Everyone entering the UK will finally be forced to quarantine for a fortnight under plans being drawn up by the Government.
Mail Online reports today: “The move follows growing pressure for tighter border controls during the coronavirus crisis and would include UK citizens returning from abroad.
“Britain is one of the last countries to introduce the requirement, following examples set by Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and Greece.
“Airport bosses have complained that the failure to limit arrivals and check passengers has made a mockery of the lockdown.”
The Mail on Sunday understands that the plan – similar to one operated by Singapore – was agreed during a meeting of Ministers and officials on Wednesday.
“Officials were told to look at ways to enforce compliance, including large fines or even criminal prosecution, under powers introduced by the Coronavirus Act,” the report said.
“It was agreed the authorities could visit registered addresses of arrivals to ensure they were not breaking their quarantine.
“The new measures would be backed by a global communications campaign to warn travellers what to expect if they come to the UK.”
A Government source said: “A stringent, Singapore-style approach at our ports will help the UK manage the risk from travellers entering the country and reduce the possibility of a second peak.
“We are looking at deploying these measures at the right time, in line with the scientific advice and when community transmission has been significantly reduced.”
A 14-day quarantine of arrivals has already been implemented in dozens of countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and Greece. Japan and Hong Kong introduced COVID-19 tests for all arrivals in mid-January – with those testing positive immediately taken to hospital, and those who test negative placed in isolation, the report added.
“More than 130 countries have introduced some form of travel restriction, quarantine and bans on travel from high-risk areas.
“At least 90 pe cent of the world’s population lives in countries with restrictions on non-citizens and non-residents arriving from abroad, with Britain criticised for allowing anyone to arrive free of checks.
“More than 15,000 people arrive in the UK each day, with hundreds of thousands of UK nationals being repatriated since the outbreak began, including 200,000 from Spain, one of the worst-hit countries.
“Since January, officials in China and other countries in the Far East and Middle East have been using infra-red cameras to screen travellers with high temperatures. Those who appear red on the screen are singled out for a consultation by health professionals and in some cases tested for the disease.
“However, the World Health Organisation says entry screening is ‘not effective’ because it can take two weeks for a virus carrier to display symptoms.
“Only a few cases have been detected at airports in China, Thailand and Malaysia. Lorry drivers bringing in vital supplies to the UK could be exempt from the clampdown.
“Ministers have ordered production of up to 50 million new immunity tests as part of what experts hope will be a ‘game-changing’ development in the battle against COVID-19.
“A breakthrough by a team of top British scientists means that, by June, people could be able to reliably test whether they have developed immunity to the virus – and then be allowed to return to work and socialise as normal.
“The dramatic news comes as Boris Johnson prepares to go back to work on Downing Street, having told aides that he is ‘raring to go’ in the fight against the virus which nearly killed him.
“The pandemic reached another grim milestone yesterday as the UK death toll passed 20,000 – up by 813 in 24 hours.
“The new immunity tests, expected to cost £10, have been devised by scientists at Oxford, working for the Government-backed Rapid Testing Consortium. public are growing restless with life under lockdown.
“This weekend, Britons were seen basking in the unseasonably warm weather, while the level of traffic on the roads also began to steadily creep upwards.
“Pressure is growing on the government to publish a blueprint out of lockdown, in step with Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon who promised to treat her electorate ‘like grown ups’ when she sketched out a plan to phase out curbs.
“Countries across the world are also starting to reveal their plans to relax tough distancing measures.
“But ministers in Westminster continue to deflect calls for an exit strategy and stick to hammering their core message to obey the guidance.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel urged the public to “stay strong” and observe social distancing.
“Professor Stephen Powis, the medical director of NHS England who flanked the Home Secretary, insisted the social distancing measures were having an effect.
“However, he emphasised the difficulties in dealing with a new virus which had created a ‘once-in-a-century global health crisis’.
“This was going to be a huge challenge not just for the UK, but for every country.
“Even in countries that have got on top of this early on, we are unfortunately beginning to see new infections.
“So I think the first thing to emphasise is that this unfortunately is not going to be something we will begin to get over in the next few weeks,” he said.
“This is something we are going to have to continue working our way through over the months ahead – as I have said before this is not a sprint, this will be a marathon.”