MPs demand to see justification for the government’s new quarantine policy

Just six days after the UK’s controversial quarantine rules came into force, MPs have demanded to see the government’s rationale and evidence for the new policy.

The home secretary, Priti Patel, brought in the measure on 8 June. Almost all arrivals at UK airports, ferry ports and international rail terminals are required to self-isolate at home for two weeks.

But in a new report, The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the aviation sector, the Transport Select Committee says: “We are concerned about the government’s decision to introduce a blanket 14-day quarantine period for travellers to the UK from other countries.

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“This will further damage both the recovery of the aviation sector and the wider economy.

“The government should clearly explain the reasons for its current quarantine policy and the evidence base it used to make its decision.

“We support a more targeted and nuanced border control policy that would allow people travelling from countries where the infection rate of Covid-19 is relatively low to enter the UK on a less restrictive basis.

“Should the conditions allow in late June, we strongly urge the government to introduce a more flexible and risk-based approach to border control and people entering the UK.”

The Conservative chair of the committee, Huw Merriman MP, said: “It is imperative that the UK government finds a way to get aviation back on its feet.

“We don’t believe this fits with a blanket 14-day quarantine period for travellers to the UK. In today’s report, we recommend a more agile response.”

Meanwhile the chief executive of Brittany Ferries has described the quarantine law, together with the Foreign Office advice on all-but-essential travel as “enormously frustrating”.

In a letter to customers, Christophe Mathieu wrote: “I sometimes wonder if the politics of quarantine have become more important than taking decisions designed to protect the health, welfare and livelihoods of us all.”

“We have no choice but to extend the cancellation period.”

The cross-Channel ferry firm has announced all sailings are cancelled until 28 June.

But Mr Mathieu added: “I really hope that this will be the last round of cancellations.

“We can all still salvage something from this horrible year.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “It’s important to remember what these measures are all about – protecting public health, avoiding a second peak of this deadly virus and that means managing the risk of cases being imported from abroad.

“These measures are informed by science, backed by the public and will keep us all safe.”

Simon Calder was called as a witness from The Independent to give evidence to the Transport Select Committee’s enquiry on aviation.

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