UK quarantine: Boris Johnson didn't know the rules. But we do
The home secretary, Priti Patel, has announced that, from 8 June, almost all arrivals at UK airports, ferry ports and international rail terminals will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.
At the Downing Street briefing on 25 May, Stuart in Selby asked the prime minister how quarantine will work for British people arriving from abroad: “If UK travellers returning from abroad are going to be told they must self-isolate for 14 days, what actual capacity will exist for health officials to perform spot checks?
“Will the governments be ensuring those people self isolating receive food and medical essentials during this time?”
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Boris Johnson said: “I cannot tell you what provision we’ve yet made for people self-isolating – whether they will receive food and provisions.
“I think possibly it would be reasonable to assume as they come into the UK knowing the rules that they will take steps to self-isolate somewhere where they can make sure they are provided for.
“But obviously if they can’t then local authorities are ready to make sure that they are well looked after.”
Fortunately The Independent can provide the essential briefing.
Online locator contact form
Every adult heading for the UK will be expected to provide lots of data in advance via this online form. It has not been made public yet; the Home Office says: “A link to the form will be published on gov.uk in due course.”
But based on information from the government and the existing form issued by the Irish authorities, these are the questions it is likely to contain:
- Name, date and place of birth, nationality and passport number.
- Point of departure for the UK.
- Means of arrival, including flight number, train number or ferry departure time.
- For flights and trains, the seat number you occupied. (Given that many people will complete the form before they know this information, it will need to be updated.)
- Reason for journey: resident in UK, visiting friends/family, holiday/business trip, work, transit to a third country or migrating to Britain.
- Address where you will self-isolate for the next 14 days.
- Contact details: home phone, mobile phone and email.
- Children travelling with you (who will be expected to self-isolate at the same place as you).
- Family member/friend to contact in case of emergency.
The Home Office says: “Contact tracing forms will aid the UK’s broader contact tracing strategy, to make sure contacts of coronavirus cases are quickly tracked and prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“Passengers will be required to complete the required information. They could be fined or, in some cases, be refused entry to the UK if they don’t.”
Nowhere to stay?
The Home Office says: “If you will not be able to safely self-isolate at the place you’re planning to stay, tell Border Force officers when you arrive in the UK. They’ll give you a choice of accommodation to stay at.”
Meals will be provided to such individuals.
Journey to your self-isolation location
The current advice for arrivals to Britain will continue to apply. You should ideally travel home in a car driven by someone from the household where you will self-isolate. Otherwise, you can use a taxi or public transport, observing all rules on social distancing.
The presumption will be that you are carrying Covid-19. You should ideally occupy a room separate from any other members of the household.
“Avoid contact with the people you’re staying with and minimise the time you spend in shared areas,” says the Home Office.
You must not go to work, school or to any public areas, or use public transport or taxis.
You should not have visitors, including friends and family, unless they are providing essential support.
Do not go out to buy food or other essentials “where you can rely on others,” officials say.
The authorities will not normally expect to provide food.
Staying in a hotel?
The official guidance says: “If you’re staying in a hotel or guest house, you cannot use shared areas such as bars, restaurants, health clubs and sports facilities. Stay two metres away from all other guests and staff.”
The home secretary said: “Public Health England will set up an assurance service to contact people at random to ensure they understand the requirements and are self-isolating.
Officials can telephone or call at the nominated address at any time during the 14 days. If the traveller is not at home or out with a valid excuse, a £1,000 fixed penalty notice will be issued in England.
The administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will decide their own levels of fines.
Leaving the UK before the two weeks is up
Returning to the place of origin abroad, or continuing to a third country, after less than 14 days is permissible so long as the traveller goes direct to the airport, ferry port or international railway station, and avoids public transport.
As things stand in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, a non-essential journey would break current lockdown rules, but those regulations may well change before 8 June.
If you have symptoms of coronavirus
You should contact the health authorities. At the Downing Street briefing on 25 May, Professor Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director for Public Health England, said: “As far as supporting people when they’re actually isolating: we have got it form in this, in looking after people who are particularly vulnerable, those who are shielding and those who are not able to go out and get what they need.
“That system really is one that needs to imbue into the follow-up of people who are very vulnerable.
“So this system will be set up to connect maximally and we will be testing that from June.”
The Independent has asked the Department of Health for clarification of the system.
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