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British Airways Abandons Lawsuit Against UK Government Over Quarantine Rules

British Airways Abandons Lawsuit Against UK Government Over Quarantine Rules

British Airways has abandoned a legal challenge against a blanket 14-day quarantine rule introduced on June 8 by the UK government on all new arrivals entering the country. The decision to settle the lawsuit came just a day after British Airways, along with Ryanair and easyJet got their first chance to oppose the rules in London’s High Court and coincided with a change in the rules to exempt 59 countries and territories from the quarantine rules.

The three rival airlines decided to join forces shortly after Home Secretary Priti Patel announced the quarantine requirements but they then had to wait nearly a month before the case could be heard. In that time, the UK government had touted the idea of reciprocal air corridors before settling on the idea of quarantine exemptions.

The final list of exempt countries was only announced on Friday – the same day that British Airways and its low-cost competitors got to present their case in court. Also exempt are 14 British Overseas Territories as well as Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

The exemptions only apply to England and not Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland who have decided to devise their own rules.

“The blanket quarantine introduced by the UK Government on everyone entering into England was irrational, not based on scientific evidence, and has seriously damaged the economy and the travel industry,” Alex Cruz, chief executive of British Airways told staffers on Friday.

Cruz described the initial 59-country list as a “first step” but said the airline was looking forward to “the publication of the rationale behind the decision making and the continued lifting of the quarantine from safe countries”.

The embattled CEO, who has been criticised by unions and staff to his approach to the Corona crisis, had previously described the quarantine plans as dealing British Airways a “hammer blow” to its restart plans.

Lawyers representing the UK government said the initial blanket quarantine rules were both proportionate and justified, and that there was no legal requirement to consult with airlines before introducing the rules. British Airways had refused to attend a meeting with Priti Patel to attend the meeting who said the measures were crucial to preventing a “deadly second wave” of Coronavirus.

The exempt list is made up of countries that have had success in combatting COVID-19 and where officials believe testing and tracing capability is adequate. It’s also understood that the list only includes countries where reporting can be trusted.

Arrivals from China and the United States remain subject to quarantine, as do Portugal and Sweden. The entire 59-country list is as follows:

AndorraAntigua and Barbuda
Czech RepublicDenmark
DominicaFaroe Islands
FranceFrench Polynesia
GuadeloupeHong Kong
NetherlandsNew Caledonia
New ZealandNorway
San MarinoSerbia
SeychellesSouth Korea
SpainSt Barthelemy
St Kitts and NevisSt Lucia
St Pierre and MiquelonSwitzerland
TaiwanTrinidad and Tobago
TurkeyVatican City

Anyone arriving in England from the exempt countries will need to continue to complete a passenger locater form and will still be subject to quarantine if they have travelled to or through a non-exempt country within 14-days of arriving in England.

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