COVID-19 Update 56
Monday 8 June 2020
Dear AOA Member,
Following continued news stories over the weekend focused on the Government’s quarantine policy and the meeting I attended last week with the Home Secretary, the AOA sent this letter to outline our expectations of the cross-departmental meeting promised. The AOA and wider industry remain deeply concerned about the wide-ranging economic effects the quarantine policy will have, and it is essential that we get the next phase of the policy correct: adopting a risk-based approach and allowing UK aviation to do what it does best, connecting people and facilitating the flow of goods. I was also pleased to see that the Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, expressed his consternation at the Government’s quarantine policy this morning, advocating instead for a 48-hour testing regime for all inbound visitors. I will be writing to Sir Keir to see if there’s anything we can do to help develop the alternative policy options.
Otherwise today, the AOA team have been busy working on a number of ongoing policy issues, including detail around the changes to the Job Retention Scheme due to go live in July. While we’re expecting further guidance on the changes to be published on 12 June, there are still some outstanding questions companies have with regard to whether they can rotate previously furloughed staff members on and off the scheme come July. We’re seeking clarity from the Government on this point, as 10 June marks the last day staff can be put onto the furlough scheme for the full three week period until the end of June, and thus still be eligible for the scheme after 1 July.
The AOA also joined the Department for Transport for an operational call with airports this afternoon. The Department assured attendees that the Home Office was looking into the review period for the quarantine measures and by what criteria the measures might be lifted. On face coverings, the Department highlighted that the mandatory face coverings announcement, made last week by Transport Secretary, will not necessarily apply to airport terminals and train stations, but the Department is working with industry to see what can be done in these contexts. In addition, the Department let attendees know that the Foreign Office advice on non-essential travel had been slightly amended to include the line “This advice is being kept under constant review”, at least highlighting the fact that the policy isn’t “indefinite”. Public Health measures, collaborated on with industry, are still on track to be published at some point this week.