‘We’ve been FORGOTTEN’: Furious travel bosses blast government for ‘overlooking’ beleaguered sector after holidays are ruled ‘not valid’ reason to leave UK in latest borders crackdown
- Priti Patel confirms there will be Australian-style quarantine scheme
- South America, Portugal and southern Africa will be the be first to face rules
- Foreign citizens already banned from coming to the UK from those places
- Travellers from those regions to be told to isolate for 10 days in hotels
- Travel industry chiefs have slammed the Government for ‘forgetting’ any support
Priti’s three-pronged crackdown on ‘non-essential’ trips abroad
Declaring reasons for travel
People wanting to leave the UK will have to fill out a form giving the reason for their trip.
Anyone who turns up at ports and airports without a valid reason for travel will be directed to return home and may face a fine.
There will be an increased police presence at ports and airports, fining those in breach of the stay at home regulations.
Reviewing travel exemptions
The list of travel exemptions will be urgently reviewed so that only the most important and exceptional reasons are included.
Furious travel bosses today blasted the Government for ‘overlooking’ the beleaguered sector after holidays were ruled ‘not valid’ as a reason to leave the UK in Priti Patel’s latest border crackdown.
The Home Secretary read the riot act to would-be travellers tonight warning that people on fake work jaunts and influencers heading for sunny destinations will be turned away from airports.
But industry chiefs felt ‘forgotten’ as the measures blocked Britons from booking overseas travel for the purpose of a holiday.
Ms Patel also declared that Britons returning from around 30 ‘red list’ Covid countries will be forced to quarantine in hotels for 10 days at their own expense.
Gary Lewis, CEO of The Travel Network Group, told MailOnline: ‘We urge the government to deliver a roadmap to restart travel, to review the specific sector support required and deliver a test and release regime that is cost effective and could reduce or remove the need to quarantine.
‘Asking travellers to pay for ten days in an airport hotel in addition to the cost of travel and their holiday will be prohibitive to most holidaymakers and will essentially make travel to or from these destinations impossible.
‘As an industry, we are willing the successful rollout of vaccines, and we also need the government to address agreed protocols with other countries, testing, extension to furlough and revised schemes to protect and support travel businesses.’
The Home Secretary heralded a huge squeeze on ‘non-essential’ journeys as she revealed that even during lockdown individuals have been flouting the rules – including by turning up to go abroad carrying skis. But pin a statement to MPs, there was no mention of any support for travel agents and airlines amid the tightening restrictions.
She said anyone travelling for a holiday now faces being sent home again, and will have to fill out a legal declaration that they are going for essential purposes. ‘Going on holiday is not a valid reason to travel,’ she swiped.
The dramatic announcement came as:
- The EU indicated it could move to restrict export of jabs and launched a bid to have British supplies diverted to Europe;
- Tensions between AstraZeneca and the EU over stocks of jabs have ramped up with a meeting being cancelled, after it emerged the bloc signed contracts three months later than the UK;
- Ministers are unveiling details of enforced ‘quarantine hotels’ for travellers from Covid hotspots, amid claims Priti Patel wanted a tougher border shutdown;
- Mr Johnson has condemned a Labour call for all teachers to be vaccinated over half-term and other key workers to be pushed up the priority list;
- Figures showed more than 30,000 care home residents in England and Wales have had Covid put on their death certificate.
Priti Patel today revealed Britons returning from more than 20 ‘red list’ Covid countries will be forced to quarantine in hotels for 10 days
MailOnline understands that hundreds of arrivals each day are expected to be escorted directly from airports to rooms, where they will have to stay for the duration of their isolation and pay a bill estimated at £1,500 – although ministers hope the numbers will ‘fall through the floor’ as people avoid coming to the UK.
It will only affect British travellers, as foreign citizens who have been in the countries are already banned from entering altogether.
But the travel industry has demanded more support amid the tightening restrictions. A spokesman for AITO, the specialist travel association, said: ‘We have been totally overlooked. We report to five ministries for starters – less than ideal.
