Travel restrictions weren’t brought in too late over Omicron threat, PM says

Politics

A minister has denied that the government acted too late in reintroducing travel restrictions after the discovery of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Speaking to Kay Burley on Sky News, policing minister Kit Malthouse said: “We have to be agile, we have to recognise that all these things are impositions on people’s lives and lifestyles.

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“There are obviously extra costs and they cause difficulty for the travel industry.

“We need to try and smooth that out as much as possible and be proportionate about our response.”

From tomorrow, pre-departure tests for all travellers are being brought back amid the spread of Omicron variant of COVID-19.

It follows on from the reintroduction of day two PCR tests for anyone who enters the UK from abroad.

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Nigeria has also become the latest African country to be added to the travel red list.

But one expert has warned the moves are “a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted”.

Professor Mark Woolhouse, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies which advises the government on its pandemic response, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr that the new rules had come “too late” to make a “material difference”.

Airline operators have been critical of the decision to bring back pre-departure testing, describing it as a “hammer blow” for an industry that has suffered throughout the pandemic.

Mr Malthouse defended the government’s approach in the wake of Omicron emerging, telling Sky News it is “proportionate and precautionary”.

He said he has “great confidence” scientists will give us a clearer picture in the coming weeks.

“We need a bit of time to make our view of what this virus is capable of,” Mr Malthouse said.

Asked if any further restrictions could be imposed, the minister said: “The prime minister is doing his best to help us live life as normal as possible.”

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