UK Government Ministers Accused of ‘Knee-Jerk’ Reaction Over Covid Testing

Ministers have been accused of a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction over introducing Covid testing. image: Pixabay

Ministers have been accused of a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction after introducing Covid testing.

UK government Ministers have been accused of a “knee-jerk” reaction by imposing Covid testing on inbound travellers when a new collaborative approach with the industry is needed. Advantage Travel Partnership chief Julia Lo Bue-Said made the comments in response to the rules being introduced tomorrow (Saturday, January 9).

She pointed out that the trade has been lobbying for pre-departure testing for some time across the board, saying, quote: “We are seeing yet again, what appears to be a knee jerk reaction from the government,”. This can only be described as a piecemeal policy which is unhelpful and causes further stress and strain on agents.”

She went on: “Public health measures to suppress the virus are paramount, however, we need a new approach which must include consultation with industry experts who are in the best position to advise on not only logistics but the short term impact and long term opportunity to allow business owners to plan when it is the right time to allow people to travel safely again this year.”

She added: “We would urge the government to also consider business travel and how this new testing measure can ensure that key industries where travel is a key requirement are able to do so safely and in a seamless manner. We urgently urge the government to commit to a collaborative approach and set out a timeframe so that travel agents, as well as consumers, understand the ramifications when booking a future trip.

“We, as experts, are at the government’s disposal and we would expect to be engaged moving forward. It’s beyond comprehension why ministers from all departments continue to ignore the experts on their doorstep.”

On the issue of sector support available to the industry, she said: “Whilst we are pleased that it has been confirmed that retail travel agents are eligible for Localised Restriction Support Grants, it seems confusing and unclear for many of our members how much support they can access and when depending on the efficacy of their local councils.

“At least 50% of our members do not operate from a retail facility and as such do not qualify for any of the support announced by the government. These agents have effectively fallen through the net and are faced with taking loans to survive which many are unable to do. This underlines what a woeful understanding government has of the complexities of the industry.

“Many agents are entrepreneurs, working from a home office and contributing significantly to the economy and yet they have been forgotten. Yet again, we are urging more collaboration in the future between government and industry. We know what will make a difference and it’s beyond comprehension that there has been so little consultation throughout the duration of the pandemic.” she said.

 


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Tony Winterburn

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