Channel Tunnel operator warns PM vital supply chain put at risk by Home Office quarantine rules

The president of the Channel Tunnel operator Getlink, Jacques Gounon, has written to Boris Johnson warning that the new scheme to quarantine travellers from abroad, that starts on Monday, is "fraught with problems".

In a letter sent on Saturday, Mr Gounon adds: "Limited consultation by the Home Office and departmental intransigence have led to 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."

Setting out the difficulties faced by the Channel Tunnel operator, with half its staff either working part time or on furlough, he says the Home Office is insisting that "each member of our active team spends hours every day filling in 27 screens for each of up to eight daily crossings for the channel".

He adds: "Emergency crews will also have to stop and complete the form on their way to an incident."

None of this should be necessary, Mr Gounon says, and has not been required in the last couple of months, because under the terms of the treaty creating the Channel Tunnel in 1986 "staff operate between the border, neither in one country nor in the other".

He says: "We hold the data about them and their shuttle missions that is required by the Home Office". They could supply it from the corporate centre but the Home Office won't accept the data unless it is provided by the individuals "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".

He accuses the Home Office of having "a resistance to simplicity that renders our proposals fruitless".

Mr Gounon pleads with Boris Johnson for his "intervention urgently to help find a solution to an eminently solvable problem".

The Getlink president also complains that in respect of the entire travel quarantine policy, the form that passengers have to fill in, and communications materials "were only available late yesterday [Friday]" and yet "an entire industry, workers and passengers must prepare for introduction on Monday".

Getlink joins a chorus of criticism from the travel industry of the policy.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary, described it, in an interview on my Wednesday night ITV show, as "ineffective and useless" and the government is being sued over it by British Airways.

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