Tough new restrictions
Travellers face 14-day quarantine or £1,000 fine
Spot checks will take place to ensure compliance (pic: Terry Murden)
Passengers arriving into the UK will have to go into a 14 day quarantine, the Home Secretary Priti Patel has confirmed.
The new restriction will come into force on 8 June and will be reviewed every three weeks.
Anyone arriving in the UK from abroad could be fined £1,000 if they fail to self-isolate, though critics say the policy will be hard to police. There is a £100 fine for failing to fill in a required form.
Ms Patel said spot checks will take place to ensure compliance.
The new rules to help head off a potential second wave of Covid-19 will also apply to British people returning from abroad.
Those arriving from the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man will be exempt. Others excluded from the new ruling include road haulage, medical and seasonal agricultural workers.
People going into self-isolation will be encouraged to download the NHS Covid-19 app at the border and will not:
– use public transport
– leave their residence for 14 days
– go to work, school or visit public areas
– have friends or family to stay or visit, except to provide essential support
– go out to shop where they can rely on others.
Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has dismissed the idea as “ridiculous”. His airline has announced plans to restart 1,000 flights a day in July, while easyJet has said flights will resume next month. Jet2 will also operate flights from July.
Some airlines and tourism businesses say the quarantine measure may kill some businesses. Government advice remains that people should not book non-essential travel.
Supporters of the quarantine say it should have been introduced earlier. Countries that brought in early travel bans have had among the lowest number of victims.
CBI chief UK policy director Matthew Fell said: “Like all countries, the UK must be guided by the science and have a health first approach because we cannot risk a second wave of the virus.
It’s welcome that the government will keep the policy under regular review– Matthew Fell, CBI
“Quarantine will have a significant impact across a number of sectors, so it’s welcome that the government will keep the policy under regular review.
“Businesses are keen to work with government on a robust, internationally-coordinated plan to get passengers flying safely as soon as possible, including through innovative solutions such as the establishment of Air Bridges.
“Airlines and airports are critical hubs for regional and national prosperity and will have a key role to play in the economic recovery.”
Joss Croft, CEO, UKinbound, said: “Imposing a 14-day quarantine on international arrivals is another blow to the UK’s struggling tourism and hospitality industry – worth £28bn per year.
“It’s imperative that this policy is implemented for as short a time as possible. While the highest priority for businesses across the industry continues to be the health and safety of customers and staff, we implore Government to fully explore all options available such as air bridges and extensive testing, so that international tourists can return as soon as safely possible.
“If the 14-day quarantine measures need to be in place longer-term, our industry will need significant and extended support.”
British Chambers of Commere Director General Adam Marshall said: “Business communities in the UK and around the world will be deeply concerned by the decision to impose a blanket quarantine for international arrivals.
“This approach will damage international business and investor confidence at a time when it is vital to demonstrate that the UK can open for business safely. Co-ordinated checks at departure and arrival airports, and strong safety measures would alleviate the need for a wholesale quarantine.”
SNP Shadow Home Secretary Joanna Cherry, said the UK government had been slow in reaching today’s decision.
“The timing of today’s announcement is very odd. As usual the UK is behind the curve and out of step with international best practice. Other countries have had public health measures in place at their airports and ports for months and indeed some are now in a position to ease these controls,” she said.
“Hundreds of thousands of people have already arrived in the UK without any public health measures in place at ports of entry, to the annoyance and bemusement of the British public.
Nick Thomas-Symonds, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, said the aviation industry would require urgent help.
“Labour supports these measures but is clear they are no substitute for a long-term, well thought through approach.
“The Government’s handling of arrivals into the UK has lacked urgency, coherence and clarity from the outset. If quarantine is needed, it should not have taken so long for measures to be introduced.
“Given the impact on aviation and related sectors, it is also now critical they bring forward a sustained package of support.”
Ms Patel responded to a question during today’s briefing by saying Britain should be “looking to lead the world when it comes to reopening aviation”.
Scotland eases movement restrictions
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has asked people to “use judgement” when lockdown restrictions are eased from Thursday.
She said people can travel to a relative’s home and spend time with them outside – but she warned against travelling long distances.
She said: “If, for example, you have to travel a long distance to see a relative outside, you are more likely to have to go inside the house to, for example, to use the bathroom.
“We don’t want you to go inside others’ houses in this phase because if you are infectious, maybe without knowing about it you risk leaving the virus on surfaces about the house.”
More outdoor activity will also be permitted, including sunbathing or sitting, and people will be able to meet with people from one other household at a time, as long as they stay at two-metre distance.