June 10, 2020 / 9:06 PM / 2 months ago

UK business groups urge government to open economy to trade partners

FILE PHOTO: A couple watch an Emirates cargo flight land at Heathrow Airport, as Britain launches its 14-day quarantine for international arrivals, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, June 8, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville

(Reuters) - More than 20 British business groups have asked the government to relax its coronavirus quarantine rules and restrictions and start opening up the economy to trade partners.

The groups, including the British Chambers of Commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and London First, wrote a joint letter to interior minister Priti Patel, foreign minister Dominic Raab and transport minister Grant Shapps.

“As we look to recover from the economic shock that COVID-19 has delivered, it will be vital that we start to open the UK up to our trading partners”, said the letter shared with Reuters on Wednesday by two of the groups.

The letter urged the government to come up with a plan that includes a framework “for establishing travel corridors between the UK and low-risk countries to enable exemptions from the blanket quarantine requirements for UK arrivals”.

“A clear set of risk-based criteria should be set out so that businesses can start to plan for a controlled re-opening”, the letter said.

It also asked for a timeline for returning to “risk-based travel advice” from Britain’s Foreign Office, adding that “indefinite and indiscriminate” advice not to travel overseas prevents businesses from being able to make their plans.

Britain, with the fourth-most coronavirus infections in the world at more than 290,000 and 41,000 people dead, introduced a 14-day quarantine period for almost everyone entering the country from June 8.

However, government ministers have said they are looking at whether travel corridors could allow Britons to go on holiday here in destinations with a low coronavirus infection rate.

London will review its policy after three weeks. A British tourism lobby group said it had been assured by senior government sources that corridors would be in place by the end of that period.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; editing by Grant McCool

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