The chief executive of global aviation body the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has warned governments not to use quarantine measures for political purposes.
Over the Bank Holiday weekend, French authorities announced that all Uk visitors to the country would have to quarantine for 14 days in response to the UK’s decision to apply blanket restrictions to all incoming travellers.
Previously, the UK government had suggested that there could be an exemption for passengers from France, but this was later quashed.
Speaking in a news conference this afternoon, Alexandre de Juniac said that the “politicisation” of such measures was a “particular concern”:
“In response to the UK government’s announced 14-day quarantine measures for all arrivals, France announced that it would do the same for arrivals from the UK.
“Measures must be guided by science, not politics. And tit-for-tat quarantine measures are, frankly, unacceptable”, he finished.
Last week home secretary Priti Patel confirmed that the restrictions would be implemented from 8 June, a decision that was met with widespread censure in the UK business community.
Airlines and travel firms have already been among the hardest hit by the virus, and there are fears that the measures will present a severe impediment to their recovery.
Adam Tyndall, programme director at London First, branded the move an “indiscriminate response to an increasingly nuanced situation”.
“The UK is a world leader in aviation and should be forging international agreements between low-risk countries,” he said.
“Getting back to some limited and controlled form of air travel will be critical to supporting the UK economy.”
There are still hopes that the UK will sign “air bridge” agreements with other countries with a low infection rate in order to allow a degree of travel.
Downing Street last week admitted such exemptions are under review.
Two sources today told Reuters that Portuguese officials were in negotiations with the UK over a possible such arrangement.