Cumbria's travel industry reacts to 'Covid passport' proposals

Credit: PA

Government proposals for so-called 'Covid-19 passports' to allow greater freedoms in England have received a mixed reaction here in our region.  

Boris Johnson's announcement on Monday evening did clarify that people will not need one to go to pub beer gardens from next Monday.

But there's been criticism from the travel industry in Cumbria over a lack of information about how and when trips overseas will go ahead.

The Prime Minister has today said he does "want to see international travel start up again" but said hopeful holidaymakers should be "realistic" because "a lot of the destinations that we want to go to at the moment are suffering a new wave of the illness".

He said the UK, along with several other countries, is looking at "the role of vaccination passports for overseas travel", which is "going to be a fact of life, probably".

Paul Cusack, from Cockermouth Travel, told ITV Border: "I think the travel industry was hoping for a bit more detail, a bit more positivity, perhaps, you know?

"We thought we'd be able to start operating properly again very soon, but in effect they gave us nothing."

At Monday evening's press conference Mr Johnson confirmed that once the UK ban on international travel is lifted, it will be replaced with a traffic light system that designates countries either green, amber, or red.

Some prospective holidaymakers took home from the idea of Covid passports bringing the idea of summer holidays this year closer to reality.

Peter Richardson said: "In the short term it is possibly not a bad idea to get the economy up and running again, get the world moving and then when everyone is safe they could then forget about the passports. Initially, I think it is possibly a good idea."

Credit: PA

Those popping for a pint in a beer garden from next Monday won't need to prove they've been tested for coronavirus, have immunity, or a recent negative test result. A massive relief to landlords like Dave Gartside, who owns the Linton Holme in Carlisle.

He told ITV Border: "I have literally just put my beer order in and I was wondering whether half of my customers weren't going to be allowed in. 

"Now it seems that we are okay certainly until May. So we will just play it by ear and listen to the guidance until then I suppose. 

"I think the passport system will probably work down the line but I can't see how it will work until everyone has had their opportunity for their first immunisation. It feels like that would be double jeopardy for the poor people who have been patient enough to wait for theirs."

The Government is still looking into the possibility of 'Covid passports' being needed when pubs and restaurants can let people back indoors, but for now businesses are being told to prepare to re-open according to current guidance around social distancing and track and trace.