Only 34 fines issued to travellers flouting quarantine rules

10 September 2020, 19:41

Travellers face £1,000 fines for breaching the quarantine rules
Travellers face £1,000 fines for breaching the quarantine rules. Picture: PA

By Ewan Somerville

Just 34 fines have been issued to travellers for breaching quarantine rules after arriving in the UK, new figures reveal.

Police forces have handed out 20 fixed penalty notices in England, while the Border Force has issued 14 across the UK up to 7 September, according to data released by the Home Office on Thursday.

It comes as Portugal, Hungary, French Polynesia and Reunion were added to the UK’s quarantine list, forcing travellers to self-isolate from 4am on Saturday. 

The countries are the latest additions to a swelling UK Government “red list”, which began in June and has been criticised by the travel industry and MPs for scuppering holiday plans at short-notice - despite no rigorous airport testing regime. 

In England, people can be fined £1,000 for failing to self-isolate and up to £3,200 for not providing accurate contact details on arrival. 

READ MORE: Portugal added to UK's quarantine list from Saturday

READ MORE: What is the new Greek island quarantine policy?

Portugal is the latest to be added to the UK's quarantine list
Portugal is the latest to be added to the UK's quarantine list. Picture: PA

Figures show 1,966,394 spot checks have been carried out on passengers to ensure they have filled out passenger locator forms, including contact details, passport number and address while in the country.

Public Health England (PHE) carries out further compliance checks on a random sample of travellers who are residents in England and Northern Ireland, to check they are self-isolating.

The service has made a total of 149,579 calls and text messages. Each person can be called up to three times on subsequent days and sent a text.

Successful contact, where the traveller was spoken with or responded to a text, was made 66,773 times with 64,800 people confirming they were self-isolating.

READ MORE: Eurotunnel demand down 28pc after France added to 'red list'

Boris Johnson told a Downing Street press conference on Wednesday the enforcement of the quarantine rules would be stepped up amid fears many are slipping through the net and bringing the virus back into UK towns and cities. 

The Prime Minister indicated the Border Force will take a more proactive role and said the passenger locator form for travelling to the UK would be simplified to make the situation clearer.

But the Department for Transport and No 10 are facing increasing pressure to implement testing in airports to allow the aviation industry to operate at a fuller capacity.

Former prime minister Theresa May suggested in the Commons that UK arrivals could be tested immediately and also a few days after stepping foot in the country to reduce or scrap the quarantine period, which has left employers in difficult situations.

Labour also called last weekend for ramped up Covid-19 testing at transport hubs. 

Immigration Minister Kevin Foster said: "These measures are informed by science, backed by the public and designed to keep us all safe.

"I'm pleased the vast majority of travelling public continue to comply with these important measures to stop the spread of the virus.”