A two-week quarantine period for anyone arriving in the UK will be enforced from 8 June, the government says.
The measures were being introduced to “keep the transmission rate down and prevent a devastating second wave,” Home Secretary Priti Patel said on Friday.
What are the new quarantine rules?
Passengers arriving in the UK by plane, ferry or train – including UK nationals – will have to provide an address where they will remain for 14 days. There is a £100 penalty for anyone found to have not filled in this ”contact locator” form.
Surprise visits will be used to check they are following the rules. Those in England could be fined up to £1,000 if they fail to self-isolate, while governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can also impose penalties.
Passengers will be asked to drive in their own car to their destination, where possible. If they don’t provide an address, the government will arrange accommodation.
They must then not go to work, school, or public areas, or use public transport or taxis. They should also not have any visitors unless they are providing essential support, and should not go out to buy food or other essentials where they can rely on others.
Why are the measures being introduced in June?
While there was still “significant” transmission of the virus within the UK, the impact of these border restrictions would have been negligible, the government says.
But now transmission has fallen, it hopes quarantine measures will lower the risk of infection being reintroduced from other countries.
The measures will be reviewed every three weeks to check they are in line with scientific guidance and remain ”effective and necessary”.
Do the quarantine rules apply to everybody?
There are a number of groups who are exempt, including:
- Road haulage and freight workers
- Medical officials who are travelling to help fight coronavirus
- Anyone arriving from the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man
- Seasonal agricultural workers if they self-isolate on the property where they are working
Initially, it was suggested the rules would also not apply to travellers from France. However, the government later insisted the quarantine measures will also apply to them.
The possibility of introducing “air bridges” is being considered by the government. This would be an arrangement where travellers from countries with low coronavirus levels could be exempt from quarantine.
Speaking to the BBC, Greece’s tourism minister called for his country – which has not been badly affected – to be among them.
Do other countries have quarantine rules?
People travelling to another country may also have to enter quarantine when they arrive there.
Fourteen-day quarantine rules apply in destinations including Spain, Italy, Greece, Canada, the UAE, Australia and New Zealand. Many have introduced screening measures such as temperature checks, and entry restrictions.
Some have banned foreign visitors, as in Spain, where only UK citizens with permanent resident status can enter.
- Arrivals in Italy must carry a form explaining their reason for travel, avoid public transport and report to health authorities
- There is no mandatory quarantine in France, but those allowed to enter must carry special certificates
- The US only has 13 airports open for international flights
- Canadian rules insist airlines must carry out health assessments on passengers
- The United Arab Emirates has strict entry rules for foreign residents
- UK citizens need a special exemption visa to travel to Australia
- The New Zealand border is closed to almost all arrivals
What has the response been?
UK airlines fear the measures will have a devastating impact on their industry and the wider economy.
Michael O’Leary, chief executive of Ryanair, has said the policy had “no credibility”.
And Airlines UK, which represents various airlines, said quarantine “would effectively kill off air travel”.
The British Ports Association, which represents ferry companies, has also spoken out against the measures – calling them “overzealous”.
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What other measures have been put in place?
The government guidance says all flight passengers should remain at least 2m (6ft) apart from other people wherever possible and consider wearing a face covering.
People travelling through Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands airports have already been told to cover their faces and wear gloves.
Some temperature screening trials will also be conducted at Stansted. Heathrow, one of the world’s busiest airports, is already trialling large-scale temperature checks.
Air France says passengers will be temperature-checked before flying. The carrier has also made face masks compulsory – similar to several US airlines.
Will airlines still be flying?
EasyJet will restart a ”small number” of flights on 15 June, with all passengers and cabin crew told to wear face masks.
Ryanair still plans to reintroduce 40% of its flights from 1 July, subject to travel restrictions being lifted and safety measures being brought in at airports.
British Airways is reviewing its plans to run 50% of its schedule from July, because of the new quarantine rules.