London: In view of the spread of COVID-19, United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday announced a ban on non-essential international travel from and to the country till at least May 17.
Though travel and aviation sectors have been among the hardest-hit during the pandemic, the ban came as the new COVID-19 strain has been spreading.
PM Johnson said domestic overnight stays and self-contained accommodation will be allowed no earlier than 12 April but non-essential international travel will remain banned, Sky News reported.
Road map of lockdown
Highlighting the road map of lockdown, Johnson said, “This is part of the roadmap’s second step and it will take place at least five weeks after the first step– 8 March–but could be postponed if the prime minister and his advisers say it is necessary.”
He said the date for international holidays to be allowed is not before 17 May.
The government’s Global Travel Taskforce will reconvene to issue a report by 12 April recommending how international trips can resume safely, he said.
Boris Johnson said this will “give people time to make their plans for the summer”, Sky News reported.
“As the worst-hit economic sector in 2020, this will ensure we will also be the worst-hit sector of 2021,” Sky News quoted Airport Operators Association chief executive Karen Dee as saying.
“The UK and devolved governments must set out sector-specific support to help ensure there are viable airports to be able to restart,” Dee said, adding that the Prime Minister’s recognition of aviation’s important economic role, in particular for businesses that rely on access to international markets or visitors to the UK, was welcome.
Meanwhile, British Airways chief executive Sean Doyle said it is “critical we start looking at a way to restart travel”, adding that he is “pleased the government has acknowledged that,” Sky News reported.
He added, “We support a data-led approach that protects public health. We want to work with the government’s task force on a road map now to ensure that aviation is in a strong position to support the UK as we emerge from the pandemic.”