The chief executive of Ryanair has condemned the British government’s plan to reduce travel quarantines for passengers arriving in England from countries with high infection rates, labelling it a “fig leaf that doesn’t work.”
Michael O’Leary told BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday that the government should rethink its decision to shorten the travel quarantine to five days if the passenger tests negative.
O’Leary said the plans aren’t well thought out, as they allow people with Covid-19 into the country. He claimed that “test before you travel is a better system.”
He contended that the government’s quarantine plan, in its shortened state or not, requires people entering the country to self-isolate, adding that “it’s not enforceable, people don’t comply.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced plans to reduce the travel quarantine to five days in England.
The scheme requires passengers returning from high-risk countries to isolate for five days before going privately for a Covid-19 test.
A statement by Shapps read: “Our new testing strategy will allow us to travel more freely, see loved ones and drive international business. By giving people the choice to test on day five, we are also supporting the travel industry as it continues to rebuild out of the pandemic.”
The new arrangement, which is due to come into effect on December 15, requires travellers to book their tests before returning to the UK and complete a passenger locator form.
“We still wanted to make sure we had testing available for doctors, nurses and teachers and any others before turning to travellers, and we’ve done that by turning to the private sector for these tests,” Shapps told Sky News.
O’Leary, whose airline dominates the European short-haul market, also ruled out the possibility of requesting passengers to provide proof that they had been vaccinated against Covid-19.
Speaking on Monday, Qantas boss Alan Joyce said his company would require proof of vaccination before flying, adding that the move would be “a necessity” when vaccines are readily available.