PRITI Patel is outlining quarantine travel rules today which will force everyone coming into the UK from Monday to stay home for 14 days.
The Home Secretary is laying out her plans this lunchtime, despite a backlash from Tory MPs and tourism bosses that the moves will harm the economy and cost jobs.
Ministers say it will stop new cases being brought in from abroad and prevent a second wave of the virus.
But travel industry experts say quarantine will cost Britain’s tourism sector as much as £15billion if it goes on through the summer.
Minister Kelly Tolhurst said this afternoon ahead of the statement: “I have been working hard with the sector to find solutions to make sure that we can get planes in the air and people on their holidays as soon as possible.”
But angry MPs including former PM Theresa May stood up to attack the Government over the plan before it was even revealed.
Mrs May blasted: “Instead of bringing in measures to close Britain off from the rest of the world, why is the Government not taking a lead in developing international aviation health screening standard to save jobs and ensure Britain is open for businesses?”
And MP Huw Merriman described it as the “wrong policy at the worst possible time”.
The plan will see:
- Travellers to the UK will have to quarantine in one specific address for 14 days when they come into the UK
- They will face spot checks and could face £1000 fines if they break them
- But they will be allowed to break the two-week coronavirus quarantine to pop out for food, attend funerals and can use public transport, Downing Street said yesterday
- Those from the Common Travel Area – Ireland, the Channel Islands and The Isle of Man – will be exempt, and the measures will be reviewed every three weeks
- All arrivals from Monday will have to hand over their contact details
The Government confirmed there was a list of exemptions to the controversial rules after a backlash from Tory MPs – but said these were only in case of an emergency.
All arrivals from Monday – except a short list of exemptions – will have to hand over contact details and an address of where they will self-isolate for 14-days.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Protecting the public’s health and avoiding a second peak that overwhelms the NHS will always be our top priority.
“As we get the virus under control here, we must manage the risk of cases being imported from abroad. We owe it to the thousands who’ve lost their lives not to throw away our progress.
“These measures are informed by science, backed by the public and will keep us all safe.”
It’s hoped that the Home Secretary will reveal more about whether air-bridges will be a viable solution to stop the 14-day quarantining being needed.
They will allow deals to be struck between countries with low infection rates.
However, at the moment Britain has a relatively high rate, which could kill off summer getaway plans.
Also MPs have demanded the measures be scrapped in favour of a system where people get tested at the border – either coming in or out of the country.
If a quick coronavirus test can be rolled out at scale in the coming weeks, this could be possible and see visitors flood back into the country, but safely.
It’s been reported that air-bridge deals could be sealed by as soon as the end of the month.
Today the Portuguese foreign minister has said an agreement could be in place in weeks.
Augusto Santos Silva said Brits were “most welcome” with hopes for the agreement to be confirmed by the end of June.
Mr Santos Silva told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “quarantine is an enemy of tourism”.
Earlier today Heathrow’s boss John Holland Kaye lashed out at the “warm words” from Government and stressed they could not allow a “health pandemic to turn into an economic pandemic”.
He urged ministers to “save people’s holidays” as he warned he’ll have to cut jobs in weeks if there’s no plan to exit the 14-day quarantine plan.
Mr Holland-Kaye told Radio 4’s Today programme that passenger numbers would remain low until the Government publishes a plan for how to ditch the quarantine.
He said: “We know how quarantine will work, but there has to be an exit plan.
“We have seen warm words, we haven’t seen action.
“Unless we can see that, that gives us confidence, we wont be able to take the measures that are needed to get the UK economy moving and to save people’s holidays.”
The coronavirus pandemic has been “devastating” for the aviation sector and hit millions of jobs in tourism and hospitality too.
He added: “If we don’t get a plan from the Government in the next few days on how we are going to reopen the economy, those jobs are at risk.
“As chief executive, I am going to have to make that decision in the next few weeks about jobs in my own company.
“We need to stop this health pandemic becoming an unemployment pandemic.”
A YouGov poll this week showed 63 per cent of people in favour of a blanket quarantine for people coming into the UK, while 24 per cent supported it but wanted it limited to arrivals from high-risk destinations.
Only 4 per cent opposed it completely.