Two-week 'ineffective' quarantine for UK arrivals comes into force

8 June 2020, 06:32

Passengers entering the UK will be subject to a two week quarantine
Passengers entering the UK will be subject to a two week quarantine. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

An "unlawful" and "ineffective" 14 day quarantine period will come into force today for travellers coming into the UK, under plans which some airlines have hit out at.

All passengers will have to comply with new Government measures brought in to prevent a second wave of coronavirus cases.

Inbound travellers will now have to self-isolate for two weeks and give details of their contact and travel details, as well as the address of where they will isolate.

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People who break the quarantine rules could be fined £1,000 in England, and police have been given powers to use "reasonable force" to ensure people comply.

Immigration officers will be able to check people on their arrival in the country and could refuse entry to a non-resident foreign national who refuses to comply with the regulations.

Failure to complete the locator form will be punishable by a £100 fixed penalty notice.

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The plans have been met with strong criticism from opposition parties and some Conservative MPs - as well as the travel industry.

British Airways has begun legal proceedings over what it calls the Government's "unlawful" quarantine measures.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has also expressed his opposition to the idea, telling LBC that he would rather see strict testing regimens implemented instead.

Speaking on Monday, Sir Keir said the quarantine was a "blunt instrument," pointing out that the government was imposing a quarantine weeks after other countries had done the same thing.

He said: "Now as everybody's lifting it we're putting it in," adding that it marked "inconsistency and slowness" from those in charge.

"I actually would much prefer to see some sort of testing regime at the airport" or "within days of coming in," he added.

A leaked Home Office document seen by The Daily Telegraph reportedly said there was no method for officials to ensure a person's details are "genuine".

The quarantine regulations must be reviewed every three weeks, with the first taking place by June 29.

They could be in place for a year, when the legislation expires, unless the Government decides to scrap it sooner.

Travellers arriving from within the Common Travel Area - which includes Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands - will not need to self-isolate unless they have arrived in the CTA in the last 14 days.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "We all want to return to normal as quickly as possible. But this cannot be at the expense of lives.

"The science is clear that if we limit the risk of new cases being brought in from abroad, we can help stop a devastating second wave.

"That is why the measures coming into force today are necessary. They will help control the virus, protect the NHS and save lives."

On Sunday, Mr Hancock insisted the Government made the "right decisions at the right time" with the coronavirus lockdown, despite a leading scientist saying lives would have been saved had ministers acted sooner.

Infectious diseases expert Professor John Edmunds suggested the UK should have imposed restrictions in early March - although he admitted it would have been "very hard to pull the trigger at that point".

Prof Edmunds, who attends meetings of the Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said: "I wish we had gone into lockdown earlier. I think that has cost a lot of lives unfortunately."

Asked if he agreed with the professor's comments, Mr Hancock later replied: "No. I think we took the right decisions at the right time."