Travelers arriving in Britain will face 14 days of quarantine from next month to avoid a second outbreak of coronavirus, the government announced on Friday, warning that anyone breaking the rules would face a fine or prosecution.
The new rules will apply to all international arrivals except Ireland from June 8 and will come after weeks of calls for tighter restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Health professionals who commute to work during the crisis, seasonal agricultural workers and those working in freight and road transport, among others, will be exempt.
“We want to reduce the risk of imported cases being brought into the United Kingdom,” Interior Minister Priti Patel said at a daily government press conference.
Patel said the measure would be reviewed every three weeks, adding, “We are not closing completely. We are not closing our borders.
“What we are trying to do is control the spread of the virus because we do not want a second wave of this virus.”
The quarantine decision is controversial, particularly with the aviation industry, where flights were grounded and the number of passengers dropped during the lockout.
France has also expressed disappointment that, despite initial assurances, it is not exempt from the plan.
Britain has the second highest death rate in the world in the global pandemic, and the government has been criticized for failing to impose border controls and quarantine earlier.
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary this week called a proposed quarantine plan “silly” and accused the ministers of “inventing it as they go”.
Virgin Atlantic said quarantine would prevent resumption of service and said “there will simply not be enough demand to resume passenger service before August at the earliest.”
Airlines UK, the trade agency, has said it will “effectively kill” international travel to the UK.
Others asked why Britain hadn’t introduced quarantine earlier, as did countries like South Korea, Spain and the United States.
“The UK has been a little too late, playing more and more catching up, fighting fires,” geneticist and Nobel laureate Paul Nurse told the BBC.
“We are desperately looking for clear leadership at all levels.”
But Home Office chief scientific adviser John Aston said border restrictions would have had a “negligible” effect if imposed earlier because the virus was so widespread in Britain.
“As the number of infections in the UK decreases, we must now manage the risk of reintroduction of transmissions from elsewhere,” he added.
The French Interior Ministry has expressed its “regret” not to be exempted from the quarantine plan, after having assured earlier this month that it would be.
“France is ready to set up a reciprocity system once the system comes into force on the British side,” she said in a statement.
Patel said she had worked closely with the French authorities and that there were exemptions for “frontier workers” and to preserve “the critical supply of goods”.
Britain has recorded the highest number of deaths in Europe from the coronavirus, with more than 36,000 people tested positive who have died so far.
Under the new plans, passengers will have to fill out a form providing their contact details and travel information so that they can be found in the event of infection.
They could also be contacted regularly during the 14 day period to ensure that they comply. The rules include not leaving your accommodation or accepting visitors.
When accommodation in hotels or with friends or family members is deemed inappropriate, travelers will have to isolate themselves in “government-organized facilities,” the interior ministry said.
Offenses result in a fine of 1,000 ($ 1,220, 1,120 euros) in England or prosecution with an unlimited fine.
Separate implementing rules will be laid down by the decentralized governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Foreign nationals who do not reside in the UK could be refused entry and sent back as a last resort, the department added.
Britain is currently piloting a smartphone-based contact tracking application to better identify cases and the spread of the virus nationwide.
Newcomers will be encouraged to download the app once it is rolled out nationwide, said the Interior Ministry.
(This story has not been edited by GalacticGaming staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)