On June 8th, the United Kingdom did what virtually every scientist, epidemiologist, business leader and travel firm executive said they shouldn’t, launching 14 day quarantines for all arrivals. The move, which includes citizens and visitors, isn’t without many flaws. TV crews captured visitors passing through the border without having heard a single mention of the need to quarantine. Whoops.
The move has been dubbed “right move, wrong time” in relation to being circa three months late.
The good news: the leading lobbying group to “quash” the quarantine has been assured it will be significantly eased in three weeks time. The appropriately titled Quash Quarantine group, which represents 500 travel firms across the UK, told Reuters it’s received assurances from senior government officials that travel corridors, aka countries from which Brits will be able to return without needing to quarantine will be created by June 29th.
Refusing to lose face, the UK Government, lead on the issue by mercurial Secretary Of State Priti Patel, went ahead with unfounded quarantine plans despite pleas across industry to bin them, but stated it would review quarantine plans every three weeks. To save face the government won’t “quash” plans any time sooner, but the assurances of wide exceptions for travel, at least within Europe from the end of June are very welcomed.
Portugal is one such country eager to capitalize on British tourists this summer, and with holiday villas and outdoor activities, it’s one that feels poised to do so safely. The country is eager to create travel corridors with the UK to draw visitors in during peak season. Others however, are less inclined.
Spain, in statements from ministers, says it refuses to entertain corridor discussions with the UK, and insists a Europe wide approach is the only way. Greece is another which will initially only allow Brits originating Europe to skip quarantine on arrival, but those plans are expected to change July 1st.
The UK finds itself in awkward footing as it is now in the exit process of the European Union, but still enjoys the transition period where Brits are largely treated as part of the group through the end of the year. Some, including GSTP, speculate that the UK will be punished by Europe under the guise of covid-19 handling for choosing to leave, which may cost Brits the ability to holiday in certain destinations before year end.
It’s nothing to pop champagne over, but news that the UK Government will stand down the wildly unpopular and unscientific quarantine restrictions in three weeks time is excellent news for airlines, hotels and holiday firms in dire need of bookings.