Calls for testing or regional corridors

Ian Taylor

The government’s imposition of quarantine measures on travellers returning from Spain led to calls for alternative ways to lift restrictions, including ‘regional corridors’ and Covid tests on arrivals. An airline source involved in

talks with the government said: “It brings home the fact we need to look at alternatives and there are two things with potential – regional restrictions, and testing and international screening standards.” The source cited the lockdown

in Leicester and said: “We won’t put forward anything that puts health at risk, but the principle of regional restrictions already applies in the UK. We’ll be talking to the government about what needs to change to do it. A lot of passengers will be asking the same. There will be a push for that. “Second, we’re asking the

government to look at testing and to talk to the industry about it.” A second aviation source

confirmed “the government is looking at quarantine restrictions on a regional basis”, but suggested: “We don’t see it as practically of much use. It would be difficult to enforce.”

A hygiene technician at Heathrow

The source also highlighted

problems with testing, noting: “Any testing regime would be accompanied by risk. It’s not the silver bullet it has been pitched as. “Because of the 14-day incubation

period [for Covid-19], testing once or twice in a five to 10-day period is not helpful if you develop the virus on day 12. “Other countries are trying this.

Dubai is doing a lot of testing, but it is not the sole permitting factor [for entry]. They still quarantine people. “We don’t think any government

is confident testing is the sole way to allow people to travel.” Leading airlines, including British

Airways owner IAG, Lufthansa, American Airlines and United, called for testing in the US and Europe to open the transatlantic market. But the government denied reports

it is considering tests on arriving passengers to allow quarantine restrictions to be cut to 10 days. The Airport Operators

Association urged the government to switch to ‘regional travel corridors’ as it reported the Balearic and Canary islands alone accounted for 15% of all holiday flights from the UK in August last year.

The UK’s decision to place Spain back on the the quarantine list ‘will have a huge impact on bookings for August and September’

Spain decisions Ian Taylor

The government decision to remove Spain from its quarantine- exempt list of countries and advise against all but essential travel to the country has been denounced as “a disaster from every angle”. Senior industry figures

slammed the timing and shambolic process which saw the government confirm Spain was exempt on Friday only to impose restrictions on Saturday. Alan Bowen, advisor to the


Association of Atol Companies, said: “They did it on a Saturday night – the busiest day for travel to Spain. If they had made the decision 24 hours earlier, they could have avoided 600,000 people flying. “It’s a disaster for the whole of

travel. Who in their right mind would book a holiday now? It’s a nightmare for package operators. For most short-haul operators, this summer

4 30 JULY 2020

has gone. People are not going to book now. They’ll take the view a holiday is too much of a risk. It will have a huge impact on bookings for August and September. Some companies might ask why they’re bothering to operate.” Bowen added: “It’s a disaster from every angle. Does this government have the vaguest idea what it’s doing?” The decision followed a

spike in Covid-19 infections in Catalonia. Foreign Office advice also changed to advise

against non-essential travel to Spain but initially left out the Balearic and Canary islands. That changed on Monday evening when the advice was extended to the whole of Spain. A senior leisure industry source

said: “There is deep frustration with the way it was done and the logic. It’s confused and inconsistent. There is great concern about the impact on consumer confidence, which is the bigger issue. It’s not just about Spain.”

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