Hopes for a vacation abroad this summer have been rekindled after sources say Boris Johnson is seeking to loosen the government’s controversial quarantine plan with air bridges.
Beginning next week, people from abroad in the UK will have to quarantine for 14 days to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
But with business leaders warning that it will destroy the travel and hospitality industry, the Prime Minister is pushing for “travel corridors” or quarantine airlifts to popular destinations. This would allow British families to go abroad and foreign tourists to come here.
A Downing Street source said, “We will be guided by science, but the Prime Minister does not want to unnecessarily hinder people’s vacations.”
Ministers are also examining the advisability of testing travelers upon arrival in the UK – thereby removing the need for automatic self-isolation. The 14-day quarantine program will be reviewed on June 29 to see if the low number of cases in some destinations could help ease country-by-country measures.
However, the main tour operators are still afraid of having to lay off 60% of their staff.
The news came when it became clear that almost every country popular with the British as a summer vacation destination has a lower rate of coronavirus infection than the United Kingdom.
The UK currently has more cases of coronavirus per million people than most of the 15 most popular holiday destinations for Britons.
Only the United States and Portugal have a higher infection rate, places like France, Spain, Greece and Italy are all considerably lower than Britain.
The data will certainly fuel the anger of quarantine opponents after some 124 CEOs and business owners worth £ 5 billion said they plan to lay off up to 60% of their staff if the program continued.
Details of the quarantine program, which is scheduled to take effect on Monday June 8, is expected to be released to MPs yesterday.
But Downing Street has confirmed that Interior Minister Priti Patel is now expected to unveil them later today, fueling suggestions that some sort of compromise could be considered.
And this speculation has grown even more since last night Briefing No10, where Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was becoming more optimistic about the British taking a vacation abroad this year.
Despite the potential news of an easing of quarantine rules later this month, the Minister of the Interior intends to press ahead with the unveiling of the plan later today.
Patel is expected to warn rebel Tory MPs that their opposition to the quarantine plan risks alienating the public and spoiling the country’s progress in the fight against the coronavirus. She will also say that the government “owes” all victims of the disease to do what it can to avoid a second spike.
In other developments from the British coronavirus crisis:
- One report found how age, ethnicity and obesity significantly increase the risk of dying from a coronavirus;
- The House of Commons was called an “embarrassing mess” when members stood in line for half a mile to vote;
- It turned out that chief medical officer Chris Whitty had resisted politics pressure to lower the official alert level for coronavirus in Britain;
- Figures have revealed that almost 20,000 hospital patients have been referred to nursing homes without being tested during the first weeks of isolation;
- At least 25 residents died in a single care home; The ministers changed the law, which means that lockdown reviews will take place every 28 days instead of 21;
- Official figures have shown that the number of deaths each week has dropped to levels seen in late March;
- Oxford professor Carl Heneghan predicted that there could be no death from coronavirus in late June or early July;
- The figures released show that the new tracking and tracing system only identified half of the contacts in its first three days;
- A study has suggested that most potential students want the start of the school year to be delayed in order to guarantee more face-to-face teaching at the university.
Interior Minister Priti Patel delayed the release of new government quarantine and travel plans today, with lawmakers and tourism officials demanding they be deported
From Monday, people from abroad in the UK will have to quarantine for 14 days to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
A police officer talks to beach goers in Italy. UK has more cases of coronavirus per million people than most of the 15 most popular holiday destinations for British people – including Italy
A couple kiss on the beach at Misericordia in Malaga. Spain has a much lower rate of coronavirus infection than the United Kingdom
The 14-day quarantine program will be reviewed on June 29 to see if the low number of cases in some destinations could help ease country-by-country measures.
The main tour operators, however, fear having to lay off 60% of their staff.
Johnson was urged to abandon plans to force visitors and British nationals to isolate themselves for 14 days to avoid a “catastrophic” hammer blow to the tourism and hospitality industries.
MEPs also called sidewalks “ridiculous” and “useless” after it emerged that people will be allowed out for food, only a fifth spot check, and officials will not be allowed into their homes .
