British home secretary, Priti Patel, has unveiled plans for a 14-day quarantine for anybody entering the UK from overseas.
From June 8th, anybody entering the country will be expected to self-isolation for two weeks, or face the threat of a £1,000 fine.
All arriving passengers will also be required to fill in a contact form to provide details so they can be found if they, or someone they may have been in contact with, develops the disease.
Passengers arriving in the UK by plane, ferry or train – including UK nationals – will be subject to the quarantine.
The UK border force will undertake checks at the border and may refuse entry to any non-British citizen who refuses to comply with the regulations.
Public health authorities will conduct random checks in England to ensure compliance with self-isolation requirements.
Quarantined people must not go to work, school, or public areas, or use public transport or taxis.
They should also not have any visitors unless they are providing essential support, and should not go out to buy food or other essentials where they can rely on others.
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.”
A small number of people will be exempt from the new rules.
These include visitors from Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, as well as road haulage and freight workers, medical professionals who are travelling to help with the fight against coronavirus and seasonal agricultural workers.
While the Home Office said it had been working closely with partners ahead of announcing the changes, the move has been criticised by the travel industry.
Manchester Airport Group chief executive, Charlie Cornish, said: “For as long as it lasts, a blanket quarantine policy will be a brick wall to the recovery of the UK aviation and tourism industries, with huge consequences for UK jobs and GDP.
“By enabling people to travel between the UK and low risk countries, the aviation industry is able to help lead the UK economy out of this crisis, just as it has in previous recessions.
“But in order for this to happen, the government must work quickly to create a smart and targeted approach that recognises that many countries are already low risk.
“European countries are starting to open up, and some that are popular with British holidaymakers want to agree two-way arrangements with the UK to enable travel.”
Those entering the UK will also be encouraged to download the NHS Covid-19 app at the border and use it for the duration of their stay in the UK.
Patel also mooted the possibility of ‘air bridges’ – agreements between countries who both have low transmission rates to recognise departure screening measures, removing the need for quarantine measures for incoming passengers.
However, no details were confirmed.
The new rules are expected to be reviewed every three weeks.
Commenting on the change, an ABTA spokesperson said: “Protecting public health is a priority and it’s vital to base decisions about travel on the best health and scientific advice.
“No-one should be in any doubt, however, that a 14-day quarantine period for all travellers returning to the UK will unavoidably put many people off travelling abroad or visiting the UK, and will therefore have a hugely damaging impact on the UK inbound and outbound tourism industries – which support hundreds of thousands of jobs in this country and have already been severely affected by the pandemic.
“It’s therefore critical that the government regularly reviews this policy – including assessing its effectiveness and how it works with other control measures.
Xinhua News Agency/PA