A group of parliamentarians and peers urged the government to impose a ban on international travel over the summer.
Unnecessary travel abroad has been illegal for the past four months. The government has indicated that overseas holidays, from England at least, can be resumed on May 17. Ministers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have yet to make a decision on reopening international travel.
But the All-Party Parliamentary Group concerned with the Coronavirus warned of a “fatal third wave and more closures” if the ban on travel abroad was eased.
It says the travel ban should continue to be revised every three months, which effectively rules out holidays until late August at the earliest.
“It’s amazing that the government is even considering encouraging holidays abroad when airports are already struggling to keep the virus and new variants at bay,” said Laila Moran, a member of parliament, chair of the group and the foreign affairs spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats.
The report warns that the country’s airports have become a “fertile breeding ground” for the virus due to overcrowding. Heathrow airport chiefs have warned that wait times at the UK’s main port of entry could extend to six hours.
Parliamentarians, who include more than 60 lawmakers and colleagues, say fake Covid test certificates are rife. Lucy Moreton of the Federation of Immigration Services told a hearing that border officials discover about 100 fake Covid test certificates per day – primarily by spotting misspellings.
Professor Dinan Pillai of University College London warned that the failure to separate the arrivals from the amber and red countries “made things illogical.”
At a hearing on April 20, none of the expert witnesses the group summoned said they were prepared to travel abroad in the near future.
“The ministers are demonstrating a shocking level of satisfaction with the dangers that traveling abroad poses,” said Caroline Lucas, Green House Member of Parliament and Vice President of the group.
“We know from past experience that tourism hotspots risk becoming COVID-19 hotspots, with people from all over the world mixing.
The group says the government must provide “adequate financial support” to the travel industry. In the first three months of 2021, Heathrow lost 329 million pounds, more than 2,500 pounds per minute.
But the head of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Future of Aviation said that “it is imperative that the government fulfill its commitment to reopen travel safely on May 17th.”
Conservative MP Henry Smith said: “Any failure to do so is likely to be the last devastating blow to the companies, communities and employees who depend on the vibrant aviation sector.”
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of British Airways, described the report as “partial and one-sided,” saying it ignores the place of vaccination and cheap, quick tests in reopening travel while reducing the risks.
He said: “No one says that every country in the world will be opened from May 17th.”
“If there are real concerns about the variables, the restrictions should remain in effect. But saying that we must effectively close the island and kick travel on the road for months in a row is not based on evidence nor on the latest science.”
The report was released at the start of the week that Transportation Secretary Grant Shaps is expected to designate foreign countries in the red, amber and green categories.
Countries from which there is a high risk of importing the Coronavirus – especially “variants of concern” – will be classified as red or amber, both of which require quarantine.
Only people coming from Green List countries escape self-isolation, although they must take pre-departure and post-arrival checks for a cost in excess of £ 100.