LONDON – Britain on Friday moved ahead with a 14-day mandatory quarantine on arriving travelers, and heavy fines for those who break the rules, citing stringent new travel restrictions while other European countries are considering avoiding them.
For weeks, the British government resisted the idea of a quarantine on travelers – even as the death toll from coronavirus rose above neighboring countries – but on Friday, Priti Patel, secretary of home, has critiqued critics who he thinks are hurting his plan. , not working or too late.
At a news conference, Ms. Argument Patel said that when the virus spreads freely in the home, it would be futile to limit travelers, but now that the pandemic control of Britain is in control, the calculation has changed.
“This is to protect this difficult development and prevent a devastating resurgence in a second wave of the virus,” said Ms. Patel, explaining the time step. As travel increases after lock-in, “imported cases can start to cause a bigger and increasing threat,” he added.
Travelers whose final destination is in Britain are required to provide an address on which they should separate themselves and where they will be subjected to police checkpoints. Non-conformists face fines of up to £ 1,000 ($ 1,218).
The plan, which starts on June 8 and will be reviewed every three weeks, has some exceptions, including for truck drivers, farm workers, government officials and medical personnel, in addition to anyone coming from in Ireland, with common travel arrangements with Britain.
One prominent traveler who may be exempt is Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who may meet with other Group 7 leaders, including President Trump, if a planned meeting is held next month in Washington.
However, for Mr. Johnson, who had a vision of a “Global Britain” following the country’s departure from the European Union earlier this year, the implementation of a quarantine on international travelers was another painful symbol of how pandemics has heightened his agenda of the new government.
Other Britons remain in more ordinary hopes, such as being allowed to travel for a vacation last summer, which added to the tensions within Mr. Johnson’s Conservative Party on the merits of the quarantine plan. On Friday, the government said it was considering the idea of allowing “aircraft” in specific countries so British tourists could head to the Mediterranean beaches.
Medical experts say the decision to impose a quarantine is worthwhile but has been greatly delayed. This would have been more effective three months ago, when people who had come from Italy and other parts of Europe brought the virus to Britain.
“Of course, this is a valid move right now, but what’s right in February-March is also right in May-June,” said Bharat Pankhania, an expert in infectious diseases at the University of Exeter Medical School. “They need to do this when the virus is in the earlier stages.”
Pankhania said Britain’s decision to send a series of visitors to China early in the outbreak was important, but that the government’s decision not to do so to European arrivals would offset the benefits of that decision. and contributed to a massive spread of the virus to the population.
“It runs on me as being late and very difficult to implement,” said Anand Menon, professor of European politics and foreigners at King’s College London, noting that quarantine in New Zealand has taken place in managed facilities.
“Here you have to provide an address and the police can pop in,” he said. “But if you live at that address along with five others, is the quarantine applicable to them and, if not, what’s the point?”
In handling the pandemic, Britain has often left its own path, going into lockdown after many other countries have done so and taking these steps slower. Most countries restricted travel earlier and now have lower infection rates than Britain, which has suffered more than 36,000 deaths.
Britain’s move to quarantine is taking place slowly as some other European countries are experimenting with relaxing travel curbs. Switzerland, Germany and Austria allow families divided by border closures to meet again, and there is hope that the three countries will open their borders to one another, and including France, in the midst of June.
At home, the British government is trying to lift the lockdown but is taking a cautious approach, knowing that Britons remain nervous about the risk of a second spike in infections.
It’s hard to win support for its plan to reopen schools for some students by June 1, with authorities in some English regions and the Scottish government saying it will keep schools closed until August.
The work of persuasion was not helped by the guidance published by a committee of scientists showing that the government’s specific plan for reopening schools in certain groups of children next month was not among the nine scenario it changed.
A choice that scientists seem to prefer, which will split classes between groups of students who attend alternate weeks, is not favored by ministers.
There is a lot of confusion about Ms.’s billboard plan. Patel Initial reports, following a phone call earlier this month between Mr. Johnson and President Emmanuel Macron of France suggested that travelers from France be exempt.
In a statement at the time, the government said, “There are no quarantine measures that can be applied to travelers from France at this stage” and “any steps on either side will be taken in a coordinated and responsive manner . “
But after a political backlash in Mr. Johnson’s cabinet, that idea was scratched.
Nick Thomas-Symonds, speaking on home issues for the Labor Party opposition, said he supported the plan but added that the government’s oversight of the country’s arrivals “does not require urgency, coherence and clarity from the beginning. “
“If quarantine is required, it should not be too long for the measures to be introduced,” he said. “Very little thought has been given to testing and screening at airports.”
The planes warned of a potentially devastating impact on their operations, and a lobby organization, Airlines UK, expressed its concern earlier.
Ryanair’s chief low-cost executive, Michael O’Leary, predicted that the deal would be impossible for the police and described plans for it as “crazy.”