Saturday, 9 May 2020

The UK to introduce a 14 day arrival quarantine for all incoming air passengers?

Photo London Heathrow

According to the media in the UK, some airlines have been told that the UK's Government is about to introduce a requirement that all new arrivals by flight to the UK would be required to go into quarantine for 14 days, to help prevent the spread of coronavirus COVID-19.

The government imposed 14-day quarantine period would apply to all those arriving in the UK from any country with the exception of the Republic of Ireland.  Also, certain medical professionals would be exempt from the regulations, which would come in at the end of this month.

Various media outlets have quoted 'sources' inside government or 'contacts' in the aviation world, without naming them have said passengers would be required to provide the address where they will be staying when they arrive. There would be some spot checks according to some in the media,  although details of that appear to be sketchy at the moment and will perhaps not be known until the government actually announces the policy. The Times newspaper reported that fines for breaking the quarantine would be up to £1000 and/or deportation.

A Home Office spokesperson told us "We do not comment on leaks. The focus remains on staying at home to protect the NHS and save lives."

However, the government has been known to have discussed and investigated the matter, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said last week on the Andrew Marr Show that the government was "actively looking at these issues, right now, so that when we have infection rates within the country under control we're not importing". He said it was important "that we do ensure that the sacrifices, in a sense, social distancing, that we're asking the British people to make are matched by anyone who comes to this country".

Airlines UK, the industry association representing UK-registered carriers said:  "A proposal that would effectively kill international travel to and from UK"

Airline members of Airlines UK includes: Excel Aviation,  British Airways, easyJet,, Jota Aviation,  Norwegian UK, Ryanair, Titan Airways, TUI Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and West Atlantic UK.

It added the proposal would "cause immeasurable damage to the aviation industry and wider UK economy. Nobody is going to go on holiday if they’re not able to resume normal life for 14 days, and business travel would be severely restricted. It will also make it all but impossible for aviation to resume any time soon, thereby setting back the UK’s economic recovery still further."

In an ideal world, with hindsight,  such a quarantine rule would have been far more effective had it been introduced at the very start of the pandemic when there were only a few known cases in the UK along with other measures of isolation. However, with a relaxing of lockdown rules, the proposed restriction could help prevent a new wave of infections spread from new arrivals in the country. But will the cost of introducing this, to airports, airlines and the government outweigh the benefits?  Only time will tell and we'll have to wait until the policy if officially announced and more details are made public.  
Photo Gatwick Airport / J Milstein 

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