Author: Richard Vaughan
Home Secretary Priti Patel announced new tougher border restrictions to protect the UK’s vaccination programme
UK travellers intending to leave the country will have to provide a “written declaration” spelling out their reasons for departure, under tougher new border rules announced yesterday.
The Home Secretary told MPs that all travel out of the country was banned unless a valid reason, to be checked by airlines, was provided. A failure to provide a declaration could result in a police fine.
Priti Patel said police presence on the border will be increased and the Government will review its travel-exemptions list.
She said: “Despite the stay-at-home regulations, we are still seeing people not complying with these rules. The rules are clear: people should be staying at home unless they have a valid reason to leave.
“Going on holiday is not a valid reason, so we will introduce a new requirement so that people wishing to travel must first make a declaration as to why they need to travel.”
Hotel quarantine confirmed
Boris Johnson earlier confirmed plans for all British residents entering the UK from global Covid-19 hot spots to be forced to isolate in hotels to prevent the spread of the disease.
The Prime Minister told the Commons that passengers will be “met at the airport and transported directly into quarantine”.
The strict new measures will only apply to travellers arriving from 30 countries on a red list, despite calls from ministers and scientists to introduce a blanket quarantine programme for all arrivals into the country. The list of countries includes all of South America, a large portion of Africa and Portugal.
Police will also step up checks on people who must self-isolate when entering the UK from every other nation not on the banned list, with around a 1,000 checks a day to be undertaken to ensure people are complying with the rules.
Travellers will be taken to hotels where they will be required to isolate for 10 days at their own expense. It is unclear how much people will be expected to pay for the isolation, but similar schemes in Australia typically cost between £1,500 and £2,500 for a two-week stay.
Full details will be published by the Department for Health and Social Care next week, Ms Patel added.
‘Behind the curve’
Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said the plans for hotel quarantining were “too limited” and left “huge gaps” in the country’s defences.
“Mutations of the virus risk undermining the efficacy of the vaccines, threatening life and hope,” he said.
“We cannot know where these mutations will emerge from next and the truth is the Government is once again behind the curve.”
Prof Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, blamed the UK’s failure to implement tougher border restrictions earlier in the pandemic had contributed to the high loss of life.
Prof Baul said the UK and Europe “really struggled” with the closure of borders, which happened very quickly in countries like Vietnam, Taiwan, South Korea and within China.