Anyone arriving in the United Kingdom – including British citizens – from early June will need to quarantine themselves for 14 days or pay £1,000 fine if they fail to do so, as part of plans to prevent another wave of coronavirus that have been criticised by the airline and tourism industries.
Details of the quarantine plan are to be announced at the daily Downing Street briefing later on Friday, but cabinet minister Brandon Lewis said on Friday that travellers will be asked to fill in a form with contact information, and health officials will perform spot checks to ensure compliance.
Visitors from Ireland and the Channel islands will be exempted, besides road hauliers and medical officials, under the plans to be announced by home secretary Priti Patel.
Lewis told breakfast programmes on television: “We’re a country that welcomes people from all over the world. But it is appropriate that we say ‘if you’re coming to the United Kingdom, we need to protect your own health and the health of the people of the United Kingdom’.”
“And the best way is to make sure that people go through that quarantine period to ensure they have no symptoms and are not able to add to the spread of the virus. For UK citizens coming back, they will be able to go home and quarantine at home but for visitors they will need to make arrangements for where they can do that quarantine for 14 days”.
Airlines UK, the association of UK airlines, expressed “collective frustration” in a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson: “An open-ended quarantine, with no set end date, will make an already critical situation for UK aviation, and all the businesses we support, even worse”.
“People will simply choose not to travel to and from the UK, at the same time as economies in Europe and around the world begin opening up their borders and removing their own quarantines – making the UK aviation sector unable to compete”.
“Grounding airlines indefinitely will further exacerbate an already devastating economic impact on UK aviation, prolonging the revenue crisis and delaying even further the start of a recovery for a sector that supports over 1.5 million UK jobs”, it said.
As of Thursday, the cumulative UK-wide figures were 36,042 deaths and 250,098 cases. London, which has been a hotspot, registered some of the lowest number of new cases in recent days, prompting some easing of lockdown restrictions.