Coronavirus UK: All arrivals must quarantine for 14 days
Britain’s mandatory quarantine on all arrivals has been slammed with some critics saying it would make more sense to quarantine those travelling from the UK’s worst-hit regions to low-risk ones.
Home Secretary Priti Patel today confirmed all travellers returning to the UK will face a mandatory 14 day period in quarantine from June 8.
She said the move will help the UK protect the ‘hard won progress’ it has made in the fight against coronavirus and that tough border controls would help to prevent a ‘devastating resurgence’.
But the briefing was met with criticism from within her own party with backbencher David Davis claiming quarantine should not be used to ‘punish’ countries who ‘have handled the coronavirus better than us’.
Labour MP Ben Bradshaw responded to Mr Davis’s tweet by stating: Not often I agree with David Davis, but he’s right to say there’s a stronger case for quarantining arrivals at Kings Cross from Yorkshire than on arrivals from low infection countries like Greece, Malta and Portugal.’
Yorkshire and the Humber has reported 13,685 coronavirus cases. This is significantly higher than in the South West of the country where 7,476 diagnoses have been reported.
Different parts of the UK also have a different R rate, which is used to indicate how fast the virus is spreading.
R rates calculated by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine suggest the East Midlands has the fastest spread of infection, with a rate of between 0.8 and 1.2.
Priti Patel today announced all travellers returning to the UK from abroad will face a mandatory 14 days in quarantine
Coronavirus cases in England and the R infection rate in different parts of the country. The R measures the spread of the virus
It comes after data revealed that different parts of the UK have a different R infection rate which is used to determine how fast coronavirus is spreading
British Grand Prix could be CANCELLED for the first time since 1948
The British Grand Prix could be cancelled after the elite sport was not handed any exemption to the UK government’s plans to introduce a 14-day quarantine period for those entering the country.
F1 stressed the need earlier this week for a quarantine exemption by highlighting the impact the new rules will have on ‘tens of thousands of jobs linked to F1 and supply chains.’
However, Silverstone managing director Stuart Pringle is hopeful that an agreement can be reached that allows both races to go ahead.
‘I am very clear that the importance of the industry is understood by government,’ he told Sky Sports.
‘So I remain optimistic that a sensible and pragmatic solution, which puts the onus on the sport quite rightly to come up with the right solution, can be found.’
Seven of the 10 teams on the Formula One grid have bases in England.
‘This isn’t just 90 minutes of an exciting sporting race. This is about getting an industry back to work,’ded Pringle.
‘This is about 40-plus thousand people’s livelihoods being ignited.’
On the other hand, London, which was the hardest hit part of the UK, has a current R rate of 0.5 to 0.8, the lowest in the country.
The government this week confirmed it will will not vary the lifting of lockdown by region.
Under quarantine measures , everyone coming into the country from abroad will have to give andress and phone number to public health officials setting out where they will be self-isolating.
Those officials will then be carrying out spot checks, with anyone found to be breaking the rules facing an initial fine of £1,000. Further non-compliance could result in unlimited fines.
Any foreign national who does not comply with the measures at the border could be refused entry. Ms Patel said a ‘reckless minority’ would not be allowed to undermine the UK’s efforts to stop the spread of the disease.
It was initially understood that arrivals from France would not need to quarantine following an agreement between Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron.
But Ms Patel’s announcement confirmed this was not the case and France responded by enforcing the same measures on anyone arriving from the UK.
‘We take note of the British government’s decision and we regret it,’ an French Interior Ministry spokesman said on Friday.
Heded: ‘France stands ready to put in place a reciprocity measure as soon as the system actually comes into force on the British side.’
The latest Downing Street statistics show the number of daily coronavirus deaths is continuing to fall
The R number, showing the rate of transmission, remains the same at between 0.7 and 1.0 with an estimated 61,000 new infections in England every week
Passengers wearing protective clothing are seen at Heathrow Airport, London, today
However, Britons may still be able to holiday in Ireland later this summer.
Ireland’s Minister for Health Simon Harris said: ‘I am eager to get ahead and it’s up to me to make sure we align as closely as possible with the UK and Ireland in relation to common travel areas, there’s work ongoing in that area.
When asked if that meant that people in the UK could holiday in Ireland this summer and visa versa he said: ‘at the moment yes’.
Critics immediately demanded to know why the border controls, which will be reviewed every three weeks, had not been introduced earlier in the crisis as Ms Patel faced accusations of having been ‘too slow to act’.
The Home Secretary’s decision to press ahead with the move will likely spell the end of many people’s hopes of a holiday abroad in the near future.
The Home Secretary said the UK needed to protect the ‘hard won progress’ it has made in the fight against the deadly disease
It comes against the backdrop of a mounting backlash from airlines and the wider business community with the aviation industry warning the move ‘makes no sense’ and could harm the UK’s economic recovery.
Virgin Atlantic has warned the quarantine requirement will mean passenger services cannot resume until August at the earliest and it has urged the government to rely on screening measures instead.
