Up to 12 March, the government’s advice was clear: anyone arriving from overseas was asked to isolate for two weeks. On 13 March that advice inexplicably changed.
Just as most European countries were closing their borders and introducing quarantines, the UK dropped any requirement for new arrivals to stay at home. The government has never told us why that advice was changed. What was the science behind removing the quarantine requirement?
Since then, amazingly, our borders have remained open throughout the peak of the pandemic, with no requirement for even a cursory check. Yet now that the peak of the pandemic has passed, the government has imposed a two-week quarantine on all arrivals in Britain. Why has it waited until now to impose a quarantine?
I recently spoke to a member of the Sage (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) committee who confirmed that “The government is no longer following the science”.
Figures from UK Border Force reveal that between 1 January and lockdown on 23 March some 18.1 million people flew into the UK. No health checks were done on any of them.
In February alone 90,000 flew in from Milan and 100,000 from China. If entries by land and sea are included, 23.7 million people entered the UK, half of them Brits and EU nationals living in the UK returning home.
The government’s position is a complete muddle. Originally it was suggested that there should be an exemption for people arriving from France and then it became clear that this would just funnel all traffic through France.
The final and exceptionally long list of exemptions includes people arriving from Ireland even though Ireland will continue to impose a 14-day quarantine on arrivals from Britain.