Airline legal challenge against Government quarantine reaches High Court

3 July 2020, 05:57

The airlines are bringing the legal challenge
The airlines are bringing the legal challenge. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

A legal challenge brought by leading airlines against the Government's 14-day quarantine rule for travellers entering the UK has reached the High Court.

Branding the policy "flawed" when they announced the legal action easyJet, Ryanair and British Airways said the policy would have a "devastating impact on British tourism and the wider economy".

In a case against Health Secretary Matt Hancock, the airlines are seeking a judicial review of the rules.

Starting on Friday at the High Court the hearing is expected to last two days and will continue on Monday.

Announcing the legal challenge last month, the three airlines said they want the Government to readopt its previous quarantine policy introduced on March 10, where quarantine is limited to passengers from "high-risk" countries.

They said in a joint statement released at that time: "This would be the most practical and effective solution, and enables civil servants to focus on other, more significant issues arising from the pandemic while bringing the UK in line with much of Europe which is opening its borders mid-June."

The airlines claim the guidelines are more stringent than those applied to people confirmed to have Covid-19 and say there was no consultation and no scientific evidence provided for "such a severe policy".

The Government is opposing the legal challenge, which will be heard by two senior judges.

Most international arrivals into the UK - including returning Britons - have been required to enter a 14-day quarantine since June 8.

All passengers - bar a handful of exemptions - have to fill out an online locator form giving their contact and travel details, as well as the address of where they will isolate.

People who fail to comply can be fined £1,000 in England and police are allowed to use "reasonable force" to make sure they follow the rules.

Border Force officers are carrying out checks on arrivals and can refuse entry to a non-resident foreign national who refuses to comply with the regulations.

Failure to complete the locator form is punishable by a £100 fixed penalty notice.

The UK Government is expected to announce on Friday a list of countries which will have "air bridges" with the UK, and therefore be exempt from the restrictions.

The hearing is due to start at 10.30am.