Interior Minister Priti Patel defended the quarantine plan last night, saying saving lives and preventing a second spike was top priority.
“While we have the virus here, we have to manage the risk of cases being imported from abroad,” she said.
“We owe it to the thousands of people who have lost their lives not to spoil our progress.
“These actions are informed by science, supported by the public and will protect us all. “
Health Secretary Matt Hancock alluded earlier to dissension within the cabinet over plans to introduce “air bridges” between the UK and countries with low rates of coronavirus infection.
Under the plan, agreements between Britain and countries with low infection rates would allow people from those countries to visit the United Kingdom without isolating themselves.
Comparison of UK coronavirus cases with 15 popular British holiday destinations
Tourism bosses and MPs discussed airlifts to popular tourist destinations and to countries that send large numbers of tourists to the UK.
This is how the UK coronavoirus cases compare to the popular countries. Figures are daily confirmed cases of coronavirus per million population for each country as of June 1.
United Kingdom – 28.52
SPAIN – 4.30
FRANCE – 3.94
ITALY – 5.87
United States – 59.84
GREECE – 0.19
PORTUGAL – 29.13
NETHERLANDS – 10.80
TURKEY – 9.85
IRELAND – 12.35
GERMANY – 3.98
BELGIUM – 16.82
MEXICO – 24.45
MOROCCO – 0.73
AUSTRALIA – 0.39
NEW ZEALAND – 0
Asked about government policy at the Downing Street evening media briefing, Hancock alluded to friction in the cabinet: “This idea of an airlift has been launched.
“I know there has been a lot of discussion about this and I know that some countries have been mentioned in the media, but it is a job that is done by the Ministry of the Interior and the DfT and I do not will not step on the toes of my colleagues, whatever the temptation. “
The Secretary of Health also said that all measures taken by the government, including those relating to travelers, had been taken with the safety of people in mind.
The new quarantine rules will allow people subject to the 14-day restrictions to leave their place of isolation for a number of reasons, including to buy food.
Travelers will also be able to board public transport from the port or airport to the place where they will be quarantined, although they are encouraged to use private vehicles instead.
But the rules will only be in place for the first three weeks, with the first exam on June 29.
Activist George Morgan-Grenville, managing director of tour operator Red Savannah, said: “By pursuing quarantine plans without due regard to the economic consequences, the government is choosing to ignore the devastation it will wreak on businesses, businesses and businesses. and the lives of all whose jobs will be lost.
“Quarantine measures are a blunt weapon that will only bring economic disaster. “
Ministers also face a major conservative rebellion on the issue.
Whitehall sources said the quarantine plan was defended by Prime Minister’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings.
But Mr. Johnson would have been surprised by the extent of the opposition within his own party.
Meanwhile, former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith said travelers should not be quarantined unless they arrive from a country with a higher infection rate than the United Kingdom.
A government spokesperson said, “Our priority will always be to protect public health and these new measures are being introduced to that end. We have received clear scientific advice and the quarantine system is designed to keep the transmission rate low, prevent new cases from arriving abroad and help prevent a second devastating wave of coronavirus.
“We are supporting tourism businesses with one of the most generous economic packages available anywhere in the world and we will continue to explore options to increase international travel, when it is safe, as we move forward. “
The rules are expected to take effect on Monday, but there are growing signs that the measures will be revised down again when they are revised in three weeks.
The airlift plan, backed by Secretary of Transportation Grant Shapps, could see restrictions relaxed on countries like Australia and Greece with low levels of coronavirus.
It offers some hope for a summer vacation for the British as the nation struggles to return to normal after months of foreclosure.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock alluded to cabinet friction over government travel plans to introduce quarantine
Only 23 people used Gatwick Airport in a full day last week – down from its pre-lust average of 45,000
Ministers should use a five-point assessment to judge which countries may be a priority for the agreements.
Criteria could include economic and cultural ties to the UK, infection rate and level of health screening at departure airports.
A country’s R infection rate is likely to be the key factor in determining whether an airlift agreement is being considered.
