LONDON — People arriving in the U.K. from overseas will need to self-quarantine for 14 days from June 8, Home Secretary Priti Patel said Friday.
The new measures will apply to all residents and foreign nationals, with exemptions in place for truckers and freight workers, medical professionals working on the coronavirus response, and seasonal agricultural workers, who will be permitted to self-isolate on the property where they are working.
Those moving within the U.K.’s Common Travel Area with Ireland will also be exempt.
Those who breach their quarantine in England will face £1,000 fines or potential prosecution. While the new rules apply to the whole of the U.K., Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be responsible for their own enforcement.
All arriving passengers will have to fill in a form, before they arrive in the U.K., providing contact details and onward travel plans, so that they can be contacted if they, or someone they may have been in contact with, gets the virus.
The U.K.’s Border Force will be empowered to refuse entry to non-resident foreign nationals who refuse to comply. Failure to complete the “contact locator form” will be punished by a £100 fine, and public health authorities will carry out random checks in England to ensure compliance with the quarantine measures.
Anyone who cannot self-isolate at home, in a hotel, or with friends or family, will be required to stay in facilities organized by the government. Travelers are recommended to travel to their place of quarantine in personal transport, such as a car, where possible.
The U.K. measures comes as many EU countries are rethinking their quarantine requirements. Germany announced plans to loosen quarantine rules earlier this month and Italy is set to follow. France however introduced a voluntary two-week quarantine this week.
So-called “air bridges” — agreed between the U.K. and countries with a low rates of coronavirus infection where citizens are allowed to enter without quarantine — are still being considered by the government, but no such arrangements are yet in place. The overall policy, including the list of exemptions, will be reviewed every three weeks from the date the measures come into force.
“We are introducing these new measures now to keep the transmission rate down and prevent a devastating second wave,” Patel said. “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.”
The U.K.’s plan for a quarantine regime was first announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on May 10. Explaining the decision to introduce the measures now — as the U.K. emerges from the peak of its coronavirus epidemic — 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 U.K. 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 U.K. 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 U.K. drops, we must now manage the risk of transmissions being reintroduced from elsewhere.”