Businesses facing a “devastating blow” from a new quarantine on passengers returning from France have demanded that the Government improve Covid-19 testing and step in to prop up the travel industry.
Firms fear their business will be wiped out by the Government’s decision to force passengers arriving in the UK from France and the Netherlands to self-isolate for 14 days.
Industry group Airlines UK said the new quarantines were “another devastating blow to the travel industry already reeling from the worst crisis in its history”.
ABTA, the travel industry group, warned of massive job losses if the Government does not take swift action to save the industry, which was already reeling from the lockdown and imposition of a quarantine on passengers from Spain last month.
A spokesman for the industry, which sustains 221,000 jobs, said: “The Government’s measures to restrict travel will result in livelihoods being lost unless it can step in with tailored support for the travel industry.
“The announcements relating to Spain, and now France, impact the two biggest destinations for British holidaymakers at the height of the summer season, affecting an industry that has had its trade significantly restricted since the start of this crisis.”
Business groups called on the Government to improve its Covid-19 testing systems to reduce the need for blanket quarantines.
Airlines UK said the Government should follow the example of Germany where passengers who test negative on arrival can avoid having to self-isolate.
It said this approach “is urgently needed to provide carriers and customers with additional certainty around the ability to operate this autumn and winter, avoiding broad-brush, weekly ‘stop and go’ changes to travel corridors at a national level, which have proven so disruptive to airlines and passengers alike”.
Matthew Fell, the CBI’s chief UK policy director, said: “The importance of test and trace to keep on top of virus is crystal clear. More rapid testing could shorten or eradicate the need for lengthy quarantines in the future.
“Quarantines create huge disruption for holidaymakers and businesses, but firms understand that public health must be the first priority,” he added. “A second wave would set back the economy at a critical point.”
The group also called for a move to sub-national quarantines, applying restrictions only to travellers coming from the worst-affected regions instead of entire countries.
Carriers reported an increase in bookings on Friday as passengers rush to get home before the new rules take effect at 4am on Saturday.
Brittany Ferries said it was experiencing high website traffic and that there were 60 extra passengers on its first Caen-Portsmouth crossing this morning compared to when the restrictions were announced late on Thursday.
The shares of major airlines such as British Airways owner IAG, Ryanair and easyJet all fell on Friday morning, as did travel giant Tui.