Britain’s conservative government under Prime Minister Boris Johnson says that fines and even jail time are possible for any resident flying home from one of the 33 so-called red list countries who don’t comply with certain COVID-19 restrictions, including quarantine.
U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock, whose background is in economics, told his parliamentary colleagues that “We are coming down hard on people who provide false information on the passenger locator form. Anyone who lies on the passenger locator form and tries to conceal that they have been in a country on the ‘red list’ in the ten days before arrival here, will face a prison sentence of up to ten years,” the Evening Standard reported.
Under this regime, each U.K. resident coming home from a “red-list” country — i.e., a nation considered a coronavirus hotspot — will reportedly be required to pre-pay for a quarantine package costing about $2,400 in U.S. dollars that covers mandatory virus testing and a 10-day hotel stay in government-approved accommodations. The Johnson government is requiring three COVID tests, one prior to departure and two while in quarantine.
The potential fines for those who don’t comply amount to about $1,400 assessed against any international traveler who doesn’t take the required COVID test, double that for anyone who fails to take a second test (which will also automatically extend the quarantine to two weeks), and up to about $14,000 for any traveler who doesn’t isolate in a designated hotel. The Johnson administration has reportedly contracted with 16 hotels so far to participate in this program. A positive test triggers an additional 10 day quarantine.
Watch Hancock explain the new policy:
“The new regime is designed to protect the UK more effectively from Covid coming in from abroad — especially the risk of mutant strains emerging that might beat the current generation of vaccines.” the Evening Standard added. The red list includes various countries in South America and Africa, plus Portugal and the United Arab Emirates.
The U.K. currently allows only essential travel while prohibiting holiday excursions. Foreign nationals are currently banned from entering Britain from any red list country. Britons arriving from one of the 33 can reduce their quarantine to eight days if they take an optional fourth test.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) December 20, 2020
Through the end of January 2021, about 100,000-plus COVID-related fatalities have reportedly occurred in the U.K.
One travel industry observer insisted that these requirements will “kill off travel. That will stop anybody really even if they have to make an essential trip from coming back into the UK.”
The Conservative Party (a.k.a. Tories) in the U.K. has often been accused of being conservative in name only and generally far more liberal than their American counterparts.
Parenthetically, Hancock recently admitted in a media interview that the 2011 movie “Contagion” partially shaped his thinking about best practices for rolling out the COVID vaccine in his country. Ten million-plus U.K. residents have reportedly received at least one jab of the vaccine so far.
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