UK’s soon to be announced quarantine is about politics and not science

I wrote a few days ago about a proposed on-arrival two week quarantine which the UK Government, in the form of the Home Secretary Priti Patel, is set to announce this afternoon at 5pm. It will require arriving visitors to provide an address in the UK, or they will be provided with accommodation by the Government. Presumably this will be chargeable. The quarantine is likely to start as early as 1 June 2020.

The scheme is perceived to be popular with Brits and feeds in to the narrative that COVID is a foreign disease brought in from abroad. Pity the science only supports these measures at the start of a pandemic. The measures are too little and too late.

Enforcement will be announced too – either the Police or special inspectors – will be able to visit the address nominated by the arriving passenger to check that they are there. Fines will start at 1,000 GBP. Repeat offenders can be referred to a Magistrate’s Court for unlimited fines.

Of course, this is going to make no one want to travel. Annual leave allowances, for those with jobs, will be used up quickly with one week away leading to two weeks at home.

I am afraid that in support of an ideology that abhors anything from outside the UK, the Government will dissuade anyone from coming for holidays, just as Spain, Greece and Italy re-open their borders in advance of the peak summer travel season. Brits will be encouraged to stay in the UK for the summer holiday peak which is due in a few weeks. Business travellers will be encouraged to undertake online meetings rather than visiting clients in person.

The struggling members of the travel business sector will simply be unable to survive this, introduced just as many were planning to restart flights and holidays.

It’s a sad day for my country.


  1. This policy is sensible and a good decision by Downing Street. The U.K. has a high number of coronavirus infections and has policies in place to mitigate the spread. People coming in from outside bring with them the risks of a different set of mitigation efforts not designed for the risks unique to Britain. Travel should be discouraged. It’s important fundamental freedoms of personal choice and individual decision making are upheld for citizens (in the states people being arrested for meeting friends and family on private property is blood boiling) but that does not extend to foreign visitors. It’s nice the U.K. will have a policy in place that allows visitors to meet their loved ones and have access to Britain if they have important business or personal obligations. But that doesn’t mean people should travel for leisure or for business if it is avoidable. The travel business sector is going to have to adjust to the new reality.

  2. As an island I’m flabbergasted that the UK didn’t do this sooner. We did it a while ago here in Australia (and NZ) and my home state (South Australia) was effectively deemed COVID free this week! I had a holiday to the UK planned in October….doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen!

  3. This feeds into the isolation ‘pride’ that brits feel. It’s a weird nationalist thing they do where ‘we’re tough, we’ll show you’ allies them to self impose pain – to feed that image.

    I own a business there. It’s… very strange.

    More strange is, obvious this virus was massively overhyped and not remotely as deadly as all the governments feared.

    But, why not lock people down for another couple months – it’s a strange, xenophobic populist strategy to placate the masses.

    Remember how Rome dies?

    To the sound of thunderous applause.

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