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Fri, 23 October 2020

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Government could replace coronavirus quarantine plans ‘within weeks’ amid backlash from MPs

Government could replace coronavirus quarantine plans ‘within weeks’ amid backlash from MPs

People arriving in the UK will be expected to spend two weeks in quarantine or face hefty fines. (PA)

2 min read

The Government could rapidly shift away from its plan to quarantine all arrivals from the UK amid a mounting backlash from MPs, it has been reported.

A senior government source told The Telegraph that Boris Johnson is now “personally in favour” of a policy of air bridges between Britain and low-risk countries.

Home Secretary Priti Patel will this week lay the regulations in Parliament imposing the quarantine, which will see all international arrivals, including Brits returning to the UK, required to self-isolate for 14 days. 

Police will be given the power to carry out spot-checks and hand out fines to enforce the measures, which are set to come into force from June 8.

But senior Conservative MPs - including former transport ministers - have joined figures from the aviation and travel industry to warn against blanket curbs.

The Times reports that the Government is now planning to ease the measures three weeks after they come into force amid concerns over their potential impact on the economy.

And The Telegraph says the Department for Transport and Home Office have been ordered to look at bringing in air bridges by the end of the month, with low-risk countries such as Greece, Portugal and Australia listed as potential candidates.

The Department for Transport and the Home Office, which is leading on the plan, are said to be at logger-heads over the quarantine measures. 

A Whitehall source said: “There is definitely an intention to get [air bridge] agreements in place ready to announce at the point of the next review.

"Everyone in Government wants to scrap it or make the air bridges work apart from the Home Office which is feeling slightly under attack.”

The measures will expected to go to a vote when they are brought before the Commons today, with Number 10 on Monday confirming the quarantine will be brought in through tweaks to existing legislation.

“The use of the 1984 Public Health Act is the most appropriate legislation for measures such as this,” the Prime Minister’s spokesperson said.

“It allows us to introduce important, timely changes to support the Government's approach to tackling coronavirus.”

Such regulations “automatically become law when signed by a minister” and there is “no requirement for vote”, Number 10 said.

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