University of Edinburgh’s professor of epidemiology Mark Woolhouse has deemed the latest travel restrictions – which require passengers to take pre-departure tests to stop the spread of the latest Covid variant – as “a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.”
Speaking on BBC’s Andrew Marr this morning, Woolhouse – who is a member of the UK Government’s Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M) – said the rules had come “too late” to effectively stop a wave of the Omicron variant from potentially hitting the country.
Woolhouse warned that, despite numbers being relatively low, the new variant – which was first discovered at the end of November by South African scientists – was “spreading pretty rapidly”, potentially replacing Delta around the world.
The government’s decision to have pre-departure testing was initially lambasted by the tourism and travelling industries, which last week harshly criticised the re-introduction of mandatory PCR tests for those arriving in the country.
Commenting on the latest restrictions, the Business Travel Association (BTA) said today they were delivering a “hammer blow to the business travel industry.”
“Public safety is a priority, but businesses will fail, travellers will be stranded and livelihoods devastated by the lack of coherent plans from the government,” said BTA’s boss Clive Wratten.