United Kingdom: disputed, quarantine of travelers enters into force

In order to avoid the importation of cases of new coronavirus during its deconfinement, the United Kingdom began, Monday, June 8, 2020, to impose a quarantine of two weeks on anyone arriving from abroad, a criticized measure which distresses the airline and tourism sectors. This quarantine, which will be reassessed 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 in late 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. . Random checks will be implemented and offenders are liable to a fine of 1,000 pounds (1,122 euros). Exceptions are made for road hauliers, health workers, fruit pickers or travelers from Ireland. According to a spokesman for Downing Street on Monday, the measure is so far well respected.

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“Crazy” measure

But the aviation industry is standing up against this measure, which he says will prevent it from recovering from the terrible shock of the pandemic. At London Heathrow airport, 25,000 jobs are threatened by quarantine, or a third of the total workforce, warned airport boss John Holland-Kaye in the podcast of the London business center daily AM.

Among the travelers who were there on Monday, opinions were mixed. “It’s a good idea,” said Agence France-Presse Sandy Banks, 45, back from Jamaica with her three children. “Other countries are doing it. 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 who die in the United Kingdom, it is Europe which should probably protect itself from us. “

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Over 40,000 dead

The United Kingdom has 40,542 deaths from people who tested positive for the new coronavirus – and even more than 48,000 including also suspect cases – for nearly 287,000 contaminations, according to the last official report on Sunday. And, according to a study by English health authorities (PHE England) and researchers at the University of Cambridge, the virus has slightly accelerated its spread in certain regions since the start of deconfinement.

Even if the government had not made it compulsory, “personally, I would still have quarantined myself because I don’t know if I am transporting something,” said Fatima Camara at St Pancras station in London. , a 31-year-old engineer who works in France but often crosses the Channel. Sylvain Preumont, 50, business manager, makes the round trip every week between the two countries, which exempts him from observing quarantine. For him, the measure has “no sense”: “Diplomats are exempt, truck drivers are exempt, people who work on the Covid are exempt … And, suddenly, it becomes ridiculous, because those who are exempt from it are those who are most exposed! “

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Air bridges

Airlines British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair asked the government on Sunday to abandon this “ineffective quarantine, which will have a devastating effect on the British tourism industry and will 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. Criticized, including in his conservative ranks, Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to establish air bridges with certain tourist countries like France or Spain, bypassing quarantine. According to Sunday TimesBoris Johnson asked his Minister of Transport to find a solution before the end of June.

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