British airlines challenge UK government's 14-day quarantine rule

British airlines challenge UK government's 14-day quarantine rule
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British Airways, Ryanair and easyJet announced Friday they are taking legal action against the United Kingdom's government over its new 14-day quarantine policy for travelers arriving from abroad.

The British airlines argue that the quarantine mandate, which took effect June 8, is overly restrictive and hinders potential business at a time when other European countries are lifting more of their coronavirus restrictions, Reuters reported.

British Home Secretary Priti Patel last month announced plans for the added quarantine measures, which require all residents and visitors flying into the U.K. to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, or face fines of up to $1,200.

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In a statement issued Friday by British Airlines's parent company, IAG, the three airlines said they have filed their complaint with the High Court, requesting a judicial review.

If a judge decides to initiate a review, lawyers for the airlines said the government would have to show scientific evidence for why it formulated the quarantine mandate.

The airlines argued the measures are not founded on scientific evidence and that there have been no consultations with the industry.

According to Reuters, the U.K.'s chief scientist said earlier this month that quarantines were the most effective way for restricting travel from countries with higher infection rates.

Chief Executive of Ryanair Michael O'Leary spoke out about the quarantine measures last month, calling them "hopelessly defective" and "idiotic," adding that the rules "would effectively kill" international travel into the U.K.

The U.K. has had more than 291,400 reported cases of the coronavirus, according to data from Public Health England.

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Figures from Johns Hopkins University show there have been 1,266 new cases in the U.K. within the past 24 hours, and daily cases have been steadily declining in the country since the peak of the virus in early April.

The British airlines have also advocated for rolling back previous quarantine policies from March 10, which only applied to passengers coming from countries that are considered high risk for the coronavirus.

In addition to their requests for review, the airlines dismissed the idea of "air bridges" or bilateral deals between countries with lower infection rates, an alternative the government has suggested rather than continuing with the current quarantine procedures.