Priti Patel announces 14-day quarantine for international travellers as she leads Covid-19 briefing

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Martha Fairlie

The Home Secretary Priti Patel has announced plans to quarantine international travellers for 14 days as she leads the daily government Covid-19 briefing.

The plans mean people arriving in the UK from June 8 with have to self-isolate for 14 days, although certain workers will be exempt.

People face spot checks and £1,000 fines for breaching the self-isolation terms under the measures aimed at guarding against a second wave of coronavirus in the UK.

Road hauliers and medical officials will be exempted, while the common travel area with Ireland will be unaffected.

Arrivals from France will largely not be exempt, officials have already confirmed, following confusion earlier this week, although there are some exceptions.

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has slammed the plans.

Travellers will be asked to fill in a form with their contact information, and health officials will perform spot checks to ensure compliance with the measures.

Many countries imposed quarantine rules at the beginning of pandemic, but the Home Secretary said now was "the most effective” time to implement them.

She told the daily Downing Street press conference: “The answer as to why we’re bringing in these measures now is simple: It is to protect that hard-won progress and prevent a devastating resurgence in a second wave of the virus."

Ms Patel said that passenger arrivals have been down 99% compared to the previous year but now the peak has passed, steps to “guard against imported cases” must be imposed.

Arrivals at airports like Heathrow from overseas will need to self-isolate for 14 days. Credit: PA

Paul Lincoln, Border Force director general, said spot checks would be carried out on the accuracy of quarantine forms of those arriving into the UK from abroad.

He said the Border Force expected most people to comply with the measures but the agency was ready to act in cases where the rules were not followed.

“Any obvious errors will trigger a requirement for the passenger to complete another form or potentially be refused entry into the UK,” he said.

“Given the high levels of compliance to date, we expect the vast majority of people will take this seriously and do the right thing,” Mr Lincoln added.

“We will, however, take enforcement action against a small minority of people who may disregard these actions and therefore further endanger people’s lives.”

The Home Secretary said all but essential travel was still advised against by the UK Government, insisting that the move did not equate to Britain shutting its borders.

“We are not shutting down completely. We are not closing our borders.

“People need to recognise that.

“What we are seeking to do is control the spread of the virus because we do not want a second wave of this virus.”

Some workers from overseas will be exempt from quarantine. Credit: PA

The move has angered some airlines and trade bodies who claim they have not been given “specific discussions” as yet on how a quarantine would be implemented.

A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said the measures "will prevent flights from resuming" echoing an earlier warning from Airlines UK that a quarantine “would effectively kill” international travel to and from Britain.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary earlier this week branded the plan “idiotic” and “unimplementable”.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said in a statement: “Rather than this blanket measure, we believe the answer lies in Government taking a more targeted, risk-based approach, as happens with aviation security standards today.

“The Transport Secretary referenced the concept of ‘air bridges’ in Parliament this week – a measure that would enable travel between countries which share commonality in country-wide health measures, screening standards in travel and/or low rates of transmission.

“This proposal must be seen as a crucial step in the right direction.”

Passengers arriving from France will not be exempt from forthcoming UK coronavirus quarantine measures. Credit: PA

The Home Secretary said ministers will work to “find new ways to reopen international travel and tourism in a safe and responsible way”.

“We also recognise how hard these changes will be for our travel sector, and leisure sectors, who are already struggling through these unprecedented times," she said.

“So, across Government, we will continue to work with them and support what is an incredibly dynamic sector to find new ways to reopen international travel and tourism in a safe and responsible way.”

Ms Patel also confirmed the plan will be reviewed every three weeks.