Reports of airport arrival quarantine plans dismissed as ‘speculation’

The Government has refused to confirm media reports that passengers entering UK airports will have to be quarantined for two weeks.

It was reported that the new measures would be introduced under the Government’s second phase of its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

But Environment Secretary George Eustice dismissed the suggestion as “speculation” during the daily Government press conference on Sunday.

Coronavirus
There have been calls for mass screening at UK airports (Steve Parsons/PA)

Media reports claimed that travellers could face large fines if they fail to remain at the address provided to authorities as their place of isolation.

Asked by a journalist how this would be enforced, Mr Eustice said: “I know there is a lot of speculation around these things.

“As we move to a new phase at some point in the future – we are not there yet – international travel could become a more significant part of the risk to manage.

“At the moment, all of the evidence suggests it is only a tiny proportion of the cause of the coronavirus outbreak – if we got to that point, a number of measures would be considered, but no decisions have been taken in this phase yet.

“We’ve made a conscious decision as a country not to close our borders because we need to keep trade flowing and should there be medical advice in the future, as we move to new stages, that this is an area that should be looked at and considered, that is the time to do that.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said on Friday that the possible screening of passengers arriving at UK airports for Covid-19 symptoms would be kept “under review”.

And he hinted that the measure could be introduced when Britain moves into the next phase of the crisis, where tracking and tracing cases will be central.

His comments follow reports that Heathrow Airport’s chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, is urging ministers to introduce mass screening at airports.

Mr Shapps told a daily Downing Street press conference on Friday: “Although it must be part of the plan going forward, I think it is probably more useful during the phase of test, track and trace that the Health Secretary was talking about yesterday.”

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