The news comes as MPs urged the government to rethink the 14-day quarantine to avoid killing the airline industry.
EasyJet announces that it will resume flights to almost 75% of its network by August
EasyJet has announced that it will resume flights to almost three-quarters of its route network by August.
The airline is also launching what it claims to be its “biggest summer sale ever” with more than a million flights to holiday destinations in Europe from £ 29.99 for trips between the 1st July and October 31, 2020.
On board, all passengers and crew must wear face masks.
EasyJet said it plans to cover 50% of its 1,022 routes in July and 75% in August, although the frequency of flights will be much lower, equivalent to about 30% of normal capacity from July to September .
This will include flights to and from its British bases in July and August to a selection of summer vacation destinations.
The airline said that although there will be fewer flights offered, “customers will have the choice of flights to domestic, urban and seaside destinations.”
These include cities such as Paris, Milan and Rome; the “summer sun favorites” in the Balearic and Canary Islands; “Lively and culturally rich hotspots” in Italy, Croatia and Portugal and “further afield to exotic destinations, Egypt and Morocco”.
The airline has confirmed that some flights will resume initially from June 15, including London Gatwick, Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Belfast in the United Kingdom.
Conservative MP Henry Smith, whose riding of Crawley covers Gatwick, said the low passenger numbers at the airport last week underscored the magnitude of the problem.
He said, “It is well intentioned, but it has not been thought through.
“It sounds good, to stop people at the borders so that we don’t get re-infections of Covid-19. But I don’t think it will benefit public health and prolong the economic damage. “
Travel industry experts estimate quarantine will cost the British tourism industry up to £ 15 billion if it is maintained throughout the summer.
According to the plans, people arriving in the UK from Britain, including citizens returning from abroad, will have to isolate themselves for two weeks.
There are exemptions for groups including truck drivers, health workers and scientists.
Spot checks will be made on addresses and fines of £ 1,000 could be imposed on people who break the rules.
But according to the Guardian, only one-fifth of arrivals will be subject to spot checks.
People will be able to give more than one address where they will isolate themselves – and will also be allowed to go outside to buy food – including for pets – or medicine.
“To get caught, you have to be unlucky or stupid,” said a source.
Like the broader foreclosure measures, plans will be reviewed every three weeks.
Former Minister of Transport Stephen Hammond asked what quarantine is for when it can be easily dodged.
The Conservative MP told BBC Radio 4 Today that airlift would be a “sensible and focused response” between low-risk countries.
“I think the idea of air bridges is the right way to go,” he added.
“I think, as we have seen around the world, people are taking steps to break the lock and this targeted approach would be a much more sensible way of behaving. “
The idea of airlifts was first launched by Shapps last month, before being downplayed by No10 sources.
However, sources told the Telegraph that Mr. Johnson is now “personally in favor” of the plan.
Interior Minister Priti Patel is believed to remain skeptical.
Travel agencies offer up to 65% off summer vacations – but tourism experts warn the British that travel may not end.
Promotional offers are announced on booking sites from July to save the season.
It came last night that the holiday dreams of millions of Britons were sparked after Portugal and Greece declared themselves ready to welcome British tourists again in a few days.
Tui, the largest British tour operator, cuts on July 10 all inclusive at the TUI SUNEO Odessos in Bulgaria from £ 543 per person to £ 296. And a seven-night trip to Gran Canaria on July 6 has been reduced from £ 606 to £ 394.
Travel Zoo offers two nights in Paris in September for £ 79 – up to 64% cheaper than usual.
And easyJet Holidays is selling a week stay at the Anseli Hotel in Rhodes from July 8 for £ 195 with flights and transfers.
But experts have warned desperate Britons not to book yet.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs always advises against all travel except essential and there will be a quarantine of two weeks for vacationers returning from June 8.
Rory Boland, publisher of Which? Travel said: “If consumers want to book something now, they should go with their eyes open.
“If the FCO advice is still in effect when their vacation is due, they will get a refund, but chances are they are waiting a long time.
“Vacation providers must make it clear to their customers that this vacation may not take place.”