Passengers queuing at Heathrow Airport on January 21. MailOnline understands that hundreds of arrivals each day are expected to be escorted directly from airports to rooms
An empty Lavante beach in Benidorm today. The travel industry has demanded more support amid the tightening restrictions. A spokesman for AITO, the specialist travel association, said: ‘We have been totally overlooked. We report to five ministries for starters – less than ideal’
Hard graft: Yazmin Oukhellou told fans she was, ‘[In Dubai] for work purposes, for business’, but added: ‘Obviously we’ll make the most of it while we’re here as well.’ Right, Laura Anderson was met with a furious backlash when she moaned about how hard it was to be an ‘influencer’
Chloe Ferry, who travelled out to Dubai at the end of last year – before lockdown measures were introduced, originally claimed she had hoped to stay for ‘two months’
‘We urgently need help or many of AITO’s 200 plus specialist tour operators and specialist travel agents will fail for no good reason, adding to the misery and burden of State Aid.’
An ABTA spokesman added: ‘We understand the Government’s need to introduce temporary additional restrictions in response to emerging new strains of the virus, but this needs to come with support for the jobs and businesses affected and a clear roadmap forward for travel.
‘It is now 12 months since the travel industry started to be affected by coronavirus, yet the Government has still not provided any tailored financial support to the sector.
‘Jobs are being lost at an alarming rate and longstanding businesses have gone to the wall. The lack of financial support targeted at addressing the consequences for businesses of international travel restrictions needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
‘The introduction of quarantine hotels for “red list countries” builds on a mountain of existing measures for travel, and we need to see a clear plan for how these will be lifted.
‘The Government needs to work with the industry to develop a route forward for reopening travel, reviewing all of the existing measures and coordinating with overseas governments.
‘While the vaccine rollout is positive, the industry cannot wait for the whole UK adult population to be vaccinated before travel restarts – and businesses cannot afford to lose another summer.
‘We also know that many people have a desire to get back to experiences that they value highly and have missed dearly, including travel to visit family and friends abroad.’
Ms Patel herself is believed to have been pushing for a much tougher regime alongside Matt Hancock and Michael Gove, but was overruled after resistance from Rishi Sunak, Dominic Raab and Grant Shapps, and warnings it would ‘kill’ the aviation industry.
The government is facing the prospect of a revolt from UK nations, with Nicola Sturgeon threatening to impose her own more brutal curbs in Scotland, and Wales saying they do not go far enough.
Holidaymakers vow to get around new quarantine rules by driving from Portugal to Spain
Britons holidaying in Portugal this winter have vowed to skip Boris Johnson’s hotel quarantine diktat by travelling home to the UK via the EU, MailOnline can reveal today.
Mr Johnson’s plans to forcibly confine travellers from 22 ‘high risk’ countries was branded ‘another omnishambles’ amid claims it can easily be bypassed by flying home via Spain or Ireland, or driving to Calais to cross the Channel.
MailOnline has previously revealed that travellers from South Africa, where a mutant strain of Covid was found before Christmas, were flowing into the UK via Paris and Amsterdam after direct flights were scrapped.
Portugal, visited by 2million Britons each year before the pandemic, is expected to be among the 22 ‘high risk’ states on the list because of rocketing infection and death rates as well as its links to Covid-ravaged Brazil.
But Britons, many of whom have second homes on the Algarve, are already planning to bypass the rules. There are currently no direct flights between the UK and Portugal.
Ken Browne tweeted: ‘If you want to escape highly expensive hotel quarantine, just cross from Portugal into Spain and travel from there. It’s another omnishambles’. Paul Snape wrote: Won’t everyone just go via a different country? U could drive from Portugal into Spain, get on a flight and get into the country without quarantine’.
Tahir Habib said: ‘I know friends planning to come from Portugal via France! You either quarantine everyone coming into the UK from all countries or no one. Plenty of alternative routes back’. One BBC listener told Radio 2 today they planned to travel back to the UK by flying to Dublin and then to Stansted to avoid paying £1,500 for ten days in a hotel.
Labour said ministers were ‘behind the curve’ in protecting the country’s borders.
But making the case for the government in a Commons statement, Ms Patel said: ‘It is clear that there are still too many people coming in and out of our country each day.
‘And today I am announcing further action to strengthen the health measures we already have at the border, but to reduce passenger flow so that only a small number of people for whom it is absolutely essential to travel are doing so and therefore reducing the risk to our world-leading vaccine programme.’
