London (AP) - The head of the Irish low-cost airline Ryanair, Michael O'Leary, has sharply criticized the new quarantine requirement for travelers to the UK. In an interview on BBC radio, he described the regulation as "irrational, ineffective and completely unworkable".
He warned of "immense damage" to the aviation and British tourism industries. Ryanair plans to resume around 40 percent of flight operations in July.
The British airline British Airways is threatening the government in London with legal measures. Home Secretary Priti Patel said the measure is designed to prevent a second wave of coronavirus infections in the UK. But critics doubt whether it is really suitable for this. It is feared that it will mainly cause economic damage. It is even controversial within the conservative government party.
UK travelers have had to leave their address and contact details at the border this week and quarantine for two weeks. Anyone who does not adhere to the 14-day obligation to self-isolation must face a heavy fine.
The quarantine requirement applies to all immigrants regardless of their citizenship. Only a few professional groups such as truck drivers, medical staff and harvest workers as well as travelers from Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are excluded. The regulation should be reviewed at the end of June at the earliest.
The measure primarily affects people from countries with far lower infection rates than Britain, said O'Leary. In addition, it is impossible to monitor whether people adhere to the regulation. British Airways wrote in a letter calling on the government to withdraw the measure and threatened to take legal action, the parent company IAG (International Airlines Group) confirmed on Monday. Ryanair and Easyjet also followed the call.
The 14-day self-isolation was "rushed and not feasible," criticized the Quash Quarantine campaign. According to their own statements, 500 travel companies belong to it. "There are more holes in this impractical, poorly thought-out and economically harmful government policy than in a sieve," quoted the "Telegraph", the campaign's deputy head, Paul Charles.
The government defended the move. «We all want to get back to normal as quickly as possible. But that cannot be at the cost of human life, »Interior Minister Priti Patel said on Monday.
A government spokesman confirmed last week that there are considerations of so-called airlifts. This means that trips to certain tourist destinations could be exempt from the quarantine requirement. According to media reports, there are already discussions with Portugal and Greece. Details were not yet known on Monday.
The government in London has been heavily criticized for months about dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. She is accused of reacting too late and incorrectly to the pandemic.
No other country in Europe has had as many deaths as the UK. So far, more than 40,000 people have died there after being tested positive for the new corona virus. The number of deaths in which Covid-19 has been identified as the cause is more than 48,000.