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Reunite families at Christmas by relaxing hotel quarantine rules – Heathrow boss

John Holland-Kaye said people returning to the UK from red list countries should be allowed to self-isolate at home instead.

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The boss of Heathrow said travellers returning to the UK from red list countries should be allowed to self-isolate at home (Steve Parsons/PA)

The boss of Heathrow said travellers returning to the UK from red list countries should be allowed to self-isolate at home (Steve Parsons/PA)

The boss of Heathrow said travellers returning to the UK from red list countries should be allowed to self-isolate at home (Steve Parsons/PA)

Travellers returning to the UK from red list countries should be allowed to self-isolate at home over Christmas rather than be forced to stay in a quarantine hotel, according to the boss of Heathrow Airport.

Chief executive John Holland-Kaye called for the rules to be relaxed to enable more people to spend the festive period with friends and family.

He also urged the Government to reverse tighter testing requirements as soon as it is safe to do so.

Mr Holland-Kaye made the comments as Heathrow announced it was used by 3.1 million passengers last month.

That was more than four times higher than the total for November 2020 – which was affected by a coronavirus lockdown – but is half the pre-pandemic figure of 6.2 million during November 2019.

Heathrow said it has seen a “high level” of cancellations by business travellers concerned about being trapped overseas since it was announced that the requirement for pre-departure testing would be reintroduced from Tuesday.

The airport is expecting demand for air travel to be “slow” during the coming months, with a total of around 45 million passengers in 2022.

That would be just over half of pre-pandemic levels.

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Heathrow was used by 3.1 million passengers last month (PA)

Heathrow was used by 3.1 million passengers last month (PA)

PA

Heathrow was used by 3.1 million passengers last month (PA)

Mr Holland-Kaye said: “By allowing Brits to isolate at home, ministers can make sure they are reunited with their loved ones this Christmas.

“It would send a strong signal that restrictions on travel will be removed as soon as safely possible to give passengers the confidence to book for 2022, opening up thousands of new jobs for local people at Heathrow.

“Let’s reunite families for Christmas.”

There are currently 11 African countries on the red list.

People arriving in the UK from those locations must spend 11 nights in a quarantine hotel at a cost of £2,285 for solo travellers.

Tougher rules introduced due to the Omicron coronavirus variant also mean travellers entering the UK must have evidence of a negative pre-departure test, and self-isolate until they receive a negative result from a post-arrival test.

The Conservative chairman of the Transport Select Committee has urged Health Secretary Sajid Javid to explain the rationale behind the new rules.

In a letter, Huw Merriman asked the Cabinet minister to explain what “benefit” reintroducing pre-departure testing has when post-arrival testing is already required.

He called on Mr Javid to “publish the evidence” behind the new rules, and asked him “when you expect such measures to end”.

Mr Merriman concluded that the “lack of financial support” accompanying the new rules mean travel sector workers are “keen to understand the reasoning behind, and the likely duration of, these measures”.

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