Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Time to get the international travel industry moving again, says UK PM

Johnson believes he has a simple, user-friendly system to allow for trips abroad without importing dangerous new Covid-19 variants.

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that he wants to get the travel industry moving again with a simple user-friendly system to allow for trips abroad without importing new variants of the coronavirus.

“We need to get people, get the travel industry moving again,” Johnson told reporters. “We want an approach that is as simple as we can possibly make it.”

Britain has double vaccinated a higher proportion of its population against Covid-19 than most other countries, but the government has prevented travel to many destinations by imposing rules that the travel industry says are damaging the economy.

Johnson’s travel regulations have angered some of Britain’s European allies, frustrated millions of sun-seeking Britons and brought warnings from airports, airlines and tour companies, Reuters reports.

In a letter to Johnson that was leaked to media, finance minister Rishi Sunak called for an urgent easing of travel restrictions.

The Times newspaper reported that Britain planned to warn holidaymakers against visiting popular tourist destinations such as Spain because of concerns about the pandemic.

Such a step could trigger the return of about a million British tourists already abroad, cause further damage to the travel sector and deal a new blow to southern Europe’s fire-damaged summer tourist season.

A spokesman for Britain’s transport ministry declined to comment on The Times report, published on the day when rules were eased for double-vaccinated travellers from the US and most of Europe.

Under rules to be reviewed on Thursday, double-vaccinated travellers can return without quarantining from countries rated “amber” on a “traffic-light” list assessing the Covid-19 risk.

Those returning from red-list countries – the most severe risk – must pay £1,750 (US$2,436, RM10,000) to spend 10 days isolating in a hotel. The government deliberately set the price high to deter people from visiting red-list countries.

An amber watchlist was due to be signed off on Thursday but a split in the government could delay a decision, The Times said.

Citing the threat posed by the Beta coronavirus variant, England has maintained quarantine rules for double-vaccinated travellers from France, while scrapping the requirement for travellers from other medium-risk “amber” countries.

France has complained, saying the bulk of its Beta variant cases come from the island of La Reunion in the Indian Ocean.

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