Travel rules were ‘inconsistent, ambiguous and disproportionate’ to COVID risk, report says

By Lisa James
Home » Travel rules were ‘inconsistent, ambiguous and disproportionate’ to COVID risk, report says

UK restrictions on international travel during the COVID-19 pandemic were disproportionate to the risks to public health, a damning report by MPs says.

The report, by the House of Commons Transport Committee, concludes travel restrictions were inconsistent and confusing to both the industry and passengers and the restrictions imposed ‘severe economic costs on the aviation industry’.

The traffic light system was ‘opaque, ambiguous and inconsistent’ and the aviation industry ‘experienced severe economic difficulties due to Government restrictions that were not based on scientific consensus’.

MPs added the Government ‘struggled to balance the competing priorities of protecting public health and of facilitating international travel during the coronavirus pandemic’.

The report says: “It [the Government] restricted international travel to manage the virus’s spread, but the arbitrary nature of those restrictions left travellers struggling to secure refunds, to access affordable testing and to navigate the confusing ‘traffic light’ system.

In future, international travel must be built into pandemic resilience planning and the industry must be compensated for economic loss suffered if restrictions on international travel are not comparable to those imposed on the domestic economy, the report suggests.

MPs repeated their call for greater consumer protection, including urgent powers to enable the Civil Aviation Authority to impose financial penalties on airlines that do not provide complete refunds to consumers when they are required to do so by law.

Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy Rocio Concha said: “Consumer trust took a battering during the pandemic as some airlines ignored their obligations on refunds and passengers struggled with confusing restrictions and a dysfunctional travel testing system.

“We have long called for the Civil Aviation Authority to be given the power to fine airlines directly, so operators can be held accountable when they flout the law.”

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