European leaders have responded with rage after Britain announced its plans for a tough new quarantine regime that would require UK arrivals to isolate themselves for 14 days.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has received widespread backlashes at home and abroad after revealing what the travel industry has described as "ineffective and unenforceable".
Ms. Patel announced yesterday that anyone arriving in the UK from June 8th will be legally required to isolate themselves for two weeks or face fines of up to £ 3,200.
France immediately struck back in Britain yesterday evening, saying that it "regretted" the decision and would try to impose a "reciprocal measure" on the British arriving at their borders.
In the meantime, Italy, which was once the epicenter of the European coronavirus crisis, hoped that Britain would rethink its rules and called for a "coordinated approach".
Minister of the Interior Priti Patel has received widespread backlash at home and abroad after presenting the new quarantine measures on Friday
Pictured: Passengers with a PSA queue board a flight to China at Heathrow Airport Terminal 2 on Friday
Ms. Patel said that "airlifts" could be agreed with certain countries with a similar or lower Covid-19 infection rate, which means that citizens could travel between any nation without isolating themselves.
At the time of the announcement on Friday, however, no such agreements had been made, while preliminary talks between Britain and France were ongoing on a quarantine-free corridor with no checks posted two weeks ago.
A spokesman for the French Home Secretary replied to yesterday's announcement yesterday evening: “We take note of and regret the UK government's decision.
"France is ready to take mutual action as soon as the system enters into force on the UK side."
Who is exempt from the government's duty
Here is the list of people who are exempt from the 14-day self-isolation requirement.
– A road worker and a passenger worker
– A transit passenger, a person who flies to a country outside the common travel area, who remains on the air side and who does not pass border control
– A person who arrives to receive pre-arranged treatment when receiving treatment in the UK
– A registered health or care professional who travels to the UK to provide primary care, even if it is not related to the corona virus
– A person who has traveled to the UK to transport material to a UK healthcare provider that is made up of or contains human cells or blood that are to be used to provide health care
– Quality assurance inspectors for medicinal products for human use
– Sponsors and important people who are required for clinical studies or studies
– Civil aviation inspectors who perform inspection tasks
– Eurotunnel train drivers and crew, Eurotunnel shuttle drivers, freight train drivers, crew and important cross-border rail freight workers who drive through the channel tunnel
– A Euratom inspector
– Workers who are involved in essential or emergency work related to water supply and sanitation
– Employees who are involved in essential or emergency work in connection with a power generation system, a power connection line, a district heating network, municipal heating, automated ballast cleaning and track laying systems or networks
– A worker who performs activities in offshore facilities, upstream petroleum infrastructures and critical security work on offshore facilities and wells
– Employees involved in essential or emergency work
– Driver and crew of trains operated by Eurostar International Limited, essential cross-border workers working for Eurostar International Limited
– Operational, railway maintenance, security and security personnel who work on the sewer tunnel system
– A worker with special technical skills if these special technical skills are required for essential or emergency work or services
– sailors and gentlemen
– A pilot as defined in paragraph 22 (1) of Appendix 3A of the Merchant Shipping Act
– An inspector and surveyor of ships
– Crew as defined in Annex 1 paragraph 1 of the Air Navigation Services Ordinance 2016 (h), if this crew has traveled to Great Britain as part of its work
– Nuclear personnel essential for the safe operation of a licensed nuclear site
– Nuclear emergency worker
– Inspector of the agency
– A chemical weapons ban organization inspector, a specialized aerospace engineer, or a specialized aerospace worker
– A person who carries out the operational, maintenance or safety activities of a downstream oil factory with a capacity of more than 20,000 tons
– A postal worker involved in transporting mail to and from the UK
– A person who is involved in the essential maintenance and repair of the data infrastructure
– An information technology or telecommunications professional who has the expertise to provide a significant or emergency response to security threats and incidents
– A person who carries out urgent or essential work in electronic communication networks
– A person performing urgent or essential work for the BBC's broadcasting network and services
– A seasonal worker in agriculture
– Members of diplomatic and consular posts in the United Kingdom
– Crown servants or government contractors returning to the UK who either: have to do police or essential government work within 14 days of their arrival in the UK, have performed police or essential government work outside the UK but are required to return temporarily after that they are leaving to do policing or essential government work outside the UK
– International prison escorts – a person designated by the relevant minister in accordance with Section 5 (3) of the 1984 Law on the Return of Prisoners (a).
– A person who is responsible for accompanying a person who has been ordered to extradite due to an arrest warrant issued under Part 3 of the 2003 Extradition Act or who has been requested to extradite based on other extradition agreements
– Defense personnel and contractors who perform the work necessary to carry out essential defense activities, including the armed forces and NATO
– An official who is obliged to work on essential border security obligations
– A person residing in the UK who is employed or self-employed in another country to which she normally goes at least once a week
Raffaele Trombetta, the Italian ambassador to the UK, told BBC Radio 4's Today today that no talks had yet taken place between the two countries.
He said: “A large number of British tourists always come to Italy, it is one of the UK's preferred destinations.
& # 39; We had 40 million trips from the UK to Italy last year. We know how much they love Italy. We are still open and welcome you.
"We believe that this pandemic is a global problem. The best thing to do is to take a coordinated approach."
Mr. Trombetta referred to Italy's own plans to lift the quarantine rules for travelers from the UK and the EU from June 3.
He said: "We have made it clear what we will do and it is important that the British know that they can come to Italy."
"We know that the UK's new rules will be reevaluated after three weeks. Hopefully the measures will be eased as in Italy."
Several exemptions from the new regulations were announced last night, including Irish healthcare workers' pilots living in Ireland.
