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Coronavirus: Theresa May accuses ministers of 'closing off Britain' from rest of the world with quarantine plans

Theresa May has urged ministers to reconsider the plans

2 min read

Theresa May has warned the Government that its plan to ask all arrivals to the UK to self-isolate for 14 days will "close Britain off" from the rest of the world.

The former Prime Minister joined a growing Tory backlash against the plans for a two-week quarantine for travellers entering the UK - as she urged ministers to ensure the country remains "open for business".

Her comments came ahead of a Commons statement from Priti Patel where the Home Secretary confirmed the plans were being introduced because the UK was "vulnerable to infections being brought in from abroad".

And Ms Patel defended the controversial move, which would also see Brits returning from abroad asked to quarantine, saying they were based on "consistent and clear" scientific advice.

Under the policy, travellers will be asked to provide the address of where they will be quarantining when the arrive in the country, with those in England possibly facing spot checks and £1,000 fines if they breach the rules.

But Mrs May said ministers should reconsider, urging them to instead to develop an "international aviation health screening" programme to limit the spread of the illness.

"Aviation supports a million jobs in the UK, 114,000, 1,700 for my constituents," she said.

"International air travel is necessary for trade. Without it there is no global Britain.

"So instead of bringing in measures to close Britain off from the rest of the world, why is the Government not taking a lead in developing an international aviation health screening standard to save jobs and ensure Britian is open for business?"

Meanwhile, former Tory minister Andrew Murrison said there was "no point" in the policy given most European countries now had lower cases of the virus than the UK.

But responding to the concerns, junior transport minister Kelly Tolhurst said the policy was being put in place to provide "consumer confidence" until international health measures could be agreed between nations.

"We have set up the restart, recovery unit within the department which is very much working across government, with the sector, with the airlines, airports and the ground handlers and our trade bodies, and looking at how we are able to get exactly that: some internationally agreed standard health measures," she said.

“We’re working incredibly hard in order to gain consumer confidence so that people want to travel again but also being able to get those measures in place in order that we can also absolutely meet our objective to keeping people safe and reducing the spread of coronavirus.

“But also trying to get the aviation sector up and running as quick as we possibly can."

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