EASYJET, Ryanair and British Airways have today launched legal action over the Government’s 14-day travel quarantine rules.
The airlines confirmed this morning that they have officially taken action in the courts to try and get the decision reversed.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
The airlines say that their argument is based on the fact that the quarantine rules are stricter for tourists than for people in the country who actually have Covid-19.
They argue that not only has there been no consultation – nor have the Government released any scientific evidence for it – but some incoming travellers are exempt from the rules while others are not.
The airlines are also asking why the policy is being put in place which would ban Brits from flying to areas of lower transmission, where the spread of coronavirus is less of a threat.
A joint statement from the air groups said: “British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair have launched their legal action against the UK government’s flawed quarantine which will have a devastating effect on British tourism and the wider economy and destroy thousands of jobs.”
“The airlines have not yet seen any evidence on how and when proposed ‘air bridges’ between the UK and other countries will be implemented.
“Instead, they want the government to re-adopt its previous quarantine policy introduced on March 10, where quarantine is limited to passengers from ‘high risk’ countries.
“This would be the most practical and effective solution and enables civil servants to focus on other, more significant, issues arising from the pandemic while bringing the UK in line with much of Europe which is opening its borders mid-June.”
At the start of this week the Government enforced a mandatory quarantine scheme for anyone coming into the country.
Anyone entering the country – including British nationals – will be forced to quarantine for 14 days, with anyone caught breaking the rules fined £1,000.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday, the measures had been brought in to protect public health, declining to comment on legal action.
He said: “I would emphasise that we’ve obviously brought these quarantine rules into place to protect public health and ensure we don’t import the virus as cases in the community reduce,” but did not comment on the “ongoing legal matters”.
Air bridges are also being discussed, which would be an agreement between two countries to let people travel freely between them without needing to quarantine, although these are yet to be confirmed.
Despite this, Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary claims thousands of Brit families still plan to jet off on summer holidays on July 1.
He added that that they already have full planes heading out to holiday destinations in places like Portugal, Spain and Italy next month.
He said earlier this week there is “no way” the Home Office can defend the new measures as it has no “scientific basis at all”.
Other airlines and MPs have fought back furiously against the plans, saying they will cost thousands of jobs and continue to harm the economy.
Paul Charles, spokesman for Quash Quarantine and CEO of The PC Agency, said today they backed the legal action:
“The airlines’ legal action to seek a judicial review is a sensible, medium-term move to hold the Government to account for implementing legislation that may turn out to have been unlawful.
“Quash Quarantine’s focus is on getting the Government to remove immediately the quarantine measures, and amend the Foreign Office travel advice at a time when many businesses are making mass redundancies, and some teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.
“We urge the Government to withdraw its measures, remove the FCO blanket ‘non-essential’ travel advice, and announce that travel corridors will be operational from 29th June. Let’s get Britain moving again.”
More than 300 tour operators and holiday firms previously endorsed a letter to the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, asking the Government not to enforce it.
The travel and hospitality companies included TGI Fridays, Kuoni and Mr. & Mrs. Smith, calling for it not to go ahead.
There’s no indication yet of when Brits will be able to travel with the current advice from the UK government remaining against all non-essential travel.
There are hopes, however, that this could change in the upcoming weeks.