Two-week quarantine announced for those arriving in UK from overseas
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Two-week quarantines will be imposed on new arrivals to the UK from June 8, with fines for anyone who breaches the measure to prevent new waves of coronavirus from overseas.
Home Secretary Priti Patel announced on Friday that mandatory self-isolation would not apply to people coming from Ireland, medics tackling Covid-19 and seasonal agricultural workers.
Passengers would have to fill a form providing their contact and travel information so they can be traced if infections arise and could be contacted regularly during the 14 days to ensure their compliance.
Breaches would be punishable with a £1,000 fixed penalty notice in England, or prosecution with an unlimited fine, while devolved nations can set out their own enforcement approaches.
Border Force will be able to refuse entry to foreign citizens who are not UK residents during border checks while removal from the country could be used as a last resort, the Home Office said.
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Arrivals will be advised to use personal transport to head to their accommodation and once there not leave for 14 days.
They will not be allowed to accept visitors, unless they are providing essential support, and should not go out to buy food or other essentials “where they can rely on others”, the department said.
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The Home Office said if accommodation does not meet necessary requirements – with hotels, or with friends and family listed as options – they will have to self-isolate in “facilities arranged by the Government”.
Ms Patel said: “As the world begins to emerge from what we hope is the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, we must look to the future and protect the British public by reducing the risk of cases crossing our border.
“We are introducing these new measures now to keep the transmission rate down and prevent a devastating second wave.
“I fully expect the majority of people will do the right thing and abide by these measures. But we will take enforcement action against the minority of people who endanger the safety of others.”
The announcement will provoke fresh anger from the aviation industry, with airlines warning the measures could be disastrous for them.
Fresh questions will also be asked why the measure was not imposed early on in the pandemic.
Home Office chief scientific adviser Professor John Aston said: “The scientific advice so far has been clear: while there has been significant community transmission of the virus within the UK, the impact of putting in place additional border restrictions would have been negligible to the spread of the virus.
“However, the spread of the virus within the UK is now lessening. We have been successful in getting the reproduction number R – the average number of new people infected by one infected person – below 1.
“As the number of infections within the UK drops, we must now manage the risk of transmissions being reintroduced from elsewhere.”
The Home Office said arrivals would be encouraged to download the NHS contact tracing app at the border “once rolled out nationally”.
A full list of exemptions from the measure will be published online, but it will include:
• Road haulage and freight workers
• Medical professionals travelling to help the coronavirus effort
• Anyone moving from within the common travel area covering Ireland, the Channel Island and the Isle of Man
• Seasonal agricultural workers who will self-isolate on the property they are working.
Ministers were continuing to consider forging so-called air bridges with other nations that have low transmission rates in order to allow some international travel.