In order to avoid the importation of cases of new coronavirus during its deconfinement, the United Kingdom began Monday to impose a quarantine of two weeks on anyone arriving from abroad, a criticized measure which distresses the air and tourism sectors .
This fortnight, which will be reviewed by the British government every three weeks, concerns all arrivals by land, sea and air, whether travelers reside or not in the United Kingdom.
It aims to avoid cases of COVID-19 from abroad when the country gradually lifts the restrictions put in place at the end of March to contain the spread of the virus.
“I really hope people can get on a plane, go on vacation this summer, but we have to start with a cautious approach,” health minister Matt Hancock told Sky News on Sunday. .
Controls and fines
Random checks will be implemented and offenders face a fine of 1,000 pounds ($ 1,697). Exceptions are made for road hauliers, health workers, fruit pickers or travelers from Ireland.
At London Heathrow Airport, the jobs of 25,000 people are threatened, one third of the total workforce, warned airport boss John Holland-Kaye in the podcast of the London business center daily AM.
Among travelers on Monday, opinions are mixed.
“It’s a good idea,” Sandy Banks, 45, who returned from Jamaica with her three children, told AFP, “other countries are doing it.” She ensures that she will stay at home for two weeks, and will ask her relatives to come to see her if necessary.
A Dutch lawyer living in London, who has just returned from a week in Amsterdam, judges the measure “crazy”. “There are more people who are sick and dying in the UK, it is Europe that should probably protect themselves from us.”
The United Kingdom has 40,542 deaths from people who tested positive for the new coronavirus – and even more than 48,000 including also suspected cases -, for nearly 287,000 contaminations, according to the last official report, Sunday.
The national statistics service (ONS) estimated at more than 5500 the number of daily contaminations in late May in England. And, according to a study by British health authorities (PHE England) and researchers at the University of Cambridge, the virus has even slightly accelerated its spread in certain regions since the start of deconfinement.
Government scientific adviser Patrick Vallance himself said to the press that the decision to impose the quarantine was more political than scientific, although the government prides itself on scrupulously following scientific advice.
Grounded by the pandemic, aviation and tourism professionals are very angry against this measure.
Airlines British Airways, EasyJet and Ryanair on Sunday asked the government to abandon this “ineffective quarantine, which will have a devastating effect on the British tourism industry and destroy […] thousands of jobs. ” They co-signed an official letter addressed to the government on Friday, a preliminary step to possible legal action.
“Thousands of Europeans who would normally travel to the UK in July and August during the peak season will not come because they are terrified of this quarantine,” said Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary. on Sky News Monday.
The sling has spread to members of the Conservative majority, who fear that the government is sabotaging the economy, already devastated by the health crisis.
As a way out, the government of Boris Johnson is considering establishing air bridges with certain tourist destinations, such as France or Spain, which would make it possible to bypass quarantine. According to Sunday Times, the leader asked his Minister of Transport to find a solution before the end of June.