International travel won’t ‘come back until end of the year’, expert predicts

George Eustice discusses testing and travel

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Director of Visit Britain Patricia Yates has said the UK needs to be realistic and get Covid cases under control by controlling the borders. Speaking to LBC, Ms Yates said: “This isn’t a good time for international travel, it’s not peak season for Britain. To Be realistic we need to get the number of cases down and the virus under control because otherwise international visitors won’t want to come here.

“We can see other countries have used borders as a measure of control.

“I can quite understand why the government has done it and we’re not looking for international travel to come back until towards the end of the year.”

It comes as arriving travellers put in quarantine hotels will be charged £1,750 for their stay, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced.

Passengers arriving into England face fines of up to £10,000 for failing to quarantine, and those who lie on their passenger locator forms face up to 10 years in jail.

UK nationals or residents returning to England from 33 “red list” countries will be required to spend 10 days in a Government-designated hotel.

The Scottish Government said this approach is “not sufficient” so it is requiring all international travellers arriving into Scotland to stay in a quarantine hotel.

No international flights are currently operating to Wales or Northern Ireland.

Mr Hancock indicated the measures might be in place until the autumn if vaccine booster jabs are needed in response to coronavirus variants.

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He told the Commons that 16 hotels have been contracted to provide 4,600 rooms for the quarantine programme, which begins on Monday.

Anyone who attempts to conceal that they have been in a “red list” destination in the 10 days before arrival faces a prison sentence of up to 10 years, Mr Hancock said.

He also confirmed the new “enhanced testing” regime for all international travellers, with two tests required during the quarantine process from Monday.

Those who fail to take a test face a £1,000 fine, followed by a £2,000 penalty and an extension to their quarantine period, to 14 days, if they miss the second test.

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Mr Hancock told the Commons: “People who flout these rules are putting us all at risk.

He added: “I make no apologies for the strength of these measures, because we’re dealing with one of the strongest threats to our public health that we’ve faced as a nation.”

Asked when the new rules will be relaxed, Mr Hancock replied: “We want to exit from this into a system of safe international travel as soon as practicable and as soon as is safe.”

He said work is ongoing to assess the current vaccines against variants of the virus, adding: “If that isn’t forthcoming then we will need to vaccinate with a further booster jab in the autumn, which we’re working with the vaccine industry.

“These are the uncertainties within which we are operating and hence, for now, my judgment is the package we’ve announced today is the right one.”

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