As the travel industry steps up its attack on the government’s new quarantine policy, the Labour leader has criticised the new rules requiring 14 days of self-isolation for travellers to the UK.
Previously the opposition had welcomed Priti Patel’s plans for mandatory quarantine of passengers in a bid to prevent cases of coronavirus being imported.
But speaking on LBC, Sir Keir Starmer said: “As ever, there’s inconsistency and slowness in the government.
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“Quarantine’s a bit of a blunt instrument.
“I would much prefer to see some kind of testing regime in the airport.
“We would like to see a situation where the test was returned within 24 hours.”
Ahead of quarantine taking effect, the home secretary, Priti Patel, said: “As we get the virus under control here, we must manage the risk of cases being imported from abroad.
“We owe it to the thousands who’ve lost their lives not to throw away our progress.”
“These measures are informed by science, backed by the public and will keep us all safe.”
Abta, the travel trade association, has demanded that the government “set out clearly the relevant scientific advice and epidemiological factors informing decisions”.
The chief executive, Mark Tanzer, said: “We must restart international travel as soon as it is safe to do so, and businesses and customers would benefit from the government outlining when this is likely to happen.
“There are many livelihoods at stake, and bookings will only start to pick-up in earnest when people and businesses have a better idea as to what the government’s plan is to open up the UK and access to international destinations.”
The UK boss of Europe’s biggest holiday company has said quarantine “will cause long-lasting damage for the travel industry”.
Andrew Flintham, managing director, Tui UK & Ireland, also called for the Foreign Office to ease its blanket travel advice against all-but-essential travel abroad.
He said: “It is critical to allow people to begin to fly again as soon as possible, to help protect jobs and allow those that want to travel to do so.
“We therefore call upon government to give a clear timeline for when the current FCO advice will be reviewed and decide on alternatives to a blanket quarantine, such as air bridges, as quickly as possible.”
A spokesperson for the Foreign Office said: “We are monitoring the global travel situation closely and keeping our advice against all non-essential travel under continuous review.”
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