Under the push to clamp down on travel, airlines are expected to be fined if they fail to enforce non-exemptions properly after influencers were accused of ‘taking the p***’ by jetting out to Dubai, claiming their Instagram updates constituted work.
‘Even at St Pancras people have been turning up with their skis,’ Ms Patel said. ‘We see plenty of influencers on social media showing off about which parts of the world they are in… Going on holiday is not a valid reason to travel.’
Ms Patel pointed to the lockdown laws, saying ‘people should be staying at home unless they have a valid reason to leave’.
‘We will introduce a new requirement so that people wishing to travel must first make a declaration as to why they need to travel,’ she said.
‘This reason for travel will be checked by carriers prior to departure and this approach effectively mirrors the checks on arrivals that are already in place with the passenger locator form.’
The limited Australian-style quarantine scheme follows concerns about new Covid variants entering Britain – but ignores a plea from Ms Patel and Health Secretary Matt Hancock to apply the diktat to all arrivals.
Confusingly, Boris Johnson told the House earlier that 22 countries will be on the quarantine list – but in fact the current ‘red list’ of countries from where only British nationals can come to the UK is much wider than that.
Ms Patel did not give a full roll call of the states included when she addressed MPs.
She said the government does have estimates for how many people will need to quarantine in hotels, but refused to give them. Sources said the numbers of arrivals going into the accommodation is likely to be in the hundreds to start with, but should fall quickly.
And although she suggested there is an ‘immediate’ crackdown the start date for the enforced quarantine is not clear.
What countries are on the ‘red list’ for new quarantine hotel rules?
Democratic Republic of Congo
Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores)
At PMQs this afternoon, Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer said the Government had ‘failed’ by being ‘too slow’ to bring it in and claiming that quarantining arrivals from 22 countries ‘doesn’t go far enough’.
Passengers arriving in Britain from any of the listed countries will have to isolate for 10 days in hotels near airports and pay around £1,500 for the privilege.
Boris Johnson told the Commons: ‘I want to make clear that under the stay at home regulations, it is illegal to leave home to travel abroad for leisure purposes and we will enforce this at ports and airports by asking people why they are leaving and instructing them to return home if they do not have a valid reason to travel.
‘We have also banned all travel from 22 countries where there is a risk of known variants including South Africa, Portugal and South American nations.
‘And in order to reduce the risk posed by UK nationals and residents returning home from these countries, I can announce that we will require all such arrivals who cannot be refused entry to isolate in Government provided accommodation, such as hotels, for 10 days without exception.
‘They will be met at the airport and transported directly into quarantine. The Department of Health and Social Care is working to establish these facilities as quickly as possible.’
The ‘test and release’ scheme, which allows travellers to leave quarantine if they have a negative Covid test on the fifth day in isolation, cannot be used for countries on the ‘red list’, so is unaffected by the changes.
Scores of influencers and millionaires have fled to Dubai to lounge in luxury hotels during lockdown.
Laura Anderson, Molly-Mae Hague, Maura Higgins, Amber Davies, Georgia Harrison and Kady McDermott were among those to jet off before the third national lockdown.
Expats working in Dubai and following the rules have accused them of ‘taking the f***ing p***’ by claiming they are in the city for work, and risking spreading the virus by partying and flouting social distancing.
MailOnline has also been inundated with emails from people in Spain, the USA, Canada, Pakistan and South America worried that they may be caught up in the new quarantine scheme and admitting they may rush home to avoid it.
Yesterday it was revealed private flights into a Dubai airport soared by 78 per cent at the end of last year compared to 2019, as travellers, including Love Island stars, rushed to escape lockdown and spend Christmas there.
The quarantine plans split the cabinet with Ms Patel backing a total travel ban that would close Britain’s borders.
But Mr Shapps and Mr Raab have been arguing strongly for any decision on whether to widen the list to be delayed.
Yesterday the Prime Minister chaired a meeting of the Covid operations committee – which includes participants from the Home Office, the Department of Transport and the Foreign Office – to put the seal on the decision.
