Eng­land lifts quar­an­tine for 59 coun­tries

Peo­ple can travel with­out quar­an­tine on re­turn but may face quar­an­tine abroad Scot­land, Wales and North­ern Ire­land shun plan crit­i­cised as ‘sham­bolic’

The Irish Times - - World News - DE­NIS STAUNTON Lon­don Ed­i­tor

Bri­tain has pub­lished a list of coun­tries to which peo­ple can travel with­out fac­ing quar­an­tine when they re­turn to Eng­land. But Scot­land, Wales and North­ern Ire­land have not agreed to lift the quar­an­tine rules and the plan has been crit­i­cised as “sham­bolic”.

Boris John­son’s gov­ern­ment promised weeks ago to es­tab­lish re­cip­ro­cal “air bridges” with coun­tries where coro­n­avirus is un­der con­trol. But the list of 59 coun­tries and 14 Bri­tish overseas ter­ri­to­ries in­cludes coun­tries that are still re­quir­ing vis­i­tors from Bri­tain to quar­an­tine.

Vis­i­tors from Ire­land have al­ways been ex­empt from Bri­tish quar­an­tine rules be­cause of the Com­mon Travel Area, al­though peo­ple ar­riv­ing in Ire­land from Bri­tain are re­quired to self-iso­late. The list pub­lished yes­ter­day in­cludes many pop­u­lar hol­i­day des­ti­na­tions but does not in­clude the United States, China, Rus­sia or Brazil.

“In­stead of quar­an­tin­ing ar­rivals from the whole world, we will only quar­an­tine ar­rivals from those coun­tries where the virus is, sadly, not yet un­der con­trol,” the prime min­is­ter told a press con­fer­ence in Down­ing Street.

Stur­geon crit­i­cism

Scot­land’s first min­is­ter, Ni­cola Stur­geon, said the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment had given the de­volved ad­min­is­tra­tions in­suf­fi­cient no­tice of what it was plan­ning, mak­ing it im­pos­si­ble to de­vise a pol­icy for the whole of the United King­dom.

“The list of coun­tries that they were yes­ter­day de­mand­ing that the Scot­tish gov­ern­ment signed up to and sug­gest­ing that we would have a bar­rier to get­ting agree­ment on, is not the same as the list that they have shared with us to­day. So we need, as the Scot­tish gov­ern­ment, to an­a­lyse these pro­pos­als prop­erly and ra­tio­nally, and we need to do that, ob­vi­ously, from a pub­lic health per­spec­tive,” she said.

“But we also need to do that from a le­gal per­spec­tive. All of these de­ci­sions are of course po­ten­tially open to le­gal chal­lenge. And when so much is at stake as it is right now, we can’t al­low our­selves to be dragged along in the wake of an­other gov­ern­ment’s – to be quite frank about it – sham­bolic de­ci­sion-mak­ing process.”

Bars re­open

To­day sees a fur­ther eas­ing of the lock­down, with bars, restau­rants, mu­se­ums, hair­dressers and other fa­cil­i­ties al­lowed to re­open. Pubs will be al­lowed to open from 6am but Mr John­son urged peo­ple to use their re­stored free­dom re­spon­si­bly.

“As lock­down eases, we should fo­cus on sup­port­ing the liveli­hoods of busi­ness own­ers and their em­ploy­ees up and down the coun­try – all of whom are open­ing their doors for the first time in more than three months. They are our lo­cal restau­rants, hair­dressers, li­braries, mu­se­ums, cine­mas, and yes, pubs. They are also ho­tels, B&Bs, in­deed much of our tourism in­dus­try,” he said.

“All these busi­nesses and their work­ers have put in a heroic ef­fort to pre­pare their venues for this re­open­ing, to work out a way to trade in a way that keeps their cus­tomers safe. But the suc­cess of these busi­nesses, the liveli­hoods of those who rely on them, and ul­ti­mately the eco­nomic health of the whole coun­try is de­pen­dent on ev­ery sin­gle one of us act­ing re­spon­si­bly. We must not let them down.”

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