Some of the more specific details of the new system are not expected to be finalised until the House of Commons returns from its latest recess at the start of June.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps had previously raised the prospect of ‘air bridges’ being put in place at a later date in order to connect the UK to low-infection countries and allow Britons to head abroad on holiday.
The confirmation of the plans comes after Australia became the first country to push for an exemption. Australian PM Scott Morrison is believed to be seeking for his country to be left out of the curbs after it almost wiped out the virus.
Ms Patel’s announcement came as Britain announced 351 more coronavirus deaths, taking the official number of victims to 36,393.
The final details of the quarantine plans are expected to be finalised when the House of Commons returns following its latest recess at the start of June
SAGE experts warn ‘shock’ of school closures is blighting a generation
The government’s SAGE experts have warned the ‘shock’ of school closures are blighting a generation and suggested children are at low danger from coronavirus.
Evidence produced by the Scientificvisory Group on Emergencies highlights the wider damage being caused to young people by the halt to their education.
Although theymit there is no certainty, a raft of papers suggest that children are less likely to be infected and infectious thanults, and teachers do not seem at heightened risk.
The documents, prepared in the weeks up to May 1, float the idea of splitting classes in half and having children attend schools alternate weeks, saying that could slash the effect on the coronavirus ‘R’ number.
Ministers hope publishing the documents will reassure the public about plans to start reopening schools from June 1.
But unions insisted the SAGE evidence was ‘inconclusive’ and demanded delay.
Speaking at the daily Downing Street press conference, Ms Patel said: ‘The answer as to why we are bringing these measures in now is simple. It is to protect that hard won progress and prevent a devastating resurgence in the second wave of the virus.
‘We are following the science and introducing public health measures that are supported by SAGE.
‘This will require international arrivals to self-isolate for 14 days, that is the incubation period of the virus, so that if people have become infected overseas we can limit the spread of the virus at home.
‘As we are taking this action we are taking it at a time when it will be the most effective.
‘Passenger arrivals have been down by 99 per cent compared to the previous year, now we are past the peak of this virus we must take steps to guard against imported cases, triggering a resurgence of this deadly disease.’
Ms Patel said that as the domestic rate of transmission continues to fall and the number of people coming to the UK rises, ‘imported cases could begin to pose a larger and increased threat’.
‘This is of course a different story from when domestic transmission was at its peak and when overseas travel was at an all time low,’ sheded.
Ms Patel said she believed the ‘vast majority’ of people will ‘continue to act responsibly’ and comply with the latest lockdown rules.
Cyprus will ban British tourists from entering the country when it reopens on June 9
Cyprus will reopen its airports to commercial flights but British tourists will be banned from entering the country.
Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos said that airports would reopen to commercial flights from June 9 after nearly three months of lockdown.
The phased reopening will initially allow passengers to fly to the small EU state from about 20 countries.
British tourists account for a third of all arrivals in Cyprus.
A second phase of easing restrictions will begin on June 20, the minister said after a cabinet meeting that agreed the measures.
During the first phase, visitors will need to have tested negative for coronavirus within 72 hours of arriving in Cyprus with a certificate to prove it.
Cypriot residents can take the test upon arrival in Cyprus and will have to self-isolate until the result is known.
But she warned: ‘We will not allow a small minority, a reckless minority to endanger us all so there will be penalties for those who break these mandatory measures.’
People who break the rules in England could be slapped with a £1,000 fixed penalty notice. Anyone who fails to pay could then face prosecution and unlimited fines.
The devolved nations will be able to set their own enforcement approaches. Ms Patel said the Government will be ‘unafraid’ to increase the value of the initial fine if people flout the rules.
Critics responded to the announcement by demanding to know why ministers had not imposed such restrictions earlier on during the outbreak.
The SNP’s shadow home secretary Joanna Cherry QC said that ‘as usual the UK is behind the curve’ and other countries have had similar measures in place ‘for months’.
‘The UK is finally catching up only to find other countries are in the process of moving on,’ she said.
‘The result is that hundreds of thousands of people have already arrived in the UK without any public health measures in place at ports of entry, to the annoyance and bemusement of the British public.
‘Priti Patel needs to fully explain the scientificvice underlying her inaction to date and the action she now intends to take.’
Under the plans, travellers arriving at all ports and airports will be ordered to go into self-isolation for a fortnight and to provide andress and contact details.
They will not be allowed to accept visitors, unless they are providing essential support, and should not go out to buy food or other essentials ‘where they can rely on others’, the Home Office said.
There is likely to be a small number of exemptions for truck drivers and some other critical roles while transit passengers who do not formally enter the UK will also be exempt.
Public health officials are expected to conduct approximately 100 spot checks every day to ensure people are sticking to self-isolation. Those checks will start from the middle of June.
People who arrive in the UK without accommodation arranged will have to pay for Government-arranged accommodation themselves.
Despite Ms Patel insisting the policy will be reviewed every three weeks, Whitehall sources have played down hopes that the measures could be lifted before the summer holiday season.
