated Brits are being worked on by the UK government, Matt Hancock has confirmed.

The Health Secretary said that ministers are looking to scrap the requirement to self-isolate for 10 days after returning to the UK from an amber list country, but warned international travel remains a “difficult” area.

The Government is scheduled to update its travel lists on Thursday, before a “checkpoint” review of the rules for each tier takes place on Monday.