‘What sense does it make?!’ Zahawi squirms in tense BBC clash on UK’s border policy

Nadhim Zahawi grilled over ‘sense’ of UK travel policy

Nadhim Zahawi defended the Government’s decision to quarantine people from South Africa and Brazil following the emergence of new coronavirus but not on those who have travelled via the countries. BBC Radio 4 host Nick Robinson asked: “Given that you don’t know where there may be variants or where there are variants, what sense does it make to quarantine to people from certain countries but to allow others to go home? Surely you quarantine everybody or nobody.”

Speaking to the Today programme, Mr Zahawi said: “Like many other countries, including Germany and Canada who have recently changed their body policy to tighten it up, we are looking at the same thing.

“Countries that are the highest risk where we are seeing this variant.

“South Africa we acted on immediately, Brazil too. I think it’s right we constantly review our border policy as we have done throughout this pandemic with travel corridors.”

Mr Robinson interjected: “But given that you don’t know where people have been travelling, for example, there are already cases of the South African variant here.

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“I put it to you again, it makes no sense to say, ‘we’ll quarantine people who come from South Africa but people who may have been via South Africa, we won’t quarantine them’.”

Mr Zahawi replied: “We reviewed the travel corridor policy, it was changed as soon as the new variants became evident to us.

“We continue to do this because we vaccinate, and vaccines are the way out of this, more and more of the adult population then it is right we review our border policy so that it is appropriate and strengthened in a way that works us to make us safe.

“No one is safe until we’re all safe.”

Nadhim Zahawi: Countries must ‘work together’ on vaccine rollout

Boris Johnson is expected to approve plans to force some travellers arriving to the UK to quarantine in hotels to limit the spread of new coronavirus variants.

The Prime Minister will discuss proposals for arrivals to quarantine in designated hotels to ensure they follow self-isolation rules with senior ministers on Tuesday.

Various options are said to be on the table, but Whitehall sources suggested that ministers may opt for a more limited system after aviation leaders warned that introducing tougher border rules would be “catastrophic” for the industry.

The officials said a less sweeping option would apply only to British residents returning from countries with more contagious strains – such as Brazil, South Africa and Portugal.


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But the final decision is set to be made at a meeting of the Covid-O committee on Tuesday. No 10 declined to comment.

Australia became one of the first countries to introduce mandatory hotel quarantine in March, while the practice is also observed in China, New Zealand, India, Singapore, the Philippines, Taiwan, Qatar and Thailand.

The Best Western hotel chain said it was waiting for the Government “green light” to provide “safe, cared for Covid isolation for travellers requiring hotel quarantine”.

Andrew Denton, the head of hotels at Best Western GB, said: “We have spent nine months doing the homework and the hard work behind the scenes working with some of the UK’s leading medical people and organisations to put the procedures and policies in place to do this properly and safely, for guests and staff.

“We are expecting an announcement from the Government. Best Western hotels are ready to step in, help out and contribute to controlling the spread of the virus at this time of national need.”

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