Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline, today (Wed 16th June) criticized Boris Johnson’s mismanagement of the Covid pandemic, and the reopening of the UK economy following the UK’s successful vaccine rollout programme – especially when these vaccines are effective against the Delta variant.
In the last month, the UK Government promised a Travel Green List (with Portugal on it), however, within 2 weeks Portugal was removed without any material change in Covid case numbers in Portugal, and Malta which has higher vaccine rates and lower case numbers than the UK, still hasn’t been moved to the Green List. The UK Government’s Green List is a Red List shambles. The UK travel policy is a confusing “go-stop-go-stop” system, which is doing untold damage to the UK’s inbound tourism industry.
This week’s further restrictions, which delays the final lifting of lockdown for a further month to 19th July, is again not supported by the epidemiological position in the UK. Case numbers are rising but from a much lower base, the Indian variant is not resistant to vaccines, and all of the UK’s vulnerable groups (the elderly, NHS/nursing home employees/residents and people with health conditions) have all now been vaccinated. This greatly reduces the risk of serious illness, hospitalisation, and morbidity due to Covid, yet the UK Government continue to implement travel restrictions as if the vaccine programme had not taken place.
Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary said:
“The UK’s Covid travel policy is a shambles. The Green List is non-existent because countries such as Malta and Portugal, with lower Covid case numbers than the UK and rapidly rising vaccination rates, remain on Amber. Meanwhile, UK citizens almost 80% of whom will be vaccinated by the end of June, continue to face Covid restrictions on travel to and from the European Union, despite the fact that the majority of the European Union citizens will also be vaccinated by the end of June.
UK tourism and aviation needs a pragmatic travel policy, which permits vaccinated UK and EU citizens to travel between the UK and the EU without the need for quarantine or negative PCR tests. This will at least allow the UK tourism industry to plan for what is left of the summer season and get hundreds of thousands of people back to work. It is time for Boris Johnson to end his gross mismanagement of Covid and the recovery from Covid, and take advantage of the UK’s successful vaccine programme to allow the restoration of free movement of vaccinated UK citizens and their families to and from the EU, where Covid case rates are lower than the UK and vaccination rates are rising rapidly”.