However, Ms. Patel's plans have also been reviewed by the travel industry, which indicated that those arriving in the UK can use public transport to reach their address and potentially infect others.
They also said that people could circumvent the rules by flying to Ireland, which is exempt from quarantine rules, before traveling to the UK.
Ryanair, Europe's largest airline, was one of the first to enforce the new guidelines, which Ms. Patel has already admitted to being under constant review.
In a statement, the regime described it as "unenforceable" and said it was "strong against ineffective non-scientific measures".
A spokesman added: “This isolation measure will only work if passengers arriving at UK international airports are detained at airport terminals or hotels for 14 days.
"As soon as these arriving passengers have traveled to their destination on the crowded London Underground or the Heathrow and Gatwick Express or buses or taxis, the subsequent quarantine is meaningless.
"If this measure had a scientific basis, Irish visitors would not and could not be excluded."
British ministers are asked to consider the idea of "Covid passports" that could enable those suffering from the disease to travel on without being quarantined when they return to the UK.
Secretary of Transportation Grant Shapps, who is said to be supported by both Boris Johnson and Health Minister Matt Hancock, is promoting plans to get tourism moving.
Miss Patel confirmed last night that the new quarantine regime would apply to almost all arrivals, including those returning from ports and airports from abroad.
According to the plans, travelers arriving at all ports and airports are instructed to isolate themselves for a fortnight and provide an address and contact details.
They are not allowed to accept visitors unless they provide substantial support and should not go out to buy groceries or other important things "where they can rely on others," said the Home Office.
There will likely be a small number of exceptions for truck drivers and some other important roles, while transit passengers who are not officially entering the UK will also be exempt.
Public health officials are expected to perform approximately 100 samples daily to ensure that people stick to self-isolation. These checks will start in mid-June.
People who come to the UK without agreed accommodation must pay for the government-arranged accommodation themselves.
Although Ms. Patel insists that the policy be reviewed every three weeks, Whitehall sources have downplayed hopes that the measures could be lifted before the summer vacation.
Virgin Atlantic warned that the plan would keep the planes on the ground.
"The safety of our employees and our customers is always a top priority, and public health must come first," said a spokeswoman.
“By introducing mandatory 14-day self-isolation for every single traveler entering the UK, the government's approach will prevent flights from resuming.
"We are constantly reviewing our flight program and with these restrictions, there will simply not be enough demand to start passenger service again in August at the earliest."
The airline instead called on the government to adopt a “multi-layered approach” with targeted public health and screening measures to enable a safe restart of international travel.
The managing director of The Airport Operators Association, Karen Dee, had previously told the Home Affairs Select Committee that drastic reductions in passenger numbers "could simply result in longer aviation shutdowns."
France immediately struck back in Britain yesterday evening, saying that it "regretted" the decision and would try to impose a "reciprocal measure" on the British arriving at their borders
Passengers with personal protective equipment lined up on Friday to board a flight at Heathrow Airport
The strict new rules
What will happen?
All passengers arriving in the UK must fill out a form before flying to the UK. This includes British nationals who come home as well as foreign visitors. You need to provide the address where you will be in the UK – and isolate yourself there. You may not leave this address or receive visitors for 14 days.
How will it work?
Passengers can fill out the contact form on the government website up to 48 hours before departure. There are no paper versions of the form. Filling out the form prior to departure is punishable by law, but there will be a short grace period so that travelers can fill it out electronically in the arrival hall.
How is this enforced?
Samples are taken to ensure that all passengers have completed a form. Border Force personnel will interview people as they exit planes and at border checkpoints.
What happens if I refuse to fill out a contact form?
Border Force officials will fine you with a £ 100 fine on site.
When does this take effect?
What reviews take place during the 14 day period?
Public health officials carry out random checks by telephone. If these doubts arise, the police will visit the address and may fine you.
What happens if I leave the address I provided on the form?
In England you will be fined GBP 1,000. They could even be prosecuted and face an unlimited fine if convicted. The Home Office said the fine could increase to over £ 1,000 if the "infection risk from abroad" increases. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will have their own enforcement systems.
A spokesman for the Association of Independent Tour Operators told The Daily Telegraph: "As with so many government initiatives," the 14-day quarantine rule works like a stab in the dark that may need to be changed as quickly as it was introduced discussed airlifts.
"In reality, the quarantine should have been set up right at the start of the pandemic, as our European neighbors did. We are now out of sync with them because they come out of the quarantine and we agree to it."
Piers Morgan calls for transparency as to why coronavirus carriers could fly to the UK in the first place.
He wrote: & # 39;Of all the inexplicable decisions that this government made during the coronavirus crisis, the most inexplicable is the quarantine of people who fly to Britain after 20 million people have flown in and 62,000 have died. & # 39;
Nigel Farage tweeted: “The government quarantine should have taken place three months ago, not now. Too late. & # 39;
Ms. Patel insisted that the government "recognize how difficult these changes will be for our travel sector" and that ministers will work with industry to "find new ways to safely and responsibly restore international travel and tourism to open".
A former head of the Border Force said today that he was "surprised" that quarantine measures had not been taken earlier at the British borders.
Tony Smith, now chair of the International Border Management and Technologies Association, said today to the Commons Home Affairs Committee: "Yes, I was surprised that we hadn't implemented any previous measures at the UK border."
Mr. Shapps raised the idea of "airlifts" with popular tourist destinations such as Spain on Monday.
Madrid yesterday signaled that it could be ready to welcome British tourists in July without asking them to isolate themselves for 14 days.
John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow, said: "We need to find a way for the vast, vast, vast majority of people who are disease-free to fly."
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