British quarantine will be reviewed every three weeks. TUI spokesperson Liz Edwards said she hoped she would be up on June 29 in time for summer travel.
She added, “We think we’re going to have a summer vacation this year, hopefully starting in July. We hope the quarantine will be lifted, but airlift is certainly a possibility.
“Reservations have really resumed. Spain, Greece and Cyprus should open first. The Canaries and the Balearics are keen to welcome tourists again. “
Airlines also offer significant discounts on flights. A return from Heathrow to Cancun with Air France in September, which generally sells for around £ 800, is announced for £ 312.
And return flights from Manchester to Reykjavik with easyJet in November are sold for £ 41 (usually £ 150 more), and Manchester to Dubrovnik with Jet2 from £ 30 one way at the end of June (usually around £ 120).
Emma Coulthurst of TravelSupermarket said, “The 14-day quarantine measure makes vacations quite impractical, even though I have heard of some people willing to do so to obtain vacations. There is a risk of booking now as there is no guarantee that the vacation will continue.
TUI research has found that the most popular travel destinations this year are Spain, Greece and Italy, followed by Florida and the Caribbean.
AREAS WITH THE MOST AND THE LESS DEATHS BY COVID-19
According to ONS data for England and Wales until May 22, these were the areas with the most and least deaths from coronavirus:
- Birmingham (1082)
- Leeds (605)
- Durham County (567)
- Liverpool (529)
- Sheffield (498)
- Brent (465)
- Croydon (458)
- Barnet (442)
- East Cheshire (417)
- Bradford (416)
- Isles of Scilly (0)
- City of London (5)
- Ceredigion (7)
- Hastings (8)
- Southern hams (12)
- Rutland (15)
- Mid Devon (15)
- West Devon (15)
- Norwich (17)
- Mendip (18)
And those who hope to go to Greece or Portugal this summer may still have the chance.
Lisbon officials say Britain has the coronavirus “under control” and want quarantine trips between the two countries to start again this Saturday.
Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theocharis told The Mail that the epidemic is “moving in the right direction” in the UK and that restrictions could be lifted for the British from June 15.
The interventions increased pressure on Downing Street to rethink its 14-day “general” quarantine plan amid growing backlash from MPs who were denied a vote on the measures.
Mrs Patel will now present the regulation to the Parliament which will enter into force next Monday.
But they will be presented as a statutory instrument, which will not be automatically voted on. Conservative MPs expect the government to send a strong signal on the airlift to prevent outright rebellion.
According to the plans, anyone entering the country by plane, train or boat will have to quarantine for two weeks.
This will apply to foreign tourists as well as to Britons returning from abroad.
However, some people, including health care professionals and truck drivers, will be exempt.
MPs from a multi-stakeholder group of at least 40 who criticized the plans last night expressed their fury.
They want the government to leave open the possibility of creating “air bridges” – which would allow tourists between two countries to visit without needing to quarantine – to save as much of the summer vacation as possible and help keep the tourism industry hit hard afloat.
They say that instead of quarantine, arrivals to the UK could be subjected to health tests or tests.
Industry leaders say millions of Britons are desperate for a getaway overseas, but general quarantine policy has almost canceled the summer vacation.
Former Cabinet Minister David Davis said, “Parliament should be properly involved and this is clearly not the case. In this particular case, its very general policy could reasonably be changed in several ways.
“For example, our mortality rate is much, much higher than in Greece. Thus, the idea of quarantining someone from Greece who would have a much lower risk of developing the disease than someone else in Britain is not clearly supported by any kind of science.
“The idea of establishing air bridges could be a wise amendment. “
Former Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said, “I would much prefer that quarantine rules be targeted to flights from Covid access points.
“I appreciate why the government is quarantining, but I think applying it across the board at all levels is an overreaction. “
Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the influential committee of Conservative MPs in 1922, said: “I hope the government will act quickly to introduce air bridges and also to introduce a test regime at airports as soon as possible. “
Last night Downing Street insisted that it still intended to move politics forward.
He said quarantine will be reviewed every three weeks and left open the possibility of reaching airlift agreements in the future.
