British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair launch legal action over UK government’s quarantine policy

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Airlines file legal papers at High Court over ‘disproportionate’ government policy

British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair have launched legal action against the government’s controversial quarantine measures, which they call flawed.

They say the obligation for all arrivals to the UK to spend 14 days self-isolating “will have a devastating effect on British tourism and the wider economy and destroy thousands of jobs”.

The companies had said earlier this week they would join together to try to end the 14-day quarantine rule for international arrivals, which they say will deter travel and threaten more jobs.

The airlines have asked for their judicial review to be heard as soon as possible, because the measures have stifled inbound and outbound tourism for the summer.

They say: “This quarantine, by criminal law, is more stringent than the guidelines applied to people who actually have Covid-19. There was no consultation and no scientific evidence provided for such a severe policy.”

The new quarantine rule came into force on Monday June 8, which required UK arrivals to self-isolate for 14 days – however there are exemptions for some workers coming into the country.

British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair are demanding the government abandons its current blanket rules to instead readopt the policy it introduced on 10 March, which saw passengers from countries deemed at high risk of coronavirus infection being ordered to self-isolate on arrival in the UK.

A joint statement from the three airlines said: “This would be the most practical and effective solution, and enables civil servants to focus on other, more significant issues arising from the pandemic while bringing the UK in line with much of Europe which is opening its borders mid-June.”

The policy was imposed on 8 June. The home secretary, Priti Patel, said: “These measures are informed by science, backed by the public and will keep us all safe.”

The measures have initially been imposed for a year, though the government has said they will be reviewed every three weeks. The first review date is 29 June.

The airlines said they had seen no evidence of when proposed air bridges between the UK and other countries would be implemented.

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