A growing number of politicians and leaders across the tourism and hospitality industries have called on the government to pursue alternatives to the "blanket" 14-day quarantine for international arrivals proposed by the Home Office.
Henry Smith, MP for Crawley and chair of the cross-party Future of Aviation group, has written to secretary of state for transport, Grant Shapps, calling for "urgent action" to safeguard jobs, the UK's "international competitivities" as an aviation hub and to ensure the UK economy recovers from the impact of the pandemic as quickly and safely as possible.
Speaking to The Caterer, Smith said alternatives could include air bridges, which would allow travellers from low-risk countries into the UK without quarantining, and increased distancing and hygiene measures. He said the current plan meant "people won't be travelling," adding that the best-case scenario would be a "very early assessment" three weeks after its introduction, with a view to it being scrapped by 1 July.
Former transport and health minister Stephen Hammond, MP for Wimbledon, Raynes Park, Morden and Motspur Park, who is backing Smith's campaign, said he had a "number of concerns" about the quarantine plan.
Speaking to The Caterer, he said that air bridges and temperature tests at airports "would clearly be more helpful and acceptable and would have a much lower impact on the travel and hospitality". He called the scientific advice "at best equivocal" and also expressed concerns that the "exceptions and exemptions" to the new rule would include groups of people who "could be more high risk", such as lorry drivers.
He added:"I would agree that it is the wrong measure at this time" and said he would prefer to see a more "nuanced approach" instead of a blanket approach.
More than 200 travel and hospitality companies have joined an industry campaign led by George Morgan-Grenville, chief executive of tour operator Red Savannah, which has seen two letters sent to home secretary Priti Patel.
The 217 firms, including The Caterer and its parent Jacobs Media Group, have now endorsed a letter to home secretary Priti Patel, arguing that the plans are unworkable, poorly thought-out and already damaging sales.
Fearing the loss of "hundreds of thousands of jobs", Morgan-Grenville said: "Everyone is hurting and yet the Home Office seem immune to the unfolding disaster. We want to see the quarantine plans withdrawn immediately, and the current FCO Travel Advice amended to exclude countries with low rates of Covid-19. Without those two things happening, we will not see any recovery."
Clive Jacobs, chairman of Jacobs Media Group, the parent company of Travel Weekly and The Caterer, called the plans "the final straw for the travel and hospitality sectors" and said it was "imperative" that the government "recognise the crippling effect that such measures will have".
Patel is expected to lay the regulations in Parliament this week.
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