British healthcare company Salutaris People has warned of the potential chaos which could unfold from next week when the Government is expected to formally lift the ban on ‘illegal travel’ on 17 May. The Tyneside and Cheshire-based company warned of passenger chaos and confusion over Covid testing protocols to ‘green-list’ destination countries.
The company has also blasted Transport Minister Grant Shapps and the Government for its shambolic communication of the traffic light system for travel and its ‘green list’ of 12 designated countries. It said that the Transport Minister and the Government had failed to communicate testing and vaccination protocols for entry into the 12 designated countries and which were open to receiving passengers from the UK. It said this was going to leave airline passengers in complete confusion and disarray over which Covid tests they are expected to have for entry into their destination country and whether the country will even accept inbound travel and receive them.
Ross Tomkins MD of Salutaris People said: “The Government communication around the ‘green list’ and traffic light system has only dealt with the quarantine restrictions for re-entry back into the UK. It has not communicated clearly and effectively what the entry and testing requirements are into designated countries. This in itself has created utter confusion for the public and airline passengers wanting to book holidays to those destinations. Many airline passengers will be thinking they don’t need to be tested – confusing re-entry protocols to the UK – when in actual fact the destination country will have its own entry criteria for testing and vaccination. Some passengers may also confuse the existing NHS testing as a secure test result to be Fit to Fly. Many of the countries on the list are not accepting airline passengers into their country at the moment.”
With the announcement of the 12-country ‘green-list’ there has been a huge surge of flight bookings with airlines in anticipation of the travel restriction and ban being lifted. Extra flights have been put on by airlines and regional airports including Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Leeds Bradford to Portugal for next week, despite the fact that passengers from the UK are not permitted entry into Portugal at the moment.
Ben Paglia MD of AKEA Life the clinical testing partner to Salutaris People said: “The reality is that whilst you can book a flight and fly to a country when you get there you won’t be let in. Many of the airlines have passengers booked onto flights for Portugal next week, but when you arrive you won’t be allowed entry into the destination country due to complex rules on entry and stringent restrictions on testing and vaccination.
“At the moment Portugal is closed to UK passengers in accordance with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office guidance. There is the very real danger that passengers could fly to Portugal and not be allowed to disembark from the plane and be returned to their home destination,” he added.
We also expect to see a lot of passengers who will be frantically rushing to get last minute rapid PCR tests before flying – to the few countries that will accept airline passengers – and when they also realise the destination country test requirements. There are also going to be a lot of very disappointed passengers furious not only with the escalating costs, but with the lack of clear communication to destination countries from Grant Shapps and the Government.”
Salutaris People is on the UK Government’s approved list of Covid-19 test providers.