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No quarantine for travellers arriving in UK from France

Coronavirus: Airlines and tourism bodies unhappy about plans

Mark Moran
12 May 2020

Passengers arriving from France will be exempt from planned UK quarantine measures. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the rules would be imposed on people coming into the UK to prevent COVID-19 being brought in from overseas.

In his address to the nation on Sunday, the Prime Minister said: “I am serving notice that it will soon be the time, with transmission significantly lower, to impose quarantine on people coming into this country by air."

The Government later clarified that the rules would apply not just to air passengers, but also those arriving by other means of travel. The Government has also confirmed that people arriving from the Republic of Ireland will not be made to go into quarantine.

When Prime Minister and France’s President Macron spoke on 10 May they stressed the need for close bilateral, European and international cooperation in the fight against COVID-19. The leaders spoke about the need to manage the risk of new transmissions arising from abroad as the rate of coronavirus decreases domestically and agreed to work together in taking forward appropriate border measures.

10 Downing Street said: “No quarantine measures would apply to travellers coming from France at this stage; any measures on either side would be taken in a concerted and reciprocal manner. A working group between the two governments will be set up to ensure this consultation throughout the coming weeks.”

The planned quarantine measures will apply to UK holidaymakers returning from other destinations. It has not been welcomed by airlines and tourism organisations.

Airlines UK chief executive Tim Alderslade said: “We all, including government, need to adapt to the new normal, but closing off air travel in this way is not the way to achieve this.”

Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways owner IAG, said the planned quarantine was more bad news for the travel industry. “There's nothing positive in anything I heard the Prime Minister say yesterday,” he told MPs on parliament's Transport Select Committee.

When asked why travellers from France will not be quarantined over, for example, Germany, he said: “That's the bit I don't understand. We will have to wait and see the final details of what the Prime Minister intends to do.”

British Airways will now have to review its plan to return to 50% capacity by July, he said.

Virginia Messina, managing director of the World Travel and Tourism Council, told the BBC she was concerned by the new policy. “Quarantines work when implemented early, so it should have probably been applied much earlier in the UK,” she said. “We believe this is going to highly damage the confidence of people who are wishing to travel or at least make some plans in the near future.”


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