Photo Credit: Arthur Edelman

Britain’s Heathrow Airport renewed its call for COVID-19 testing at airports on Tuesday as it reported an 88% plunge in July passenger numbers due to ongoing restrictions on travel which it said were strangling the UK economy.

According to a statement, Heathrow said the 14-day quarantine restrictions on many passengers arriving in the UK were “preventing the UK from traveling to and trading with” some countries.

John Holland-Kaye, chief executive said, “Tens of thousands of jobs are being lost because Britain remains cut off from critical markets such as the US, Canada, and Singapore. The government can save jobs by introducing testing to cut quarantine from higher-risk countries while keeping the public safe from the second wave of coronavirus,”

Holland-Kaye said that the best way to achieve this was a comprehensive airport testing regime, which could safely open up new routes and kickstart an economic recovery.

The government has said previously that coronavirus testing at airports is not a “silver bullet”. Heathrow said that more than half of its 860,000 passengers in July had traveled to quarantine-free European destinations. However, it said that the “vast majority”(60%) of its route network remains grounded due to quarantine rules.

The government recently re-imposed quarantine restrictions on arrivals from Spain, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Bahamas, and Andorra. And reports say that there could be restrictions imposed on travel to France.

Although the hotel industry has been hit hard by coronavirus lockdowns and travel restrictions, the restrictions ease in the UK has increased bookings for cottages, caravan sites, and holiday parks. 

Holiday Inn owner IHG said on Tuesday that it had made a loss before tax of $275m (£210m) in the six months to 30 June.

Keith Barr, IHG chief executive, said that the impact of Covid-19 on their business has been substantial, but there were small and steady improvements in occupancy into July.

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