UK to introduce a 14-day coronavirus quarantine for inbound air passengers

(Photo: HAL)

The British government is to introduce a 14-day coronavirus quarantine rule that will affect all inbound air passengers except those arriving from France or the Republic of Ireland.

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said during his May 10 address that the rules were being imposed to prevent Covid-19 being brought in from overseas, but there was no explanation of why this had not been deemed necessary earlier in the crisis.

He said: “I am serving notice that it will soon be the time, with transmission significantly lower, to impose quarantine on people coming into this country by air.” The government later clarified that it would apply to those arriving by any form of transport. No start or end date for the rules has yet been announced, but the measures will apply to UK holidaymakers returning from other destinations.

It is envisaged that arriving passengers will be asked to provide the address where they will be staying for the duration of their quarantine.

Willie Walsh, CEO of British Airways owner IAG, said it was more bad news for the travel industry. He added that he could see “nothing positive” in the new proposals and added that the virus’ impact upon the industry was “so deep”, that the prospect of any recovery happening soon was “zero.”

He said that he didn’t understand why passengers from France will be exempt from the quarantine requirement while those from – for example – Holland will not. No comment has yet been made about travellers who transit through France or the Republic of Ireland immediately before arriving in the UK, but Mr Walsh said: “We will have to wait and see the final details of what the Prime Minister intends to do.” He added that the quarantine measures would mean that IAG will have to review its plan to return to 50% of its previous operation by July.

Tim Alderslade, CEO of the airline representative group, Airlines UK, commented: “We all, including government, need to adapt to the new normal, but closing off air travel in this way is not the way to achieve this.”

Heathrow Airport has outlined that it supports the aim of avoiding a second wave of infection, even though a 14-day quarantine plan essentially meant a temporary border closure.