The UK on Friday introduced requirements for almost everyone arriving in the country from June 8 to be quarantined at a nominated address for 14 days. The rule, which will apply to airline passengers, but also people arriving by train, road, and ship, has been roundly criticized by the country’s air transport lobby, with the Airlines UK saying that it will “effectively kill” international travel to and from the country.
Permitted exemptions will include all arrivals from Ireland and the Channel Islands, as well as freight workers and medical personnel. Travelers will be subject to spot checks and fines of just over $1,200 for non-compliance.
The UK government said it will review the quarantine requirement every three weeks, meaning it would be up for possible renewal from June 29. Meanwhile, Spain this week indicated that it may phase out the rule as it prepares to allow foreign tourism from late June.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson first gave notice of the planned quarantine rules in a speech on May 10. It has taken his government another 12 days to confirm details of the requirements, which Airlines UK complained on May 11 rendered the industry unable to compete and “effectively grounded for the foreseeable future.”
“The government needs to urgently bring forward plans to lift blanket travel restrictions through alternative risk-based measures that will enable airlines to restart safe and low-risk international travel,” said Airlines UK chief executive Dale Keller in a statement released right after the May 22 announcement. “The restart and recovery of aviation is intrinsic to reviving the UK economy and only through implementing more targeted and international aligned measures can the UK reconnect to its global markets.”
In a press briefing on Friday, home secretary Priti Patel said quarantines had not been introduced earlier in the Covid-19 crisis because levels of traffic have been so significantly reduced. She argued the move is needed now to “protect progress made and guard against a second wave of infections.”
Several other countries have already imposed quarantines, including South Africa, Spain, South Korea, and New Zealand. Other countries, such as China and India, have banned all non-citizens from flying into the country. U.S. government travel bans currently apply to just over one-quarter of the world’s population, including the European Union, the UK, China, and Iran, but not to Brazil and Russia, which now have the second and third highest level of Covid-19 infections after the U.S. itself.