DOWNING Street didn’t ask its SAGE group of top scientists for guidance on its quarantine plan ahead of Priti Patel announcing the details later today, it has been reported.
The Home Secretary will unveil the plans this afternoon, which will force visitors and returning Brits to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival in the country.
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There was already a furious backlash against the plans, with MPs and experts repeatedly warning the Government it could kill off the travel industry.
Now it has emerged they were announced without being backed by the Government’s top group of experts, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies.
According to The Times, Sage was not asked before the announcement whether the quarantine would have any real effect on stopping the spread of the virus.
The group have previously dismissed travel bans, arguing that they are ineffective in controlling the virus’s spread.
Number 10 have repeatedly insisted they will be “guided by the science” when making big decisions.
Health Minister Edward Argar this morning insisted the science backed the quarantine.
He said: “The scientific advice is this is the right thing to do at this point, to continue to contain the virus in this country. “
Priti Patel will unveil the tourist quarantine details today despite the backlash from MPs and tourism bosses.
She will say that the government “owes it” to the thousands of people who have lost their lives not to risk a second peak.
It comes as:
- Breweries aimed to produce 250million pints for Britain’s pubs in the next two weeks as hopes soar that they could fully re-open by the end of the month
- A leaked WHO report claimed China delayed releasing key coronavirus data that could have saved thousands for two week
- Downing Street insisted all shops could still reopen in 12 days time even if coronavirus alert state is not lowered
- Boris Johnson was set to reveal thousands have been ordered to stay at home under the new Test and Trace scheme
The rules will see visitors and returning Brits forced to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.
This would have people under the restrictions allowed to leave home for get food, and just a fifth face spot checks.
Public Health England admitted yesterday that private sector call centre workers would be in charge of policing the restrictions by phoning people at random.
They also revealed the calls will not be made by PHE, but a “private provider”.
Call centre staff will then decide when and whether to alert police that someone is not following the guidelines.
Only about 10 per cent of those arriving in the UK will be stopped and checked by the Border Force.
Travellers will also be able to board public transport to wherever they will quarantine.
The rules would also only be in place for an initial three weeks, with the first review on June 29.
Those found to have breached the rules will still be fined £1000, but the measures are not as strict as industry feared, or those imposed in European nations.
In other countries travellers arriving at airports and ports have been forced to stay at hotels and have food delivered, but the same won’t be the case in Britain.
Almost all of the countries favoured by Brits as summer holiday destinations have lower coronavirus infection rates than the UK.
Travel industry experts say quarantine, which begins on Monday, will cost Britain’s tourism sector as much as £15billion if it goes on through the summer.
One study suggests the usual figure of 40million visitors could be slashed by around two thirds.
As a result, officials are looking at quarantine-free travel corridors to destinations including Spain.
Data compiled by Our World in Data shows that on June 1 the UK’s daily confirmed case rate was 28.52 cases per million people.
While popular holiday destinations Spain, Italy and Greece had 4.47, 5.87 and 0.19 cases per million people respectively.
France had 3,94 cases per million, while Germany had 3.98 per million.
The USA (59.84) and Portugal (29.13) had higher daily case rates than the UK on June 1.
Some 124 chief executives and owners of businesses had bashed the quarantine plan, and warned it would lead to 60 per cent of travel jobs being axed.
George Morgan-Grenville, the chief executive of tour operator Red Savannah, said: “By pursuing its quarantine plans without due regard for the economic consequences, the Government is choosing to ignore the devastation it will cause to companies, to employment and to the lives of all those whose jobs will be lost.
“The quarantine measures are a blunt weapon which will bring only economic disaster.”
Tory MP Henry Smith, whose Crawley constituency covers Gatwick said: “It sounds good, to stop people at the borders so we don’t get re-infections of Covid-19.
“But I don’t think it is going to be a benefit to public health and will prolong the economic damage.”
EasyJet boss Johan Lundgren said: “It was frustrating the Government chose not to consult our industry.
“British holidaymakers will think twice about going abroad if they have to return to quarantine for 14 days.”
It came as Portugal and Greece boosted Brits chances of a Summer holiday after saying they were ready to welcome back UK tourists within days.
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