Three of the UK’s biggest airlines have today begun their legal challenge against the government’s travel quarantine plan, the same day the measures were lifted for 60 countries.
In a rare show of unity, rivals British Airways, Ryanair and Easyjet had come together to challenge the blanket restrictions, which say that all those entering England have to self-isolate for 14 days.
The airlines have challenged the regulations on the grounds that they are disproportionate and were introduced without proper consultation.
Speaking at the High Court today, the airlines’ lawyer Tom Hickman said: “The measures are more severe than the measures imposed during the height of the lockdown, they’re more severe than the measures imposed on people showing symptoms of Covid-19.
“The fact that they are entering the UK from a Covid-19 hotspot could provide some justification, but the mere fact that they are entering the UK cannot.”
In a joint statement, the airlines had said the measures would “have a devastating effect on British tourism and the wider economy and destroy thousands of jobs”.
Ahead of the trial, government lawyers had released documents saying that there was no requirement for ministers to consult on the decision to implement the measures.
Overnight authorities announced that France, Spain, Germany and Italy would be included on a 60-strong list of countries to which holidaymakers in England would be able to travel from 10 July without needing to quarantine.
The full list is due to be published later today, but speaking to the BBC earlier today transport secretary Grant Shapps said the US would remain on a “red list” of banned countries.
The Foreign Office will also shift its blanket advice warning against “all but essential” travel in light of the new developments.
Hickman said that the airlines had wanted to delay the case to consult the list of countries to be exempt, but were proceeding with the case until the information was forthcoming.