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International visitor quarantine ‘sends message UK is closed for business’

By Alan Jones, PA Industrial Correspondent

The Government’s controversial plan to quarantine international visitors to the UK sends out a message that the country is closed for business, an industry leader is warning.

The London Chamber of Commerce, which represents more than 2,000 companies in the capital, questioned plans to introduce a blanket quarantine for all international arrivals.

In a letter to ministers, chief executive Richard Burge proposes a “risk-based approach” by introducing country-by-country assessments as well as safe travel corridors with other nations.

“Domestically, the Government’s roadmap to restarting the economy is correctly centred on a risk-based approach.

“Yet this blanket aviation proposal doesn’t appear to be risk-based. If it was, it would recognise that arrivals from some countries with much lower transmission levels than the UK and low incidence of the disease would not increase our risk, provided they adopted our social distancing protocols on arrival,” he wrote.

“The proposal sends out the message that the UK is closed for business, at a time when we are beginning to restart our economy.”

The letter added that the financial pressures on London’s airports during the crisis have been huge, with Heathrow having seen passenger volumes fall 97% year-on-year.

The chamber called for the Government to look at targeted support for airports, including business rates holidays or rate reductions, plus an extension of the Job Retention Scheme for the aviation sector.

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