Virgin Atlantic warned the plan would keep planes grounded.
‘The safety and security of our people and our customers is always our top priority and public health must come first,’ a spokeswoman said.
Airlines have urged the Government not to go ahead with the plans. They believe thermal imaging could be used instead to prevent the spread of the disease
‘However, by introducing a mandatory 14-day self-isolation for every single traveller entering the UK, the Government’s approach will prevent flights from resuming.
‘We are continually reviewing our flying programme and with these restrictions, there simply won’t be sufficient demand to resume passenger services before August at the earliest.’
The airline instead called on the Government to introduce a ‘multi-layered approach’ with targeted public health and screening measures to allow the safe restart of international travel.
The chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, Karen Dee, had earlier told the Home Affairs Select Committee that drastic reductions in passenger numbers ‘may simply lead to a prolonged shutdown of all aviation’.
The Airlines UK trade body said thousands of jobs and the economy’s recovery would be jeopardised by the plan, and warned the three week reviews must be ‘robust, transparent and evidence-led’.
Chief executive Tim Alderslade said: ‘Introducing a quarantine at this stage makes no sense and will mean very limited international aviation at best.
‘It is just about the worst thing Government could do if their aim is to restart the economy.’
A spokesperson for the Association of Independent Tour Operators told The Daily Telegraph: ‘As with so many Government ‘initiatives’, the 14-day quarantine rule comes across as a bit of a stab in the dark, quite possibly to be changed as quickly as it was introduced, as with the mooted air bridges.
‘In reality, quarantine should have been put in place right at the start of the pandemic, as our European neighbours did – we are now out of synch with them, as they emerge from quarantine and we go into it.’
A spokesperson for the trade association for travel agents and tour operators ABTA said: ‘There will be pent up demand for holidays which for many of us are an important part of our lives, and it would be helpful if the Government could indicate its criteria for the transition from the current FCOvice against non-essential global travel to the re-opening of travel to destinations.’
Earlier this week, RyanAir CEO Michael O’Leary – who has previously been an outspoken critique of some measures proposed to limit the spread of the coronavirus – again called on Irish and UK governments to abandon quarantine restrictions.
Chief scientificviser warns UK’s coronavirus transmission rate is ‘close to one’
Britain’s chief scientificviser has warned that the coronavirus’s reproduction rate in the UK is ‘potentially quite close to one’, meaning that the number of new cases could start to rise again if it goes up any further.
The R rate denotes the number of other people an infected patient will pass the sickness on to and it must stay at 1 or below or Britain will face another crisis.
Sir Patrick Vallance said at today’s Downing Street briefing: ‘We’re currently at an R across the UK of between 0.7 and 1. Below 1 in every area of the UK, we think, but potentially quite close to one.
‘So the epidemic is either flat or declining at the moment in the UK and in most areas it’s declining.’
Britain today announced 351 more coronavirus deaths, taking the official number of victims to 36,393.
This is the second week in a row the R rate has officially been announced as between 0.7 and 1, meaning every 10 patients infect between seven and 10 others.
However, the way the R is calculated means it is out of date, and the latest calculation is based on data from around three weeks ago – before the lockdown loosened.
The R is calculated by working out how fast the virus spreads by comparing data including hospitalmissions, the number of patients in intensive care, death statistics and surveys to find out how many people members of the public are coming into contact with.
The new number does not factor in the slight relaxation of Britain’s lockdown measures, announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on May 13.
‘We call again on the Irish and UK governments to abandon their unexplainable, ineffective, and unimplementable quarantine restrictions,’ he said.
Piers Morgan lead calls for transparency about why coronavirus carriers were able to fly into the UK in the first place.
He wrote: ‘Of all the inexplicable decisions this Govt has made during the coronavirus crisis, quarantining people who fly into the UK after 20 million people have already flown in and 62,000 people have already died is the most… inexplicable.’
Nigel Farage tweeted: ‘The government quarantine should have been three months ago, not now. Far too late.’
Ms Patel insisted the Government does ‘recognise how hard these changes will be for our travel sector’ and that ministers will work with the industry to find ‘new ways to reopen international travel and tourism in a safe and responsible way’.
The British Chambers of Commerce said the decision to impose ‘blanket quarantine’ could ‘damage international business and investor confidence’ as it argued that checks at departure and arrival ‘would alleviate the need for a wholesale quarantine’.
A former head of Border Force said today he was ‘surprised’ quarantine measures had not been brought in at UK borders sooner.
Tony Smith, now chairman of the International Border Management and Technologies Association, told the Commons Home Affairs Committee today: ‘Yes I was surprised that we hadn’t seen earlier measures introduced at the UK border.’
Mr Shapps on Monday raised the idea of ‘air bridges’ with popular tourist destinations such as Spain.
Madrid yesterday signalled it might be prepared to welcome UK tourists from July without asking them to self-isolate for 14 days.
Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: ‘We need to find a way that the vast, vast, vast majority of people who don’t have a disease can still fly.’