The government’s refusal to allow passengers vaccinated against Covid abroad to avoid self-isolation on arrival is nonsensical, the chief executive of Heathrow has said.
At present travellers fully jabbed by the NHS need not quarantine on arrival in the UK from more than 150 “amber list” countries. But all other passengers from those nations must self-isolate, regardless of their vaccination status.
As a result, prospective visitors are switching away from United Kingdom to countries that recognise overseas jabs.
John Holland-Kaye told The Independent: “We are throwing away the Covid vaccination benefit we have had. Why have this restriction against people who have been doubly vaccinated coming here? It makes no sense.
“There has to come a point where we take the benefit of the huge advances we’ve made with vaccinations.
“This is like coming first, and not finishing in the medals. Government is just allowing the UK economy to fall behind, consciously.”
He was speaking after revealing continuing heavy losses for Britain’s busiest airport from January to June 2021. In the first half of the year, Heathrow lost £348m.
Mr Holland-Kaye said recognition of vaccinations administered in the European Union and US could happen quickly and “transform not just the travel market but the whole UK economy”.
His call was echoed by Joss Croft, chief executive of UKinbound, who said: “The inbound tourism industry is on its knees and, even if reciprocity is rolled out tomorrow, thousands of businesses and jobs will continue to be at risk.’’
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said “We recognise there are a large variety of Covid-19 vaccines being administered worldwide and work is ongoing to determine which non-UK vaccines and certification solutions we might be confident to recognise.”
Last week the vaccines minister, Nadhim Zahawi, said that British expatriates jabbed abroad “will be able to talk to their GP, go through what vaccine they have had, and have it registered with the NHS that they have been vaccinated” by the end of July.
British expatriates do not generally have GPs in the UK.