The British government is set to introduce a 14-day home quarantine order on all arrivals into the UK according to an airline trade body that has been briefed on the matter by ministers. Airlines UK, which represents the likes of British Airways and easyJet, said further details still needed to be shared but warned that a “credible exit plan” was urgently needed.
Unlike many countries, the United Kingdom has never introduced any form of travel restriction or border control to stem the spread of the potentially deadly novel Coronavirus. Instead, ministers said they “were following the science”, insisting that the virus was so widespread as to make quarantining new arrivals ineffective.
But after a six week nationwide lockdown to slow the spread of COVID-19, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to address the nation on Sunday evening with a roadmap of sorts for the next phase of the Coronavirus response. Johnson is urging “maximum caution” with few restrictions lifted and potentially some added.
That includes a desire to require all new arrivals into the UK, from any country apart from the Republic of Ireland, to go into a mandatory home quarantine. Similar measures have been introduced by Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong – all of whom have had significant success in combatting the virus.
Unlike these countries, however, the British government would allow new arrivals to self-isolate at any given address. It’s not clear how ministers intend to enforce the rules or whether the citizens of European countries might be exempt. France, for example, has introduced a home quarantine rule but has exempted Schengen zone residents and the UK and Republic of Ireland.
Airlines UK previously warned that a home quarantine order would cause “immeasurable damage to the aviation industry and wider UK economy.” The trade body claimed such a move, which transport minister Grant Shapps said he was actively considering, would “make it all but impossible for aviation to resume any time soon, thereby setting back the UK’s economic recovery still further.”
On Thursday, British Airways announced plans to restart a “meaningful” flight schedule at some point in July but a home quarantine order would effectively scupper those plans.
If given the go-ahead, officials would implement the rules from early June according to government sources. The Home Office, which would be responsible for managing the quarantine orders says it does not comment on leaks.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.