The chief executive of Ryanair has branded the UK’s traveller quarantine plans as “one shambles after another of mismanagement”, accusing the British Government of “making it up as they go along”.
Speaking to ITV’s Peston on Wednesday evening, Michael O’Leary renewed his criticism of the “ineffective and useless quarantine”.
In an earlier statement Ryanair claimed people can be playing golf or lying on a beach when telephone checks are made.
The airline claimed quarantines can only work if passengers are “detained” at their point of arrival.
It said the UK plans to allow people to travel on public transport across the country, and there is “nothing to stop” them shopping in a supermarket to collect groceries before their 14-day quarantine begins.
The airline went on: “Once they have arrived at their ‘quarantine address’, the UK Government will phone less than 1% of these visitors but only on their mobile phone, which can be answered from any golf course, beach, park or indeed supermarket across the UK, thereby rendering this quarantine utterly ineffective and useless.
“For the UK to be imposing a 14-day quarantine on inbound visitors, when it already has one of the worst Covid infection and death rates in Europe, is closing the door long after the horse has bolted.
“Most visitors to the UK from Europe are arriving from countries with a lower R rate than the UK.”
On Wednesday Home Secretary Priti Patel said arrivals to the UK will be required to fill in a “contact locator form”, including details on where they will isolate and how they can be contacted.
Mr O’Leary said later: “The Government’s own website says the form isn’t even available yet.
“The airlines have been on to the Home Office and the Department for Transport this afternoon and the best response we can get from them is, ‘Oh it’s not available and we don’t know when it will be available’.
“You can design this form in less than 30 seconds, certainly less than the time it took Priti Patel to make the speech in the House of Commons today.”
A spokesman for trade body Airlines UK said: “We need to see much more clarity on air bridges over the coming days.
“The key thing is that they are established as soon as possible alongside the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) travel advice being changed, and ideally before the review on June 29.
“Airlines can’t start up operations overnight and any announcement isn’t going to trigger bookings and flights for several weeks.
“If Government leave it too late we run the risk of the summer season being over and losing out to other countries who are starting to open up their borders now.”
George Morgan-Grenville, chief executive of tour operator Red Savannah, said: “It is clear that Priti Patel has neither listened to the concerns of the travel industry nor seems unduly bothered by them.
“We are none the wiser as to the science behind the rationale for quarantine and we still don’t know what the ‘enhanced border measures’ in March actually achieved.
“But what we do know is that ‘Global Britain’ is shut for business.
“It is the wrong policy that is going to cause untold misery for hundreds of thousands of people who will now very likely be made redundant.
“The Government are responsible for lives and livelihoods. Has the Home Secretary thought about what the loss of livelihood is going to do to the lives of so many people across the UK travel and hospitality industry?
“She must now take responsibility for the consequences.”