LONDON | Any person arriving in the United Kingdom from abroad must observe from Monday, a quarantine of 14 days in order to avoid importing new cases of coronavirus, a measure found to be poorly timed and that panics the air and tourism.
This quatorzaine, which will be reviewed by the british government every three weeks, for all arrivals by land, sea and air, travellers are resident or not in the United Kingdom.
It is designed to prevent the importation of new cases of the disease COVID-19 while the country has started to lift at the beginning of June the restrictions put in place at the end of march to contain its spread.
“We are introducing this quarantine because as the number of new infections is decreasing (in the Uk), the proportion of infections from abroad is increasing”, explained the Health minister, Matt Hancock, on the tv channel Sky News.
Controls and fines
Random checks will be implemented and violators will be subject to a fine of 1,000 pounds (1 122 euros). Exceptions are provided for road transport operators, healthcare workers, gatherers of fruit or travelers from Ireland.
But the desirability of such a measure is discussed, with some stressing that the priority is to improve the health situation of the country.
There are 40 542 deaths of people tested positive to the new coronavirus — and even more 48 000 by also including suspected cases, to nearly 287 000 contamination, according to the latest official toll, Sunday.
“I think that we should really continue to significantly lower the level (of infections) in this country,” before establishing a quarantine, said recently on the BBC, professor Robert Dingwall, a member of a sub-group of the scientific committee responsible for advising the government on the pandemic.
The service for national statistics (ONS) has estimated at more than 5 500 the number of infections is day-to-day at the end of may in England. And according to a study by the authorities of health england (PHE England) and researchers from the university of Cambridge, the virus accelerates even slightly, its spread in some regions since the beginning of the déconfinement.
The scientific advisor to the government, Patrick Vallance, has himself estimated, in front of the press, that the decision to impose this quarantine was more political than scientific, although the government prides itself to follow strictly the scientific advice.
Brought to the ground by the pandemic, the professionals of the aviation and tourism are very raised against this measure.
The airlines British Airways, EasyJet and Ryanair have called Sunday on the government to abandon this “quarantine ineffective, which will have a devastating effect on the tourism industry in british and destroy (…) thousands of jobs”. They have co-signed an official letter addressed Friday to the government, a preliminary step to a possible court action.
“Thousands of Europeans who would normally be in the Uk in July and August, during the high season will not come because they are terrified of this quarantine,” explained the boss of Ryanair, Michael O’leary on Sky News on Monday.
The jobs of 25 000 people working at the airport at london Heathrow, about one-third of the total workforce, are in danger, warned the boss of the airport, John Holland-Kaye, in the podcast of the daily life of the business centre in london City AM.
The revolt has spread even within the members of the conservative majority, who fear that the government will not sabotage the economy, already laid low by the health crisis.
As the gate of exit, the government of Boris Johnson’s is thinking of establishing air bridges with some tourist destinations, such as France or Spain, which would bypass the quarantine. According to the Sunday Times, the officer requested the Transport minister to find a solution before the end of June.