in Aerospace / Security

New public health measures introduced for UK arrivals

Posted 26 May 2020 · Add Comment

New measures at the UK border to guard against a second wave of coronavirus infections have been announced by the Home Secretary, which include 14 days’ self-isolation for anyone entering the UK, bar a short list of exemptions.

Image courtesy Home Office

As the transmission rate in the UK falls and the number of travellers arriving in the UK begins to increase in the coming months, imported cases may pose a larger threat as they could become a higher proportion of the overall number of infections in the UK and increase the spread of the disease, with action to be taken to manage the risk of transmission from this group.

The measures outlined by the Home Secretary include:

Contact locator form
All arriving passengers will be required to fill this in to provide contact and travel information so they can be contacted if they, or someone they may have been in contact with develops the disease.

Self isolation
Passengers arriving in the UK will be required to self-isolate for 14 days and could be contacted regularly throughout this period to ensure compliance.

Enforcement
Anyone failing to comply with the mandatory conditions may face enforcement action. A breach of self-isolation would be punishable with a £1,000 fixed penalty notice in England or potential prosecution and unlimited fine. The level of fine could increase if the risk of infection from abroad increases. The Devolved Administrations will set out their own enforcement approaches.

Spot checks
Border Force will undertake checks at the border and may refuse entry to any non-British citizen who refuses to comply with these regulations and isn’t resident in the UK. Failure to complete the form is also punishable by a £100 fixed penalty notice. Public health authorities will conduct random checks in England to ensure compliance with self-isolation requirements. Removal from the country would be considered as a last resort for foreign nationals who refuse to comply with these public health measures.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "As the world begins to emerge from what we hope is the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, we must look to the future and protect the British public by reducing the risk of cases crossing our border.

"We are introducing these new measures now to keep the transmission rate down and prevent a devastating second wave.

"I fully expect the majority of people will do the right thing and abide by these measures. But we will take enforcement action against the minority of people who endanger the safety of others."

Professor John Aston, Home Office Chief Scientific Adviser said: "The scientific advice so far has been clear: while there has been significant community transmission of the virus within the UK the impact of putting in place additional border restrictions would have been negligible to the spread of the virus.

"However, the spread of the virus within the UK is now lessening. We have been successful in getting the reproduction number R – the average number of new people infected by one infected person – below 1.

"As the number of infections within the UK drops, we must now manage the risk of transmissions being reintroduced from elsewhere."

The arrangements are due to come into effect on 8th June.

Information will be available to incoming travellers, including on the government’s social distancing guidelines, through messaging and announcements in-flight and leaflets and posters on arrival. Materials will be available in English and nine other languages.

The new regime will be in place across the United Kingdom, although enforcement measures will be set individually by the Devolved Administrations.

Through the new online locator contact form all arriving passengers will need to provide details of their self-isolation accommodation. If this does not meet the necessary requirements - such as hotels, or with friends or family - they will be required to self-isolate in facilities arranged by the government.

People should use personal transport, such as a car, to travel to their accommodation where possible. Once they arrive there, they should not leave their accommodation for 14 days.

This means that they should not go to work, school, or public areas, or use public transport or taxis. They should not have visitors, including friends and family, unless they are providing essential support.

They should not go out to buy food or other essentials where they can rely on others.

Those entering the UK will also be encouraged to download the NHS Covid-19 app at the border and use it for the duration of their stay in the UK.

Once self-isolation is complete people should follow the current government guidelines on social distancing measures.

There will be limited exemptions and a full list will be published on gov.uk. They include:

  • Road haulage and freight workers, to ensure the supply of goods is not impacted
  • Medical professionals who are travelling to help with the fight against coronavirus
  • Anyone moving from within the Common Travel Area, covering Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man
  • Seasonal Agricultural Workers who will self-isolate on the property where they are working

The Home Office has been working closely with industry partners ahead of announcing these changes. They will be subject to review every three weeks, to ensure they are in line with the latest scientific evidence and remain effective and necessary.

The government will continue to look at further options as we move forward and these will include air bridges - agreements between countries who both have low transmission rates to recognise each other’s departure screening measures for passengers and removing the need for quarantine measures for incoming passengers.

Following the Government’s announcement of details of its 14-day quarantine plan for travellers arriving in the UK, ADS Chief Executive Paul Everitt said: “Quarantining travellers will hold back the UK’s economic recovery. Key workers across our sectors must be provided with a route to secure exemptions and allow travel essential to our economic recovery.

“The 14-day quarantine should be a time-limited measure that can be removed as soon as the evidence supports doing so, and an international approach should be taken to resuming flights as quickly as possible.

“While the quarantine is operating, air bridges that allow controlled removal of the measure on selected routes have the potential to limit unnecessary disruption and I urge the Government to implement the process as quickly as possible.”

Charlie Cornish, Group CEO, MAG, said: “For as long as it lasts, a blanket quarantine policy will be a brick wall to the recovery of the UK aviation and tourism industries, with huge consequences for UK jobs and GDP.

“By enabling people to travel between the UK and low risk countries, the aviation industry is able to help lead the UK economy out of this crisis, just as it has in previous recessions. But in order for this to happen, the Government must work quickly to create a smart and targeted approach that recognises that many countries are already low risk.

“European countries are starting to open up, and some that are popular with British holidaymakers want to agree two-way arrangements with the UK to enable travel.

“Government has to take a risk-based approach to quarantine arrangements to enable air travel to restart and to allow British people to enjoy well-earned holidays in safe countries. At the same time this would help kick start UK tourism and hospitality industries, saving businesses and jobs.

“A blanket quarantine will seriously jeopardise the long term future of the sector and put tens of thousands of jobs, and billions of pounds of economic value, at risk.”

Chief Executive of the Airport Operators Association Karen Dee said: “We are disappointed that the Government has decided to go ahead with a simplistic, blanket approach to quarantining all arrivals, without any consultation with industry. This threatens to have very serious economic and social consequences, not just in aviation but in all sectors relying on aviation connectivity, without resulting in notably better public health outcomes than a more targeted approach. This must be reviewed more frequently than every three weeks.

“Airlines will be reluctant to fly if there is limited to no demand as a result of quarantine restrictions, hampering the travel of those key workers who have now been exempted.

“As our neighbours and key trading partners move towards a science-led, risk-based approach, the UK should do so as soon as possible, or risk being left behind. Industry proposals such as air bridges would facilitate travel from low-risk countries and protect the public from high-risk arrivals. This would enable the restart of aviation and support the UK’s economic recovery. Crucially, this also would give us time to get a testing regime in place for arriving passengers like Greece, Iceland and other countries are doing, as the next step to returning to a new normal.

“In the meantime, the Chancellor needs to provide further financial and business support to airports and travel operators to help the industry get through this prolonged period with limited to no revenue and ensure the sector is ready to restart in support of the UK economic recovery.”






 

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