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Sunday, 7 June 2020

Has The UK Just Canceled Summer By Imposing A 14-Day Quarantine?

As of June 8, travelers arriving in the UK will be subject to a 14-day quarantine.
Across Europe, beaches are getting ready for their first socially distanced foreign visitors, hotels are airing out rooms and restaurants are laying alfresco tables. With borders now open, the travel industry is trying to salvage as much of the peak tourist season as possible.
Right now, almost everyone's invited, but despite the alluring prospect of blue Mediterranean seas and bluer skies, one country isn't coming -- and people are getting very angry about it.
For the UK, it seems, summer vacations could still be cancelled.
Even as it appears to be emerging from one of the continent's worst coronavirus outbreaks, the country has decided to suddenly slam its borders shut by imposing a 14-day quarantine that critics say will torpedo the last shreds of hope for its travel industry.


blues with an escape to warmer climes will likely have to scrap their plans unless they want to endure enforced isolation on their return or risk a £1,000 fine -- about $1,250.
And for the UK's tourism industry, any prospect of soaking up some much needed foreign tourist dollars is vanishing fast. Britain has many charms, but two weeks' incarceration inside the same room is not why people visit this sceptered isle.
If that wasn't enough to stoke frustrations, it seems that far from being stringently enforced, the new regulations will only be lightly policed after they come into effect on June 8, with spot checks that may actually miss the virus carriers they're designed to keep sequestered.
That stands in contrast to much more stringent measures in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong, imposed much earlier in the pandemic.
There are claims that visitors or returnees may be able to make use of a "Dublin dodge," since arrivals from the Republic of Ireland will be exempt from the quarantine. In theory they could travel from anywhere and transit via the UK's near neighbor.

And the rules have come far too late for some, with questions asked about why Britain's borders remained wide open during the height of its virus outbreak and are only now being restricted as the country eases up on social restrictions.
"There's no doubt that quarantine should have been imposed at the start of the pandemic, in early March, because that's when it would have been most effective," says Paul Charles, founder and CEO of The PC Agency, which represents tourism boards including Ireland, New Zealand and Finland in the UK, as well as major brands and operators.
"If you look at countries that have successfully overcome coronavirus, like New Zealand and Vietnam, they have something in common. They put quarantine in place right at the start. That was WHO advice. But our government never did that. So we can't understand why they're doing it now when the cases of Covid-19 are falling and also when there is now a test and trace system in place... they are using a blunt economic tool to try and keep cases low."

There are some exceptions to the quarantine rules. Truck drivers, Covid-19 frontline healthcare workers and elite athletes coming for bio-secure soccer or cricket matches or F1's British Grand Prix in late July will all be exempt.

Everyone else will be required to fill out a form prior to arrival, on pain of a £100 fine, providing the government with an address for where they plan to isolate for two weeks.
While the £1,000 fines will be imposed on those who breach the conditions in the UK, only a fifth of travelers are expected to get spot checks. The Metropolitan Police force, which covers London, has said it doesn't have the time to enforce it.
Some conditions of the quarantine have further fueled questions over its likely effectiveness. Arriving travelers will be able to go to their destination on public transport and leave their accommodation to shop for essentials. In Hong Kong, arrivals are given a prison-style wristband and told not to leave their government-mandated hotel room for two weeks.

So why now? The UK government says quarantine is being introduced in June precisely because other countries are opening up and it says that means a higher risk of new cases of coronavirus arriving from abroad.
"Travelers from overseas could become a high proportion of the overall number of infections in the UK, and therefore increase the spread of the disease," the UK's Home Secretary, Priti Patel, told parliament on Wednesday.
Her announcement drew condemnation both from members of her ruling Conservative Party and the main opposition Labour Party. Lawmaker Liam Fox, a former Conservative trade minister, described it as "unnecessary economic isolation" that would stifle post-virus recovery.
"If such a barrier was required, why was it not introduced earlier in the outbreak?" he added. Fellow Conservative member of parliament Steve Brine called it "the right move at the wrong time."
It's a view echoed by George Morgan-Grenville, CEO of tour operator Red Savannah. "By pursuing its quarantine plans without due regard for the economic consequences, the government is choosing to ignore the devastation it will cause to companies, to employment and to the lives of all those whose jobs will be lost," he says.
"I think it's too late," agrees Brian Young, managing director of G Adventures, which offers small group tours around the globe. "The impact on this whole sector knocks customer confidence. It takes time to get things going. If the quarantine goes on beyond the end of June, the summer season will be lost completely. Places like Greece are very dependent on tourism and can't afford to lose their whole summer."

Patel defended her government's measures against questions about why the quarantine wasn't brought in earlier to prevent the tens of thousands of people who continued to enter the country when Covid-19 infections were soaring.
"Some have suggested that public health measures should have been introduced when the virus was at its peak. However, at that time the scientific advice was clear that such measures would have made little difference when domestic transmission was widespread," she told parliament.
The government's argument for implementing quarantine now has been met with disbelief from the wider travel industry.
Some 300 companies, including luxury brands Black Tomato and Kuoni, as well as major players such as Travelbag and Netflights, have endorsed a letter sent to Patel demanding quarantine be scrapped before it's implemented, saying it will devastate a sector already reeling from the outbreak.
A new survey of 124 UK travel and hospitality business owners and CEOs found that 60% expect to make staff redundant when the measures come into force. A total of 94% believe summer bookings will disappear if the quarantine is enforced. Meanwhile, 99% believe the policy will damage the economy. Tourism accounts for around four million jobs in the UK, 11% of the total workforce.
Germany's foreign minister, Heiko Maas, has said that his country will advise against nonessential travel to the UK for as long as quarantine measures are in place.

'Madness'

People arriving in the UK will be allowed to travel to their place of quarantine by public transport.
People arriving in the UK will be allowed to travel to their place of quarantine by public transport.
Mirjam Peternek-McCartney, CEO of travel communications firm Lemongrass Marketing, puts things in stark terms. "Tour operators are suffering, carriers are suffering, hoteliers are suffering and UK cities that welcome international tourists, such as London and Oxford, will see many businesses which rely wholly on tourism go bust," she warns.
Robin Sheppard, founder and chairman of Bespoke Hotels Group, the UK's largest independent hotel group, says he's baffled by the timing.
"Had it come in around March 23 I would have understood it, but to introduce it now, so imprecisely, seems very foolish," he said. "I don't disagree with the original sentiment, it's just the wrong time. To have not listened to the public reaction to this and adjusted the plan is just madness."

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