Coronavirus UK: Government is ‘set to DROP 14-day quarantine policy by end of month’

The UK Government is expected to drop its 14-day quarantine policy by the end of the month in favour of ‘air bridges’ to low-risk countries, it was claimed today.

Travel company bosses in Britain say they have been assured that the plans will altered within weeks, with two legal challenges already filed against Ministers.

The Foreign Office is also thought to be close to dropping its advice against all non-essential travel around the world for Britons – and could do so by the end of June.

It comes as budget airline Ryanair revealed bookings for flights to Mediterranean destinations had doubled compared to a week ago, reported The Times.

Passengers arrive at London Heathrow Airport yesterday as new quarantine measures come in

Passengers arrive at London Heathrow Airport yesterday as new quarantine measures come in

Passengers arrive at London Heathrow Airport yesterday as new quarantine measures come in

Home Secretary Priti Patel speaks in the House of Commons in London yesterday as she comes under pressure over the Government's new quarantine scheme for UK arrivals

Home Secretary Priti Patel speaks in the House of Commons in London yesterday as she comes under pressure over the Government's new quarantine scheme for UK arrivals

Home Secretary Priti Patel speaks in the House of Commons in London yesterday as she comes under pressure over the Government’s new quarantine scheme for UK arrivals

All UK arrivals – including Britons – must now fill in an online ‘contact locator’ form setting out where they will live for a fortnight. Refusal to do so risks a £1,000 fine.

But Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary has labelled it ‘worse than useless’ amid claims police will take ‘no immediate action’ even if a passenger gives a false address.

British travellers could receive Covid-19 ‘immunity passports’ to fly around the world 

British travellers could receive Covid-19 ‘immunity passports’ to fly around the world without having to go into quarantine.

Home Secretary Priti Patel told MPs the idea was being looked at the end the 14-day isolation period.

Similar documents are already held by those who have had a Yellow Fever vaccine.

A Whitehall source told The Sun: ‘Immunity passports are just one of the policies we are looking at.’

Scientists are still working to provide a definitive answer as to whether recovering from Covid-19 makes you immune to catching it again.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has previously said that the Government was weighing up the introduction of immunity certificates in the UK.

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One legal challenge has already been launched by British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair in a joint action which plans to ask the High Court for a judicial review.

A second has also been put forward in a pre-action letter by lawyers on behalf of Simon Dolan, owner of Southend-based charter airline Jota Aviation.

His team have written to Home Secretary Priti Patel and pointed out that even the Government’s own scientific experts had not supported the quarantine plans. 

And a third challenge is now being considered by the new group Quash Quarantine which represents more than 500 hotels, travel and hospitality firms.

Its spokesman Paul Charles, who is also chief executive of the travel consultancy The PC Agency, told MailOnline: ‘The Quash Quarantine group, consisting of over 500 travel and hospitality companies seeking to overturn the recently-introduced quarantine measures, has received private assurances from senior Government sources that travel corridors will be in place from June 29. 

‘We urge the government to signal to the travel industry publicly and urgently that this is the case, as well as amend FCO advice on non-essential travel. 

‘We are still considering our options regarding legal action, including whether to join BA’s claim or launch our own action, but would prefer that June 29 is confirmed as soon as possible for the start of travel corridors. 

‘The industry needs urgent visibility on a timetable for travel to begin again.’

But the plans do not appear to be putting off British travellers, with Ryanair reporting a large increase in bookings among UK families.

Passengers gather near passport control at Heathrow's Terminal 5 arrivals hall yesterday

Passengers gather near passport control at Heathrow's Terminal 5 arrivals hall yesterday

Passengers gather near passport control at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 arrivals hall yesterday

Passengers abide by the social distancing measures as they queue at the Eurostar terminal at London St Pancras yesterday

Passengers abide by the social distancing measures as they queue at the Eurostar terminal at London St Pancras yesterday

Passengers abide by the social distancing measures as they queue at the Eurostar terminal at London St Pancras yesterday 

Mr O’Leary said: ‘Our bookings doubled this weekend compared with the previous weekend; mainly with UK families booking holidays to go to the Canaries, the Algarve, the Balearics, Malaga and Italy.

The strict new quarantine rules people face when entering Britain from yesterday

What happen when you arrive in the UK?

All passengers arriving in the UK will have to fill in a form before heading to Britain. This will include British nationals coming home, as well as foreign visitors. You must provide the address at which you will be staying in the UK – and self-isolate there. You will not be allowed to leave that address at all, or receive visitors, for 14 days.

How does it work?

Passengers will be able to complete ‘contact locator form’ on the Government’s website up to 48 hours before departure. There will be no paper versions of the form. Failing to complete the form before travelling is a crime, but there will be a short grace period and allow travellers to fill in the form electronically in the arrivals hall.

How will this be enforced?

