The government has acknowledged that the Covid-19 pandemic poses an “existential threat to all travel and tourism businesses” as it published the full guidance from its Global Travel Taskforce.
It also clarified that it had not specified what type of tests could be used under a new day five testing regime for England to “allow for innovation in the testing market”.
In a written statement to parliament, aviation and maritime minister Robert Courts said: “The global Covid-19 pandemic remains an existential threat to the aviation and maritime sectors, as for all travel and tourism businesses, and we need to act now to help these industries get back on a trajectory towards strong economic growth.”
The statement goes on to say that testing is not “a silver bullet” on its own and outlines a series of recommendations made by the taskforce.
These include backing a global framework for the validation of tests and vaccination records, assessing the feasibility of short-stay exemptions from quarantine rules for inbound business travellers and tour group “bubbles”, publishing the criteria for the restart of ocean cruising and the creation of “targeted communications and marketing campaigns to boost consumer confidence about inbound and outbound travel”.
In the taskforce report, the government said it would also run a communications campaign to “reassure UK-based residents that air travel is safe and to increase consumer confidence”, based on compliance with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) guidance.
It also committed to assess how passengers transiting through other countries could avoid quarantine, saying that it would “explore ways that transit could be safely facilitated, in line with public health requirements, without passengers needing to self-isolate on return to the UK”.
In a section on the restart of the ocean cruising sector, the taskforce said the resumption of cruises had been delayed following “a significant rise in Covid-19 cases in the UK and abroad”.
It added: “Against this context, it was rightly considered that now is not the right time to see the resumption of cruise operations from the UK and the FCDO continues to advise against sea-going cruise travel based on the latest medical advice.”
The report said the resumption of cruise when permitted would start with UK round-trip itineraries for UK residents only, but with a limited appetite the sector was keen to quickly progress to European ports of call before a full restart of global cruising.
It said that it may consider easing guidance against cruising when the national Covid-19 level is at level 3 and heading towards level 2 but did not commit to the approach. The UK is currently subject to national restrictions, with a lockdown in England due to revert to a regionalised approach after December 2.
The report said: “From a health perspective, it is proposed by PHE (Public Health England) that it may be appropriate to resume cruises when the national alert level is at level 3 and when a move to level 2 is being considered by the Chief Medical Officer.
“However, the locations, proportion of the population and associated restrictions on any areas in higher tiers of restrictions would need to be taken into consideration. In addition, operators will also need to demonstrate compliance with the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) protocols, including formal commitment to accepting responsibility for repatriation costs and protocols.”
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