UK government exploring ways to relax travel restrictions
The British government is exploring ways to ease the 14-day quarantine travel restriction on international travellers entering the UK over the coming months.
Current plans state that all new arrivals to the UK, including UK nationals, must self-isolate for 14 days to prevent a second-wave of coronavirus infections sweeping across the nation.
During their stay, international travellers will be allowed to go food shopping, change accommodation and use public transport from airports. The government also expects authorities to spot-check a fifth of these people to ensure that they are staying at the address they provided.
Travellers who fail to provide the government with an address of where they’ll be staying will have accommodation arranged by officials. Anyone suspected of breaching regulations will receive a GBP 1,000 fine in England, governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are free to impose their own penalties.
The coronavirus quarantine measures will come into effect on June 8th, although some working professions are exempt from restrictions, such as lorry drivers, police officers, seasonal farmworkers and healthcare professionals.
Travellers from the Irish Republic, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are also excluded from the new quarantine restrictions.
Some MPs and business executives have expressed concern over the UK governments new quarantine plan, warning it will damage the aviation and travel industry.
According to the BBC, one government source said MPs were exploring ways around the coronavirus quarantine, which could include extending the list of professions who are excluded from the 14-day quarantine rule and introducing air bridges.
Conservative MP Simon Clarke said that the government’s quarantine travel strategy is “a proportionate step” that prevents the risk of a second wave plaguing the UK “at the time that we are getting a grip on it”.
He insisted that the new policy is a “temporary, time-limited measure”, but will be introduced for as long as required in the interest of public health safety. However, an official told Newsnight that the 14-day-rule could be relaxed as early as July 20th, concurrent with the school’s summer holidays.
Former government Chief Scientific Adviser Sir David King who offered alternative views on the coronavirus at an unofficial version of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) is troubled by the draft plans.
Mr King warned that the UK’s plan lacks rigour when compared to the quarantine process in Europe and south-east Asia. He added: “That the government are leaving too much discretion to the individual. If the legal requirement, which for infectious diseases is set out in the law, is not followed through, then it does spell difficulties. There’s too much emphasis on individual discretion in making key decisions.”
The government will discuss the policy in further detail in a parliamentary meeting on Tuesday at Westminster, which should offer further clarity on the 14-day-rule. If the plan which is supposed to come into effect next Monday continues to cast doubts, this will likely unnerve markets.
Government officials to introduce air bridges to save airlines and the travel industry?
Travel and tourism industry representatives have already warned Ministers that their quarantine plans will cause significant harm to the UK economy.
Last month, airline CEO’s of EasyJet, TUI, Jet2 Airways and Virgin Atlantic said they had “serious reservations” about the government’s “blanket approach” to all arrivals into Britain.
Industry officials are calling for air bridges, which will allow uninterrupted quarantine-free-travel to and from countries with low-infection rates such as Australia and New Zealand.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to be in favour of air bridges and is pushing the idea on his government. Many MPs seem to support the introduction of air bridges, and several ministers believe the current proposal will prolong economic damage and further harm airlines.
Travel industry experts have also warned that the “blanket” 14-day quarantine policy will cost Britain’s tourism sector around GBP 15 billion if imposed throughout the summer.
Over 200 business owners are also calling for the government to scrap the policy, expressing concerns over the impact it will have on the UK economy, which may dampen pound Sterling (GBP) sentiment.
The British pound (GBP) has continued its impressive rally against the US dollar (USD) and the euro (EUR) on Tuesday, reaching multi-week highs as the outlook of global economic recovery improves.
At the time of writing, the pound to euro (GBP/EUR) exchange rate is trading up at EUR 1.1238, and the pound to US dollar (GBP/USD) exchange rate is 0.5% higher at USD 1.2546. However, the potential for further economic fallout will likely trigger a depreciation in the pound’s (GBP) value, which is already facing pressure from Brexit trade talks.
Increased optimism in the global economy is buoying risk sentiment
The pound (GBP) isn’t the only strong performer in currency markets as the positive outlook on the global economy is driving all risk-sensitive assets higher.
The Australian dollar (AUD) is the top performer in foreign exchange markets, jumping up 24% against the US dollar (USD) in the last ten weeks. However, the New Zealand dollar (NZD) and Canadian dollar (CAD) are also extending gains on risk-off currencies.
China’s exit from lockdown appears to be supporting risk sentiments, although the Australian government’s handling of the coronavirus is underpinning the Australian dollar’s (AUD) strength.
The pound to Australian dollar (GBP/AUD) is 0.5% lower during mid-session trading on Tuesday at AUD 1.8298 (at the time of writing) as the ongoing improvements in the global economy boost commodity prices.
With economic activity resuming in China, demand for Australia’s mineral resources has increased, and as Brazil, who is one of the world’s major iron ore suppliers is experiencing severe supply chains disruptions, Australia has less competition.
The lull in US-China tensions is also proving to support global sentiment and analysts expect that risk-sensitive currencies will remain positively aligned.