CEO of Manchester Airports Group (MAG), Charlie Cornish, has warned that the government’s decision to remove Portugal from the green list of quarantine-free travel destinations has put thousands of jobs in the sector at risk.
Thousands of British holidaymakers have travelled to Portugal in recent weeks as it was one of the only popular summer holiday destinations to be included on the green list of countries when it was first announced in May; however, many will now have holidays cut short by the move in order to avoid a quarantine period on their return after the Department for Transport (DfT) moved the country (including the Atlantic islands of Madeira and the Azores).
While the British government has justified its decision on the basis of the number of Delta Variant Covid-19 cases in the country, MAG CEO, Charlie Cornish, has criticised the move as inconsistent with decisions made on other nations. He warned that the continued lack of transparency in decision making is harming the travel and aviation sector, which has already been significantly impacted by the pandemic. He said:
We were told the traffic light system would allow people to travel safely, with the right measures in place to manage risk for different countries.
“But it is now clear the Government doesn’t trust its own system and that international travel is being unfairly scapegoated, with tens of thousands of jobs placed at risk in the process.
“Low-risk destinations continue to be left off the green list despite clear evidence they are safe to visit. With case rates lower than the UK, we simply cannot understand why the likes of the Balearics, the Canaries and some Greek islands do not fall into that category.
“If we followed the approach being taken across Europe, lots of other countries – like the United States, Germany and Italy – would also be classed as green.
“Instead, we’re stuck with a system that is clearly not fit for purpose and will deny people the opportunity to travel abroad safely this year.
“The lack of transparency is shocking and totally unacceptable. If the Government has information that supports its decisions, then it needs to publish it. We have repeatedly asked for this data, but we are being left in the dark about how it is making these choices, with no opportunity for scrutiny or challenge.
“That is not the way to go about limiting people’s freedoms and crippling the country’s travel and tourism sectors. With so much at stake, we need immediate transparency and urgent action to make this system of travel restrictions fit for purpose.”
In a tweet posted by the Office of Portugal’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Portuguese government also commented that it failed to see the logic in the British government’s travel rules decision and restated the country’s efforts to contain coronavirus to assure the safety of residents and tourists.
The Government’s Traffic Light System for international travel was introduced in May: rules for quarantine and other restrictions for all countries can be found on the government website.