UK travel industry holds day of action protests calling for government to loosen restrictions
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Travel industry workers across the country have joined forces on Wednesday to protest against the U.K. government’s tough travel restrictions that have been in place this summer.
Called the “Travel Day of Action,” the industry is calling for immediate action on:
- An expansion of the green list for quarantine-free travel;
- Reduced testing and quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travellers entering the United Kingdom; and
- More financial support.
Major airlines including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, as well as Gatwick and East Midlands Airports have issued public statements across their social media platforms supporting the cause.
The event was held on Wednesday in advance of the next review of the traffic light system, expected on 24 June, with any changes to take effect from 28 June. Travel commentators don’t expect any countries to be added to the green list at this review.
The travel industry body ABTA estimates almost 200,000 travel jobs in the U.K. have already been lost, or are at serious risk because of the pandemic’s continuing effect on international travel. The busiest airport in the country, London Heathrow (LHR), for example, had the worst year in its 75-year history in 2020, with passenger numbers down 72.7% compared with 2019.
“It is now or never for the government to reopen travel and save what is remaining of the summer season, not just for families desperate to get away but the tens of thousands of jobs which rely upon this once-thriving sector,” said Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines U.K. “Airlines are at the absolute limit of what they can borrow and without a genuine reopening this summer they will require government support to survive.”
The travel industry had hoped the usually busy summer season in 2020 would be a marked improvement on the same period in 2019. They argue that the U.K. has rolled out a successful vaccination programme and robust testing regimes, combined with a much better understanding of the virus this summer. That, they say, should allow for safe international travel.
Instead, the already-small and shrinking green list of destinations that do not require quarantine on return to the United Kingdom provides almost no suitable summer sun destinations for the millions of Brits who would normally be preparing for a summer break.
The government has announced that fully vaccinated travellers returning from amber countries may be able to skip quarantine, but this may not begin until August, towards the end of the summer travel period.
The U.K. government has encouraged Brits looking for a holiday this summer to do so domestically.
Featured image by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images
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