The Business Travel Association (BTA) has said the government’s indecision on a testing regime for UK arrivals is causing "wholly avoidable stress and uncertainty" for the travel sector.
BTA chief Clive Wratten on Wednesday (6 January) accused ministers of "trailing" a position on testing after days of rumours rather than taking decision firm action on a matter many other countries implemented months ago.
In his latest Covid briefing on Tuesday (5 January), prime minister Boris Johnson hinted at new travel restrictions, including mandatory pre-travel Covid tests for travellers to the UK.
However, further details of the scheme – which government had been expected to detail this week – were scant, particularly after cabinet office minister Michael Gove teased an announcement on ITV’s Good Morning Britain hours earlier.
Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon, meanwhile, has written to transport secretary Grant Shapps seeking clarity on the government’s efforts to secure the UK’s borders and prevent other Covid variants entering the country.
“As we enter the first full day of our third national lockdown, the BTA supports the government in prioritising public health," said Wratten.
"However, trailing an announcement on the introduction of testing for travellers arriving in the UK and further international travel restrictions, that then doesn’t happen, is causing wholly avoidable stress and uncertainty at a time when our industry is already fighting for survival."
Wratten added TMCs needed urgent clarity on when testing will be introduced, and on measures to support businesses once furlough ends in April to ensure the industry is "not thrown off the cliff by a hard stop".
"We urge the government to work with us and other badly impacted sectors to craft targeted support packages to avoid further mass job losses and to enable vital industries like ours to contribute to the British economy once more," said Wratten.