New Hand Luggage on UK Airports Explained: Are Britons Safe from the New Rules or Just Burden Them?

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Carmina Joy in Politics

11 June 2020, 08:07 GMT

Hand luggage could become a thing of the past after a new government warning tells Britons to check all bags. What is the latest government travel advice?

New Flight Rules

Britons thinking of jetting off on holiday in the coming months have been issued a warning from the government suggesting hand luggage may become a thing of the past. The new advice says travelers should check hand luggage rather than taking it onboard to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The government advice states: You are strongly encouraged to check-in baggage to the aircraft hold and minimize any hand baggage. This will speed up boarding and disembarking and minimize the risk of transmission.”

Advice also included checking in online to avoid face-to-face contact at the airport and wearing a face mask when travelling. Social distancing continues to be a main focus, with the government encouraging a two-meter distance from anyone outside of your party or household, and regularly washing hands with soap and water.

Hand sanitizer is recommended for situations where soap and water are not accessible. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Today’s guidance is a positive next step towards ensuring a safer and more sustainable aviation sector.

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The UK Government’s Advice

The Government’s advice currently remains to avoid all non-essential travel, but today we are taking the necessary steps to ensure a framework is in place for the aviation industry to bounce back when it is safe for restrictions on travel to be lifted.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) continues to advise against all nonessential travel, but some routes remain open for reparation efforts and essential purposes.

Britons who need to fly are being advised to avoid the busiest times and routes. The guidance is said to help both passengers and airports understand how they can help stop the pandemic while travelling.

Tim Hawkins, chief strategy officer at Manchester Airports Group, which owns and operates Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands airports, said the new advice helps to provide “clear information for us, our passengers and our airlines on the steps needed to create a safe travel experience.”

He said: The guidance is the result of strong collaboration between Government and the aviation industry, drawing on advice from independent medical and scientific experts who have looked specifically at what safety measures are needed at each stage of the travel process.

The New Protocols

With similar protocols being adopted in other countries, and a targeted approach to reopening travel to low-risk countries, we will have the elements in place to get our economy moving again and protect jobs throughout the whole aviation supply chain."

A mandatory 14-day quarantine period has also been introduced this week to slow the spread of the virus. Travelers arriving into the UK from abroad will be required to enter into a period of self-isolation.

New arrivals are required to leave their name and an address for where they will be staying during the two-week quarantine. Authorities are entitled to check up on them at any point, and flouting the rules may result in a fine of up to £1,000.

However, some members of the travel industry have condemned the move as potentially damaging to the UK’s travel and tourism. Amongst companies speaking out is Ryanair CEO Michal O’Leary.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme he said: "I want the travel quarantine overturned because it is irrational, ineffective and unimplementable.” Mr O’Leary added: What it is going to do is bring untold devastation.

Not just to the airlines but to British tourism and thousands of hotels. Thousands of visitor attractions and restaurants in the next couple of months. July and August are the key months for the British tourism industry and we are facing thousands of job losses because of a stupid ineffective quarantine."