Priti Patel calls out influencers for travelling during pandemic
Coronavirus restrictions are in force across the country in a bid for authorities to get a handle on rising rates and deaths as a result of the pandemic. Travellers returning to the UK from high-risk countries will be forced to quarantine in Government-selected hotels for a period of 10 days. For the most part, travel is banned, but what exactly counts as an essential journey?
Britons will be required to declare a “valid reason” for travel or face fines according to the Home Secretary Priti Patel.
She added declarations would be checked by carriers and there would be increased police at airports and ports.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans to require returning UK nationals and residents to self-isolate if they are coming from red list high-risk countries.
Mr Johnson said: “I want to make clear that under the stay at home regulations it is illegal to leave home to travel abroad for leisure purposes and we will enforce this at ports and airports by asking people why they are leaving and instructing them to return home if they do not have a valid reason to travel.
“We have also banned all travel from 22 countries where there is a risk of known variants including South Africa, Portugal and South American nations, and in order to reduce the risk posed by UK nationals and residents returning home from these countries, I can announce that we will require all such arrivals who cannot be refused entry to isolate in government-provided accommodation – such as hotels – for ten days without exception.
“They will be met at the airport and transported directly into quarantine.”
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The new rules come after 77 new cases of the South African Covid variant were detected in the UK.
Mr Johnson suggested early evidence shows the UK variant of the virus may be more deadly than the original strain.
The Prime Minister said: “In addition to spreading more quickly, it also now appears that there is some evidence that the new variant – the variant that was first identified in London and the south-east – may be associated with a higher degree of mortality.
“It’s largely the impact of this new variant that means the NHS is under such intense pressure.”
Previous work suggests the new variant spreads between 30 percent and 70 percent faster than others, and there are hints it is about 30 percent more deadly.
Ms Patel set out the new measures in the House of Commons.
She told MPs: “There are still too many people coming in and out of our country each day”.
The Home Secretary said further action is aimed at reducing “passenger flow so that only a small number of people for whom it is absolutely essential to travel are doing so and therefore reducing the risk to our world-leading vaccine programme”.
She also highlighted the importance of only travelling when you have an essential reason.
Ms Patel said: “Anyone who doesn’t have a valid reason for travel will be directed to return home or they will face a fine.”
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What counts as an essential reason for travel?
Under the rules of national lockdown, people must only travel abroad for essential reasons.
These are the same as the “reasonable excuses” for domestic travel, and therefore include undertaking and attending:
- Work that cannot be done from home
- Medical appointments
Ms Patel was keen to emphasise going on holiday was not a valid reason.
She said: “We will introduce a new requirement so that people wishing to travel must first make a declaration as to why they need to travel.
“This reason for travel will be checked by carriers prior to departure and this approach effectively mirrors the checks on arrivals that are already in place with the passenger locator form.”
Police checks at home addresses will be increased to ensure arrivals are complying with self-isolation rules, and the UK will continue to refuse entry to non-UK citizens from “red list” countries which were already subject to the travel ban.
Which places are included as the red list countries where quarantine hotel stays will be mandated.
The full list of “red list” countries are Angola, Argentina, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Eswatini, French Guiana, Guyana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Seychelles, South Africa, Suriname, Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Quarantine hotels are already in effect in countries like New Zealand and Australia.
These measures are introduced to eliminate the transmission of the virus within their borders.
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