A group of more than 300 business owners in the travel and hospitality industry say they expect to lay off nearly two thirds of their staff if the Government's planned quarantine measures are introduced next week.
The policy, if given the go-ahead for June 8, will mean that anyone entering UK airports, ports or via the Eurostar, will have to quarantine at home for 14 days after their arrival or face £1,000 fines.
In a survey of the travel industry, 94 per cent of business leaders said they expect their summer bookings to disappear if quarantine plans are introduced; 50 per cent of those who responded expect their future bookings to fall by between 80 and 100 per cent, while 71 per cent of CEOs said they expect to make almost two-thirds of their staff redundant.
In an even more worrying sign, 28 per cent of companies said they may cease trading altogether if quarantine plans proceed. Nearly four million people are employed in the tourism sector in the UK, some 11 per cent of the country’s entire workforce.
Nearly all respondents (94 per cent) said they would prefer a system of "air bridges", which would enable travel from the UK to destinations deemed low-risk from coronavirus with strong healthcare systems in place without the need for quarantine; 98 per cent would prefer testing at airports, ports and the Eurostar.
In yet more opposition to the Government's quarantine plans, more than 300 hospitality companies, including hotels, tour operators and restaurants – including Claridges, Sir Rocco Forte, chef Jason Atherton, the Mandarin Oriental hotel group and luxury tour operator Scott Dunn – have endorsed a letter to the Home Secretary Priti Patel, stating that the current plans are unworkable and damaging sales in the travel industry. The companies together account for over £5billion of sales in the travel and hospitality sector.
The letter points out: “Many people urged the government to impose quarantine regulations during the early phases of Covid-19.
“Instead, no action was taken [...] Covid-19 is now under control [...] However, the economic cost of the government’s action is yet to be seen, apart from early indicators which paint a grim picture.
“The very last thing the travel industry needs is a mandatory quarantine which will deter foreign visitors from coming here, deter UK visitors from travelling abroad, and most likely cause other countries to impose reciprocal quarantine requirements on British visitors,” they said.
The leader of the campaign for change, George Morgan-Grenville, CEO of tour operator Red Savannah, said: “This is not just a group of company bosses complaining, but employees from bottom to top calling for the quarantine plans to be quashed. The extent of their pain is deeply worrying for our economy and our country.”
The signatories are also calling for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to relax its current travel advice warning against all non-essential travel as this is also preventing people booking future holidays. Other notable names who have signed the letter include Abercrombie & Kent, The Ritz, The Connaught, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Original Travel, Kuoni, Travelbag, iescape, Gold Medal, Cosmos, Active Travel Group, Neilson, Inghams, Hotelplan and Travel Republic.
There is growing revolt from within the Conservative party, too; 20 Tory MPs including at least seven former ministers are demanding a rethink of the plans. Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, will today lay out the quarantine regulations in Parliament.