Two people have been fined £10,000 each after failing to quarantine when they returned from Dubai – however, their journey home to the Wirral exposed the gap in the government’s hotel quarantine regime.
Arrivals into England from 33 "red list" countries, including the UAE, are required by law to self-isolate for 10 days in government-appointed hotel accommodation at their own expense, and submit to two additional tests for Covid-19 on the second and eighth day of their quarantine on top of their pre-departure test.
However, Merseyside Police said the pair evaded hotel quarantine by returning to the UK indirectly and ensuring their inbound flight didn’t arrive at one of the specified red list ports of entry, of which there are five in England – Heathrow, Gatwick, London City, Birmingham and Farnborough airports.
The force said on 23 February it was reported a man and a woman from Wirral had failed to quarantine after returning from Dubai, contravening the UK’s Covid regulations on international travel.
An investigation led to them each being issued with a £10,000 fine and transported to a designated quarantine hotel – the best part of four days later on 26 February.
Chief inspector Chris Barnes branded the pair’s conduct "selfish, inconsiderate and potentially dangerous".
"Currently, the regulations mean that if you are a British or Irish national, or you have residence rights in the UK and are returning from a country on the foreign travel red list, you must quarantine in a government approved hotel for 10 days. If you are required to quarantine at a hotel, you can only arrive in England at certain ports of entry.
"In this instance, the pair in question avoided a direct flight route back from Dubai to one of the specified airports in an attempt to evade this process. However, this was ultimately unsuccessful and has now resulted in a significant fine of £10,000 each.
"We are at a crucial point in the pandemic, and it’s vital that everyone continues to abide by the restrictions so that we can meet the criteria needed for lockdown to ease."
Barnes added the pair’s actions risked jeopardising this process, and "recklessly" put their health and those of others at risk.