- Announcement on relaxation of rules expected later Friday
- Costly tests could be done away with for those vaccinated entirely
- Destinations can be classified as high or low risk
- Industry warns against relaxing rules
- Travel shares increase from 4 to 5%
LONDON, Sept. 17 (Reuters) – The UK government will consider easing UK COVID-19 rules for international travel on Friday, a late-season boost for airlines, vacation and tourism businesses who say ‘They won’t survive another winter of onerous, red ribbon rules.
As Europe has eased travel restrictions for fully vaccinated people, costly COVID-19 testing requirements remain in place for fully vaccinated arrivals in Britain, preventing a resumption of travel as Europe approaches. the winter period more difficult.
But rule changes could be announced later on Friday, Agriculture Secretary George Eustice said, following indications from Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier in the week and amid reports that Turkey, popular sunny winter destination, may again be open to British travelers.
Travel shares surged on Friday. British Airways owner IAG (ICAG.L) was up 5%, TUI was up 4%, while Jet2 (JET2.L) was up 5% and On the Beach (OTB.L) was up 10%.
If the government does not remove costly testing and the so-called traffic light system that classifies destinations in green, amber and red, airports, airlines and travel agencies have warned that further losses of jobs would follow.
“There are hundreds of businesses that will not survive this winter unless changes are made,” TUI UK managing director Andrew Flintham told Sky News on Friday.
The travel industry, already on its knees after 18 months of restrictions, faces a cliff as the government’s leave program ends later this month and as winter approaches, as less than people travel and businesses tend to lose money.
DELETED TEST RULES
According to reports, the government will remove the requirement for fully vaccinated travelers to take a lateral flow test before leaving their destination and an expensive PCR test upon their return to Britain, which can add hundreds of pounds per person to a trip.
The ministers will also simplify the destination categories into low or high risk, removing amber, the Times newspaper reported, many countries including Turkey are expected to be removed from the high risk red list.
Flintham said any new system would be better than the current setup.
“It will improve if we move away from the draconian measures that we are really using right now,” he said.
Data shows the UK recovery is lagging behind. Flights to the UK were down 39% from pre-pandemic levels for the two weeks through early September 6, while France, Spain and Italy were down between 24 and 28%, according to Eurocontrol.
On Britain’s red list there are currently 62 countries, a designation that requires 11 nights in a quarantine hotel at a cost of over £ 2,000. Quarantine hotels should remain in place for redlisted arrivals.
Any changes to travel rules will apply to England, but decentralized administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland may later follow suit. More than 135,000 people in Britain have died in the pandemic.
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Reporting by Costas Pitas, Guy Faulconbridge and Sarah Young, editing by Angus MacSwan
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