Some links to products and travel providers on this website will earn Traveling For Miles a commission that helps contribute to the running of the site. Traveling For Miles has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Traveling For Miles and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities. For more details please see the disclosures found at the bottom of every page.
Last month, to the despair of most in the British travel industry, the UK government announced that it was planning to introduce a rule requiring most people arriving into the UK to self-isolate for a period of 14 days. As of today, 8 June 2020, that rule is now in force and it’s nothing short of idiotic.
The UK Quarantine Rules
The aspects of the new quarantine rules that the UK government has been highlighting are as follows:
- All modes of transport are covered by the quarantine restriction
- Visitors and UK nationals arriving from abroad must self-isolate for 14 days from when they enter the country.
- Arrivals from the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are exempt, as are a number of key professions/jobs.
- All passengers arriving by air, sea, or train will need to provide UK Border Force officials with an address where they will self-isolate. If no address can be provided the UK government will arrange accommodation.
- A £100 (~$127) fine will be levied on anyone failing to complete the required form at the UK border.
- A £1,000 (~$1,270) fine will be levied on anyone caught breaking the rules.
- These measures will be reviewed every 3 weeks from the date they’re introduced.
What the government doesn’t want people to do is focus on the truly idiotic nature of details within these rules.
Looked at from a high level, the quarantine rules may not seem totally ridiculous (we are, after all, living through a pandemic) but when you take a closer look, it becomes increasingly obvious that they have been put together by idiots.
- The UK’s chief scientific advisor has confirmed that the panel of scientists put together to advise the government during the current crisis was not asked to provide advice on the specific proposals relating to the quarantine rules (link).
- Scientists from the panel set up to advise the UK government have said that quarantine measures are best used when the infection rates inside a country have dropped, but also when applied to countries with high rates of coronavirus. This is the inverse of the position the UK currently finds itself in (link).
- The quarantine measures apply to arrivals from most countries equally. There is no distinction being made between arrivals from countries where the rate of infection is down to nearly zero and countries where the virus is still rampant.
Not only do the new quarantine rules have no basis in science, but the rules that have been set down for those expected to self-isolate are nothing short of laughable (link to full rules).
All arrivals into the UK are expected to self-isolate for 14 days from the day they arrive but…
- They can use public transport to get to the place they’re staying if they have “no other option”. The rules do not preclude people who have developed coronavirus symptoms on their journey to the UK from using public transport.
- They can make an overnight stop if they have a long journey to their final destination in the UK.
- They can stay with friends and family who do not need to self-isolate unless they develop symptoms.
- They can leave their accommodation to get “basic necessities like food and medicines” in “exceptional circumstances such as where [they] cannot arrange for these to be delivered”
The government has not provided any definitions or guidance for what “no other option” or “exceptional circumstances” mean so it has been left up to individuals to decide how to interpret the rules.
Essentially, if a person arriving into the UK thinks that a taxi is too expensive or if they don’t want to impose on a family member, they can decide that they have “no other option” but to take public transport (something which the entire UK population is currently being advised not to do) to get to their final destination. Considering the government clearly thinks these individuals are a risk to the general population (why have a quarantine period if they’re not?) this seems more than a little dumb.
Without guidance to the contrary, who is to say that a trip to a grocery store isn’t always an “exemptional circumstance”? If someone runs out of milk or bread and cannot get a delivery slot for at least a few days (highly likely), what’s to stop them from going to the local shops and mingling with the population? What’s to stop someone deciding that running out of anything is a reason to head out to the grocery stores when a delivery cannot be arranged at short notice?
The UK government says that people breaking the quarantine rules will be subject to fines of £1,000, but how is anyone ever going to be found in breach of the rules with such obvious loopholes? Leaving aside the fact that multiple UK police forces have already confirmed that they don’t have the resources to check up on new arrivals (special “inspectors” have to be used), how can the quarantine rules be enforced when everyone and anyone can claim that they had “no other option” or that they believed their circumstances were “exceptional” if caught outside?
What’s worse is that, even if people stick to the rules, the rules don’t necessarily protect the population at all (which is what the government claims they’re there to do).
New arrivals into the UK (all of whom are supposedly high-risk individuals) are allowed to stay with friends and family without the friends and family having to self-isolate unless they develop symptoms…but we know that you can easily get and spread the virus without ever showing signs of symptoms. What’s to stop these high-risk individuals from infecting the people they’re staying with (without those people knowing ) and then what’s to stop those people spreading the virus into the population as they go about their daily lives? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
There is absolutely no point to the UK’s quarantine rules. There is no scientific reason to put any kind of quarantine in place at this moment in time and, even if there was, the rules are so full of holes they wouldn’t be fit for purpose. They’re not going to protect the UK population and they’re not going to do anything to prevent a second spike in infections so all they’re going to do is cause more misery for the UK travel industry. If you wanted evidence of why politicians shouldn’t have the final say on matters relating to the health and safety of a nation, here it is – these are idiotic rules made up by a truly idiotic set of people.