TPG readers share their thoughts on the UK government’s controversial 14-day quarantine policy

Jun 13, 2020

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While some countries like Australia and New Zealand implemented mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine policies from the onset of the coronavirus crisis, the United Kingdom has taken a very different approach. Until 8 June, there was no requirement for passengers arriving into the U.K. from abroad to isolate themselves for any period of time.

The new U.K. policy now requires isolation for 14 days for all arriving international passengers — including U.K. nationals. However, this will only be enforced by a possible phone call with a £1,000 fine for breaches, and the quarantine can be performed in the comfort of a private residence, rather than a controlled hotel environment.

Related: Everything you need to know about the UK’s mandatory 14-day quarantine for international arrivals

The timing and enforcement of the policy is a hot topic among travellers in the U.K. right now. Some airlines are challenging the policy, saying that it is both inadequate and will unfairly impact the possibility of British travellers being able to have any kind of summer holiday abroad this year. We asked the TPG U.K. Lounge for their thoughts on the new policy and how it might affect their travel plans this year.

Senior woman and adult son wearing face mask at airport in fear of coronavirus and travel ban and international trips cancellations for disease control and prevention of COVID-19 outbreak pandemic. (Photo by sam thomas/Getty Images)
(Photo by sam thomas/Getty Images)

Overwhelmingly, readers told us they felt the policy will not achieve its desired objectives. Of the more than 100 people who answered our question, 78% said they believed the policy was insufficient to address the threat of coronavirus continuing to enter the U.K. And 94% of respondents said they felt there was a greater risk of contracting coronavirus from people within the U.K, than those arriving into the U.K. from abroad.

“I’d be all for quarantine several months ago, but now it’s doing almost no good and far more harm to the U.K.”, said Matthew. “As a U.K. expat who would frequently travel to the U.K., I definitely will not be going anywhere near the U.K. until these measures are lifted”.

Only 14% of TPG U.K. readers who answered felt the policy will noticeably assist with the containment of COVID-19 within the U.K., with 86% instead believing it will have no noticeable effect.

“Travel restrictions do absolutely nothing to stop the spread of pandemics”, said Ryan, a TPG U.K. reader and infectious disease epidemiologist. “At the beginning of a pandemic, they may delay exponential growth for a few days at best. At our current stage, nothing at all”.

Several readers felt that testing arriving passengers for COVID-19 would be a far more effective process. If the test results are positive, the passenger should absolutely quarantine, ideally in a strictly isolated and controlled hotel environment. However, if the test returns negative, readers saw little point for a 14-day home quarantine.

Reader Dan pointed out that under the new policy, he could go abroad, fly home and then quarantine himself. But his wife, who he lives with and is a doctor, would continue going to hospitals each day during the quarantine, potentially passing the risk along during the quarantine period.

Perhaps the most interesting response was how the policy would affect our readers’ travel plans this summer. As some European countries insist they plan to welcome British tourists before the summer ends, the policy may mean the quarantine period required at the end of any travel abroad could be longer than the holiday itself.

So would a long overdue trip abroad be worth taking if it required a 14-day quarantine afterwards? The vote was more evenly split, with 56% saying they would still travel this summer if they could, even if the quarantine was required when they returned home. The remaining 44% said they were not willing to travel while the quarantine policy is in place.

“It’s not worth my life to travel as much as I desperately want a change of scenery”, said reader Charmaine.

Passengers wearing PPE (personal protective equipment), including a face mask as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, walk through the arrivals hall after landing at at Terminal Two of London Heathrow Airport in west London, on May 9, 2020. - Britain could introduce a 14-day mandatory quarantine for international arrivals to stem the spread of coronavirus as part of its plan to ease the lockdown, an airline association said Saturday, sparking alarm in an industry already badly hit by the global pandemic. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Bottom line

TPG readers overwhelmingly feel that the new 14-day quarantine policy will not noticeably assist the country’s attempts to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

As a contrast, New Zealand, a fellow island nation, adopted a “go hard, go early” strict quarantine policy and now has no active cases of the virus anywhere in the country. This has allowed the government to end all social distancing requirements and allow all businesses and public spaces to reopen immediately with no restrictions. New Zealand will continue its mandatory hotel quarantine programme for the time being, as that’s the only threat of the virus returning to the country.

Featured image by TOLGA AKMEN/Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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