Politics

UK quarantine rules should copy tougher Scottish plan, demands Keir Starmer

Boris Johnson’s quarantine plan will leave thousands of arrivals from high risk countries avoiding 10-day isolation rules, Keir Starmer has claimed.

Starmer joined calls for the quarantine requirements in England to match those planned for Scotland, which will require all international arrivals to self-isolate in hotels.

The Labour leader said and estimated 10,000 travellers a day will be arriving in the UK from “higher-risk countries” where the South African or Brazilian coronavirus variants are circulating but which are not on the Government’s red list.

The Labour leader, who visited Heathrow Airport to speak to staff there, told reporters: “Our concern is that we now know that there are variants in countries that aren’t on the red list. So this partial approach by the Government isn’t going to work.”

He added: “I don’t think anybody would argue that’s a system that’s going to work.”

The Scottish Government has taken a tougher line than Westminster on international arrivals.

All passengers who fly into Scotland must enter quarantine hotels from next week under tough new rules intended to go further than the rest of the UK. However, with most arrivals entering the UK in England, it’s not clear how the Scottish rules can applied for people travelling north over the border.

Scottish transport secretary Michael Matheson said arrivals will be expected to pay £1,750 in advance to cover the costs of their isolation and testing.

Six hotels near Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen airports – with a total capacity of 1,300 – will be used to quarantine passengers for a period of 10 days at a time as of February 15.

Under the UK Government plan, only passengers arriving from the most at-risk “red list” countries will be expected to enter quarantine hotels.

The Labour analysis is based on the number of people travelling from countries that are not currently on the red list.

These include locations such as France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands. Passengers arriving from these countries will not be required to quarantine in hotels from Monday under the new system.

Starmer said: “We are at this crucial stage now where it’s a race between the vaccine and variants, and the only way through this is to buy time by having a comprehensive system of quarantine in hotels, wherever you come from.”

UK Government transport secretary Grant Shapps said on Wednesday that the number of people currently travelling to the UK from red list countries “probably comes to less than 1,000 a day”.

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