Theresa May has criticized the government’s COVID travel policy, saying Britain is “not ahead” a year after the pandemic hit – despite more than half of UK adults receiving two doses of a vaccine.
The former prime minister suggested the UK is beginning to lag behind Europe in reopening its borders to travellers. He said the UK was sending a message to the rest of the world that “Global Britain” is “closed for business”.
Ms May’s comments came as a debate over the aviation industry in the House of Commons on Thursday came as an expert warned that quarantine-free travel from mainland Europe to the UK or the US would not be allowed before the end of July.
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said reopening travel had been “sacrifice by ministers watching their backs”.
Elsewhere, British Airways fired thousands of its employees, citing travel delays as the reason behind its decision.
The airline confirmed on Thursday that a large number of employees, including its management staff, have been laid back under the plan.
The UK is currently operating a travel “traffic light” system in which countries are placed in green, amber or red categories, ministers claim, depending on how quickly the virus spreads through the population concerned.
Anyone arriving in the UK from an Amber or Red List country must self-isolate.
Ms May said: “A year ahead we are not ahead, in fact we have a devastated industry, jobs have been lost and the global UK is closed for business. More than not moving forward, we are behind.”
She continued: “We now have over 50 percent of the adult population vaccinated – an amazing program – yet we are more restricted on travel than we were last year.”
Ms May also said the government needed to “be upfront” with the British public that the virus was unlikely to be completely eradicated and that restrictions could not last forever. There is a facelift if ministers stop travel every time that people “will never be able to travel abroad again”, he said.
Boris Johnson is due to provide an update on the final phase of easing England’s lockdown on Monday, effective from 21 June.
On that date, which some call “Independence Day,” most restrictions, including travel, should be lifted. But there are apprehensions that the change will be pushed back on rising cases of the Delta variant.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /