The aviation industry on Monday demanded that Britain removes COVID testing and isolation requirements for fully vaccinated travellers from most countries, a step already being taken in the European Union to help tourism recover.

Airlines UK said in a letter to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps that fully vaccinated travellers from “amber” destinations should be exempt from the 10-day isolation requirement, while those coming from both “amber” and “green” countries should not need to have expensive PCR tests.

“Given the incredible efficacy of vaccines and their critical role in easing domestic restrictions, we believe that the framework can safely be adjusted to provide a pathway for vaccinated people to travel without restriction, alongside steps to reduce restrictions for green and amber categories, making them more proportionate for travellers,” the group said.

An aircraft takes off at Heathrow Airport amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in London, Britain, February 4, 2021. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo
An aircraft takes off at Heathrow Airport amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in London, Britain, February 4, 2021. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that travellers would face hassle and delays this year if they sought to go abroad because the priority would be keeping the country safe from the coronavirus.

Data confirming that vaccines are more than 90% effective against hospitalisation from the fast-growing Delta variation should be considered when measures that apply to each tier of Britain’s traffic light system for travel are reviewed on June 28, it said.

“This effectiveness has been recognised by Europe, which is now opening its travel and leisure markets by introducing waivers from testing and isolation requirements for fully vaccinated persons, including arrivals from major markets such as the United States,” it said.

“Today 32 countries exempt travellers from quarantine and 27 from testing if fully vaccinated. The failure to adopt a similar approach risks the UK falling further behind the EU’s reopening of international travel, including the critical trans-Atlantic market.”

It would be easier for the UK government to simply be up front and confess their intention of turning the nation into an apartheid-by-class society, than to insult the citizen’s collective intelligence by maintaining the illusion that it is anything otherwise.

One could argue that it is unfair for those who are double-jabbed to still be subject to the same restrictions as those who haven’t been, but even then it presupposes the notion that a person’s life chances or civil liberties should depend almost entirely on vaccination status.

It’s less concerning about travel restrictions when it involves international travel. Countries have the right to operate and maintain sovereign borders, and to decide who can and cannot enter the country based on their own criteria.

There is only so much the average citizen can do in this situation, as they do not have the right to supersede a country’s immigration and/or entry policy.

Former UK Prime Minister Theresa May savages the Government’s travel ban. Video credit: The Telegraph

Domestic passports, however, is a much more concerning and sinister development. To restrict travel in the UK based upon vaccination status is, to be blunt, a step too far.

It’s essentially health fascism, and would create a class system where the vaccinated would be treated better than the unvaccinated.

It is to suggest that to have the vaccine makes a person morally superior to another, and therefore inherently more deserving of the best of what society has to offer than an unvaccinated person.

There are many reasons why people choose not to be vaccinated (lack of trust, religious, etc), and so to deny them access to wider society is to deny members of certain communities of it.

It’s not helped by the fact that the government can – and has – made exemptions for people who it deems to be ‘more important’. Currently, when an individual returns from a ‘red’ country, they have to self-isolate for ten days.

However, the UK government has allowed 2,500 members from UEFA, who are travelling from ‘red’ countries, to enter the country and deal with Euro 2020 business matches, without having to quarantine.

LBC’s Maajid Naawaz questions the government’s decision to exempt UEFA VIPs from quarantining for ten days.

At the G7 summit, there was an infamous photograph of world leaders having a barbecue, without any social distancing or masks.

If the government can make exceptions for themselves, and UEFA officials (for watching a game of football of all things), then why can’t it apply the same logic for those who choose not to be vaccinated? There should be no circumstance that should take precedence over the right to exercise bodily autonomy.

It’s clear the government can be selective and discriminate when it wants to. It would be wise for them to not to do so against their own citizens. Travel restrictions should be eased.

In life, there’s an incentive for everything. If you don’t study hard in school, you don’t pass your exams. If you don’t eat your vegetables, you won’t get all the vitamins you need to stay healthy. Exactly the same approach is in play with the removal of restrictions for those unselfish, pragmatic individuals who have had both of their jabs and are looking to safely transition back into society.

The removal of travel restrictions only for Britons who have had both jabs is the only way to control the deaths, the spread, and the mutations that the COVID-19 virus is undergoing. It makes absolute sense. When the stakes are as high as multiple countries returning to lockdown,  growing numbers of COVID cases, and variants that our current vaccines can no longer work against, there is no option other than to be strict. While in a global pandemic, no one should be considering it their universal right to travel and potentially spread this dreadful disease to other communities, while so many are suffering and dying from it.

It’s yet another example of the first world’s lack of consideration for those in poorer countries with a less developed infrastructure. If they want a holiday, that’s what they get – with no consideration at all for those in countries where widespread vaccination isn’t even an option. When people refuse to follow the dictations of common sense, they miss out on opportunities. It’s simply a natural occurrence.

In a country where the vaccine is widely available, to provide vaccine passports to those who have been vaccinated to ensure their smooth travel abroad is hardly health fascism. It could be argued that to refuse the vaccine in a country where you are receiving it for free, administered by hard working volunteers, translates essentially as a death wish, and wilful neglect towards others.

We also need to remember is that the UK government had had no choice but to operate like a business in many situations during the pandemic. I have no desire to defend the government, but when dealing with something as unprecedented as a global pandemic and with millions of people under your jurisdiction, it’s incredibly difficult to make the right decisions that will protect everyone while also preserving the economy. The government’s decision to allow 2,500 members from UEFA, who are travelling from ‘red’ countries, to enter the country and deal with Euro 2020 business matches without quarantine was likely undertaken because there was no other option available in order for the event to proceed.

With rigorous testing, it’s possible to conduct a business event safely during the pandemic, without the need for masks or strict social distancing in a well ventilated area. During the G7 Summit in Cornwall this month, attendees and the media logged their test results on a unique platform, with no admittance possible to venues if they did not. Therefore, it was completely safe for them to enjoy a barbecue, as everyone present had tested negative for COVID that same day.

There may be those amongst us whose egos are large enough that they believe themselves to be invincible against all present and future variants of the COVID-19 virus. Thankfully, there aren’t that many people in our society with such a twisted perception of reality. Those that are taking action to protect themselves and others deserve a passport that will guarantee them the freedom they deserve, after a year and a half of waiting for the jab that would guarantee the return of their former lives.

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Aaron Fenton-Hewitt is an aspiring journalist and political commentator. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Film from London Metropolitan University, and a Master's in Writing for Creative and Professional Practice from Middlesex University. He wishes to continue his academic career, with a PhD in Politics or related field.

Aaron is also a freelance photographer, an avid foodie and an Arsenal supporter.

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Mel Tranfield is a futurist and apprentice iOS developer, who is fascinated by automation, FinTech, technology, politics and the future of work. As a technology journalist for the Common Sense Network, she wants to raise awareness of the need for innovation in the public sector, while exploring how our current governmental systems are equipped to handle rampant technological innovation, digital democracy, and how social change can be fuelled by technology.

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