Covid-19: UK Government ‘actively looking at’ quarantining UK airport arrivals
The UK Government is “actively looking at” quarantining, for Covid-19, people arriving from abroad – due to criticism about the UK dragging its feet on this, compared to other parts of the world. Currently, there are no health checks on passengers arriving into the UK. Many other countries have banned all but their own citizens and residents from incoming flights – while other nations have regional restrictions. There are reports the UK Government is considering forcing all arrivals to undergo two weeks of quarantine as they arrive in the country, to prevent the arrival of new Covid cases. Grant Shapps has said that we need to ensure the sacrifices, of lockdown and social distancing, that the Government has asked the British people to make are matched by anybody who comes to the country. The Scottish Health Secretary has said she thinks air passengers should have to quarantine themselves. Airlines, of courses, are not keen as they say a compulsory period fo quarantine would kill air travel. Lobby group, Airlines UK, said a quarantine would “completely shut off the UK from the rest of the world when other countries are opening up their economies” – ignoring the fact that most air travel (over 80%) is for leisure.
CORONAVIRUS: Shapps looks at quarantine for flyers
By Charlie Parker (The Times)
May 4 2020
Ministers are “actively looking” at quarantining passengers who fly into British airports after travel restrictions are lifted to prevent a second wave of coronavirus cases.
Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, said that the social distancing “sacrifices” made by Britons must be “matched by anybody who comes to this country”.
The 15,000 people who arrive every day are not being held in isolation for two weeks, in contrast to procedures in other countries such as France, Australia and Singapore. They are instead handed information leaflets about the virus and are instructed what to do if they develop symptoms.
Three of Britain’s biggest airports announced that they would introduce new rules this week requiring travellers to wear masks and gloves when they fly.
Mr Shapps told the BBC: “I think it is important that as we are seeing the numbers [of cases] decrease . . . that we do ensure that the sacrifices — social distancing — we are asking the British people to make are matched by anybody who comes to this country. So I am actively looking at these issues right now so that when we have infection rates within the country under control we are not importing.”
John Holland-Kaye, the chief executive of Heathrow airport, warned last week that enforcing social distancing at airports was “physically impossible”. Other airport bosses accused the government of being “slow to work with airports” during the crisis.
Heathrow has not yet made masks mandatory. Stansted, Manchester and East Midlands airports are testing temperature checks and will demand that passengers fill out a health declaration before they can go in. The airports will also ask passengers to bring masks and gloves but have some protective equipment to give out if necessary.
The Times understands that the airports are likely to accept any form of “covering”, not just masks. This includes wearing a scarf over the mouth.
Some budget flights to and from eastern European countries resumed at Luton airport on Friday as staff struggled to enforce social distancing.
Mr Holland-Kaye said: “Social distancing does not work in any form of public transport let alone aviation. The constraint is not about how many people you can fit on a plane, it will be how many people you can get through an airport safely. It’s just physically impossible to socially distance with any volume of passengers in an airport.”
Writing in The Daily Telegraph today, he explained that social distancing would not work in airports “as just one jumbo jet would require a queue a kilometre long”.
Charlie Cornish, chief executive of Manchester Airports Group, told The Sunday Telegraph: “Government has been slow to work with the UK aviation industry on what flying will look like in the new world.”
A spokesman for Luton airport said: “As well as adhering to restrictions in the country of travel, passengers also need to follow those imposed in the UK.”
Coronavirus: UK Government ‘actively looking at’ quarantining UK airport arrivals
3rd May 2020
By David Bol @mrdavidbol Political Correspondent (Herald Scotland)
The UK Government is “actively looking at” quarantining people arriving from abroad as criticism mounts over the country dragging its feet compared to other parts of the world.
Currently, there are no health checks on passengers arriving into the UK.
Many other countries have banned all but their own citizens and residents from incoming flights – while other nations have regional restrictions.
SNP MP Joanna Cherry has written to Home Secretary Priti Patel, calling for health checks or Covid-19 tests at airports – while Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said decisions should be made “very soon” over ensuring people arriving cannot transmit the virus to the public.
There are reports the UK Government is set to force all arrivals to undergo two weeks of quarantine as they arrive in the country.
UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the idea of quarantining overseas arrivals was being looked at by Westminster in a bid to further reduce the R-naught value, the infection rate between people.
Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show, Mr Shapps said: “I think it is important that as we are seeing the numbers decrease and the R rate we hope decrease… that we do ensure that the sacrifices in a sense – social distancing – that we are asking the British people to make are matched by anybody who comes to this country.
“I am actively looking at these issues right now so that when we have infection rates within the country under control we are not importing.”
Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily briefing, Ms Freeman urged the UK Government to restrict transmission of Covid-19 from those arriving into Britain.
She said: “That power is reserved to the UK Government – we can’t close those ports, but I think we have made our position very clear.
“Given that it looks likely that all the sacrifices that people have made are being successful, in suppressing the virus, we think that the UK Government should take a very serious look indeed at the potential risk of inward transmission of the virus – and begin to consider very seriously and make decisions very soon about how that particular risk can be managed and managed effectively.
“We have seen it elsewhere and it should be something that we are able to do. We will continue to raise that with the UK Government and press for the right decision to be made.”
……. and it continues ….
Coronavirus: UK airlines warn quarantine will ‘kill air travel’
3 May 2020 (BBC)
Airlines have reacted angrily to government suggestions that the UK could implement a 14-day quarantine for anyone arriving in the country.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said he was “actively looking at these issues so that when we have infection rates within the country under control we’re not importing”.
But Airlines UK said such a measure “would effectively kill air travel”.
It warned that the UK risked shutting itself from the rest of the world.
Social-distancing at airports is ‘impossible’, says Heathrow boss
Mr Shapps told the Andrew Marr Programme that as the coronavirus infection rate in the UK decreases, it was important “that we do ensure that the sacrifices…that we’re asking the British people to make are matched by anyone who comes to this country”.
However, Airlines UK, which represents the likes of British Airways, Easyjet, Virgin Atlantic and Ryanair, said a quarantine would “completely shut off the UK from the rest of the world when other countries are opening up their economies”. [They would say that, wouldn’t they?]
Its chief executive, Tim Alderslade, said: “The danger is it would be a blunt tool measure when what the UK should be doing is leading internationally with health and aviation authorities on common standards, including health screening, which will enable our sector to restart and give people assurances that it’s safe to travel.”
Air travel has ground to a halt because of the global coronavirus pandemic, prompting steep jobs cuts by the industry.
Last week, Ryanair said it planned to axe 3,000 workers and ask remaining staff to take a pay cut.
BA said it would cut 12,000 of its workforce and warned that it may not reopen at Gatwick once the pandemic passes.