Norfolk MP defends government’s 14-day quarantine policy for UK arrivals
A Norfolk MP has defended the government’s decision to bring in a 14-day quarantine rule for arrivals into the UK, despite warnings it could cripple the aviation industry.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast on Thursday, Northern Ireland secretary and MP for Great Yarmouth, Brandon Lewis, said that now was “the right time” to introduce the measures.
From June 8, all arrivals into the UK must quarantine for two weeks or face a fine of up to £1,000. This applies to anyone coming from abroad, regardless of whether they are showing symptoms.
Arrivals will be asked to give their address and phone number and their whereabouts will be monitored.
In response to accusations that this was the wrong time to be imposing the quarantine, Mr Lewis said: “When you have higher community transmission rates, like we did in March, the difference of someone coming into the country with the virus is marginal.
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“But as community transmission rates get lower, someone coming into the country with the virus will have a much bigger impact.”
He added: “Doing this in March or late February wouldn’t have made sense given rates were so high. And though it seems like a long time ago, at the beginning of this we were taking action at the airports - we even had specific NHS facilities in place for people when they first returned to the UK.
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“We will be reviewing the situation every three weeks.”
Concerns about the rules have also been raised by the aviation industry, with calls for a lockdown lift on flying by the end of June or the prospect of economic ruin.
A spokeswoman for Norwich Airport previously said: “We echo the Airport Operators Association’s (AOA) disappointment that the government has decided to go ahead with a simplistic, blanket approach to quarantining all arrivals, without any consultation with industry.“As per the AOA’s response on behalf of the aviation industry, we believe the UK should move towards a science-led, risk-based approach as soon as possible, or risk being left behind.”
Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK’s chief scientific adviser, said at Wednesday’s daily briefing that the measures are most effective “when the number of cases is low, and when applied to countries from higher rates”.