LONDON (Reuters) – Britain will introduce a COVID-19 quarantine for travellers arriving from abroad from June 8, interior minister Priti Patel said on Friday, a measure that airlines have warned will devastate their industry.
Passengers wearing protective clothing are seen at Heathrow Airport, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London, Britain, May 22, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville
All international arrivals, including returning Britons, will have to self-isolate for 14 days and provide details of where they will be staying.
“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,” Patel said at a news conference.
Those who breached the quarantine in England could be fined 1,000 pounds ($1,218), and spot checks would be carried out by health and border officials.
The quarantine will not apply to those arriving from the Irish Republic, nor to freight drivers, medical professionals and seasonal agricultural workers. The measures will be reviewed every 3 weeks.
Transport minister Grant Shapps has also suggested the government would seek to negotiate “air bridges” for travellers coming from countries with low virus infection rates.
Unlike many other countries, Britain has carried out few tests and checks on visitors, with quarantine limited only to arrivals from China at the start of the outbreak.
That has led to accusations that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has been too slow to act, but it now also faces criticism over plans to bring in the quarantine.
Airline bosses have said the measures would have severe repercussions, with Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s chief executive, saying they would be “unenforceable and unpoliceable.”
“Introducing a quarantine at this stage makes no sense and will mean very limited international aviation at best,” said Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of industry body Airlines UK.
“It is just about the worst thing government could do if their aim is to restart the economy.”
Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, Kate Holton, Alistair Smout, Estelle Shirbon and Kylie MacLellan; editing by Michael Holden and Stephen Addison