Businesses applaud opening up of UK to US/EU travel

Business leaders have welcomed the government's decision that travellers from the US and Europe will no longer have to go into ten days of isolation after arriving in Britain. 

passport with covid vaccine card
From 4am BST on Monday, people arriving from the US and EU amber list countries will be free of the quarantine requirement as long as they have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.Until now, only people who have been vaccinated in the UK can avoid quarantine when arriving from amber list countries, except France.Announcing the change late on Thursday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said, "We’ve taken great strides on our journey to reopen international travel and today is another important step forward. Whether you are a family reuniting for the first time since the start of the pandemic or a business benefiting from increased trade – this is progress we can all enjoy."We will of course continue to be guided by the latest scientific data but thanks to our world-leading domestic vaccination programme, we’re able to look to the future and start to rebuild key transatlantic routes with the US while further cementing ties with our European neighbours."The UK government is currently pressing the US to introduce a reciprocal arrangement for Britons travelling to America. At the moment, it is virtually impossible for UK citizens to enter the US for either business or pleasure.Under the change in Britain - though not, as yet, in Northern Ireland - European and American travellers who have received a vaccination approved by the European Medicines Agency or US Food and Drug Administration, will still be required to take a pre-departure test and another one within two days of arrival.Predictably, the government's move was welcomed by the trade group Airlines UK, which said the lifting of the quarantine rules represented "a lifeline for thousands of businesses reliant on international inbound travel".Tom Thackray, director of infrastructure at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), described the restoration of restriction-free international travel as "a vital piece of the recovery jigsaw".He added, "Ending quarantine requirements for fully-vaccinated arrivals from the US and EU is a huge step towards that goal. The news will come as a significant boost to the beleaguered travel industry, while also restoring important business links with key trading partners.“The task now is to implement these changes as rapidly and smoothly as possible, which should include an efficient pre-travel system of assessing passengers’ Covid status to prevent congestion at airports.”Claire Walker, co-executive director of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said the government's initiative would be welcome news for hundreds of thousands of people directly employed in the travel industry and many more in the supply chain.But she warned, “The long-term recovery of our entire economy also depends on reopening the UK to the two-way flows of people and trade.
“The government must continue to work with businesses, the aviation industry and international partners to ensure resources and guidance are in place to deal with the influx of passengers who will need vaccination checks.“It must also be crystal-clear in communicating the new arrangements to overseas travellers so they can have the utmost confidence in visiting the UK.“Businesses will also want to see government do everything it can to continue drive down the cost of any tests required for travellers. These costs must not be allowed to become an impediment to the viability of businesses, or on UK firms chances of staking a place in growing markets.”

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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