34.The changes made by this instrument are intended to provide a consistent definition of “fully vaccinated” across the Self-Isolation Regulations and the International Travel Regulations. They mean that in England a person who has been vaccinated outside the UK will be exempt from the requirement to self-isolate if identified as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case if their vaccine status satisfies the International Travel Rules.
35.The changes also update the Self-Isolation Regulations to specify the evidence required for a person to demonstrate that they are medically unable to be vaccinated and therefore exempt from self-isolation requirements.
36.These Regulations reinstate the position set out in the No 5 Regulations which came into effect on 9 December 2021 but lapsed, due to an error, on 25 January 2022. These replacement Regulations took effect on 27 January: during the brief interruption those who failed to self-isolate were at risk of being treated as having committed an offence. This is not good practice, and we trust it will not recur.
37.An airport ‘slot’ is permission to use all necessary airport infrastructure to operate an aircraft at a specified date and time for take-off or landing. Normally, an airline has to use at least 80% of its slots in the preceding season (either winter or summer) to be entitled to the same slots in the next equivalent season. To address the persistent reduction in air traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic, these provisions have been waived or reduced.
38.The usage rate is now being increased incrementally as the sector recovers. This instrument amends the airport slot usage rule to 70% for the summer 2022 season (which will affect reallocation of the same slots for summer 2023.) It also adds certain government-imposed measures related to COVID-19 (which severely reduce the viability of or demand for travel on the route in question) to the list of reasons under which under-usage can be justified. The Explanatory Memorandum (EM) states that these relief measures are designed to assist airlines which might otherwise have to bear the costs of operating near-empty aircraft in order to retain their slots. We note that, in response to the consultation, airlines preferred a 60% usage rule whereas most airports preferred the 70% rate. The rationale given in the EM for choosing the higher figure was rather abstract and the House may wish to press the Minister for a clearer explanation of why the higher threshold was chosen, which treats the airlines less favourably.
12 Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) (England) Regulations 2020 ().
13 Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel and Operator Liability) (England) Regulations 2021 ().
14 Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) (England) (Amendment) (No. 5) Regulations 2021 ().