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Friday May 22 2020
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UK Home Office says 14-day self-isolation 'required' for anyone arriving in Britain

Passengers arrive from international flights at Heathrow Airport as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in London, Britain, May 10, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville/Files

LONDON: Britain’s Home Office has announced on Friday that any individual arriving in the United Kingdom would be "required to self-isolate for 14 days".

A Home Office spokesman told Geo News that new measures at the UK border have been announced to guard against the second wave of coronavirus infections.

The Home Secretary Priti Patel said on Friday that as the transmission rate in the UK falls, and the number of travellers arriving in the UK begins to increase in the coming months, imported cases may pose a larger threat as they could become a higher proportion of the overall number of infections in the UK and increase the spread of the disease.

The measures outlined by the Home Secretary include: Contact locator form – All arriving passengers will be required to fill this in to provide contact and travel information so they can be contacted if they, or someone they may have been in contact with, develops the disease; Self-isolation - Passengers arriving in the UK will be required to self-isolate for 14 days and could be contacted regularly throughout this period to ensure compliance; Enforcement - Anyone failing to comply with the mandatory conditions may face enforcement action. A breach of self-isolation would be punishable with a £1,000 fixed penalty notice in England or potential prosecution and an unlimited fine. The level of the fine could increase if the risk of infection from abroad increases. The Devolved Administrations will set out their own enforcement approaches.

Border Force will undertake checks at the border and may refuse entry to any non-British citizen who refuses to comply with these regulations and isn’t resident in the UK. Failure to complete the form is also punishable by a £100 fixed penalty notice. Public health authorities will conduct random checks in England to ensure compliance with self-isolation requirements. Removal from the country would be considered as a last resort for foreign nationals who refuse to comply with these public health measures.

Patel said: “As the world begins to emerge from what we hope is the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, we must look to the future and protect the British public by reducing the risk of cases crossing our border.

“We are introducing these new measures now to keep the transmission rate down and prevent a devastating second wave.

“I fully expect the majority of people will do the right thing and abide by these measures. But we will take enforcement action against the minority of people who endanger the safety of others.”

Professor John Aston, Home Office Chief Scientific Adviser said: “The scientific advice so far has been clear: while there has been significant community transmission of the virus within the UK the impact of putting in place additional border restrictions would have been negligible to the spread of the virus.

“However, the spread of the virus within the UK is now lessening. We have been successful in getting the reproduction number R – the average number of new people infected by one infected person – below 1.

“As the number of infections within the UK drops, we must now manage the risk of transmissions being reintroduced from elsewhere.”

The arrangements are due to come into effect on 8 June.

Speaking to this correspondent, a Home Office spokesman said that through the new online locator contact form all arriving passengers will need to provide details of their self-isolation accommodation. If this does not meet the necessary requirements – such as hotels, or with friends or family - they will be required to self-isolate in facilities arranged by the government, he said.

The spokesman said that people should use personal transport, such as a car, to travel to their accommodation where possible. Once they arrive there, they should not leave their accommodation for 14 days.

This means that they should not go to work, school, or public areas, or use public transport or taxis. They should not have visitors, including friends and family, unless they are providing essential support.

They should not go out to buy food or other essentials where they can rely on others.

The spokesman said: “Those entering the UK will also be encouraged to download the NHS Covid-19 app at the border, once rolled out nationally, and use it for the duration of their stay in the UK. Once self-isolation is complete people should follow the current Government guidelines on social distancing measures.”