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Tue, 29 September 2020

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Boris Johnson urged to provide extra support for travellers caught in coronavirus quarantine

Boris Johnson urged to provide extra support for travellers caught in coronavirus quarantine

Ministers have been urge to provide new support for those returning into quarantine

3 min read

Boris Johnson has been urged to provide extra support for travellers asked to self-isolate when returning from abroad.

A cross-party group of MPs have called on the Government to provide statutory sick pay to people asked to self-isolate when returning from abroad if they were already outside the country when the measures were introduced.

It comes amid growing fears that hundreds of thousands of Brits could be asked to quarantine if UK officials remove France from the travel quarantine list following a spike in cases.

On Thursday evening, Belgium, Andorra and the Bahamas were added to the list, with those returning from the three destinations asked to self-isolate for 14-days.

But the plans have raised fears that many of those returning from abroad could be forced to break quarantine rules if it means they will be unable to work.

Speaking to the Observer, former Cabinet minister David Davis said ministers should implement the scheme or face legal action from trade unions.

"If the government changes the rules while you're away, and it costs you two weeks' work, then it's the government's responsibility," he said

"Truth be told, if they don't do it voluntarily, a smart trade union will take them to court anyway."

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said the snap decision by ministers last month to add Spain to the quarantine list demonstrated the "confusion" that travellers could face.

"Following the mass confusion around the decision on Spain, there should now be plans in place to support people coming home where there is no guarantee their employers will allow them 14 days of work flexibility," he told the paper.

Meanwhile, acting Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey, said: "If the government wants people to quarantine, then they must make sure people have the financial means to do so.

"Rishi Sunak should not be leaving people in a position where they're choosing between quarantining or putting food on the table."

He added: "The chancellor must step in and grant sick pay for all those returning from a country where the rule has changed while they were there."

The call for extra support was echoed by TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady, who said travellers should not be forced to "suffer financially" for following Government advice.

"It's not holidaymakers' fault if guidance changes," she said.

"Wherever possibly, employers should do the right thing and pay quarantined workers their full pay, but we also need the government to step up."

Responding to the comments, a Treasury spokesperson, said: "We're dealing with a global pandemic and that does mean that there is a risk that travel can be disrupted.

"We keep quarantine rules under constant review. Anyone planning to travel should consider these risks.

"We urge employers to show flexibility where possible to employees who will have to self-isolate due to quarantine rules."

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