Travel industry bosses are demanding more answers from ministers as it emerges only 12 air bridges have been agreed with other countries.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was expected to give UK citizens a green light today to travel abroad to 95 countries, in a move that signals the end of the Government’s blanket quarantine policy on arrivals to the UK.
But just 12 countries are expected to allow Britons to enter when restrictions are lifted on Monday because deals to create ‘air corridors’ have not been agreed.
Foreign governments are reportedly wary of allowing tourists from the UK into their countries after spikes in coronavirus cases in Leicester.
Travel companies are now demanding clarity from the Government as they claim the delay in confirming the full details is preventing people from booking holidays.
A spokesman for the Department for Transport (DfT) called the policy a ‘developing policy’ but declined to comment further.
Today, George Morgan-Grenville, chief executive of luxury travel company Red Savannah, called the Government’s policy ‘a disaster’ and ‘lousy’.
He told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme: ‘The whole of quarantine has been a disaster. It was a lousy piece of secondary legislation.
‘There was no business or regulatory impact assessment carried out, there was no consultation carried out. And effectively what it did was to prevent the industry after four months of no sales from getting back on its feet again.
Pictured: Passengers queue up to check in for flights at Stansted Airport London, Britain, 01 July 2020. The UK Government is set to announce that Britons can travel to 95 countries, but only a handful actually permit people travelling from the UK
George Morgan-Grenville, chief executive of luxury travel company Red Savannah, today called Boris Johnson’s blanket quarantine policy ‘a disaster’
‘The Government are very fond of saying that they’ve been following the science, but the scientists aren’t quite as fond as saying they’ve been following the Government.
‘There were numerous scientists… saying the exact opposite, saying it would have a negligible impact on public health and that it was a very odd time to bring it in.’
Paul Charles, from the Quash Quarantine group, said: ‘Each day there is a delay is a day of lost bookings and more jobs likely to go in the travel sector.’
Theresa Villiers, the former environment and Northern Ireland secretary, who was transport minister in the coalition, said the quarantine policy ‘hasn’t been worth it’.
‘This policy has caused damage to the travel industry, and inconvenience for holiday-makers, without any evidence of it working effectively to cut Covid risk,’ she said.
Having been one of the MPs urging Home Secretary Priti Patel to delay the restrictions when they were introduced a month ago, she added: ‘Air bridges needed to be in place from the start to deliver a risk-based approach which imposed quarantine only on flights from places with high rates of infection.’
The Government has been working on a traffic light system based on Covid risks in other countries, and plans on permitting travel to both ‘green’ and ‘amber’ countries
The PM is expected to announced that Britons will be free to travel to the majority European Union, all British overseas territories and a number of other long-haul destinations – including Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Sri Lanka.
Quarantine restrictions on arrivals into the UK were imposed on June 8 – which includes returning UK citizens – and put an end to the hope of holidays abroad.
However, it was announced last week that measures would be relaxed for people returning from ‘safe’ countries from July 6.
The Government has been working on a traffic light system based on Covid risks in other countries, and plans on permitting travel to both ‘green’ and ‘amber’ countries.
But Greece’s announcement it was extending its ban on flights from the UK caught the UK Government – who were set to release the list on Monday – by surprise.
Pictured: Tourists arrive at Nikos Kazatzakis International Airport in Crete, Greece, on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. The passengers – most of them from Germany – came from Hamburg on the first international flight to arrive in the island
The country opened to tourists for the first time since lockdown yesterday, but said visitors for the UK would have to wait until at least July 15.
According to The Times, other counties have raised the alarm over the proposed air bridge agreements following the outbreak of Covid-19 cases in Leicester.
The Government has been criticised by figures in the travel sector for not revealing the full details of its relaxation of the measures, saying that it is preventing people from booking holidays with confidence.