Britain starts mandatory self-quarantine for arrivals

LONDON (AFP) – Britain introduced a two-week quarantine yesterday for most people arriving from abroad to try to limit the spread of the coronavirus, a measure roundly condemned by the ailing aviation sector.

The measure, which applies to both residents and visitors with some exceptions, aims to prevent a second wave of contagion from abroad.

But critics question why Britain, which was hardest hit by COVID-19 in Europe and is only gradually easing a lockdown, is inflicting more pain on hotels and airlines by reducing travel from countries with fewer virus cases.

British Airways and budget carriers EasyJet and Ryanair have launched joint legal proceedings against the government over what they called a “disproportionate and unfair” step.

Ryanair Chief Michael O’Leary told Sky News yesterday the plan was “useless” and unenforceable, and said it would “devastate thousands of jobs in British tourism”.

Chief Executive of London’s Heathrow John Holland-Kaye, told the City AM newspaper that it could lead to the loss of potentially 25,000 jobs at his airport – a third of staff.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the new rules made sense because “the proportion of infections that come from abroad increases” as Britain’s own caseload drops.

“We’ve got to take an approach that starts with caution,” he told Sky News.

To enter Britain by plane, train, road or sea, travellers must provide details of their journey and the address where they will self-isolate.