It’s take-off time at last for Brits! On Thursday the UK’s transport secretary Grant Shapps unveiled moderate changes to the list of places holidaymakers may now travel to for some sun, sand and sangria (other regional drinks may be ordered). Mr Shapps, whose misplaced jolliness is fittingly reminiscent of a holiday rep, added the Balearics (pictured), Malta and Barbados to the handful of destinations for which travel does not come with a spell in quarantine – at home or in a hotel – when you get back.
While it was a welcome relief to see the inclusion of destinations that most people could actually pinpoint on a map (until now focus had been on the likes of the Falklands and St Helena), the minister once again forgot to cater for, let alone mention, another group of travellers: the business world. Although you can hardly blame Mr Shapps when, from the BBC to The Guardian, all the media chatter is about holiday flights or 10 things to do in Ibiza without getting arrested. The papers rarely mention the need to allow entrepreneurs to see investors, producers to visit clients, and conferences to happen in the real world.
Indeed, following the Shapps announcement it was hard to find anyone from business being given a voice to explain why they need to be able to hit the road. And as for showing pride in UK airlines’ attempts to stay running by actually getting on one of their aircraft? Mr Shapps repeatedly refused to say whether he would take his family to a place on his green list. This all comes as the UK is attempting to forge new post-Brexit business links, still has 1.5 million furloughed workers and many companies are struggling to get back to business as normal.
So we can only hope that next time he will attempt to put New York, Los Angeles, Paris and Milan at the top of his priority list, and stop treating the world of travel as some daft frivolity. I would imagine that his colleague Matt Hancock, caught giving a lot of lip service to coronavirus rules, may also be supportive of seeing the return of more long-haul flights, especially those to very remote places where no one can find you.