Gove tells LBC restrictions on flights ‘may go further’ than South Africa ban

5 January 2021, 10:22

A queue to enter departures at Heathrow Airport last month
A queue to enter departures at Heathrow Airport last month. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove today told LBC that a review of the arrangements at the UK's borders was under way amid growing calls for tighter controls or even a flight shutdown to help stop the spread of new strains of coronavirus.

Nick Ferrari asked Mr Gove: "Is it time to shut the airports to incoming flights from South Africa?" while discussing the so-called South African strain of coronavirus, which is said to be more virulent.

Mr Gove said "we may need to go even further than that in restricting international travel, but we are reviewing that with the governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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Nick said: "We might be closing our borders to incoming flights?"

"We want to make sure that they are as safe as possible, so we are reviewing what the appropriate restrictions might be," said Mr Gove.

"You'll appreciate that there are some journeys that do need to be made for vital commercial reasons, to make sure that we've got drugs in our hospitals, food on our shelves and so on, so it's not as simple as a blanket restriction.

"It is making sure that we have the safest possible approach and that involves reviewing how our ports and airports work.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan issued a statement yesterday calling for tighter controls at airports. He said the lockdown announcement was "inevitable" and the only way to tackle the "out of control" level of Covid-19 cases.

"It is unclear why it took Boris Johnson so long to reach this conclusion," Mr Khan said in a statement.

"I continue to call on the Government to make wearing masks mandatory outdoors when in queues, streets and other crowded spaces outside.

"To limit the risk of new variants spreading, we need more rigorous testing and quarantine rules put in place at our borders and airports.

"It is also crucial that greater financial support is provided to businesses, the self-employed and those self-isolating which is still woefully insufficient.

"Londoners have already made huge sacrifices, but once again I urge each and every Londoner to follow the rules. Stay at home, protect the NHS and help to save lives."