Priti Patel set to lay out quarantine rules as Portugal's PM welcomes 'air bridge' plan

3 June 2020, 10:15

Priti Patel will lay out the rules to her quarantine policy later today
Priti Patel will lay out the rules to her quarantine policy later today. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

The Home Secretary is set to lay out the rules for a 14-day quarantine order for any traveller who returns to the UK.

Priti Patel said avoiding a second peak of coronavirus "will always be our top priority" and insisted the restrictions on arrivals, which come into force on Monday, "are informed by science, backed by the public and will keep us all safe".

But her plans have caused unease in the Tory ranks and been condemned by businesses over fears it will thwart tourism.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman confirmed on Tuesday that the Government is still looking at the prospect of "air bridges" between the UK and other countries, creating specific exemptions from the quarantine rules.

Portugal's foreign minister has said his nation is already in talks with Britain to see if that is a possibility,

Augusto Santos Silva said today that "quarantine is an enemy of tourism".

READ MORE: Sir Keir Starmer tells Boris Johnson 'get a grip' on coronavirus or risk second wave

READ MORE: Foreigners entering the UK could be deported if they disobey quarantine rules

READ MORE: Universities could put students in 'bubbles' with coursemates to minimise mixing

Portugal says it is open to an "air bridge" with Britain
Portugal says it is open to an "air bridge" with Britain. Picture: PA

"During these weeks our diplomats will work together in order to guarantee that British tourists coming to Portugal would not be subjected on their return to England to any kind of quarantine," he said.

Italy, another country popular with UK tourists, began allowing people to travel in, out and around the country for the first time in around three months on Wednesday.

Germany today also announced that it was lifting its travel warning for Europe from June 15.

The Home Office has said foreign nationals who refused to comply with the order would be deported "as a last resort".

A £1,000 fixed penalty notice in England will be levied on those failing to adhere, with prosecution and an unlimited fine potentially to follow, the department confirmed.

Failure to complete the form declaring where the person will live for two weeks will also be punishable by a £100 fixed penalty notice.

The Government has vowed to review the measures, which will be in place across the UK but set individually by the devolved administrations, by June 29.

It would mean anyone arriving into Britain from Monday will have to quarantine for 14 days
It would mean anyone arriving into Britain from Monday will have to quarantine for 14 days. Picture: PA

Ministers have said they will study the impact the restraints are having on the economy, as well the role antibody testing could have on lowering the health risk involved, when considering whether to alter the arrangements.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "These measures will be reviewed every few weeks, and we are working with the transport industry to see how we can introduce agreements with other countries when safe to do so, so we can go abroad and tourists can come here."

Downing Street suggested on Tuesday that the restrictions would be similar to those imposed during the coronavirus lockdown.

Number 10 said visitors and those returning from abroad would be allowed to leave isolation to shop for food and other essential supplies.

Listen & subscribe: Global Player | Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify

Travellers will also be able to board public transport from the port or airport to where they will quarantine, although they will be encouraged to use private vehicles.

There have been calls from senior Tories for the quarantine plan to be scrapped in favour of the so-called air bridge solution.

George Morgan-Grenville, chief executive of tour operator Red Savannah, said: "By pursuing its quarantine plans without due regard for the economic consequences, the Government is choosing to ignore the devastation it will cause to companies, to employment and to the lives of all those whose jobs will be lost.

"The quarantine measures are a blunt weapon which will bring only economic disaster."