Britain will introduce a COVID-19 quarantine for travellers arriving from overseas from June 8, interior minister Priti Patel said on Friday, a measure that airlines have warned will devastate their industry.
All international arrivals, including returning Britons, will be required to self-isolate for 14 days and provide details of where they will be staying to the authorities.
“Now we are past the peak of this virus, we must take steps to guard against imported cases triggering a resurgence of this deadly disease,” Patel said at a news conference.
She said those who breached the quarantine in England could be fined 1,000 pounds ($1,218), and that spot checks would be carried out by health and border officials.
The quarantine measures will not apply to those arriving from the Irish Republic, and there are also exemptions for freight drivers, medical professionals and seasonal agricultural workers.
Unlike many other countries across the world, Britain has carried out few tests and checks on visitors, with quarantine limited only to arrivals from China at the start of the outbreak.
That has led to accusations that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has been too slow to act, but it now also faces criticism over plans to bring in the quarantine.
Airline bosses have said the measures would have severe repercussions, with Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s chief executive, saying they would be “unenforceable and unpoliceable” and would be ignored.
“Introducing a quarantine at this stage makes no sense and will mean very limited international aviation at best,” said Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of industry body Airlines UK.
“It is just about the worst thing government could do if their aim is to restart the economy.