Manchester Airports Group chief's anger over Government U-turn on travel to Portugal

Manchester Airport, like others, has been devastated by coronavirus restrictionsManchester Airport, like others, has been devastated by coronavirus restrictions
Manchester Airport, like others, has been devastated by coronavirus restrictions
Manchester Airport bosses have slammed the Government after taking Portugal off its "safe to visit" list.

The Government yesterday moved Portugal from its green list to amber, meaning travellers will have to isloate on return.

Charlie Cornish, CEO of the Manchester Airports Group, said tens of thousands of jobs were being placed at risk.

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He said: “We were told the traffic light system would allow people to travel safely, with the right measures in place to manage risk for different countries.

“But it is now clear the Government doesn’t trust its own system and that international travel is being unfairly scapegoated, with tens of thousands of jobs placed at risk in the process.

“Low-risk destinations continue to be left off the green list despite clear evidence they are safe to visit. With case rates lower than the UK, we simply cannot understand why the likes of the Balearics, the Canaries and some Greek islands do not fall into that category."

He added: “If we followed the approach being taken across Europe, lots of other countries – like the United States, Germany and Italy – would also be classed as green.

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“Instead, we’re stuck with a system that is clearly not fit for purpose and will deny people the opportunity to travel abroad safely this year.

“The lack of transparency is shocking and totally unacceptable. If the Government has information that supports its decisions, then it needs to publish it. We have repeatedly asked for this data, but we are being left in the dark about how it is making these choices, with no opportunity for scrutiny or challenge.

“That is not the way to go about limiting people’s freedoms and crippling the country’s travel and tourism sectors. With so much at stake, we need immediate transparency and urgent action to make this system of travel restrictions fit for purpose.”

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told Sky News on Friday morning that Government took the decision to remove Portugal from the travel green list due to a doubling of positive COVID-19 cases in the country and the prevalence of a new "Nepal" mutation of the India variant of concern.

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President of Portugal's National Health Council said the UK's decision to remove his country from the green list was "an overreaction"

John Foster, CBI Director of Policy, said: “The limited number of destinations on the green list means that businesses across the country are losing out on key links with trading partners just as the rest of the world is opening up.

“Travel policy needs to effectively prevent the spread of Covid from potential ‘red’ list countries, but also safely allow for more travel from lower-risk destinations. This could help boost business travel, fuelling growth by reconnecting firms with global markets."

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