Home Secretary Priti Patel has confirmed that the 14-day quarantine measures for people arriving to the UK from overseas will be introduced, despite strong opposition from leading hospitality businesses and tourism figures.
Under the new rules decided upon after a three-week review, anybody arriving into the country by plane, ferry or train will have to self-isolate for 14 days, with Patel’s statement to the House of Commons saying that the move was ‘a proportionate and time-limited approach to protect the health of the British people’.
Earlier this week, more than 200 hospitality and tourism leaders called for the government to scrap the plans, saying it was ‘worrying and deeply damaging’ for the economy and the country.
The group of firms included hotel businesses such as The Ritz, Claridge’s and The Connaught, as well as travel companies such as Kuoni and Travelbag.
They said that there was ‘glimmer of hope’ that some portion business during the summer season could be salvaged, but the quarantine rules would deter all international travel, with some bookings already impacted since the first announcement.
But yesterday Patel confirmed the industry’s worst fears, by implementing the planned quarantine, from next Monday with a review not taking place until the week beginning June 28.
Patel said that under the new measures, arrivals to the UK will be required to fill in a ‘contact locator form’, details where they will isolate and how they can be contacted. She revealed that Border Force would have the power to impose a £100 fine on those who don’t comply.
Breaking isolation early in England could result in a fine of up to £1,000 or prosecution, she added.
After three weeks, the situation will be reviewed, and the government would aim to explore other options for future safe travel, including ‘international travel corridors’ and ensure we have ‘greater freedom in the longer term’.
These measures do not apply for those travelling from within the common travel area (CTA) in Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, unless they have arrived from outside of the CTA in the previous 14 days.
The proposals were also criticised by both the Opposition and Conservative backbenchers – including former Trade Secretary Liam Fox. Many said it should have come at the start of lockdown not at the end.
In her statement, Patel said: “The UK is past the peak of coronavirus but the country is now more vulnerable to new infections being brought in from abroad.
“Any international approaches will be bilateral and agreed with the other countries concerned.
“We need to ensure that those countries are deemed to be safe. We are not alone in our fight against this disease, or in the measures we have taken to stop it.”
The Transport Secretary will also host a roundtable discussion with the travel sector today and the broader business sector to develop a long-term plan for the industry.