Ryanair chief vents fury at ‘idiotic’ government plans for legally-enforced 14-day coronavirus quarantine on arrivals to the UK as ministers deal fresh body blow to holiday hopes
- Airlines have warned strict quarantine will kill off aviation and tourism industries
- Culture Secretary says exemptions to 14-day quarantine will be ‘very limited’
- Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary says the plan is ‘idiotic’ and can’t be enforced
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary today launched a savage attack on the government’s plans for 14-day quarantine on arrivals to the UK.
The new rules are set to be finalised by ministers, with any hopes of summer holidays expected to be dashed as exemptions are largely limited to lorry drivers.
However, Mr O’Leary dismissed claims it will prevent his aim of resuming flights in July, saying he believes the policy is so ‘defective’ and impossible to enforce that the public will merely ignore it.
He insisted face masks were the best way to protect the travelling public – despite many scientists saying they are of limited benefit.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden signalled this morning there is little prospect of holiday destinations being spared, saying the exceptions will be ‘very limited’.
Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary (file picture) today launched a savage attack on the government’s plans for 14-day quarantine on arrivals to the UK
The tourism industry wants the Government to focus instead on measures which could see flights resume within weeks
Mr O’Leary told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the plans are ‘unimplementable, unmanageable and unpoliceable’. File picture of Ryanair planes in Dublin
It is understood that hauliers will make up two thirds of those not required to self-isolate for two weeks.
The remaining exemptions will be agreed at a cabinet committee chaired by Michael Gove.
They are expected to include people who ‘work supporting national security or critical infrastructure and to meet the UK’s international obligations’, officials said.
Scientists researching coronavirus may also be exempt.
But Mr O’Leary told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the plans are ‘unimplementable, unmanageable and unpoliceable’.
‘People will simply ignore something that is so hopelessly defective… Let’s have some effective measures like face masks,’ he said.
‘All you get back out of the Uk government is ”we don’t know”.’
‘It’s laughable that this government can come up with any plans for a quarantine that would be strict and fully enforced…
‘It’s idiotic and it’s un-implementable. You don’t have enough police in the UK.’
He added: ‘Two-week lockdown has no medical or scientific basis to it in any event. If you want to do something that’s effective, wear masks.’
Mr O’Leary said the policy had ‘no credibility’ and predicted that it would be axed by June.
He insisted research had suggested face masks could reduce the risk of Covid-19 infection by 98.5 per cent.
He told Sky News the government is ‘making it up as they go along’.
Oliver Dowden said quarantine rules for people travelling to the UK will be enforced by law
Lorry drivers are expected to make up the bulk of people exempted from quarantine rules when travelling to other countries (stock photo)
Mr Dowden said quarantine rules for people travelling to the UK will be enforced by law.
He told Today: ‘We would look at the relevant enforcement mechanisms just as we have done with other measures.
‘So for example, the measures that we took when we introduced the so-called lockdown – those were underpinned by regulations which had consequences in law, and I’m sure we’ll do the same thing.’
He said there would be ‘very limited’ exemptions to the rules.
John Holland-Kaye, the boss of Heathrow, raised hopes of looser rules yesterday, telling Sky News: ‘If two countries are at very low risk of having transmission within each country, there should be a free flow of passengers.
‘But if a country has very high risk with rising infection rates and poor controls, then there would be very tight controls on anyone accessing the UK from those markets.