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.
Update: Quarantine rules to come in to effect from 8 June 2020.
On 10 May, the UK Prime Minister used an address to the nation to announce that his government would be introducing a 14-day quarantine period for visitors entering the UK as well as for nationals returning from abroad. At the time of the announcement the government’s messaging was inexplicably mixed, the facts were very thin on the ground, the Prime Minister looked worryingly unsure of what he was announcing, and the country couldn’t even be told when the quarantine restrictions would come into effect. The whole situation was farcical.
Now, almost two weeks after that original announcement, the government has finally worked out what it wants to do and the measures to be implemented were announced at 5 pm UK time (12 pm ET).
- The quarantine rules will come into force on 8 June 2020.
- All modes of transport will be covered by these measures (contrary to what the UK Prime Minister announced, these measures will not be limited to arrivals by air).
- Visitors and UK nationals arriving from abroad will have to 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 as well as road hauliers and medical officials will be exempt.
- Arrivals from France will not be exempt (contrary to what was originally announced by the UK and French governments).
- 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 (~$121) fine will be levied on anyone failing to complete the required form at the UK border.
- A £1,000 (~$1,210) fine will be levied on anyone caught breaking the rules.
- These measures will be reviewed every 3 weeks from the date they’re introduced.
In related news, a number of UK police forces (including London’s Metropolitan Police) have stated that they will not be able to enforce the quarantine restrictions because they don’t have the necessary resources and they have enough to deal with as it is. The UK government is going to have to hire “special inspectors” if it wants to make sure that its quarantine rules are not being broken.
All in all, this move is nothing more than a joke. And a very bad joke at that.
The UK has continued to allow visitors to pass through its borders since the world started to shut down with no checks being made on where visitors have come from, where they’re staying or if they’re showing any symptoms related to Covid-19. Visitors have been allowed to come and go as they please while the UK population has been told to shelter at home.
It’s more than a little ironic that the European country run by politicians who campaigned so successfully to limit the freedom of movement through its borders, has been the European country with the most porous borders throughout the current crisis.
If there was ever a time to limit the movement of people entering the UK it was three months ago when the virus was still spreading like wildfire and when numerous counties around the world were a long way from getting their outbreaks under control. As the UK didn’t impose restrictions then, it’s more than a little odd that its government feels the need to bring in restrictions now.
What’s even odder is that the government clearly doesn’t think there’s an urgent need for its quarantine rules because it’s not exactly introducing them with any great haste.
Here’s the truly ridiculous thing:
While all around Europe countries closed borders and implemented strict lockdowns to stem the spread of Covid-19, the UK didn’t do very much at all. Its borders remained as porous as a colander and it was the last major European economy to order shops, stores, bars, etc… to close and to ask its population to stay at home and shelter in place.
Now that most European countries are demonstrating that they have their outbreaks under control (at least for now), and now that we’re seeing a number of European countries lifting lockdown restrictions and announcing measures to open up their borders to visitors from countries where the virus is being successfully beaten back, we have the UK saying that it’s going to implement strict quarantine rules for most arrivals into the country.
Regardless of the rhetoric coming from the UK government, there doesn’t appear to be any scientific reason for the new quarantine rules (most scientists quoted from around the world seem to agree that quarantine is meaningless at this point) and, apart from offering up some platitudes about “keeping people safe now that the UK has the virus under control”, the UK government appears incapable of providing evidence for why controls on arrivals were not needed in March, April or May but will be needed from June onwards.
The more and more you look at what the UK government is doing, the more and more it looks like it’s implementing measures now to take the focus off its inexplicable reluctance to implement measures back in late February or early March…which was when the rest of the world was sitting up and taking notice.
The UK has announced its new quarantine restrictions and they come into effect on 8 June 2020. These measures are unlikely to have any material effect on the path that Covid-19 takes in the country but, because their main purpose isn’t to tackle the pandemic but to give the illusion that the UK government is taking firm action, this won’t really matter to those in charge.