The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has announced that, from June 8, all new arrivals in the United Kingdom will have to self-isolate for two weeks.
The measures – which are to be tabled in Parliament next month – will give police the power to carry out spot checks at the homes of international arrivals, and impose fines of £1,000 for breaking the self-isolation rules.
Restrictions are to be reviewed every three weeks, and will come into place as some other measures are lifted.
New arrivals have been down by up to 99 per cent during the lockdown compared with the same time last year, the Home Secretary said in the daily Downing Street briefing on Friday, adding that the measures were the “right action at the right time” as domestic transmission of coronavirus slows.
“We must take steps to guard against imported cases triggering a resurgence of this disease,” she said. “As the transmission rate falls, imported cases could begin to pose a larger and increased threat.
“Any new arrivals with the disease will have a much bigger impact, potentially causing a second wave.”
Paul Lincoln, the director general of Border Force, added that the measures were “essential to ensure the safety of our communities while still facilitating essential trade into the country”.
Do I need to self-quarantine after my holiday?
As soon as the new laws are introduced and passed in Parliament, all arrivals must self-isolate for 14 days, and provide an accommodation address at which they will do this.
This address is to be declared on forms that will be filled out online before travel to airports or sea ports.
This will include Britons returning from other countries, in addition to new arrivals from other countries.
Arrivals will be required to provide contact and address details, plus travel plans.
If a person does not have suitable accommodation they will be required to stay in “facilities arranged by the government” at the person’s own expense.
Are there any exemptions?
A very limited number of exemptions will be in place for freight workers, foreign officials and medical professionals. Journeys from Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands will also be exempt.
A full list of exemptions can be found here.
Who will enforce the quarantine?
The quarantine will be run and enforced by Border Force, police officers, and Public Health England officials.
They will have the powers to visit the homes of all those affected by the new rules, and to perform spot checks.
It is expected that around 100 spot checks will be carried out every day from mid-June. While enforcement will be used as a “last resort”, those who refuse to comply with the laws could be refused entry to the United Kingdom.
Paul Lincoln, the director general of Border Force, said that spot checks would also be taking place at the border.
Detection of any “obvious errors” in arrivals’ responses could lead to them having to complete more forms or refusal of entry.
What would the punishment be for breaking quarantine?
There will be fixed penalty notices of £100 for failure to complete the relevant forms, and £1,000 for breaking the fortnight-long self-isolation rule.
Magistrates will also have the powers to prosecute or to issue unlimited fines for persistent breaches of the new self-isolation rule, or for refusal to pay a fine that has already been issued.
“We expect the vast majority of people to do the right thing and comply with these new requirements,” the Home Secretary said. “We will not allow a reckless majority to endanger us all.”
Would I be exempt if I had a test showing I was clear of coronavirus?
No, only a “very limited” group of people are exempt including freight drivers, seasonal vegetable and fruit pickers, medical specialists and others listed by the Home Office. People from Common Travel area countries including Ireland are exempt. Everyone else is subject to quarantine, including returning Britons.
How do I get home?
The Home Office is advising people to use personal transport including car or taxi, but it recognises some may not be able to do so and may have to use public transport.
How long will the UK quarantine last?
The quarantine is due to come into effect on June 8 and will be reviewed every three weeks, meaning the first review will be on June 29. The Government has left open the possibility of negotiating “air bridges” with countries with low coronavirus rates where travellers both ways would be exempt from quarantine. However, there are deep divisions in Government over the practicability of such “air bridges” which have yet to be resolved.