Coronavirus: Spain thwarts UK ‘air bridge’ hope

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Coronavirus: Spain thwarts UK 'air bridge' hope
Coronavirus: Spain thwarts UK 'air bridge' hope

The Quash Quarantine group is holding off the threat of legal action after being assured that air bridges to low risk countries will be introduced from the end of the month.

The collective of 500 travel and hospitality companies indicated that its legal move against the government’s restrictions on international arrivals into the UK imposed on Monday would be paused.

The group’s spokesman Paul Charles said: “We’ve received private assurances from senior government sources that travel corridors will be in place from 29th June.

“We urge the government to signal to the travel industry publicly and urgently that this is the case, as well as amend FCO advice on non-essential travel.

“We are still considering our options regarding legal action, including whether to join BA’s claim, but would prefer that 29th June is confirmed for the start of travel corridors.”

Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Australia are believed to be frontrunners for “travel corridors” which would allow holidaymakers and business people to go to and from the countries without having to self-isolate for 14 days.

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Confirmation could come this week after the Cabinet meets today (Tuesday).

It is likely to be allied to a lifting of the Foreign Office ban on non-essential travel to “low risk” countries after the advice was marginally amended yesterday.

A government source told The Telegraph: “It is fair to say things are moving at pace.”

But it has publicly avoided setting a date to ensure the health conditions are met.

The quarantine still faces a legal challenge from British Airways owner IAG plus rivals Ryanair and easyJet.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said the bid for an injunction could be heard by the end of the week.

He said: “I think the courts will hear it quickly because it is an injunctive-type measure.

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‘Irrational measure’

“We don’t see how the Home Office will be able to put up any defence whatsoever. There is no way that they can argue in court that this is an effective quarantine or that this has any scientific basis at all.

“It is an irrational measure that does untold economic damage to British tourism, to millions of jobs in British tourism.

“It seems to be having very little impact on British people going abroad in July and August, they are already booking in their hundreds and thousands.”

The latest developments to the fast-moving saga came with the creation of a petition signed by almost 6,500 people against the compulsory quarantine – 3,500 more are needed to force the government to respond.

Created by company director Andres Ezequiel Celati, it calls on the government to focus on increasing testing capabilities, ensuring hospitals and care homes are well equipped, and helping businesses and individuals gradually resume their activities so the economy can start recovering.

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“The damage this extreme and all-encompassing measure could cause could far outweigh any potential benefits,” the petition says.

‘Counterproductive’

“The hospitality industry is already struggling with thousands of jobs at risk and many businesses on the brink of collapse.

“Enforcing a compulsory quarantine so late in the fight against coronavirus is counterproductive.

“Tourism and business travellers are key to relaunching the economy. Imposing a self-quarantine significantly reduces incoming travel with catastrophic consequences.”

Lawyers acting for Simon Dolan, chairman of Southend airport–based specialist charter airline Jota Aviation also wrote to home secretary Priti Patel urging her to suspend the plans.

The pre-action letter pointed out that the government’s own science experts had failed to support the policy, according to The Times.

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