LONDON, May 9 (Reuters) – Britain is to introduce a 14-day quarantine period for almost everyone arriving into the country to avoid a second peak of the coronavirus pandemic, The Times newspaper reported on Saturday.
It said Prime Minister Boris Johnson will say in an address to the nation on Sunday that passengers arriving at airports and ports, including Britons returning from abroad, will have to self-isolate for a fortnight.
According to the report, under measures that are likely to come into force in early June, travellers will have to provide the address at which they will self-isolate on arrival.
“These measures will help protect the British public and reduce the transmission of the virus as we move into the next phase of our response,” The Times quoted a government source as saying.
Britain’s COVID-19 death toll rose to 31,241 on Friday.
Downing Street declined to comment on the report and a spokeswoman for Britain’s interior ministry said: “We don’t comment on leaks.”
Johnson is due to announce on Sunday the next steps in Britain’s battle to tackle the novel coronavirus following a review by ministers of the current measures that have all but shut the economy and kept millions at home for over six weeks.
His environment minister George Eustice said on Saturday Johnson would not announce any dramatic changes to Britain’s lockdown, adopting a cautious approach.
UK airport operators said they feared a quarantine would compound the acute damage the pandemic has wrought to the aviation industry as it would put people off travelling when lockdown restrictions are lifted.
“Quarantine would not only have a devastating impact on the UK aviation industry, but also on the wider economy,” said Karen Dee, Chief Executive of the Airport Operators Association.
“If the government believes quarantine is medically necessary, then it should be applied on a selective basis following the science, there should be a clear exit strategy and the economic impact on key sectors should be mitigated,” she said.
Airlines UK, the representative body for airlines, said it needed to see the detail of what the government is proposing.
“We will be asking for assurances that this decision has been led by the science and that government has a credible exit plan, with weekly reviews to ensure the restrictions are working and still required.”
The Times report said travellers from Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man would be exempt from the quarantine, as would lorry drivers bringing crucial supplies.
It said the authorities would carry out spot checks and those found to be breaking the rules would face fines of up to 1,000 pounds ($1,240) or even deportation.
($1 = 0.8060 pounds) (Reporting by James Davey in London and Aishwarya Nair in Bengaluru, Editing by Ros Russell)