14 day quarantine for anyone arriving in the UK from abroad
It is expected that there will soon be official announcement of the requirement for anyone entering the UK to be in quarantine (self-isolate) for 14 days. This would not only mean air passengers but those arriving also by ferry or the Channel Tunnel. It seems likely that the suggested exemption of those coming from France will be abandoned, as that could not logically be defended. Ministers are expected to meet today to agree what one called “a very tight set of exemptions”. Michael O’Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, said that the policy was “idiotic and it is unimplementable”, and many people would refuse to follow the rules. He wants people filling up his planes and making him money as fast as possible, and quoted some study implying that if everyone wore masks in planes and airports, it would cut Covid transmission by ?98% or so. It is understood that hauliers, lorry drivers, will make up two thirds of those not required to self-isolate for two weeks. Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, has said that a 14-day quarantine period will be mandatory for all passengers arriving at Irish ports and airports, including British citizens.
Coronavirus: Holiday hopes scuppered by tough quarantine plans
Lorry drivers among few exceptions to 14-day self-isolation rule updated
By Francis Elliott, Political Editor |
and Graeme Paton, Transport Correspondent (The Times)
May 18 2020,
Lorry drivers will make up the bulk of those exempted from quarantine rules being finalised today in a blow to the airline and tourism industries.
The requirement for arrivals to self-isolate for 14 days will apply regardless of their mode of travel as ministers all but abandon efforts to exempt travellers from France.
Boris Johnson held open the possibility that different rules would be applied to those arriving via the Channel tunnel or on cross-Channel ferries last weekend after a call with President Macron of France. No 10 said that arrivals from France would be exempt “at this stage” and that the countries were working on reciprocal measures.
Ministers have been in retreat ever since and will meet today to agree what one called “a very tight set of exemptions”. Another Whitehall source said that the number exempted had been considerably scaled back on the advice of the government’s scientific advisers.
Michael O’Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, said today that the policy was “idiotic and it is unimplementable”, adding that many people would refuse to follow the rules.
He told Today on BBC Radio 4: “You don’t have enough police in the UK to implement a two-week lockdown. And what’s really worrying is that a two-week lockdown has no medical or scientific basis to it in any event. If you really want to do something that’s effective, wear masks.”
Ryanair plans to operate 40% of flights — 1,000 a day — from the start of July as part of its own recovery.
It has said that facemasks will be compulsory on flights and around the airport. The airline has also told passengers that staff could take their temperature before flying and refuse to allow those with a fever to board.
Mr O’Leary said that it was likely that the quarantine plan would be dropped within weeks because people would refuse to abide by it.
“The 14-day lockdown has no credibility and I think will be eliminated by the time we get to the end of June anyway,” he said. “As the government puts more meat on the bones of an unimplementable, unmanageable and unpoliceable 14-day lockdown, people will simple ignore something that is so hopelessly defective in favour of . . . some effective measures like facemasks. Facemasks are effective; 14-day isolations aren’t.”
It is understood that hauliers will make up two thirds of those not required to self-isolate for two weeks.
The remaining exemptions will be agreed at a cabinet committee on international Covid-19 issues chaired by Michael Gove. These will include those engaged in “work supporting national security or critical infrastructure and to meet the UK’s international obligations”, officials said. Scientists researching coronavirus may also be exempt.
Mr Gove briefed the devolved administrations on the new border controls, which are expected to be enforced at the start of next month in line with the advent of the “test, trace and isolate” system. He stressed that the system would be reviewed regularly and that the government realised its impact on many businesses.
Hauliers and others exempted from the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days would not be tested at the border, at least initially, but would have to provide contact details, officials said.
The hardline approach is a blow to airline and tourism bosses pressing for a “risk-based” system. The tourism industry has been devastated by coronavirus, with flights in and out of the UK falling by more than 90 per cent. It had been hoped that restrictions would soon be eased, in line with some other European countries. Tour operators such as Tui are planning to restart holidays as soon as mid-June.
However, the quarantining of arrivals, including returning Britons, is likely to undermine any attempt to resurrect the industry in the coming months. British Airways has already said that it will not resume large-scale operations while the quarantine remains in place.
John Holland-Kaye, the chief executive of Heathrow, said that it was working with Public Health England to create health standards that would minimise the risk of coronavirus being transmitted between passengers. [sic]
From this week, thermal screening technology will be used in the immigration hall at Terminal 2 as a trial.
Only the technology’s effectiveness will initially be tested, although in the future the system could be used to identify passengers with a fever who could then be told to self-isolate.
Other technology in the trial includes the use of UV lights to sanitise security trays and “contact-free” security screening equipment.
From this week, all Heathrow staff will also wear face coverings and the airport will issue masks to any arriving and departing passengers. Other airports, including Manchester and Stansted, have already told all passengers to use face coverings and airlines such as Lufthansa and Wizz Air have made them mandatory on flights.
Guidance on the new quarantine rules issued last Monday listed exemptions including journeys within the common travel area, which covers Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.
Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, has said that a 14-day quarantine period will be mandatory for all passengers arriving at Irish ports and airports, including British citizens.
Alok Sharma, the business secretary, said that while he recognised the new restrictions would be a burden on companies it would be “quite interesting” to see how they responded. “The health of the nation is not in some way different from making sure that we take care of the health of the economy. In fact all of the measures we have taken so far are about protecting lives and also livelihoods,” he said.
Mr Sharma said the UK would “soon” be in a position to reduce lockdown restrictions and move down to level 3 on the five-tier coronavirus alert system.
And there is blurb from John Holland-Kaye, trying to get people to fly again, soon, using Heathrow (regardless of the risks of increasing cases of Covid in the UK, brought in from abroad)
Heathrow boss urges plan to restart flights between low-risk countries