European leaders have reacted furiously after Britain unveiled its plans for a strict new quarantine regime, requiring arrivals in the UK to isolate for 14 days.
Interior Minister Priti Patel has received many responses at home and abroad, following the disclosure of the measures, which have been labeled “ineffective and unenforceable” by the travel industry.
Ms Patel announced yesterday that anyone arriving in the UK from June 8 is required by law to isolate themselves for two weeks or to pay fines of up to £ 3,200.
France immediately hit back in the UK last night, saying it “regretted” the decision and would try to impose a “reciprocal measure” on Britons arriving at its borders.
Meanwhile, Italy, which was at one point the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis in Europe, said it hoped Britain would reconsider its rules and call for a “coordinated approach.”
Interior Minister Priti Patel has received many responses at home and abroad following the unveiling of the new quarantine measures on Friday
Pictured: PPE-seated passengers line up on Friday to board a flight to China at Terminal 2 of Heathrow Airport
Ms Patel said that with certain countries, “airlifts” can be agreed with a similar or lower Covid-19 contamination rate, meaning that citizens can travel between each country without imposing self-isolation.
However, Friday’s announcement had not concluded such agreements, while preparatory talks between the UK and France on a quarantine-free corridor with no controls ended two weeks ago.
In response to yesterday’s announcement yesterday, a spokesman for the French Home Secretary said: “We take note of the British government’s decision and regret it.
“France is ready to introduce a reciprocal measure as soon as the system on the British side enters into force.”
Who is exempt from the government is required
Here is the list of people who are exempt from the 14-day self-isolation requirement.
– An employee in road transport and an employee in road passenger transport
– A passenger in transit, a person traveling to a country outside the common travel zone, who remains on the air side and does not pass border control
– A person arriving to attend pre-arranged treatment when receiving that treatment in the UK
– A registered health or care professional traveling to the UK to provide essential health care, even if not related to coronavirus
– A person who has traveled to the UK to transport material to, or comprise of, human cells or blood that will be used to provide healthcare to a healthcare provider in the UK
– Quality inspectors for medicines for human use
– Sponsors and essential persons required for clinical trials or studies
– civil aviation inspectors engaged in inspection duties
– Eurotunnel drivers and crew, Eurotunnel shuttle drivers, freight train drivers, crew and essential cross-border rail freight operators operating the Channel Tunnel
– A Euratom inspector
– Workers engaged in essential or emergency work related to water supply and sewerage
– Workers engaged in essential or emergency activities related to a power generation system, an electricity interconnector, a district heating network, communal heating, automated ballast cleaning and track construction systems or network
– An employee who carries out activities in offshore installations, upstream petroleum infrastructure, critical safety work on offshore installations and wells
– workers engaged in essential or emergency activities
– Drivers and crew of trains operated by Eurostar International Limited, essential frontier workers working for Eurostar International Limited
– Operational, track maintenance, security personnel working on the Channel Tunnel system
– An employee with specialist technical skills, where those specialist technical skills are required for essential or emergency work or services
– Sailors and masters
– A warehouse as defined in Section 22 (1) of Schedule 3A to the Merchant Shipping Act
– An inspector and inspector of ships
– Crew, as defined in paragraph 1 of Schedule 1 to the Aviation Decree 2016 (h), where such crew traveled to the UK during their work
– Nuclear personnel essential for the safe operation of a licensed nuclear site
– Nuclear emergency worker
– Inspector of the agency
– An inspector from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, a specialized aerospace engineer or a specialized aviation officer
– A person engaged in an operational, maintenance or safety activity of a downstream oil facility with a capacity of over 20,000 tons
– A postal worker involved in the carriage of mail to and from the UK
– A person involved in essential maintenance and repair of data infrastructure
– An information technology or telecommunications professional whose expertise is required to provide essential or emergency assistance in the event of security threats and incidents
– A person engaged in urgent or essential work on electronic communications networks
– A person engaged in urgent or essential work for the BBC’s broadcast network and services
– A seasonal worker
– Members of diplomatic missions and consular posts in the United Kingdom
– Crown Servants or government contractors returning to the United Kingdom who: either are required to perform police or essential government work in the United Kingdom within 14 days of arrival, or have done police or essential government work outside the United States, but are required to return temporarily, and then leave to carry out police or essential government work outside the United Kingdom
– International Prison Guards – a person designated by the relevant minister under Section 5 (3) of the Repatriation of Prisoners Act 1984 (a)
– A person responsible for accompanying a person who is requested to be extradited under an order issued under Part 3 of the 2003 Extradition Act or extradited under other extradition arrangements
– Defense personnel and contractors performing activities necessary to carry out key defense activities, including Visiting Forces and NATO
– An official who has to work on essential border surveillance duties
– A person living in the UK who works as an employee or self-employed person in another country where he usually goes at least once a week
Italian Ambassador to the UK, Raffaele Trombetta, told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that no discussions had taken place between the two countries.
He said: “A large number of British tourists always come to Italy, it is one of Britain’s favorite destinations.
“We had 40 million trips from the UK to Italy last year. We know how much they love Italy. We are still open and welcome them.
“We believe this is a global pandemic, so it’s best to tackle it with a coordinated approach.”
Mr Trombetta pointed to Italy’s own plans to lift the quarantine requirements for those traveling from the UK and the EU from 3 June.
He said: “We have made it clear what we are going to do and it is important that the British know that they can come to Italy.
“We understand that the new UK rules will be reassessed after three weeks, so hopefully the measures will be relaxed as we do in Italy.”
Several exceptions to the new rules were announced last night, including those in Ireland, pilots of health professionals.