But the first exam period will not take place until June 29.
It comes as a leading expert predicted today that Britain is on track to have no deaths from Covid-19 by July – while health chiefs have announced 324 deaths from additional coronaviruses.
Professor Carl Heneghan, an epidemiologist at the University of Oxford, does not expect “excessive deaths” when the weekly data taking into account suspected and confirmed deaths will be released next Tuesday.
The week ending May 22 recorded the fewest deaths from coronaviruses over a seven-day period since Britain began closing in March. The Office for National Statistics has shown that 1,983 people died in England and Wales in the week ending May 22, compared to 2,766 a week earlier.
The weekly death toll in England and Wales has dropped to its lowest level since the foreclosure began, a report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced today. A total of In England and Wales, 1,983 people died with Covid-19 during the week ending May 22, down almost 30% in one week and the lowest number in two months.
England and Wales – which killed 16,000 in the darkest fortnight of the crisis in April – are now on their way to where they were before the unprecedented lockdown was imposed on 23 March.
But sobering statistics also show that nearly 50,000 people were killed by Covid-19 in the UK this year, which strengthens Britain’s position as one of the most affected countries in the world. . And other estimates of “excessive death” – considered the most reliable measure to determine the real extent of an infectious disease epidemic – show that an additional 62,000 deaths were recorded during the pandemic than expected.
This comes as the British government this week begins to break out of the country and return to work and school as the number of new deaths and cases continues to plummet.
Figures from the Department of Health revealed today that the official death toll had risen to 39,369, an increase of 324 from yesterday. In comparison, 111 deaths were recorded yesterday, as well as 134 last Tuesday – a figure much lower than expected due to a postponement of the holiday on Monday.
At the press conference tonight in Downing Street, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the trend for daily infections was “far down but there was still a long way to go”, the number total of positive tests approaching 278,000.
Hancock said the number of new admissions for Covid-19 in England has dropped to the lowest since March 20 and shows progress against the disease. Daily admissions are down 7% since Tuesday.
The Ministry of Health revealed that 324 other people had died in all walks of life.
Each country’s health agency released its own numbers earlier today – including 12 in Scotland, 7 in Wales and 2 in Northern Ireland. These numbers do not always correspond to the number of DHs due to a difference in the way they are recorded.
The official figure for the government today, which brings the total to 40,000 people, is 68% lower than a fortnight ago when 545 deaths had been recorded as a result of a delay in statements during the holiday.
Death registration processes have been known to slow down and even stop on weekends and holidays, which means there is a decline every Monday, followed by increases on Tuesdays.
The ONS weekly report indicates that there were 12,288 deaths recorded in England and Wales during the week ending May 22, known as “Week 21”.
It was 2,285 less than the previous week – but still 2,348 more than usual for this time of year.
Professor Heneghan, director of the Center for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford, said he expects the deaths to return to normal next week.
Asked during a briefing at the Science Media Center, whether he expects the deaths of Covid-19 to stop or reach a plateau, Professor Heneghan said: “If the trends continue, the deaths appear return to normal by next week.
“There has been a continuing reduction in hospital deaths, epidemics in nursing homes are decreasing, so that” all deaths “by (week) 22, I expect them to be back.
Professor Heneghan said there may not be any deaths from Covid-19 by the end of June – which would follow Spain yesterday. Italy still reports between 50 and 100 deaths a day, and France around 30.
“But it also depends on what happens next, in sporadic outbreaks,” said Professor Heneghan.
He warned that there would be spikes in deaths with new epidemics in nursing homes and said that information on the number of people catching the virus in hospital “would give us a very good understanding of the spread of this illness “.
Professor Kevin McConway, professor emeritus of applied statistics at Open University, said: “I certainly do not want to be a prophet of sadness, but I would caution against these positive trends.
“The data for the new week would not have been affected by the release of the lock yet. This started to happen the week before (ending May 15), although most of the changes have happened much more recently.
“If any of the changes turn out to have increased infections, it won’t show up in the death statistics yet, as there is obviously a time gap between infection and death. But we will finally see.