Who has gone where? The hard working ‘influencers’ on ‘essential businesses’
Scores of reality TV stars have been sharing photos from their sunny ‘work’ breaks, including;
Kimberley Garner (she was in Barbados and is now in Miami)
Lottie Moss (in Mexico)
Love Island stars; Amber Davies
Georgia Harrison (claiming she lives in Dubai now)
Montana Brown (in Barbados)
Kady McDermott – who jetted to the Maldives before going to Dubai
Geordie Shore’s Sophie Kasaei
Georgia Steel (was in Dubai and is now in The Maldives)
The Only Way is Essex (TOWIE) stars;
James Lock and Yazmin Oukhellou
Ella Rae Wise
Some have since returned to the UK, including;
Kady McDermott – jetted to the Maldives before going to Dubai
Vogue Williams and Spencer Matthews (they flew to St Barts. late last year)
Sophie Piper (it was reported she’d jetted to the Maldives breaking the rules)
Sam Faiers (she flew to The Maldives for her 30th earlier this month)
Laura Anderson, recently returned to Glasgow
Tiffany and Lucy Watson (were in Barbados)
Molly Mae and Tommy Fury visited early December and then squeezed in a trip to the Maldives before returning to the UK
Maura Higgins and Christopher Taylor, now back in the UK
Peter Crouch and Abbey Clancy, who celebrated Christmas there
Rochelle and Marvin Humes, who enjoyed a family winter vacation there in mid-December
Sam Thompson and Zara McDermott went so far as to jet to the Maldives but pretend they were still in the UK by editing their Instagram pictures in an attempt to deceive fans
Many stars have insisted their trips are for ‘work’ with the government asking UK residents to avoid unnecessary travel.
An agent, whose client had travelled to Dubai, told the Mirror earlier this month: ‘We manage their social media accounts and I’ve seen a number of death threats in direct messages.
‘It’s been relentless. We warned them not to travel abroad while a lot of the nation is under severe restrictions as it’s a terrible look, but they ignored it.’
Travel chiefs warned quarantine hotels could ‘decimate’ the beleaguered sector.
Airline bosses wrote to Mr Johnson warning firms could go bust and tens of thousands of jobs lost if summer holidays are cancelled for a second year.
The letter was signed by easyJet chief Johan Lundgren, Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss, British Airways boss Sean Doyle, Jet2 CEO Steve Heapy and David Burling, CEO of markets and airlines for package holiday giant Tui.
They called for an ‘urgent roadmap for the reopening of air travel’ as vaccines are rolled out and life begins returning to normal.
They said Britain already has ‘some of the toughest border restrictions on international arrivals anywhere in the world’.
And they hit out at ministers for failing to share any ‘compelling scientific evidence that introducing a policy potentially of blanket quarantine in hotels is necessary in addition to measures only recently introduced’.
The letter follows a string of announcements on restrictions at borders, including passengers needing proof of a pre-flight negative Covid-19 test and the scrapping of the ‘travel corridor’ safe list of countries.
The ban does not include British and Irish nationals, longer-term visa holders and permanent residents, who are required to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival.
The airline chiefs pointed out that the aviation industry supports about 1.56million jobs and contributes £88.8billion to the economy, or about 4.5 per cent of UK GDP.
They added: ‘With each day the UK is isolated from the world, causing untold economic damage, both to the UK’s essential aviation infrastructure – its airlines, airports and ground handlers – but also to those businesses that depend on the UK’s connectivity within a global economy.’
The industry is calling for a ‘bespoke support package’, saying measures up until now have been inadequate. They say business rates relief can currently amount to as little as 4 per cent for larger operators such as Heathrow.
Separately, the World Travel and Tourism Council warned shutting down UK borders further could wipe out more than £548million from the UK economy every day. The travel industry is ending its worst January on record in terms of forward bookings.
Government sources told MailOnline the decisions on the quarantine plan went ‘down to the wire’.
They also cautioned that some of those coming in might not be able to pay for their own hotel stay, and there might need to be means-tested support.
‘There’s a problem with Brits with not a lot of money … you can see it coming like a slow motion steamroller.’
It came as Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said it was ‘too early’ to book a summer holiday abroad – but some anxious Britons took to social media to admit the warning came too late, with some having bought flights for as early as the half-term holidays in mid-February.
