UK quarantine regime begins despite airlines’ opposition

Travellers arriving in Britain will on Monday have to self-isolate for 14 days under a quarantine regime described as “useless” by airlines, although there are signs Boris Johnson wants to ease restrictions swiftly.

Priti Patel, home secretary, said: “We all want to return to normal as quickly as possible” but claimed the quarantine, backed up by fines of £1,000, was justified by the science.

But Mr Johnson, facing widespread Conservative unease and the threat of legal action by airlines, is looking to negotiate quarantine-free “air bridges” with other European countries.

Turkey, Spain, Greece and Portugal are among the popular holiday destinations that have indicated a willingness to strike such a deal, even though the UK continues to have relatively high Covid-19 infection rates.

Rishi Sunak, chancellor, Alok Sharma, business secretary, and Grant Shapps, transport secretary, are pushing for an early end to the quarantine, which they say is hitting the

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Banks in talks over credit card holiday extension for borrowers

Banks are in talks with UK regulators about extending coronavirus relief measures for customers struggling to repay credit cards and other unsecured debts until the end of September.

Last week the government said homeowners who were unable to pay their mortgages because of the pandemic could seek an additional three month repayment “holiday”. That break has provided relief for up to 1.8m people who have taken advantage of the flexibility since it was introduced in March. 

Banks are now in discussions with the Financial Conduct Authority around the option of a similar extension to some of their more distressed credit card and personal loan borrowers, according to a senior banker involved in the talks.

Customers facing financial difficulties have been granted almost 1.5m payment holidays by lenders on credit cards and personal loans so far, with 877,800 borrowers taking a payment freeze on their credit card alone. 

This was an

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Huawei fights back against attacks over Britain’s 5G

Huawei will launch a fightback on Monday to try to preserve its role in Britain’s 5G networks, urging Boris Johnson not to “overestimate the risk of security and forget the economic impact” of delaying the rollout of full-fibre broadband.

After weeks of mounting attacks by Conservative MPs and by the government in Washington, the Chinese telecoms equipment provider has decided to respond publicly, embarking on an advertising campaign that stresses the company’s commitment to Britain over the past 20 years.

Huawei vice-president Victor Zhang insisted in an interview with the Financial Times that the Chinese group was not controlled by Beijing and claimed it was a private company 100 per cent owned by its employees “similar to the John Lewis model”.

But senior Tory MP Tom Tugendhat has described Huawei as a “dragon in the nest”, while Washington argues that the company’s equipment is a security risk that could let

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Ministers target June 22 for reopening England’s pubs and restaurants

Ministers have identified June 22 as the date when they hope to reopen England’s pubs and restaurants serving customers outdoors, amid fears of mass job losses if the hospitality sector misses out on the lucrative summer season.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is among half a dozen ministers — calling themselves the “save summer six” — seeking to accelerate the reopening of the economy. The hospitality sector was not due to open until July 4.

Downing Street said no date had been set for the reopening of beer gardens, terraces and marquees, but three senior Whitehall officials said the target date was June 22. The cabinet will discuss the plan on Tuesday.

Some scientists are worried that Boris Johnson is lifting lockdown too early, risking a resurgence of Covid-19 infections, but the prime minister is now convinced that the economy is facing a cliff-edge unless it starts to reopen.

The Sunday Times

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