Channel Tunnel writes to PM regarding new measures which are ‘fraught with problems’
Sunday, 7th June 2020, 7:53 pm
Updated Sunday, 7th June 2020, 7:54 pmLorries sit in the emergency lane on the A16 motorway leading to the port of Calais, northern France (Photo by DENIS CHARLET/AFP via Getty Images)
The chief of the Channel Tunnel operator Getlink, Jacques Gounon, has written to Boris Johnson cautioning that the new quarantine measures for travellers to the UK, which takes effect from Monday, is “fraught with problems”.
In a letter sent on Saturday, Mr Gounon has accused the Home Office of “limited consultation and departmental intransigence” resulting in a situation that “puts a serious risk on the efficiency of operations at the Channel Tunnel, a vital link in the Great British supply chain.”
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Half of Channel Tunnel staff are currently furloughed or working part-time, yet the Home Office requires each member of staff to “spend hours every day filling in 27 screens for each of up to eight daily crossings for the channel“.
Emergency crews will also be required to stop and complete forms on their way to an incident, according to a report from ITV.
Mr Gounon says this is unnecessary because, under the terms of the treaty established in 1986, “staff operate between the border, neither in one country nor in the other”.
He said: “We hold the data about them and their shuttle missions that is required by the Home Office”. This is information that can reportedly be supplied from elsewhere, but the Home Office refuse to accept it unless the individuals provide it “every time they cross”.
“In essence, the Home Office needs data, we have that data and are happy to share it but the department is fixated on that data coming from a different source and so refuses our solution”.
No time to prepare
The Home Office: ‘Limited consultation and departmental intransigence’ (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
Mr Gounon has also complained that the communications material and paperwork passengers are required to complete were only made available to his team on Friday, yet “an entire industry, workers and passengers must prepare for introduction on Monday”.
The Getlink president has accused the Home Office of having “a resistance to simplicity that renders our proposals fruitless”, and asks the Mr Johnson for his urgent intervention in identifying a solution “to an eminently solvable problem”.
UK quarantine exemptions: Who is exempt from 14-day travel rules, and how the coronavirus measures work
From 8 June, travellers to the UK by plane, ferry or train will have to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival or risk being fined, prosecuted or even deported if they fail to comply.
Passengers will be asked to provide an address where they will self-isolate, with surprise visits used to check if they are following the rules. The new measures also apply to UK nationals.
‘Ineffective and useless’
British Airways has initiated legal proceedings against the UK government (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
The new scheme has prompted widespread consternation across the travel industry, with more than 200 travel companies asking for the measures to be scrapped.
On Sunday, British Airways began legal proceedings over what it labels the government’s “unlawful” quarantine measures, while Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary called them “ineffective and useless”.
The government has said it is investigating the possibility of introducing “international travel corridors” between the UK and countries with low infection rates.