More countries could be added to ‘red list’ today, Michael Gove suggests as hotel quarantines reviewed


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he Government’s “red list” of countries from which arrivals must quarantine in specially designated hotels is to be reviewed today, Michael Gove has said.

It comes amid concerns that the new travel plans do not go far enough, with Scotland’s First Minister criticising the “minimal” proposals which she said leave “far too many weak points.”

On Wednesday, Boris Johnson and Priti Patel set out tough new measures designed to prevent additional coronavirus strains from reaching the UK. Core to these were the hotel quarantine plans covering 30 countries including South Africa, Portugal and South American nations.

But the morning after the announcement Mr Gove told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We will be reviewing today how extensive that list of countries needs to be.”

He added: “We will be guided by advice from our scientific advisers and we will be reporting back later on where the line will be drawn.”

Pressed whether greater border measures should have been imposed in March, he said: “There has been a lively debate about what we should or should not have done then. I don’t intend to add my voice to that debate.

“I think there will be an appropriate moment to review all the decisions this Government and others have taken during the pandemic.”

Home Secrertary Priti Patel outlines new border rules

His comments came after Ms Sturgeon warned that  Scotland could diverge from a UK-wide approach to travel restrictions if the Westminster Government does not “go further”.

“So while the Scottish Government will initially emulate the UK Government’s steps on enhancing quarantine arrangements, we will be seeking urgently to persuade them to go much further and indeed to move to a comprehensive system of supervised quarantine.

“Given the obvious practical issues involved, we are very clear that our preference is to have consistent quarantine rules across the UK, but if there is no agreement to go further on a four-nations basis, we will be considering going further ourselves and we will set out any such additional measures next week.”

The Home Office said the rules will apply to people arriving from countries where non-UK residents are already banned from entering the UK.

Boris Johnson hopes to set out plan for easing lockdown measures in England at the end of February

These 30 destinations cover all of South America, southern Africa and Portugal.

Passengers will be “met at the airport and transported directly into quarantine”, Mr Johnson explained.

The cost of staying in one of these hotels has not been disclosed, but further details will be released next weel.

Setting out more details of the measures, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Despite the stay-at-home regulations we are still seeing people not complying with these rules.

“The rules are clear, people should be staying at home unless they have a valid reason to leave.

“This reason for travel will be checked by carriers prior to departure.”

Travel operators are expected to face fines if they fail to inspect these forms.

Ms Patel went on to give examples of people who “should simply not be travelling”.

She said: “At St Pancras people have been turning up with their skis, that is clearly not acceptable.

“We see plenty of influencers on social media showing off about which parts of the world that they are in, mainly in sunny parts of the world.

“Going on holiday is not an exemption and it’s important that people stay at home.”

Labour chair of the Home Affairs Committee Yvette Cooper said the measures “don’t go far enough to deliver a comprehensive system”.

Airline bosses are demanding that the Government provides an “urgent road map for the reopening of air travel”.

The chief executives of British Airways, easyJet and Virgin Atlantic were among those calling for the Government to publish a plan that “draws upon the tools available now to us, including testing, working in concert with vaccine rollout at home and internationally”.

They added: “The time has now come for a bespoke support package that can get UK airlines through this crisis.”

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: “Many questions remain about the damage these extra quarantine measures will do to the economy and the travel sector.

“It would be much more effective for the Government to put more resources into enforcing quarantine at home. Tougher fines for those not complying and daily physical checks by police, alongside the need to test negative before entry to the UK, would prevent infection spreading.”



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