Migrants arriving in the UK now face quarantine for 14 days
In a speech to the nation on Sunday 11 May, the Prime Minister said: “To prevent reinfection from abroad, I am serving notice that it will soon be time – with transmission significantly lower – to impose quarantine on people coming into this country by air.”
The mandatory isolation for travellers is thought to be an attempt to prevent a second peak of COVID-19 in the UK.
Authorities are expected to have the powers to check on individuals and enforce fines of up to £1,000 or enact punishment, even deportation, for those breaking the rules.
However, there is one notable exception to the rule: France. Prime Minister Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron have agreed that the quarantine will not apply between the UK and France ‘at this stage’.
Yet others are equally alarmed that the UK hasn’t already been quarantining and isolating people arriving in the country, particularly as the nation endures its seventh week in lockdown to avoid spreading COVID-19.
Others are equally alarmed that the UK hasn’t already been quarantining and isolating people arriving in the country
Some are questioning why this move is being implemented so late. It was reported that the UK was the only country in the world not restricting airport travel or conducting health checks for new arrivals. Perhaps global confusion at what appears to be carelessness and negligence by the UK government has finally shamed it into acting.
Further still, there is little info on those travelling by sea and there has been no immediate clarification regarding those travelling via internal flights. It is plausible to assume that one would be able to travel to and from Scotland or Wales by air without facing friction, but by road may face fines or be turned around by police.
A spokesperson for Heathrow Airport said: “We will continue to do everything we can to support the government in tackling the health crisis.”
Heathrow announced it will conduct a trial to take the temperatures of new arrivals in efforts to identify those with COVID-19 and reduce infection upon their entry into the UK. Cameras that have this technology to take temperature will be used.
The Government had previously said that screening people on arrival wouldn’t be effective, yet with the UK’s death toll second only to America, it would be sensible to implement whatever measures are available.
The UK was the only country in the world not restricting airport travel or conducting health checks for new arrivals
Perhaps the most successful approach in the world comes from New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Arden, who set requirements that all new arrivals self-isolate for two weeks as one of the first approaches to tackling COVID-19 in New Zealand. Arden put the measure in place in mid-March, with only six cases reported in the country and a staggeringly low 21 deaths. New Zealand’s borders remain closed.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps was asked about quarantining arrivals last weekend. Shapps said he was “actively looking at these issues”, and now it appears the government are taking action.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said at least 15,000 individuals are still flying into Britain every day, with no screening or quarantine in place until this week, including travellers from areas stricken by the virus such as the United States, Italy and China.