All incomers – including British citizens – must disclose where they will be staying, Priti Patel says
From 8 June, almost everyone arriving at ports and airports, including UK citizens, will be required to travel directly to an address they provide to the authorities, where they must then self-isolate for a fortnight. The French interior ministry expressed its “regret” that it would not be exempt from the quarantine plan, after assurances this month that the country would be.
Anyone failing to comply could face a fine of £1,000. Patel said: “I fully expect the majority of people will do the right thing and abide by these measures. But we will take enforcement action against the minority of people who endanger the safety of others.”
Patel defended the stringent new measures at the Downing Street press conference on Friday. “We are not closing our borders, and I think people should recognise that,” she said.
But business groups have reacted furiously, saying ministers should instead have taken a more targeted approach – and sought international agreements that could have allowed some restrictions to be waived.
Business groups have accused the government of pursuing an “isolationist” policy after the home secretary, Priti Patel, confirmed that arrivals in the UK will have to quarantine themselves for a fortnight or face a £1,000 fine.
A spokesperson for Abta, which represents travel agents and tour operators, said: “Protecting public health is a priority and it’s vital to base decisions about travel on the best health and scientific advice. No one should be in any doubt, however, that a 14-day quarantine period for all travellers returning to the UK will unavoidably put many people off travelling abroad or visiting the UK, and will therefore have a hugely damaging impact on the UK inbound and outbound tourism industries – which support hundreds of thousands of jobs in this country and have already been severely affected by the pandemic.
“It’s therefore critical that the government regularly reviews this policy – including assessing its effectiveness and how it works with other control measures. We’d also continue to urge the government to keep any measures proportionate, targeted and limited only to what is necessary and to seek a coordinated approach with destinations in the EU and beyond.”
The stringent new quarantine system will be reviewed every three weeks. The government confirmed there will be exemptions for freight drivers; doctors and scientists working on the pandemic; and fruit pickers, who will be expected to confine themselves to the farms where they work. Visitors from Ireland will also be exempt.
Stephen Phipson, chief executive of Make UK, said: “Industry will be disappointed with this measure which is isolationist and will prevent many essential daily cross-border journeys to provide service and maintenance. Additionally air freight on passenger aircraft provides a significant proportion of UK export and supply chain capacity, all of which is vital to operations as companies begin to get up and running.”
Adam Tyndall, programme director of the business lobbying group London First, said: “Deciding to quarantine all passengers arriving into the UK is an indiscriminate response to an increasingly nuanced situation. Two weeks in isolation will put off most travellers, all of whom would have contributed to the UK’s economic recovery.
“The UK is a world leader in aviation and should be forging international agreements between low-risk countries.”
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, said: “The imposition of a quarantine period will inevitably damage international visitor travel, and the longer it is in place, the more damage it will wreak.”
The government has not ruled out negotiating “air bridges” – an idea championed by the transport secretary, Grant Shapps. The UK would seek to strike bilateral agreements with countries with low incidence of Covid-19 under which quarantine restrictions could be waived. “France is ready to put in place a reciprocal scheme once the system comes into force on the British side,” the French interior ministry said in a statement.