The Government’s decision to move Portugal from the green travel list to amber effectively marks the end of the early summer holiday season.
From Tuesday at 4am, anyone returning from the country will have to quarantine at home. Inevitably, the cost of a flight out of Portugal in time has skyrocketed.
We understand what the Government is trying to achieve, even if the messaging has once again verged on the chaotic.
We support doing all we can to ensure London can reopen safely on June 21. Yet we are all too aware of the pain it will inflict on our aviation and travel sectors, which had been relying on June to turbo-charge their recovery.
It is a similar story for UK sectors relying on international tourists. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that last year, foreign visitors were 73 per cent down on 2019 and domestic tourists will not make up the shortfall.
With London’s hotels, high streets and restaurants set to once again be hit hard, the Government must set out how it plans to support these sectors through what looks like another lost summer.
The furlough scheme is set to close at the end of September. Michael Gove said this week he is “open-minded” about extending the scheme — ministers should set out exactly what those plans are, particularly for parts of the economy hit hardest by border restrictions.
The Mayor’s £6 million investment for the reopening of central London’s economy is welcome but clearly more needs to be done to directly support businesses.
The UK’s tourism sector — from hotels to airports — is a vital part of our economy, representing millions of jobs. If this summer is to be another washout, the Government must ensure firms are protected so that, when things do return to normal, the capital can once again draw people from around the world.
Action on digital fraud
We have all seen them — a text message purporting to be from a delivery company or fake websites online.
Cases of digital fraud have spiked during the pandemic and, as we report today, social media companies have been accused of being “enablers” by Britain’s top law enforcement body.
The National Crime Agency has warned tech giants including Facebook, Twitter and Google that they are not doing enough to prevent organised crime gangs from using their platforms to cheat people out of large sums of money.
Given the technology at their disposal, these companies have the capability to crack down further on such scams. They should use their considerable powers of data analysis to identify and eject fraudulent actors from their sites, and share information they possess on IP addresses and account details of potential fraudsters.
Banks too have a responsibility to help victims reclaim their money. And, with the G7 meeting in Cornwall next week, it is a reminder that we need better international coordination against a fraud that respects no national boundaries.