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U.K. Implements Quarantine For Arriving ‘Red List’ Passengers From February 15
The U.K. government has announced that commencing 15 February airline passengers arriving from ‘red list’ countries will be required to undertake a mandatory 10-day hotel quarantine at the passenger’s expense. The government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been under continuing pressure over their handling of the CoVid-19 pandemic and the partial closing of borders is seen by some as ‘too little, too late’. The U.K. opposition Labour party shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “It is beyond comprehension that these measures won’t even start until 15 February.”
BBC News reports that quarantine hotels are expected to be at Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen in addition to London’s Heathrow, Gatwick and City airports. Passengers undertaking the 10-day quarantine will receive three meals a day as well as access to fresh fruit and exercise under the accompaniment of security guards. In speaking with BBC News a spokesperson for the hospitality industry estimated the cost per day of staying in a quarantine hotel as £80 ($110). However, the Financial Times reported that each individual traveler may be charged over £1000 ($1375) for the total 10-day stay.
The Financial Times further reported that the U.K. government had held a call with the aviation industry on Friday to discuss the quarantine process but a number of details were still unclear. How passengers from ‘red list’ countries would be separated from travelers from other destinations have still to be finalized.
Concern over the handling of arriving and departing passengers at U.K. airports has been the subject of increasing concern. The quarantine upon arrival is a further restriction on travel for the industry who also have to manage the policing of CoVid-19 tests and reasons for travel for departing travellers. The Financial Times reported the frustrations being felt by aviation workers on the frontline dealing with the added restrictions and passenger requirements. “We are under more pressure than ever due to the increased checks and procedures now in place,” one staff member told the Financial Times. “I’m angry that the government has not done more to make sure travel is genuinely essential.”
Airline and airport workers are required to police passenger reasons for travel and monitor concern over false CoVid-19 test certificates. The GMB union that represents a number of aviation workers stated: “There is currently no oversight from the government to make sure travel is only being done for essential reasons.” The union is also concerned for the health and safety of its members after images were shared on social media of what appeared to be a significant lack of social distancing at Heathrow airport.
A statement from Perry Phillips, GMB London Regional Organiser at Heathrow said: “It is with great concern that we see our members and their colleagues working at Heathrow being exposed to such careless and irresponsible behavior when the catastrophic results of the pandemic and the new dangerous variant of the virus are with us all every day.”
Further concerns were raised earlier in the week when both Heathrow airport and British Airways’ social media accounts were seen to support a stance from 90’s popstars Right Said Fred not to wear masks when departing Heathrow. The Standard reported Heathrow airport’s account replying: “We’re glad to hear your journey is going smoothly. Sometimes it’s those simple things…”. Both the airport and airline removed the supportive tweets and replaced them with statements advising there had been an oversight in the replies and reinforcing the regulatory requirement to wear a mask when traveling unless exempt.
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