Published on : Wednesday, March 3, 2021
The transport secretary urged the potential travellers not to book a holiday, has chaired a meeting of a taskforce aimed at restarting international travel in a safe and sustainable way.
Grant Shapps chaired the first meeting of the revived Global Travel Taskforce, comprising government departments, industry representatives, transport operators and travel agencies. The stated purpose is developing a new risk-based framework to facilitate international travel as the coronavirus pandemic eases.
The organisations taking part include VisitBritain, as well as trade associations for airlines and airports. The travel firms hard hit by repeated lockdowns were represented by easyJet, Eurostar, Jet2, Tui, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways’ parent company, IAG.
The shipping firms included Brittany Ferries, DFDS, P&O Ferries, Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Viking Cruises
Last month the transport secretary requested not to go ahead and book holidays for something which at this stage it is illegal to actually go and do – whether it’s here or abroad. The travel restrictions for leaving or returning to the United Kingdom have never been tougher.
The international travel will get more difficult still on 8 March with the launch on of the “Declaration to Travel” – which anyone seeking to leave the UK must complete before boarding a train, boat or plane.
Transport operators face a fine if they allow travellers onboard without a legitimate reason. Returning to the UK, all passengers must take a COVID-19 test in the three days before travel.
They must also pay £210 for two further tests on days two and eight after their arrival, and undergo 10 days of self-isolation – possibly in a quarantine hotel.
All these restrictions will need to be eased before meaningful holiday and business travel can restart. In addition, destinations must be prepared to accept British visitors. The taskforce will report to the prime minister on 12 April, and will also involve work on a so-called “vaccine passport”.
Mr Shapps tweeted afterwards: “May 17 is earliest int. travel could start. Leisure & holiday travel currently illegal.”
Clive Wratten, chief executive of the Business Travel Association, tweeted back that business travel will power the economy, the aviation industry and global Britain.