The British government has announced new measures to guard against a second wave of coronavirus infections, including a 14-day quarantine period for anyone entering the U.K.
As the transmission rate in the U.K. falls, and the number of travelers arriving in the country 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 U.K. and increase the spread of the disease.
The new measures 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.
Passengers arriving in the U.K. will be required to self-isolate for 14 days and could be contacted regularly throughout this period to ensure compliance.
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. Wales and Scotland will set out their own enforcement approaches.
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 U.K. 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.
Professor John Aston, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Home Office said while there has been significant community transmission of the virus within the U.K. the impact of putting in place additional border restrictions before now 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.”
The arrangements are due to come into effect on June 8. 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.
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 U.K. 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 U.K.
There will be limited exemptions and a full list will be published at a later date. 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 measures 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 and these will include air bridges – agreements between countries who both have low transmission rates to recognize each other’s departure screening measures for passengers and removing the need for quarantine measures for incoming passengers.