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5 APRIL 2021

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Article from BTNews 5 APRIL 2021

MONDAY UPDATE BY THE PM & COMMENT

If anyone expected a return to the norm being announced by the Prime Minister at a Downing Street Press Conference Monday evening (5 April) they would have been disappointed.

He made it quite clear that the rules for international travel would not be relaxed until “hopefully 17 May” at the earliest and that for holidays they would be dependent on the regulations at the other end.  He was waiting for the report of the Global Taskforce to be made public, expected 12 April.

What he termed “Covid Status Certification”, the so-called travel passport, would not be required for pubs, shops and hospitality venues but for travel abroad some form of recognition would be needed.

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OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum


WHO\'S WHO, The senior travel people

Clive Wratten, BTA;Tim Alderslade, Airlines UK; Karen Dee, AOA; Mark Tanzer, ABTA; Willie Walsh IATA.


Clive Wratten, London

Today’s announcement from the Prime Minister is beyond disappointing. We are leading the way in vaccination and science. This is a cause of huge celebration, but, if we are to re-start our economy, we need to have a clear pathway to international travel and trade. This has once again been kicked down the road. To be a truly global Britain, we must lead the way in opening borders, supporting vital supply chains, and digitising health certification. The business travel industry continues to be crippled by today’s lack of movement. We ask the Government to be confident in its roadmap as the Global Travel Taskforce reports on 12th April. This is our last resort."


Tim Alderslade, London

“Whilst we support the establishment of a framework for restarting international travel and welcome the removal of self-isolation for arrivals from green countries, today’s announcement does not provide the clarity we were seeking on the roadmap back towards normality. We await further details but the measures indicated, including the potential for multiple tests for travellers even from ‘green countries’, will prevent meaningful travel even to low-risk destinations. “Of critical importance will be moving countries – transparently - through the tiers into ‘green’, reviewing measures urgently in light of the latest and best available evidence so that they are effective but also proportionate to the risk, and crucially embracing cost-effective rapid testing thus ensuring the alignment of international travel with the domestic economy, which will be so important for the UK’s economic recovery.”


Karen Dee, London

“It is disappointed that the initial update from the Prime Minister continues to suggest significant barriers to international travel and may push back the date of restart beyond 17 May. “While a new green category with no isolation requirement on return to the UK is very welcome, potentially costly and onerous testing requirements would limit the possibilities for many people to travel to countries in the green category. “We look forward to further detailed on the Global Travel Taskforce’s report on 12 April and urge the Government to scrutinise the evidence provided by industry, health experts and others that set out how a risk-based, proportionate system could open up aviation without quarantine and with affordable, rapid testing. “Any prolonged closure of UK airports’ key destinations in Europe in particular will have major financial impacts that the Government will need to mitigate.”


Mark Tanzer, London

“ABTA has been urging the Government to restart international travel using a tiered approach which manages risk, so we welcome confirmation that travel will reopen under a new risk-based “traffic light” system. However, we need to see the details in the Global Travel Taskforce report before this can be assessed fully. “A priority for the industry is a more stable system which avoids the situation of last summer where travel to many destinations was quickly turned on and off. It is vital that the Government clarifies how the transition between green, amber and red levels will work, both to help travel businesses plan ahead and to provide reassurance for travellers. Destinations should not be suddenly closed off unless variants of concern dictate that this must happen. “The goal must be to have unrestricted travel to ‘green’ destinations. At present the costs of testing may be a deterrent to many UK travellers, so the Government must ensure that testing is required only where the public health risk justifies it, and that a cost-effective and efficient testing regime is in place. “Our research shows that 63% of people hope to book a holiday abroad and those who are keen to travel can book with confidence now. Booking a package holiday through an ABTA Member will offer the best level of protection should circumstances change, with many Members currently offering extremely flexible booking terms.”


Willie Walsh, Geneva

“The proposed traffic light system is a step forward. We fully support the government’s aspiration to reopen borders safely from 17 May. The economy will be energized as people regain the freedom to travel internationally. As the government finalizes the details of this proposal, I urge them to understand the traveler’s perspective. First, it will be important that the criteria for each category—red, green and amber—are easily understood and predictable. The system must both inform travelers what destinations are open under what conditions, and reassure them that the requirements won’t change last minute. Second, testing used to facilitate travel must be effective while keeping costs reasonable. For example, multiple PCR testing of a family can easily be more expensive than the air fare. That would be a real barrier to travel for many. It is important that the government use cost-effective antigen testing to replace quarantine requirements as much as possible,”


John Holland - Kaye, Heathrow

“While we welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement of a framework for a risk-based approach – which provides some clarity on how testing and vaccine rollouts will facilitate the safe resumption of global flying – it’s disappointing that the opportunity has been missed to provide more certainty to reunite families separated by travel restrictions, to give sunseekers the confidence to book ahead for their summer getaway and to help businesses across the country that have had their exporting ambitions placed on hold by the pandemic. Now that a safe, scientifically-backed process has been agreed upon, a clearer timeline for the return to international travel is needed.”


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