The UK government has announced that all international arrivals into the UK, including returning British residents, will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.
However, there are exemptions to this rule such as road haulage workers, a registered health or care professional travelling to the UK to provide essential healthcare and Eurotunnel drivers. Travellers will be required to fill in a contact locator form with contact and travel information so they can be reached if they, or someone they may have been in contact with, develop coronavirus.
This move of the government stirs controversy in the parliament and in the struggling travel industry. Arrivals at UK airports have fallen by 99% compared with a year ago, arrivals by sea are 97% lower and international rail arrivals are down by 98%.
The UK government insisted that the 14-day quarantine is imposed now to protect public health as arrivals are expected to rise as countries are beginning to reopen and lockdown are eased.
Many questioned the timing of the rule and those who are against the new policy claimed that it will be detrimental to the travel sector.
Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has described the UK’s coronavirus response as “useless”. Ryanair has announced plans to restore 40% of its flights from July 1, subject to travel restrictions being lifted with the EU.
Gloria Guevara, president and CEO of the London-based World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), responded to the new policy saying that quarantines are unnecessary.
Gloria Guevara said: “Quarantines should not be necessary if appropriate and effective containment measures are in place at departure and arrival points.”
She added that the quarantine policy will put the UK’s economy at a “distinct competitive disadvantage” and will worsen the already critical situation and delay the much-needed recovery of the UK economy.
Meanwhile, a survey conducted by UK-based holiday rentals company Clickstay reveals that a massive 79% said they would NOT go on holiday abroad this summer if the government follows through with their plan to force holidaymakers to quarantine for two weeks on their return.
“The statistic is a massive blow to the tourism sector. Many travel and hospitality companies had to begin to raise their hopes of recouping some revenue this summer after Spain announced they would welcome tourists from July onwards,” said Tom Hughes, founder and MD at Clickstay.
“While some demographics could fairly easily quarantine for two weeks on arrival home, such as pensioners or people who are able to work remotely, this is impossible for those who have to be at their place of work, such as bus drivers or doctors, as they would need to take two added weeks of leave to quarantine properly,” he added.