The UK Government’s plans to quarantine international arrivals could lead to further mass job losses, according to Heathrow Airport’s CEO John Holland Kaye.
The plans, which enable inbound passengers to travel across the country to reach a specified isolation address, come into place next Monday (June 8) and have been branded as “shambolic” by Ryanair boss Michael O’ Leary.
Details of the measures were announced yesterday as Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepared to tell a summit of global leaders that vaccinating the world against deadly disease such as COVID-19 was “the most essential shared endeavour of our lifetimes.”
The government has been forced to defend plans to enforce the strict new quarantine rules for inbound travellers after leading scientists had condemned them as illogical. Home Secretary Priti Patel said the 14-day quarantine period for UK arrivals was “essential to save lives” but admitted the measures would “hit businesses hard.” Chief scientific officer Sir Patrick Vallance told yesterday’s Downing Street press briefing that Sage advisers were not consulted on the decision to make all arrivals into the UK self-isolate for 14 days.
Turning a “health pandemic into an unemployment pandemic”
Heathrow’s CEO John Holland Kaye has said the quarantine measures for inbound travellers risks turning a “health pandemic into an unemployment pandemic” within the UK. He said there had to be an ‘exit plan’ from the restrictions published swiftly to avert huge redundancies. ‘If we don’t get a plan from the Government in the next few days on how we are going to reopen the economy, those jobs are at risk,” warned Holland Kaye. “I am going to have to make that decision in the next few weeks about jobs in my own company. We need to stop this health pandemic becoming an unemployment pandemic.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel told MPs the blanket rule would come into force from Monday, with a review of the measures not scheduled to take place until the end of the month. The measures include limited exceptions for lorry drivers and NHS workers, but will require everyone coming to the country by plane, rail or sea will be ordered to give an address and self-isolate for two weeks, with spot checks from officials.
Measures “designed by Cummings, for Cummings”
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has branded the measures ‘utterly ineffective’, “shambolic” and “designed by [Dominic] Cummings for Cummings.” O’ Leary claimed quarantines can only work when passengers are ‘detained’ at their point of arrival.
He said the UK plans allowed people to travel on public transport across the country to the address where they are to enter isolation, and there is ‘nothing to stop’ them shopping in a supermarket to collect groceries before their 14-day quarantine begins.
The airline added: ‘Once they have arrived at their ‘quarantine address’, the UK Government will phone less than 1 per cent of these visitors but only on their mobile phone, which can be answered from any golf course, beach, park or indeed supermarket across the UK, thereby rendering this quarantine utterly ineffective and useless.
ADS Chief Executive Paul Everitt warned the measures would stall the UK’s economic recovery. He said: “Quarantining travellers will hold back the UK’s economic recovery. Key workers across our sectors must be provided with a route to secure exemptions and allow travel essential to our economic recovery.”
Quarantine should be “time-limited measure” – ADS
“The 14-day quarantine should be a time-limited measure that can be removed as soon as the evidence supports doing so, and an international approach should be taken to resuming flights as quickly as possible.
“While the quarantine is operating, air bridges that allow controlled removal of the measure on selected routes have the potential to limit unnecessary disruption and I urge the Government to implement the process as quickly as possible.”
Pandemic modeller Mark Woolhouse, of Edinburgh University, has told The Times the quarantine measures would have a “negligible impact on public health.” He said: “It’s a very odd time to bring it in. It makes no sense as a public health measure.”