Travel chiefs urge Boris Johnson to rethink coronavirus quarantine guidelines

PUBLISHED: 12:27 30 July 2020 | UPDATED: 12:27 30 July 2020

Prime minister Boris Johnson visits an aircraft hanger at RAF Lossiemouth, Moray, during a visit to the Highlands and Northern Isles of Scotland; Andrew Milligan

Prime minister Boris Johnson visits an aircraft hanger at RAF Lossiemouth, Moray, during a visit to the Highlands and Northern Isles of Scotland; Andrew Milligan

PA Wire/PA Images

UK Travel company bosses are urging Boris Johnson to reevaluate his government’s coronavirus quarantine guidance, warning that without change British airlines risk going under.

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The heads of 47 airlines, airports and tour operators have written a letter to the prime minister denouncing the 14-day self-isolation rule on UK arrivals from Spain.

British Airways, easyJet and Heathrow Airport have called on Johnson to take a “more nuanced approach” to quarantine rules and expand coronavirus testing to airports.

The plea comes after Downing Street moved unilaterally on Sunday to declare a quarantine on people travelling in Spain following a recent surge of cases in the country. Critics argue that advice was issued without any prior notice and may leave travellers out of pocket.

The letter said the prime minister’s decision to impose a blanket quarantine on Spain, including the Balearic and Canary Islands was “without any obvious justification”.

MORE: Boris Johnson is lying over coronavirus situation in Spain, says Labour MP

Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, slammed the decision pointing out that Britain had a higher number of confirmed cases than his own country.

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The call comes as Heathrow Airport declared a loss of £1 billion in the first half of 2020, prompting chief executive John Holland-Kaye to issue a plea for change.

He claimed that the government’s decision to scrap countries from the travel corridor list without notice made travel for Britons like “a game of quarantine roulette”.

“Today’s results should serve as a clarion call for the government - the UK needs a passenger testing regime and fast. Without it, Britain is just playing a game of quarantine roulette,” he claimed.

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden played down the prospects of airport testing on BBC 4’s Today programme, saying a regime would not “provide a silver bullet”.

In the letter, airline bosses urged the establishment of “regional travel corridors” to allow Britons to visit popular holiday destinations not affected by a second wave of infections such as the Canary Islands.

“It is clear that the Canaries and Balearic Islands do not face the same epidemiological situation as parts of mainland Spain, with Covid rates lower than those in the UK.

“This means we find ourselves in an extraordinary situation where the government encourages domestic tourism but advises against travelling to areas of Spain where Covid rates are lower than in the UK,” the letter reads.

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