There will be spot checks to ensure all passengers have completed a form. Border Force staff will interview people as they leave planes and at border checkpoints.

What happens if I refuse to fill in a contact locator form?

You will be given an on-the-spot £100 fine by Border Force officers.  

What checks will take place during the 14-day period?

Public health officials will carry out random checks by telephone. If these raise doubts, police will visit the address, issuing a fine where necessary.

What happens if I leave the address I provide in the form?

In England, you will be issued with a £1,000 spot fine. You could even be prosecuted, and face an unlimited fine if convicted. The fine could increase beyond £1,000 if the ‘risk of infection from abroad increases’, the Home Office says. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will have their own enforcement systems.

Will foreign visitors be treated differently?

Yes. They could be removed from the UK ‘as a last resort’ if they fail to comply, the Home Office says. Officials could also refuse entry to non-UK nationals who are resident here. But they cannot refuse entry to British nationals.

Can I use public transport to travel from the airport to my isolation address?

Yes, but the Home Office says it would be preferable if you used your car. 

What if I don’t have a suitable address to go to for 14 days?

The Government will provide isolation accommodation – possibly at similar venues to those used by travellers coming back from China earlier this year. The traveller will have to pay for this.

‘Most people in the UK know that the quarantine is completely bonkers and useless. Most are gambling, in my view correctly, that the quarantine has so little credibility that it will be removed before the end of June anyway.’ 

One border source said yesterday: ‘It’s been a complete farce. The vast majority of passengers have not filled in forms in advance.

‘Those who have filled it in are given an online reference number, but immigration officers can’t log in to check whether that form has been filled in properly.

‘It’s been impossible to socially distance in the Heathrow arrivals halls because so many people have been milling around.

‘There’s been trouble at Heathrow and at Calais and Coquelles, where the UK border checks take place for the Channel Tunnel. It’s a mess.’

The scheme was further undermined last night as the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) issued guidance which revealed the light touch forces will adopt when checking up on travellers during quarantine.

Even if a false address appears to have been given, police should take ‘no immediate further action’, the guidelines say, and the case simply referred to the UK Border Force.

If police visit an address where someone is supposed to be self-isolating and there is no answer, the NPCC says further visits are ‘suggested’ but there should again be ‘no immediate further action by police’. That case should be referred to Public Health England.

And if police discover someone at a different address to the one they gave on their form, they should only remove the person to their given address ‘as a last resort’. An NPCC spokesman said most of the responsibility fell to Public Health England, adding: ‘Police have a limited role in quarantine regulations.’

In the event of a case being referred by PHE to the police for action, he added: ‘We will seek to establish the circumstances and we will continue our approach of engaging, explaining, encouraging and, only as a last resort, enforcing.’

Passengers arriving at Stansted on a flight from Eindhoven in the Netherlands criticised the measures yesterday. 

Ali Gurlek, 30, a software developer from London who spent the weekend visiting friends in the Netherlands, criticised the quarantine rule as lacking in ‘common sense’.

He said he had to take public transport from the airport to his home where he will self-isolate, adding: ‘If we have it then it’s going to spread that.’

‘It doesn’t look very common sense,’ he added.

At the Eurostar terminal at St Pancras, Sylvain Preumont, 50, a business manager who makes a weekly trip from Paris, said as a frequent traveller he was exempt but that he was no fan of the policy.

‘It makes no sense,’ he said. ‘This was invented to reassure people… then we realise that it’s not feasible.’ 

A sign outlining 'temperature check trial' measures at Heathrow Airport yesterday 'to aid detection of elevated body temperatures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic'

A sign outlining 'temperature check trial' measures at Heathrow Airport yesterday 'to aid detection of elevated body temperatures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic'

A sign outlining ‘temperature check trial’ measures at Heathrow Airport yesterday ‘to aid detection of elevated body temperatures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic’

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said border measures were needed but quarantine was a ‘blunt instrument’.

How holidaymakers are staying in the UK this year so they can splash out in 2021 

Many holidaymakers are planning staycations this year because they see foreign trips as ‘too risky’ and want to splash out in 2021, according to a travel firm.

Kuoni has reported a ‘clear upturn’ in demand for holidays next year, with more than half of customers heading to the white sand beaches of the Maldives.

The company has also seen strong sales for Mauritius, Thailand, Spain and India. Saturday was Kuoni’s best day for bookings since the coronavirus lockdown began in March.

Kuoni chief executive Derek Jones said: ‘Bookings for the Maldives are outperforming every other destination we sell around the world, currently accounting for 56 per cent of bookings for 2021.

‘The Maldives has always been our best seller but it’s soaring even further ahead right now. 

‘Whilst there is still so much uncertainty around plans to open borders, the 14-day quarantine and social distancing, people are telling us that they’d rather plan ahead for next year and save to make the trip an extra special one, upgrading what they’d normally do.