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel company The PC Agency, said: ‘This is destroying confidence among holidaymakers.
‘People are not booking summer holidays because they don’t believe there is an end game which will see these blanket measures removed.
‘This is a sure-fire way of destroying Britain’s aviation and travel industries.
‘The Government needs to signal that they will withdraw the hotel quarantine rules by the end of March and return to a system of quarantining arrivals from high-risk areas only.’
In a joint statement, the Airport Operators Association and Airlines UK insisted the country already has ‘some of the highest levels of restrictions in the world’ and that introducing tougher rules would be ‘catastrophic’.
ABTA has urged all its travel agent members to lobby MPs in a bid to convince Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak to agree a multi-billion pound cash bailout for the industry.
A small number of Britons say they are now stuck in Spain and the Canary Islands, where the usually bustling beaches and promenades were largely deserted, as experts fear Mr Johnson’s quarantine plan could bankrupt Britain’s already ailing tourism industry.
And photographs from some of Europe’s most popular resorts, including Benidorm, show its beaches are deserted with bar and restaurant owners telling MailOnline they will go bust if the Brits don’t visit this year.
Stuey Lee Lewis, 70, owner of the Geordie Bar Tat in Benidorm’s Rincon area, said: ‘Things are really bad. We had locals in but we can’t survive on locals, we need the Brits. I know they’re missing our home-cooked chips, a cold beer and our sun terrace’.
Expat Terence Burgess, 74, told MailOnline: ‘I was in Benidorm last week and there wasn’t a soul about. It was very sad to see. I went to my favourite karaoke bar to sing and I was the only one in there’.
The quarantine measures will lead to a slew of cancellations and people will not book summer breaks in yet another economic hammer blow to holiday firms and airlines, particularly if, as feared, the travel restrictions stretch into the peak season. Industry leaders have called for a better sector-specific bailout package from the Chancellor.
But the Prime Minister last night said he wanted ‘maximum possible protection against reinfection from abroad’ to prevent new coronavirus variants jeopardising the vaccination programme.
At a meeting of the Covid-O committee last night, Cabinet ministers considered making it compulsory for all travellers to quarantine at hotels, regardless of their nationality and where they come from.
One government source told MailOnline beforehand that the decisions on the detail were ‘going down to the wire’.
‘The meeting will be where the decision is taken. It’s not just rubber stamping.’
Boris Johnson (pictured today) will impose Australian-style quarantine scheme, which is being introduced following concerns about new Covid variants. Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer says limiting it to arrivals from 22 countries ‘doesn’t go far enough’.
James Lock and his girlfriend Yazmin Oukhellou posed for a snap while lapping up the sunshine in Dubai last week
Sheridan Mordew, 24, from Sunderland, arrived in Dubai on January 2, just a few days before the third national lockdown
Many stars have insisted their trips are for ‘work’ with the government asking UK residents to avoid unnecessary travel. Pictured: Geordie Shore’s Sophie Kasaei in Dubai
Angry expats tell MailOnline: British influencers in Dubai to dodge lockdown are ‘taking the f***ing p***’
Expats in Dubai have told MailOnline they are furious about the number of celebrity influencers coming to the city ‘for work’.
Dubai had been an ideal choice for many as visitors at the time weren’t required to quarantine upon their return to the UK.
Many stars have insisted their trips are for ‘work’ with the government asking UK residents to avoid unnecessary travel.
One expat told MailOnline: ‘They’re taking the f***ing p***’.
Lauren Morgan, who moved to the city with her husband in January 2020, said: ‘All the ‘influencers’ coming out to Dubai for ‘work’ has made me so angry, using loop holes to holiday and potentially spreading the virus. Especially as they’re all partying in ridiculous circumstances where social distancing isn’t being observed and rules are not being followed by people from the UK (and I’m sure many others) who have not had to follow the same strict rules as we have in Dubai since March 2020 and is now a way of life to wear a mask and keep your distance and minimise socialising/large group gatherings’.
They also cautioned that some of those coming in might not be able to pay for their own hotel stay, and there might need to be means-tested support. ‘There’s a problem with Brits with not a lot of money… You can see it coming like a slow motion steamroller,’ the source said.
