Boris urged to scrap travel quarantines or risk ‘apocalyptic unemployment’ in key industry

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Anyone entering England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland from somewhere not on the UK’s list of exempt ‘travel corridors’ must go into self-isolation for two weeks. Portugal was the latest country to be added to the quarantine list – which will take effect from the early hours of Saturday morning.

This week, the Prime Minister admitted new restrictions – including the ‘rule of six’ which begins on September 14 – could be in place for some time to come.

But airline leaders have warned the UK is facing a £4.6bn hit to its economy if Mr Johnson continues to impose travel quarantines.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) also warned an additional 87,000 jobs will be lost in the coming months.

IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said: “The stop-start-stop closing of the UK to the world is not a successful survival tactic for COVID-19.

“Without a rescue plan, 820,000 jobs will be vaporised by quarantine and they may never come back.

“The answer is a COVID-19 testing regime that manages the risk to keep people safe from the virus.

“And it will avoid apocalyptic unemployment that is sure to devastate society and the economy.”

The global trade body proposed introducing a testing regime to enable flights from high-risk countries.

Bosses from British Airways, Ryanair and Virgin Atlantic urged the Prime Minister to “announce and implement” a testing regime by the end of September.

They also urged for an extension of the job retention scheme for the aviation industry.

IATA stated: “The present UK methodology for calculating which states should be subject to quarantine is opaque, but a frequently quote metric is the threshold of 20 infections per 100,000 of population.

“This level is not aligned with other European states.

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“And if the UK were to agree to adopt a metric that was harmonised with other European countries it would give passengers greater predictability to plan their journeys, and give greater flexibility to maintain air connectivity.”

Aviation bosses also argued 8,000 jumbo jets will be needed to deliver a single dose of a vaccine to the world’s 7.8bn people.

Although transport secretary Grant Shapps has suggested testing could reduce the time travellers needed to quarantine for, Mr Boris said it would give Britons a “false sense of security”.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May demanded rapid-fire airport testing to replace the 14 quarantine for passengers.

Speaking in the Commons yesterday, Ms May said: “We are going to continue to have more cases of COVID.

“We will have more cases of COVID in the coming months.

“It’s about mitigating the risk of people coming into the UK with the virus while at the same time reducing the risk of a damaging impact on the economy.

“I’m certain that testing has to be the way forward in the foreseeable future.

“From leading the world, the UK is lagging behind.”

At least 30 other countries have systems in place which use testing either to shorten the time spent in quarantine or abandon it, Ms May added.

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