Quarantine will kill off hundreds of travel firms, industry figures warn

With the decision to impose a mandatory 14-day quarantine for almost everyone arriving in the UK by air, travel industry insiders say the government has signed the death warrant for hundreds of holiday firms. Passengers arriving by air from anywhere abroad apart from the Republic of Ireland will be presumed to be carrying coronavirus and will be required to self-isolate in a private dwelling for two weeks. Boris Johnson said the order was necessary to prevent a second spike in coronavirus cases – though the World Health Organisation advises that quarantine is a useful measure only in the earlier stages of virus transmission. He said: ”To prevent re-infection from abroad, I am serving notice that it will soon be the time – with transmission significantly lower – to impose quarantine on people coming into this country by air.” Because it does not apply to rail or ferry passengers, it will be easy for individual travellers to the UK to circumvent. Airlines and travel firms such as Tui and Jet2 Holidays had been planning for “Project Lift-off”: gradually re-starting operations from June onwards, with a wide range of flights in July and something close to a full programme in August – the peak month for trips, when they can command high prices. To make matters worse, the government’s refusal to say when or how quarantine will end will deter consumers from committing to future bookings, stifling sales that had begun to build. “It will worsen an already difficult situation for hundreds of travel firms, and write off many good businesses that would otherwise have been able to survive the summer.” Holidaymakers who have booked a package with a defunct company will be able to get their money back under the Atol scheme, administered by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Even though the Air Travel Trust fund was almost emptied by the failure of Thomas Cook in September 2019, the government is the ultimate guarantor – so the taxpayer is likely to be responsible for some of the refunds.