Covid travel restrictions are ‘disproportionate and confusing’, MPs say Business News

Travel restrictions which were “disproportionate to the risks to public health” and caused serious damage to the UK aviation industry, the Transport Select Committee has said.

In a wide-ranging and highly critical report, MPs say the government’s frequently changing Covid-19 rules ‘were not based on scientific consensus’.

The report says the measures have caused “a severe financial shock to the sector”, with no significant health benefits.

But the government insists the travel restrictions “have not been in place longer than absolutely necessary”.

Shortly after the start of the coronavirus pandemic, in mid-March 2020, the UK was the only country to remove all arrival restrictions.

But in June that year, as other countries opened up, ministers went to the opposite extreme with a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all arrivals to the UK (apart from the UK). ‘Ireland).

Frequent changes at short notice, coupled with the introduction of hotel quarantine and an inconsistent system of ‘traffic light’ restrictions continued for the next 21 months.

All travel measures were finally removed in March 2022.

The committee, chaired by Tory MP Huw Merriman, is scathing about the measures imposed by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

“The manner in which the government introduced restrictions on international travel during the pandemic was inconsistent, confusing for industry and passengers,” he concluded.

“The aviation industry, which connects the UK to the world, has suffered severe economic hardship due to government restrictions which were not based on scientific consensus.”

Traffic light restrictions are described as “opaque, ambiguous and inconsistent”.

The report states that “the rationale for making the decision on classifying individual countries as ‘red’, ‘amber’ or ‘green’ was not made available.”

In hotel quarantine, MPs find ‘no evidence’ of any benefit over self-isolation at home.

They also lamented the frequent rule changes, saying: “Restrictions have changed more than 15 times between 2020 and 2022.”

In fact, if the many “traffic light” moves are included, the changes number in the hundreds.

A spokesman for the Department for Transport rejected the committee’s findings, saying: “Our priority was to protect public health, and these measures bought vital time for the rollout of our successful recall program as we responded to new and worrying variants.

“But we have also ensured that they are not in place longer than necessary, and the UK was the first G7 country to remove all travel restrictions.

“Going forward, the government’s default approach will be to use the least stringent measures, to minimize the impact on travel as much as possible and these will only be implemented in extreme circumstances. “

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said: “The industry has been through the worst crisis in its history and it will take several years to deal with the debt that airlines have had to take on to get through the pandemic without passengers.”

Britain’s pre-eminence in European aviation was lost. For decades until the start of 2020, London Heathrow was the busiest in Europe.

But the main UK hub started 2022 in 10th place, according to Airports Council International, behind the two main airports in Moscow, the two airports in Istanbul and even the seaside resort of Antalya in Turkey.

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This notice was published: 2022-04-25 06:27:14

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