‘It’s clear from the conversations we’re having with customers and booking patterns that many people will opt to stay closer to home within the UK this year, as they see overseas travel in the near future as being too risky.’ 

‘We have got the situation where – weeks ago – other countries put quarantine in and we didn’t,’ he told LBC Radio. ‘Now as everybody’s lifting it we’re putting it in. I would much prefer to see some sort of testing regime at the airport.’

A Government spokesman said: ‘The most efficient way to get through the border is to fill out the form before travelling here.

‘There are also devices at ports for passengers to fill in the form on arrival, to make sure that people who may not be aware are still able to comply.’

Meanwhile, a leaked Home Office document seen by The Daily Telegraph reportedly said there was no method for officials to ensure a person’s details are ‘genuine’.

Shadow Home Office minister Conor McGinn told the Commons that ‘scientists say the quarantine introduced (yesterday) has come too late’.

He added: ‘The police say it’s unenforceable. The tourism and aviation industry say it will ruin them and the Home Secretary’s own department has said it is very hard to imagine how it will practically work.’

Ms Patel stood by the policy, reiterating that the approach to border measures was consistent and appropriate.

Meanwhile one travel firm said many holidaymakers are planning staycations this year because they see foreign trips as ‘too risky’ and want to splash out in 2021.

Kuoni has reported a ‘clear upturn’ in demand for holidays next year, with more than half of customers heading to the white sand beaches of the Maldives.

The company has also seen strong sales for Mauritius, Thailand, Spain and India.

Saturday was Kuoni’s best day for bookings since the coronavirus lockdown began in March.

UK campsites are experiencing a surge in bookings, while Auto Trader recently said interest in online adverts for caravans was up nearly a fifth compared with the same time last year.

Holiday deals for early July: Where can couples go for under £1,000?

LANZAROTE, SPAIN – £688 for two

You can go on a seven-night stay at the three-star Cinco Plazas Apartments in Lanzarote for just £688 for two people via Tui – a deal which is 41 per cent off.

The self-catering hotel at Puerto del Carmen has two swimming pools and a four-star TripAdvisor average rating. It is a ten-minute walk to the beach. The price includes return flights from London Gatwick, leaving on Monday, June 6.

Cinco Plazas Apartments at Puerto del Carmen in Lanzarote, Spain

Cinco Plazas Apartments at Puerto del Carmen in Lanzarote, Spain

Cinco Plazas Apartments at Puerto del Carmen in Lanzarote, Spain

CORFU, GREECE – £732 for two

Britons can head to the Lagoon Studios and Apartments in Corfu in a seven-night deal via Tui for £732 for two people, which is 23 per cent off.

The self-catering hotel is only two star but does have a 4.5-star TripAdvisor average, and is located a five-minute walk from a sandy beach. The price includes return flights from London Stanstead, leaving on Monday, July 6.

Lagoon Studios and Apartments in Corfu, Greece

Lagoon Studios and Apartments in Corfu, Greece

Lagoon Studios and Apartments in Corfu, Greece

BOURGAS, BULGARIA – £917 for two

A double room with pool view and balcony at the four-star Best Western Plus Premium Inn Hotel and Casino at Sunny Beach in Bourgas for £917 via Tui.

Bed and breakfast is included for two people for seven nights along with return flights from London Gatwick, leaving on Monday, July 6. The hotel has a 4.5-star TripAdvisor average and is a five-minute walk from the beach.

Best Western Plus Premium Inn Hotel and Casino at Sunny Beach in Bourgas, Bulgaria

Best Western Plus Premium Inn Hotel and Casino at Sunny Beach in Bourgas, Bulgaria

Best Western Plus Premium Inn Hotel and Casino at Sunny Beach in Bourgas, Bulgaria

SOUSSE, TUNISIA – £940

A couple can head to the all-inclusive Marhaba Salem Hotel in Tunisia for £940, including return flights from London Stansted leaving on Friday, July 3.

The three-star hotel in the resort of Sousse has an average TripAdvisor rating of four stars and has a sandy beach in front of its gardens, and guests can enjoy the use of three pools and castle-themed waterslides.

Marhaba Salem Hotel in Sousse, Tunisia

Marhaba Salem Hotel in Sousse, Tunisia

Marhaba Salem Hotel in Sousse, Tunisia

GRAN CANARIA, SPAIN – £958 for two

A seven-night stay at the four-star Playa Feliz in Gran Canaria – described as a ‘peaceful seafront spot’ – is available via Tui for £958 for two people.

The price includes return flights from London Gatwick, leaving on Monday, July 6. The 168-room hotel in Bahia Feliz is self-catering but features a pool and is located a five-minute walk from the sand and shingle beach.

Playa Feliz in Gran Canaria, Spain

Playa Feliz in Gran Canaria, Spain

Playa Feliz in Gran Canaria, Spain

Link hienalouca.com

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