Boris Johnson warned distancing flaw in quarantine strategy threatens containment success

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Times Radio host John Pienaar has heard concerns are mounting over failure to separate international travellers arriving into UK airports. Under plans set out by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, passengers from high-risk “red list” countries are obliged to undergo mandatory quarantine in hotels. However, Times’ transport correspondent Graeme Paton has warned a lack of distancing between travellers may risk undermining the new coronavirus travel measures.

Mr Pienaar told his Timesradio listeners on Thursday: “Still there are problems, some worries about segregating passengers.

“Some from red list countries, some from other countries, and it doesn’t seem to be working perfectly well.”

Travel expert Mr Paton explained: “The issue is that many people don’t realise they’re actually no flights, no direct flights from these 33 red list countries.

“So to get to the UK from them you have to transfer from other countries,

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“That means to say you come in from the UK via Spain or France for example or the Irish Republic you are going to be sharing that last leg of the flight with people who aren’t from those red list countries.

“That means there is all sorts of capacity for transmission of the virus actually on the plane and immediately when you get off,” continued Mr Paton.

“You are only segregated between the red list and no red list travellers when you actually reach passport control

“At Heathrow, they have actually got a red queue as it were, but we were speaking to some immigration officers working at Heathrow yesterday and they said the separation between the red queue and other arrivals was literally a matter of a few metres.”

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He continued: “There is some big concern amongst Border Force that we spoke to that there is a lot of potential for mixing going on.

“I think some of the people who have then had to be holed up in quarantine hotels paying £1750 for are a bit bemused that people they practically sat next to on a plane on the way here are free to go home.

“Whereas they have to pay to spend 11 nights in a hotel.”

Mr Peinnar added: “You can see why they might feel that way.”


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The ‘red list’ includes destinations such as Portugal, South Africa and Brazil.

According to the Government website, if Britons have been through any of the countries on the list in the last 10 days before arriving in England must quarantine in one of the hotels for 10 days.

Travellers must also take a coronavirus test on or before day two and on or after day eight in quarantine.

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