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UK Travel Restrictions Lead To Lawsuits

British airports and airlines, frustrated with COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions, took the U.K. government to court, per an AP News article on Friday (July 9).

On Friday, these businesses demanded that government leaders reveal the evidence that led it to enact coronavirus travel restrictions — the groups say these restrictions are damaging the industry.

Manchester Airports Group — which owns Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands airports — led the lawsuit, joined by airlines Ryanair, Virgin Atlantic and easyJet, travel business Tui and British Airways’ parent company, IAG.

Currently, the U.K. government has implemented a “traffic light” system that classifies countries as low, medium or high risk. These travel firms claim that the system lacks transparency.

“We are told it is a risk-based approach, so what we say is that the criteria and the reasons must be sufficiently accessible,” attorney Tom Hickman said at a High Court hearing in London on Friday, according to AP.

Hickman said there was a “fundamental lack of transparency.” Additionally, he said that the categorizations seemed to be arbitrary, AP reported.

The traffic light system includes only 27 “green list” countries and territories where British residents can travel without having to quarantine when they get home. Those who travel home from “amber list” countries have to self-isolate at home for 10 days, while those traveling from “red list” countries have to quarantine in a government-approved hotel.

On July 19, U.K. government officials plan to lift the self-isolation requirement for fully vaccinated Britons returning from amber-listed countries.

“Decisions need to be made urgently, in response to emerging data,” said the government’s lawyer, David Blundell. Requiring the government to give all its evidence to the travel industry “would lead to a serious risk of delay in a decision-making process,” he said, per the AP report.

An April report in the Financial Times showed companies across 22 sectors in the U.K. were undergoing the fastest uptick in significant financial distress in more than seven years, with more than 720,000 businesses in the region facing dire straits, according to data from insolvency firm Begbies Traynor.

This is 15 percent higher than the end of 2020 but 42 percent higher than the spring of 2020. Begbies Traynor began publishing the data in 2014, and this is the largest quarterly increase reported.

The news isn’t all bad for U.K. travelers though. Ralf Peters of UNCTAD’s trade analysis branch said he expects a turnaround in some sectors as far as travel before the end of 2021, despite the United Nations’ predictions of losses in between $1.7 trillion in 2019 and $2.4 trillion of this year, per a Reuters report.

“There is an expectation of a certain recovery in the second half of the year, at least for North America and Europe to a certain extent,” Peters said.

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