Police had not been keen to be involved in the Quarantine plans.
The government confirmed they will have a limited role and will not be carrying out spot checks.
While public health authorities will conduct random checks in England to verify self isolation, police will only be involved if it is
suspected a recent traveller is not complying and may face potential
Martin Hewitt, chair of the National police chiefs council, said
public officials will carry out checks on 20 percent of recent
arrivals who are not exempted. He said: “It will not be the role of
police to conduct spot checks on those who should be isolating.
Only if public health authorities suspect someone is not following the restrictions will police become involved.”
Scientists are becoming “much more positive” that those who have had coronavirus develop antibodies afterwards, Sir Patrick Vallance said, although how effective they are remains unknown.
“We are much more positive that people who get infections do mount an antibody response – I think that’s really quite clear now,” said the chief scientific adviser.
“The vast majority of people do get an antibody response and we know that some of those antibody responses at least – and maybe all of them but we don’t know that for sure, but certainly some of them – are so-called neutralising antibodies – in other words, you would expect that to have an effect in terms of viral infection and transmission.
“What we don’t know is how long that lasts for and we don’t know how effective that is, in terms of either preventing transmission or preventing infection.
“So there is still work to be done – and that isn’t just in the UK, this is globally – to understand the significance of a positive antibody test.
“It is likely that it confers some degree of protection but we just don’t know, and we don’t know whether it confers your, if you like, your immunity against being able to harbour the virus and transmit it.”
A big UK trade organisation says quarantining travellers will hold back the UK’s economic recovery.
Paul Everitt, the chief executive of ADS – which represents the aerospace, defence, security and space sectors, with more than 1,100 member businesses – said:
Quarantining travellers will hold back the UK’s economic recovery. Key workers across our sectors must be provided with a route to secure exemptions and allow travel essential to our economic recovery.
The 14-day quarantine should be a time-limited measure that can be removed as soon as the evidence supports doing so, and an international approach should be taken to resuming flights as quickly as possible.
While the quarantine is operating, air bridges that allow controlled removal of the measure on selected routes have the potential to limit unnecessary disruption and I urge the government to implement the process as quickly as possible.
The press briefing has now ended, here is a summary of the main points:
- Two-week quarantines will be imposed on new arrivals to the UK from 8 June, with fines for anyone who breaches the measure to prevent new waves of coronavirus from overseas. The home secretary, Priti Patel, announces that mandatory self-isolation will not apply to people coming from Ireland, medics tackling Covid-19 and seasonal agricultural workers.
- Breaches would be punishable with a £1,000 fixed penalty notice in England, or prosecution with an unlimited fine, while devolved nations can set out their own enforcement approaches.
- Border Force will be able to refuse entry to foreign citizens who are not UK residents during border checks, while removal from the country could be used as a last resort.
- The chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said reopening schools was likely to push the R rate up. He said: “The broader risk in terms of opening schools is that as soon as you introduce any contact, you put pressure on the R and you put pressure on numbers, and that’s true of anything we are going to do in terms of changes to contact.”
- Patel said ministers would work to “find new ways to reopen international travel and tourism in a safe and responsible way”. She told the daily Downing Street press conference: “We also recognise how hard these changes will be for our travel sector, and leisure sectors, who are already struggling through these unprecedented times.”
- Asked if it was inevitable that people would travel to beauty spots across the UK following an easing of measures, Patel said people can enjoy the outdoors as long as they follow the advice. She said: “It is inevitable that obviously the public will be out and about a lot more, but of course our message is clear to the public – yes, enjoy being outdoors, we have encouraged people to go out, but we have put a very clear caveat around that.”
Priti Patel said the move to start quarantining visitors from next month did not equate to Britain shutting its borders.
She said: These measures will be kept under review and I really do want to emphasise that.
We are not shutting down completely. We are not closing our borders. People need to recognise that.
What we are seeking to do is control the spread of the virus because we do not want a second wave of this virus.
The chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said reopening schools was likely to push the R rate up.
He said: “The risk for children [from coronavirus] is much lower – we know that.
“They are at low risk but not zero risk and there have been some serious cases of children, of course, but very few compared to adults and older age groups.
“The broader risk in terms of opening schools is that as soon as you introduce any contact, you put pressure on the R and you put pressure on numbers, and that’s true of anything we are going to do in terms of changes to contact.”
As there have been automatic visa extensions for NHS and frontline health workers during coronavirus, will the same happen for care workers?
Patel said: “The work we are seeing across the NHS is incredible. I have made the point as well that this is difficult in terms of the complexities around immigration. Across the system we are supporting frontline health and social care workers, and finding ways to support other care workers as well across the NHS. The immigration system is complex and we are looking at schemes, we keep everything under review.”
Asked about the prospect of introducing a so-called “air bridges” scheme, Ms Patel said she would “look at all options”.
She said: “When it comes to air bridges, I think we should be absolutely open to all ideas. This is not for today but this doesn’t mean we should rule this out in the future.
“The fact of the matter is I spoke in my statement, in my remarks earlier about the travel industry, the leisure sector, aviation, we’re at the forefront of a really dynamic aviation sector in our country.
“Aviation is, in fact, the lifeblood when you think about it, keeping people moving but keeping goods moving as well. We will look at all options.”
Where do you go if you cannot quarantine for two weeks?
Patel said: “It’s important to reflect and recognise that the number travelling to the UK is at an all-time low – it’s 99% down compared to this time last year. The measures will come in 8 June and we are working to communicate around the world and through channels what processes are and what people need to do to get ready. If they want to come to the UK they have to have that accommodation.”
If measures are in place to save lives, why are they starting in June and not immediately?
Patel said: “As outlined in my statement, quite clearly, as the number of infections drop we have to manage the risk of external transmission. More people are now travelling and bringing in their own measures. This is about managing the risk of transmission being introduced elsewhere and that is vital so it’s why we are bringing in these measures now. We want to reduce the risk of imported cases to the UK.”
Vallance said that this is not a three-month epidemic and it is something long term to deal with, requiring some form of social distancing over a longer period until there is treatment or a vaccine.
He said: “I am not going to speculate on when decisions will be made by government on schools. That is a decision for government. But I will say a few words on considerations and the lower we get the numbers of new infections each week the more things we can do.”
He added: “The more we can modify environments to be useful to keep appropriate social distancing the better things are. There are a number of ways, and decisions must be based on good scientific principles.”
Vallance continued: “Obviously it is important schools must get back for education at some point… We must make that decision at the right time in an era where social distancing will be in place for some time.”