Petition Do not enforce a compulsory quarantine on people arriving in the UK
Instead, the Government should focus on increasing testing capabilities, ensuring hospitals and care homes are well equipped, and helping businesses and individuals gradually resume their activities so the economy can start recovering.
The damage this extreme and all-encompassing measure could cause could far outweigh any potential benefits.
The hospitality industry is already struggling with thousands of jobs at risk and many businesses on the brink of collapse.
Enforcing a compulsory quarantine so late in the fight against coronavirus is counterproductive. Tourism and business travellers are key to relaunching the economy. Imposing a self-quarantine significantly reduces incoming travel with catastrophic consequences.
This response was given on 8 September 2020
Ensuring the safety of the wider UK and travelling public must remain our priority. Our approach has balanced the risks of imported Covid-19 cases whilst also supporting the travel and tourism sector.
Read the response in full
Effective from 8 June, border health measures have been in place for entering the UK. The rules cover UK residents and visitors. Passengers need to provide journey and contact details when travelling to the UK and are not allowed to leave the place they are staying for the first 14 days (self-isolation) except in very limited situations. As public health matters are devolved, the Government worked closely with the Devolved Administrations to build a four nations approach, and broadly equivalent measures were introduced by the administrations in each of the nations on the same date.
The Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC), in close consultation with Public Health England (PHE) and the Chief Medical Officer, has developed an approach to assessing the public health risk associated with inbound travel from specific countries and territories. The resulting categorisation methodology has been informed by a number of factors including an estimate of the proportion of the population that is currently infectious in each country, trends in virus incidences and deaths, transmission status and international epidemic intelligence. We have also considered issues such as the testing capacity of each country and the quality of the data available. Data has been used from official sources in each country and modelling by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, as well as from Public Health England and the National Travel Health Network and Centre. Other data sources may be used in the future.
On 29 June the Government confirmed that it would shortly begin to ease the health measures at the UK border, allowing passengers to be exempted from self-isolation requirements in certain circumstances on arrival in the UK. This would apply to people arriving on all forms of transport. On 6 July the Government set out plans in more detail to end the self-isolation requirement for arrivals from certain countries and territories into England, where the risk of importing Covid-19 is sufficiently low. These measures came into force on 10 July following amendments to the regulations. The list of country exemptions remains under review and the Government has added further countries to the list where it has been safe to do so.
With regards to testing international arrivals, the Government recently announced that it is considering whether and how a testing regime could be developed to reduce the self-isolation period for international arrivals from non-exempt countries.
We recognise that these are extremely difficult conditions for tourism businesses. The Government is committed to helping the tourism industry through this crisis and during the recovery period. Ministers and officials are engaging with the industry about the impacts and recovery on a regular basis.
The Government continues to support businesses in the tourism sector through one of the most generous economic packages provided anywhere in the world. We have always recognised that the measures we’ve taken to limit the spread of Covid-19 will have a substantial impact on our economy, including sectors like tourism, but that was essential to protect our NHS and save lives.
Border measures are only part of our plan to supress coronavirus: alongside these we are rapidly expanding our NHS Test and Trace programme and are carefully monitoring when and whether to change social distancing measures.
Sadly, and unexpectedly, the health situation in Europe is worsening and we are reacting rapidly to end country exemptions to the self-isolation requirements if the evidence supports doing so. We will always put the health of the public first.
This is a revised response. The Petitions Committee requested a response which more directly addressed the request of the petition. You can find the original response towards the bottom of the petition page (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/320329)
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At 100,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in Parliament
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Original Government Response
The Government’s self-isolation measures at the border, introduced on 8 June, are informed by science, are designed to help prevent a second wave of the COVID-19 virus and are regularly reviewed.
Effective from 8 June, border health measures are in place for entering the UK. The rules cover UK residents and visitors. Passengers need to provide journey and contact details when travelling to the UK and are not allowed to leave the place they are staying for the first 14 days (self-isolation) except in very limited situations. As public health matters are devolved, HM Government worked closely with the Devolved Administrations to build a four nations approach, and broadly equivalent measures were introduced by the administrations in each of the nations on the same date.
The need for the restrictions is regularly reviewed. The reviews are guided by the scientific advice and consider factors such as the domestic and international incidence of COVID-19, and the level of infection and transmission. The economic impact of the measures, and new initiatives being trialled to secure safe travel, are also taken into account during these reviews.
Implementation of these measures has not detracted from our overall work to contain the virus.
The Government is committed to ensuring hospitals and care homes are well equipped. The Government has been clear the NHS will get whatever funding it needs to respond to the Coronavirus. On 2 April, the Health Secretary announced £13.4 billion of NHS debt will be written off, as part of a major financial reset for NHS providers. The Chancellor also launched an initial £5 billion Coronavirus fund at Budget 2020 to cover costs of the response to the public sector. On 13 April, the Treasury increased this to a £14.5 billion Coronavirus emergency response fund, of which £6.6 billion will go to health services. DHSC is continuing to work with the NHS and HMT to ensure the NHS gets the funding and resources it needs.
We also recognise COVID-19 is imposing significant pressures on the social care sector. We have now made £3.2 billion available to local authorities so they can address pressures on local services caused by the pandemic, including in adult social care. On 15 May we published details of an additional £600 million Infection Control Fund for Adult Social Care.
Testing is a key part of the UK’s response to COVID-19, and we have rapidly expanded our capacity over the last few months, to ensure anyone who needs a test can get one. From 2,000 tests per day in March we now have the capacity to conduct nearly 300,000 tests per day across the entire testing programme and will continue to scale our capacity to meet the demand as appropriate.
We are aware of the special circumstances affecting social care services and have made sure testing is available for:
All residents in care homes and asymptomatic social care staff through the whole care home portal;
All patients discharged from hospital into care homes;
Domiciliary care staff, volunteers and unpaid carers via the employer referral or self-referral portal if they have symptoms.
We have also made testing available for all symptomatic people in England and Wales – and anyone with symptoms aged five and over across the whole of the UK.
More information about COVID-19 and getting tested is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-getting-tested.
This response was given on 3 July 2020. The Petitions Committee then requested a revised response, that more directly addressed the request of the petition.
E-petition session on easing Covid-19 lockdown restrictions
On Wednesday 15 July, the Petitions Committee will hold its first ever hybrid ‘e-petitions session’ in response to petitions relating to the easing of Coronavirus lockdown restrictions, including this one.
MPs will discuss the Government’s approach to easing the lockdown, in light of petitions about easing Covid-19 restrictions on certain sectors, businesses and activities which have gained over 287,000 signatures. Chloe Smith MP, Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, will respond for the Government.
This session has been scheduled because sittings in Westminster Hall (where e-petitions are normally debated) are still suspended as part of Parliament’s arrangements for adapting to the Coronavirus outbreak, and because the Government has not provided more time for debates on e-petitions in the main Chamber of the House of Commons.
In this session, MPs will be able to take part in person or remotely via video link. This will be the first time that MPs will discuss e-petitions in this new hybrid format. Petitions sessions and debates are an opportunity for MPs to discuss the important issues raised by petitions, however they cannot directly change the law or result in a vote to implement the request of the petition.
MPs debate international travel corridors
On Monday 7 September, the Secretary of State for Transport made a statement on international travel corridors and MPs asked questions about it.
Watch the statement and debate: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2020-09-07/debates/F9C0BD2A-22CB-4A74-AD47-1BE8696F6C9E/InternationalTravel
Read the statement and debate: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2020-09-07/debates/F9C0BD2A-22CB-4A74-AD47-1BE8696F6C9E/InternationalTravel