British MPs call on Johnson not to extend travel ban

by Deborah Cater
Covid press conference where Johnson delayed updating travel ban information. Image: Number 10 on Flickr under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

LONDON – Currently, non-essential international travel from the UK is banned until May 17th. 40 British MPs ask Johnson not to extend travel ban urging ‘safe restart of international travel’.

40 British cross-party MPs and six peers have signed a letter to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warning the country needs a thriving tourism, travel and hospitality industry to fully recover from the pandemic.

The Daily Mail reports the signatories included ex-aviation minister Paul Maynard and transport committee chairman Huw Merriman. With the lowest number of infections in six months recorded last weekend, they believe this supports the restart of travel.

To extend or end the travel ban?

The British government considered extending the travel ban until July, following the surge in infections across parts of Europe. The official confirmation scheduled for Thursday 25th March did not take place. Johnson has deferred the final decision until Monday April 5th.

It is then, one week ahead of schedule, that the government will make an announcement. Based on the findings of the global travel taskforce, it will confirm the Executive’s plans for international travel amongst others.

Until May 17th, British citizens cannot travel for leisure outside their borders. If they break the law, penalties of up to £5,000 can be issued.

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Why so important to allow international travel?

The letter’s signatories stressed it was “paramount that the restart of international travel provides the opportunity for businesses in the aviation, travel and tourism industries to begin their long journey back to recovery”. 

“As an island nation, we cannot fully recover from the devastating impacts of this pandemic without a thriving aviation and travel sector,” the MPs warned. “As such, we urge you to introduce measures that allow the safe restart of international travel from May 17.”

They ask for rapid testing for international arrivals and that quarantine periods are “as low as possible”.

Heathrow Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye said: “The UK is ahead in the vaccine race, and when coupled with the scientific advances in testing, ministers now have the tools they need to reopen travel safely on May 17.

“This is not just about a holiday in the sun, it’s about reuniting people with family members that they haven’t seen in over a year and unlocking valuable trading routes like the United States which for too long have been shut.”

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