Travellers entering the UK could be required to quarantine for 14 days

Apr 27, 2020

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Travellers entering the U.K. could be forced to quarantine for two weeks, according to new plans being discussed as a phased response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The scheme, which could become a “more significant part” of managing the coronavirus outbreak, would apply to both foreigners entering the U.K., as well as Britons returning home.

In an interview with Sky News on Sunday, Dominic Raab, who had been temporarily filling in for Boris Johnson, said that all travellers would be required to fill out an arrival card. The landing card would include details about their health and the address where they would self-isolate for the 14-day period.

Under the plan, officials would be able to visit the registered addresses of those who arrive in the U.K. as marked on their arrival card to make sure they were adhering to quarantine measures, according to the Daily Mail. Anyone found to not be abiding by the quarantine measures could be subject to a fine.

The second phase of the government’s response to the coronavirus crisis would become part of the “new normal”, according to Dominic Raab, and could take effect as soon as next month.

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“That’s something that we will be looking at and it could include the testing for people coming in, it could include social distancing measure and we’ll make sure… that we are absolutely on top of the scientific evidence and are taking all the measures that are necessary to protect people’s health, to protect their lives but also to preserve our way of life as we go forward, economically and socially”, Raab said.

Raab also said that the government would launch a worldwide campaign to dissuade travellers from coming to the U.K. and advising them of what to expect once they arrive.

Currently, the U.K. has an open border policy unlike more than 100 other countries around the world that have restricted who can enter. At U.K. airports, about 15,000 passengers are still arriving each day.

The lack of restrictive measures has drawn criticism from airport officials who have said that the rules are jeopardizing the health of staff and offsetting the lockdown efforts. Last week, London Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye called on the government to introduce mass health screening checks at airports.

In a letter to health secretary Matt Hancock last week, Holland-Kaye said that the government should enforce some sort of health checks for arriving passengers — temperature checks, antibody tests or a health certificate, for example.

Downing Street rejected the call, however. According to the Financial Times, the government said its position was “based on medical and scientific advice”.

“To this point it has been considered that wouldn’t be an effective step to take”, the government said. “We keep everything under review and we do continue to look at what’s happening elsewhere in the world”.

However, the government’s reported second phase offers some form of screening for arriving passengers. Instead of a health screening, however, it seems as though the government will opt for a self-quarantine for all arriving travellers.

Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Greece have already implemented measures that require new arrivals to self-quarantine for 14 days, the amount of time it typically takes for coronavirus symptoms to show.

Featured photo by Tolga AKMEN/Getty Images.

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