Passengers arriving into Heathrow Airport have faced chaos for days as they were forced to queue for hours to get through passport control. Pictures of crowds at passport control have become common, raising fears that the lack of social distancing could easily spread Covid.
The Government has reportedly held talks with Marriott and Holiday Inn about using their hotels while Rob Paterson, chief executive of Best Western hotels group, said the hotel industry was ready to assist if the Government did opt for a policy of quarantining international arrivals.
Government sources last night say ministers will look to widen the compulsory hotel quarantine requirement to cover more travellers.
Officials warned it will be ‘logistically challenging’ to put the system in place and it could take as long as three weeks to get it up and running. Concerns have been raised that there are only 10,000 hotel rooms close to London’s Heathrow airport.
About 8,000 people are still arriving there every day, although this number would be expected to plummet once the new restrictions are introduced.
The plan to require arrivals to go into isolation at airport hotels is modelled on Australia, where the cost of 14 days in quarantine is £1,692.
It is estimated that travellers entering the UK could be charged about £1,500 for a ten-night stay. The travel industry has warned that the added cost would destroy holiday plans.
Heathrow had warned that a blanket requirement for travellers to quarantine in hotels would effectively be ‘the closure of our borders’ and lead to ‘huge ramifications for Britain and its aviation sector’.
A spokesman for the airport said the industry was ‘already on its knees’, adding: ‘The Chancellor must finally deliver on his promise of a comprehensive financial support package for UK aviation, made some ten months ago.
Australia became one of the first countries to introduce mandatory hotel quarantine in March, while the practice is also observed in China, New Zealand, India, Singapore, the Philippines, Taiwan, Qatar and Thailand.
Love Island star returns from UK..and is banned for driving after being caught at 101mph
By Ryan Smith for MailOnline
Love Island star Ellie Brown has been slapped with a six-month driving ban and fined £1,660, after she was clocked speeding at 101mph.
The TV personality, 22, was caught breaking the 70mph speed limit as she drove a Mercedes-Benx GLC on Cudworth, Warwickshire section of the M42 on June 5, 2019.
And as she addressed the bench in Coventry Magistrates Court on Monday, Ellie pleaded that a ban from the road would cause ‘exceptional hardship’, as her work as an influencer requires her to transport herself all over country.
However, her plea was ultimately rejected, and she received six points on her license, bring her total to 12 and resulting in an automatic six-month ban.
Speeding: The TV personality, 22, was caught breaking the 70mph speed limit as she drove a Mercedes-Benx GLC on Cudworth, Warwickshire section of the M42 on June 5, 2019
Ellie, who appeared on Love Island in 2018, had already plead guilty at an earlier hearing, and the case was adjourned to allow her time to present her case for a potential loss of income, as she works self-employed through an agency.
It was revealed Ellie earns £2,000 a week after tax, and that a driving ban would not result in others losing their jobs, led to the decision to give her the points.
Addressing the bench, she said, according to Metro: ‘I have been self-employed for the past two-and-a-half years. I was on a TV show and when I came out I moved to Manchester to do modelling and different kinds of media.
‘I do a lot of travelling to shoots and it could be anywhere from London, Scotland, Leeds or all over the UK. My fashion brand’s factory is in Leicester and I have to go there carrying a lot of stock.’
Ellie, who moved from Newcastle to Cheshire after her appearance on Love Island, added: ‘I’ve learned my lesson and I haven’t had any other offences. I’ve held my hands up and I’m really sorry.’
Chairman of the bench Neil Gallagher, enquired if her ban would impact jobs at the factory in Leicester, to which she replied: ‘The employer, I couldn’t work with him because I can’t travel to Leicester.’
But after deliberation, the chairman told her: ‘Exceptional circumstances is a very high hurdle and I’m afraid in the circumstances we find it does not apply in your case.’
He added: ‘You’re on a good income at the moment. You have done well but I’m afraid we can’t avoid the ban and you will have to make other arrangements to travel around the country.’
At the time she was clocked speeding, Ellie said that she had been severely delayed during a five-and-a-half-hour drive south from Manchester.
As well as receiving six points, Ellie was fined £1,660, ordered to pay court costs of £110 and a victim surcharge of £167.
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