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Travel rule changes 'positive', say airlines


Kevan James

September 27, 2021


The relaxation of travel restrictions in England will give airlines a "shot in the arm", said industry group Airlines UK. Welcoming the government simplifying the traffic light system and reducing testing requirements, the organisation said it "moves us much closer to the reopening of UK aviation" (Image - Gatwick Airport).


Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the changes would enable more people to travel around the world. From 4 October the amber and green lists will be scrapped in England, leaving a single red list that has been downsized. Shapps commented: "Today's changes mean a simpler, more straightforward system. Public health has always been at the heart of our international travel policy and with more than eight in ten adults fully vaccinated in the UK, we are now able to introduce a proportionate updated structure that reflects the new landscape."


People who have had both jabs will not need to take a pre-departure test before leaving any country not on the red list. They will also be able to replace the day two PCR test with a cheaper, rapid lateral flow test.


Image - Heathrow Airport Ltd



Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said: "This is a positive step which moves us much closer to the reopening of UK aviation and provides greater reassurance to passengers desperate to travel. "By reducing the number of red list destinations and scrapping PCR testing, ministers have paved the way for people to get away this October half-term and into the winter following 18 months of uncertainty.


"It will provide a real shot in the arm for a sector that until now has not been allowed to trade properly."


Thomas Cook said it expected the coming weekend to be its best for sales in 2021, adding that customers "are booking in droves".


"Based on our bookings already today, I would expect this weekend to be the biggest of the year so far as people take advantage of the great deals on offer, the new easier rules on testing and the simplified system for international travel," said David Child, head of PR and brand at the travel firm.


The travel and tourism sectors have been among the hardest hit by the Covid pandemic. Globally they have lost 62 million jobs, the World Travel and Tourism Council says.


"We are pleased to see the back of an illogical traffic light system that caused confusion and distress for travellers," said Julia Simpson, its president and chief executive. "While this is certainly a step in the right direction, for the UK to be real leaders, the government should adopt a system based on the risk of individuals, not countries."


Image - Kevan James



The changes "remove some of the layers of complexity and expense UK holidaymakers have faced this summer", said Andrew Flintham, managing director of Tui UK.


He said Tui had already seen an increase in bookings for Turkey and destinations "for those looking to enjoy some winter sun" in October. However, the red list should be reduced further, he added.


Prior to the Prime Minister's trip to the United States, Virgin Atlantic said: "We urge the UK Government to use the Prime Minister's upcoming visit to the USA to work with the Biden administration to remove transatlantic restrictions for UK citizens, just as the UK has done for US travellers."


Opinion


There has always been a need to provide some degree of protection for travellers in many parts of the world from infectious diseases. Vaccines of one kind or another have been in use for decades. Such vaccines however are tried and tested over many years, unlike those now available to offer protection against COVID-19.


Of necessity, given the speed with which COVID-19 has been shown to spread, vaccine development has had to be very rapid. The result is that, despite the wide rollout, people with two jabs are still contracting the disease.


No vaccine has ever been completely effective and what has upset so many people are the promises made that 'everything will be back to normal once we have the vaccine' - promises that have been broken the world over. Not least in the United Kingdom.


Image - Kevan James



What is also upsetting - and anathema to increasing numbers of ordinary people around the globe - is the compulsory nature of vaccine rollout. The travel restrictions may well be easing...but only for those who have been vaccinated. Not only is this discriminatory but so are the imposition of so-called 'vaccine passports' for domestic use within countries. Increasingly loud protests against them are being seen worldwide but are met with equally increasing heavy handedness by local police services.


The nub of all this however is not only have the much lauded COVID-19 vaccines been shown to fail to offer the complete protection promised, but travel in an airliner is one of the safest places to be when it comes to clean air thanks to modern day air filtration systems.


On top of that are the numbers of people that have suffered adverse reactions to the vaccines, including death. While it is a substantial minority who suffer ill effects, as I have said before, no medicine or drug has ever been invented that does not have some kind of adverse reaction for somebody. As long as that situation exists, you cannot force people to take them.




© Kevan James 2021

Additional information via the BBC





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