Friday, September 25, 2020 | ePaper

Heathrow: Coronavirus quarantine 'strangling UK economy'

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Heathrow Airport's boss has warned quarantine restrictions are "strangling the UK economy", and renewed calls for Covid-19 testing at airports.
Thousands of jobs are being lost because Britain is being cut off from key markets, said chief executive John Holland-Kaye.
The warning came as Heathrow reported passenger traffic in July plunged 88%. The government has said previously that coronavirus testing at airports is not a "silver bullet".
Heathrow said that more than half of its 860,000 passengers in July had travelled to quarantine-free European destinations.
However, it said that the "vast majority" of its route network remains grounded due to quarantine rules.
The government recently re-imposed quarantine restrictions on arrivals from Spain, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Bahamas, and Andorra. And there have been reports there could be restrictions imposed on travel to France.
In a statement on Tuesday, Heathrow said the 14-day quarantine restrictions on many passengers arriving in the UK were "preventing the UK from travelling to and trading with" some countries.
Holland-Kaye said: "Tens of thousands of jobs are being lost because Britain remains cut off from critical markets such as the US, Canada and Singapore.
"The government can save jobs by introducing testing to cut quarantine from higher risk countries, while keeping the public safe from a second wave of Covid."
After lockdown restrictions eased in the UK, bookings for cottages, caravan sites and holiday parks soared.
However, the hotel industry has been hit hard by coronavirus lockdowns and travel restrictions.
Holiday Inn owner IHG said on Tuesday that it had made a loss before tax of $275m (£210m) in the six months to 30 June.
Keith Barr, IHG chief executive, said: "The impact of Covid-19 on our business has been substantial." But he said there were "small but steady improvements in occupancy" into July. The travel industry has been pushing for quarantine-free travel to areas in countries that haven't been affected by increases in coronavirus cases, and for airport testing.
But UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said in July that testing at airports would not stop the need for quarantine, because the virus could develop over time.

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