Prominent travel industry figures have lashed out at the Government over its plans to make UK travellers take coronavirus tests even when they have been fully vaccinated.
In a joint article in The Daily Telegraph, the chief executives of BA, Heathrow Airport, easyJet, Manchester Airport Group and Jet2 have criticised the Government for an “overabundance of caution”.
The group says it is illogical to require fully vaccinated British holidaymakers to pay £60 per person to take a PCR test when coming home from a country on the UK’s safe “green” list, adding the move would jeopardise the holiday plans of millions of people.
“Instead of taking advantage of the success of the vaccine programme the Government risks closing the UK off from the rest of the world,” they wrote.
“We want to be able to support a safe reopening, but if we are not prepared to accept any risk then travel will never restart and we will not be able to support UK travel and tourism businesses and supercharge the UK’s economic recovery.”
The group added: “Travel, even from green countries, will still require arrivals into the UK to take a ‘gold-standard’ PCR test which, until recently, were costing more than double the European average at over £100 each.”
Britain’s plan puts it out of step with the EU which, while “not known for rash decisions when it comes to vaccines and the precautionary principle”, is letting holidaymakers with proof of vaccination to sidestep tests and quarantine, said the group, which also said the Government’s green list of countries was expected to be disappointingly small.
Ministers are due on Thursday to decide which countries and territories will be “green” – allowing quarantine-free travel – from May 17, a list expected to include Gibraltar, Malta, Israel, Iceland and possibly Portugal.
Most of Europe – including France, Spain, Greece and Italy – will be amber, The Telegraph said, requiring holidaymakers to self-isolate for 10 days on their return and take two PCR tests.
However, ministers remained hopeful most European countries would be open to green list travel by the end of June.
Speaking on Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson maintained the UK would uphold a sensible and cautious approach to foreign travel this summer to avoid “an influx of disease”.
The Prime Minister said there would be “some opening up” on May 17, but that reopening the country must be done in a way “to make sure that we don’t see the virus coming back in” to the UK.
Mr Johnson’s cautious tone came as some MPs called for restrictions on foreign holidays to be maintained to protect the country from Covid-19 variants, and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer urged a “careful” approach.
“We do want to do some opening up on May 17 but I don’t think that the people of this country want to see an influx of disease from anywhere else,” Mr Johnson said.
“I certainly don’t and we have got to be very, very tough, and we have got to be as cautious as we can, whilst we continue to open up.”