10:46 GMT02 July 2020
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    Business leaders in the United Kingdom are growing increasingly frustrated with the government's reluctance to reopen sectors of the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic. As analysts warn of a looming recession, the travel industry has announced its opposition to a two-week mandatory quarantine for all arrivals from abroad.

    Travel and tourist industry leaders wrote a letter to the British government on Wednesday, calling for an end to the "unworkable" and "damaging" 14-day quarantine policy on international arrivals to the UK.

    The letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel, signed by 78 bosses of hotels and travel firms, said that quarantine is the "very last thing" the country needs as economic prospects amid the coronavirus lockdown look increasingly dire.

    George Morgan-Grenville, the CEO of Red Savannah Ltd, who headed the appeal commended the government for its response to the pandemic but warned that a recession is now a "high probability".

    "The economic cost of the government’s action is yet to be seen, but the early indicators paint a grim picture with Q1 GDP contracting by 2% (despite only seven days of lockdown), and Q2 likely to be considerably higher at 20% with possibly a 12% contraction for the 2020 fiscal year", the letter warned.

    Now that the pandemic is "on the retreat", the message cautioned that the travel industry cannot rapidly "scale down" its workforce and must maintain staff "to either cancel, or rearrange existing, often complex, bookings".

    The signatories demanded consideration of the "air-bridges" proposal by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, which would see bilateral travel arrangements between countries with similar Covid-19 infection rates.

    This comes as the United Kingdom looks to loosen many of its initial lockdown measures imposed since the beginning of March, designed to enforce social distancing measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

    Criticism has been levelled against the government for its alleged belated introduction of quarantine for foreign arrivals. Labour's Shadow Health Secretary John Ashworth, asked last week why the policy was not introduced sooner when coronavirus cases were lower.

    "I would urge the government to get on with it and give us the details about how it's going to work in practice", Ashworth said.

    Airlines have warned that the quarantine measures will pose a threat to their already critical financial situation. In a letter to the Prime Minister on 12 May, a group of aviation executives warned that the policy would make the industry "unable to compete"

    Growing dissatisfaction among UK business leaders may soon see the government put into the problematic position of having to weigh the economic damage of the lockdown against the human cost of a potential second spike in coronavirus cases.

    ​Trepidation among business leaders echoes analysis from the International Monetary Fund in April, which claimed that the global economy faces an unparalleled crisis - the worst recession since the 1930s Great Depression.

    The UK already has the most confirmed coronavirus deaths in Europe with 37,837 fatalities.


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    United Kingdom, coronavirus, COVID-19, quarantine, Tourism
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