UK announces new quarantine restrictions for visitors, returning residents
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During a May 10 press conference, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that all travelers arriving in the U.K. by air will “soon” be subject to a mandatory quarantine period. No hard date has been set as of the time of publishing this article.
“I am serving notice that it will soon be the time – with transmission significantly lower – to impose quarantine on people coming into this country by air,” Johnson said the about the travel quarantine.
Johnson also discussed a plan to lift certain restrictions over the coming weeks and months, including reopening shops, schools, restaurants and other establishments. All reopening is subject to the number of coronavirus-related infections and deaths decreasing.
While not yet confirmed, The Guardian has reported that the impending U.K. travel quarantine will go into effect by the end of the month or early June and require both visitors and Britons alike to self-isolate for 14 days at a private residence.
“We will be asking for assurances that this decision has been led by the science and that government has a credible exit plan, with weekly reviews to ensure the restrictions are working and still required,” said Airlines UK, which represents British Airways, EasyJet and other UK-based airlines.
The Airport Operators Association’s chief executive, Karen Dee, is worried that the 14-day quarantine mandate would devastate the aviation industry and the overall economy. “If quarantine is a necessary tool for fighting Covid-19, then the government should act decisively to protect the hundreds of thousands of airport-related and travel-related jobs across the UK,” said Dee.
Most UK-based airlines have implemented travel waiver policies, allowing passengers to change the date of their flight or to retain the value as a credit to use later. Similar to the US, UK airports have never been emptier. Some have turned into plane parks while others are eerily vacant, with passenger demand at an all-time low.
Britain now has the highest number of Covid-19 deaths in Europe, surpassing Italy on May 5 with over 31,000 deaths. However, the government says that the UK is heading toward “phase two” of its coronavirus response, which involves partially lifting lockdown.
Additional reporting by Andrew Kunesh
Featured photo by Justin Paget/Getty Images.