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East Midlands Chamber News

Chamber backs national call for air travel quarantine exemptions

East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire) has lent its support to a national call for the Government to relax blanket quarantine restrictions on air travel, to allow businesses to re-build their international connections during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Chamber Chief Executive Scott Knowles has joined a host of prominent business leaders from across the UK in signing up to a letter, published today, which calls on Home Secretary Priti Patel, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to loosen restrictions on business travel and freight so firms can kick-start the economy.

The letter, which is countersigned by the leaders of other Chambers of Commerce, travel and tourism bodies, universities and other businesses, says that air transport, which supports more than 1.5 million jobs and 40% of the UK’s trade with non-EU countries, has slowed to a trickle since the pandemic took hold in March.

It has called on Government to urgently set out:

  • A framework for establishing ‘travel corridors’ between the UK and low-risk countries, and enable exemptions from the blanket quarantine requirements for UK arrivals.
  • A timeline for returning to risk-based travel advice from the Foreign Office.
  • A comprehensive approach to health screening for arrivals into the UK to help control the virus over the coming months.

The letter states the current indefinite and indiscriminate advice not to travel overseas is preventing businesses and individuals from being able to plan with confidence. It should be updated to reflect the fact that although Covid-19 has affected every corner of the world, some countries have been less affected than others. A clear set of risk-based criteria should also be set out so that businesses can start to plan for a controlled reopening of the economy.

It also states that testing, when combined with Government’s track and trace system, would support the economic recovery by allowing a controlled lifting of restrictions on movement.  

Scott Knowles said: “The international travel restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus have strangled whole sections of the economy, putting jobs and businesses at risk.

“While protecting public health and preventing the spread of Covid-19 should remain a top priority, focus should turn to reopening these vital ‘travel corridors’ as quickly as possible where it is safe to do so, so businesses can re-establish their international connections, start trading again and begin the process of rebuilding the economy.   

“The longer lockdown goes on, the more strain it will place on the UK’s long-term health, economic and social outcomes, so we need to see what the Government’s detailed plan to reopen the UK for business looks like as quickly as possible.”