British Airways, Easyjet and Ryanair have joined together to bring legal action against the UK government over its compulsory quarantine for passengers arriving into the country. The rule, which went into effect June 8, requires travelers coming into the UK by plane, ferry or train – including UK nationals – to self-isolate for 14 days, conducting random spot checks and imposing fines of £1,000 ($1,233) for failure to comply.
The airlines have asked for their judicial review which would overturn the rule to be heard as soon as possible. According to the statement, the legal basis for the airlines’ complaint is that the 14-day quarantine is “more stringent than the guidelines applied to people who actually have COVID-19.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the UK hard, prompting the government to look for ways to keep the flagging British travel and tourism summer afloat, including the idea of “air bridges” between the UK and select other countries.
However in a statement, the three carriers outlined their objections. “The airlines have not yet seen any evidence on how and when proposed ‘air bridges’ between the UK and other countries will be implemented.”
Describing the quarantine as “flawed,” the airlines said the government’s action will have “a devastating effect on British tourism and the wider economy and destroy thousands of jobs.”
Instead the airlines want the government to return to its previous quarantine policy limiting self-isolation to passengers from “high risk” countries.
“This would be the most practical and effective solution and enables civil servants to focus on other, more significant, issues arising from the pandemic while bringing the UK in line with much of Europe which is opening its borders mid-June,” the airlines said.
Over 500 companies have joined Quash Quarantine, a movement within the travel industry urging the government to reverse course.
“For a government that always says it is guided by science, we are still waiting for the scientific evidence,” said George Morgan-Grenville, leader of the Quash Quarantine group and CEO of tour operator Red Savannah. “Meanwhile, alternatives to quarantine, which will result in considerably less economic damage, seem to have been ignored.”