Gatwick a ghost town as travel industry reacts to tighter restrictions for incoming passengers

Watch: Tougher travel restrictions put in place for people arriving into the South

Many people had been calling for them since the first lockdown but from this morning at 4:00am anyone arriving at the South's airports, train stations and ports faced tougher travel restrictions.

Passengers on board 11:25am arrival (flight PS111 from Ukraine) into Gatwick were the first to be under the new rules set out by Government which aim to stop international strains of Covid-19 from spreading here.

In truth, in certainly won't affect that many people, because by and large travel terminals are unsurprisingly much quieter.

Gatwick was empty with few flights leaving and taking off Credit: ITV Meridian

The new rules explained:

  • Anyone who wishes to travel to the UK must have proof of a negative Covid-19 test in the previous 72 hours.

  • Once a person has been granted entry they will still have to self-isolate for 10 days, or five if they get another negative test.

  • Exemptions to the travel corridor policy – such as business travel – are suspended.

  • Departing passengers react to the new rules

Dr Sarah Pitt, a virologist at the University of Brighton, welcomes the enhanced testing for arrivals.

"We do know there are a number of people who never actually feel ill enough to seek medical help but they can spread the virus. Any amount of testing we do will help to screen and find some of those people. It definitely won't find all of them but it will find some of them."

The pandemic has seen thousands of jobs go within the industry Credit: ITV Meridian

Industry understanding of why the rules are needed but hope passengers levels can bounce back

While this virus has taken out thousands of jobs in the travel industry, Wizz Air has been creating them. It's been expanding its fleet at Gatwick.

Owain Jones is Managing Director and understands the restrictions as long as they are temporary,

"We're told the current restrictions are here for the period of lockdown but certainly as we move into the glimmer of light which is the vaccination programme and people are more certain about their travel plans then Wizz is here to pick up that growth."

Brittany Ferries is confident too that travel restrictions, lockdown and the vaccine will mean its crossings to France from Portsmouth and Poole are much busier this year.

Nigel Wonnacott from the comapny says there is optimism,

"If you get that crossover between cases coming down and vaccines going up there will come a tipping point when people say I think we are on the road to recovery, we can see brightness through the storm clouds and we do deserve that summer vacation that we've been putting off for the last year."

Eurotunnel's John Keefe believes every additional restriction could have an impact,

"Every piece of additional paperwork or every step that people have to go through on a journey just makes it that more difficult. Adding this on top, people with even essential needs, going to be thinking is it worth doing?"

The Government says they'll be tough enforcement of the new rules which the aviation industry hope will eventually lead to more people travelling.