Senior Tory MPs criticise ministers over 'grossly unfair' quarantine travel rules

8 August 2020, 08:58

Another three nations were added to the quarantine list this week
Another three nations were added to the quarantine list this week. Picture: PA

By Ewan Somerville

Senior Tories have condemned the Government for a “grossly unfair” lack of clarity over the possible implementation of further quarantine restrictions.

Chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs Sir Graham Brady and former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith called for a “proper testing regime for air travellers” to be rolled out urgently, and for regional air corridors to be considered.

It comes as Chancellor Rishi Sunak warned holidaymakers of the risk of travelling abroad during the coronavirus crisis amid concerns France may be the next nation to be red-listed.

He said on Friday that ministers will “not hesitate” in ordering travellers coming back from countries with high Covid-19 rates to isolate for 14 days, as Belgium, Andorra and the Bahamas lost their exempted status from 4am on Saturday.

Sir Graham Brady called on the Government to give more clarity for holidaymakers
Sir Graham Brady called on the Government to give more clarity for holidaymakers. Picture: PA

Sir Graham told The Telegraph: “We should move to a proper testing regime for air travellers as quickly as possible, but in the meantime it is essential that the Government is as transparent as possible about the criteria which are being used judging which countries require quarantine and which do not.

“Leaving the travelling public in the dark is grossly unfair and is causing further damage to the holiday and leisure sector.”

Sir Iain called on the Government to reconsider regional travel corridors and testing to replace the “blunt” approach of quarantine.

“People are travelling to countries at the moment and they have no idea whether they will or will not have quarantine reimposed,” he told the paper.

“My only question is can the Government not look at regional quarantine so that people could travel to low-risk areas like Majorca but not Barcelona?”

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Eurostar said it recorded an increase in passengers travelling on its trains from Brussels to London on Friday, beating the quarantine rules which began this morning.

Mr Sunak told Sky News: “It's a tricky situation. What I can say to people is we're in the midst of a global pandemic and that means there is always the risk of disruption to travel plans and people need to bear that in mind.

“It's the right thing for us to do to keep everything under review on a constant basis talking with our scientists, our medical advisers, and if we need to take action as you've seen overnight we will of course not hesitate to do that and we're doing that to protect people's health.”

France's coronavirus rate has increased steadily in the past month to 13.2 new infections per 100,000 people, suggesting the spread is worse than in the UK, which has a rate of 8.4.

Johnson: Quarantine will still apply for "large parts of the world"

However, France still appears to be faring better than Belgium, which has seen its rate soar to 27.8. It also has a rate lower than Spain's when it was added to the restriction list at around 27.4.

The Foreign Office also updated its travel advice to warn against all but essential trips to the three countries.

Those driving to the UK from Germany or the Netherlands via Belgium must self-isolate for 14 days unless, while in Belgium, all passengers remain in their car and no-one joins them, the Department for Transport said. Train passengers who get on or off in Belgium also face quarantine.