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UK FM Sunak writes to PM Boris to ease Covid travel curbs

UK FM Sunak writes to PM Boris to ease Covid travel curbs
Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson (File)
LONDON, AUG 1 | Publish Date: 8/1/2021 10:55:11 AM IST

UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has reportedly written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, calling for an urgent easing of COVID-19 travel curbs to aid the revival of the country’s economy.

According to ‘The Sunday Times’, the senior Indian-origin Cabinet minister has warned that Britain’s border rules are damaging the economy and tourism, ahead of a ministerial meeting planned for Thursday to confirm the traffic light system upgrade for international travel. 

India remains on the red list, which means an effective ban on travel and compulsory 10-day hotel quarantine for returning British residents, and there are widespread hopes within the diaspora of that status easing up to amber in next week’s review.

“Rishi has called time on the travel restrictions,” a source familiar with the letter to Johnson was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

In the letter, Sunak has reportedly warned that the UK border policy was “out of step with our international competitors” and that the restrictions were having a damaging effect on jobs. 

Thursday’s meeting will decide what level of restrictions holidaymakers will face, with millions eager to know whether they will have to undergo COVID-19 tests or isolation if they travel to popular European holiday destinations around this time of the year, such as France, Italy and Spain.

“Rishi and the PM are concerned that we’ve got the benefit from vaccinating so many people and yet we are an outlier in terms of how draconian we are about travel,” a senior government source told the newspaper.

Ministers will review key coronavirus infection data from the UK’s Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) in the next few days ahead of Thursday’s review.

There are also reports about the possibility of the Delta variant being reclassified from a variant of concern (VOC), given that it is now the UK’s dominant strain. 

The change in status would release more countries from tight travel controls, which could include India where the Delta variant was first identified. 

 

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