However, Ms Patel’s plans were also endorsed by the travel industry, who pointed out that those arriving in the UK are allowed to use public transport to reach their address and possibly infect others.
They also said people could get around the rules by first flying to Ireland, which is exempt from the quarantine regulations, and then traveling to Britain.
Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline, was one of the first to pass the new guidelines, which Ms Patel has already admitted will be subject to constant review.
In a statement, it described the regime as “unenforceable” and said it “strongly opposes ineffective non-scientific measures.”
A spokesperson added: ‘This isolation measure just won’t work unless passengers arriving at UK international airports are held in airport terminals or hotels for 14 days.
“Once these arriving passengers travel to their destination on the busy London Underground or the Heathrow and Gatwick Express or buses or taxis, the subsequent quarantine is no longer useful.
“If this measure had any scientific basis, Irish visitors would not and could not be exempted.”
British ministers would explore the idea of ’Covid passports’, allowing those who have had the disease to travel more widely without having to quarantine on their return to the UK.
Plans to get tourism moving are being promoted by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who is said to have the support of both Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Miss Patel confirmed last night that the new quarantine regime will apply to almost all arrivals, including those returning from vacations abroad at ports and airports.
According to the plans, travelers arriving in all ports and airports will be ordered to self-isolate for two weeks and provide an address and contact details.
They shouldn’t accept visitors unless they provide essential support, and they shouldn’t go and buy food or other supplies “where they can rely on others,” the Interior Ministry said.
There are likely to be a small number of exceptions for truck drivers and some other crucial roles, while transit passengers who do not formally enter the UK will also be exempted.
Public health officials are expected to take about 100 samples every day to ensure that people stick to self-isolation. Those checks begin in mid-June.
People arriving in the UK without accommodation arranged will have to pay for government-organized accommodation themselves.
Despite Ms. Patel’s insistence that policies be reviewed every three weeks, Whitehall sources have weakened hopes that measures for the summer break can be lifted.
Virgin Atlantic warned that the plan would ground aircraft.
“The safety and security of our people and our customers is always our top priority and public health must be paramount,” said a spokeswoman.
However, by introducing a mandatory 14-day self-isolation for each individual traveler entering the UK, the government’s approach will prevent flights from resuming.
“We are constantly reviewing our flight program and with these restrictions, there will simply not be enough demand to resume passenger services before August at the earliest.”
Instead, the airline called on the government to introduce a “multi-layered approach” with targeted public health and screening measures to allow a safe restart of international travel.
The director of the Airport Operators Association, Karen Dee, previously told the Interior Committee that drastic reductions in passenger numbers “could simply lead to a long-term shutdown of all aviation”.
France immediately hit back in the UK last night and said it ‘regretted’ the decision and would try to impose a ‘reciprocal measure’ on British arriving at its borders
Passengers with personal protective equipment lined up for a Friday flight at Heathrow Airport
The strict new rules
What is going to happen?
All passengers arriving in the UK must complete a form before going to Great Britain. This includes the return of British nationals as well as foreign visitors. You must provide the address where you are staying in the UK – and isolate yourself there. You may not leave that address at all or receive visitors for 14 days.
How does it work?
Passengers can complete the ‘contact locator form’ on the government website up to 48 hours before departure. There will be no paper versions of the form. Not filling in the form before traveling is a crime, but there will be a short grace period and travelers can fill out the form electronically in the arrivals hall.
How is this enforced?
There will be random checks to ensure that all passengers have completed a form. Border Force personnel will interview people when leaving aircraft and at border checkpoints.
What happens if I refuse to complete a contact finder form?
You will be fined £ 100 on the spot by the Border Force.
When will this take effect?
Which checks take place during the 14-day period?
Public health officials will take random samples over the phone. When in doubt, the police come to the address, where necessary a fine is imposed.
What happens if I leave the address I provided in the form?
In England you will be fined £ 1,000. You can even be prosecuted and receive an unlimited fine if convicted. The fine can go up to more than £ 1,000 if the ‘risk of infection from abroad increases,’ says the Home Office. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own enforcement systems.
A spokesman for the Association of Independent Tour Operators said The Daily Telegraph, “As with so many governmental initiatives,” the 14-day quarantine rule comes across as a sting in the dark, which is likely to change as soon as it was introduced, as it does with the designated airlifts.
“In reality, quarantine should have been instituted at the start of the pandemic, as our European neighbors did – we are out of sync with them now because they are out of quarantine and we are going in.”
Piers Morgan leadership is calling for transparency on why coronavirus carriers could fly to the UK at all.
He wrote: ‘Of all the inexplicable decisions this government made during the coronavirus crisis, quarantining people flying to the UK after 20 million people have already flown in and 62,000 have already died is the most … inexplicable. ‘
Nigel Farage tweeted, “The government quarantine should have been three months ago, not now. Way too late. ‘
Ms Patel stressed that the government “recognizes how difficult these changes will be for our travel industry” and that ministers will work with the industry to “find new ways to reopen international travel and tourism in a safe and responsible manner”.
A former head of Border Force said today that he was “surprised” that quarantine measures had not previously been introduced on Britain’s borders.
Tony Smith, now chairman of the International Border Management and Technologies Association, told the Commons Home Affairs Committee today, “Yes, I was surprised we hadn’t seen any previous action on the UK border.”
Mr Shapps brought up the idea of ’airlifts’ with popular tourist destinations such as Spain on Monday.
Madrid said yesterday that it may be willing to welcome British tourists from July without asking them to isolate themselves for 14 days.
Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said, “We need to find a way that the vast, vast majority of people who don’t have disease can still fly.”