One of Britain’s leading infectious disease experts today said the 14-day coronavirus quarantine rule for people arriving in the UK is ‘completely useless’.
Professor Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said today that the rule should be ‘dropped as soon as possible’.
Foreign Office rules currently require that everyone coming into the UK from another country must self-isolate wherever they are staying for two weeks, regardless of how healthy they feel.
People must also provide the Government with details of who they are, where they’ve been and where they’re going, within 48 hours of arriving in the country.
But Professor Piot told the Andrew Marr Show the rules will not help to curb the spread of the coronavirus and will only do more damage to the economy.
He said cutting the 2metre (6’6″) rule, as the Government plans to do this week, should only be done if face masks are made mandatory, and added that he believes around 20million people around the world are likely to have caught the virus.
Holidaymakers arriving in, or returning to, Britain must now spend two weeks in isolation before they can return to society, under Foreign Office rules (Pictured: An arrivals terminal at Heathrow)
Professor Piot said: ‘We don’t need to look outside our own borders. The virus is here.’
He said he was ‘pretty relaxed’ about plans to reduce the social distancing rule from 2metres (6’6″) to 1m (3’3″) but wanted masks to be worn if people were getting closer.
For the 14-day quarantine rule for travellers arriving in, or returning to, the UK, however, he said there was no logic behind it.
‘There are other measures that are completely useless like quarantine for returning travellers,’ Professor Piot said.
‘That only makes sense at the very beginning, before we have cases, when indeed they were imported.
‘Today, that’s not going to contribute much and the damage it causes to the country – to the economy – is going to be enormous.
‘So let’s hope that that rule is dropped as soon as possible and let’s concentrate on what works.’
Professor Peter Piot said of the two-week isolation rule: ‘Let’s hope that that rule is dropped as soon as possible and let’s concentrate on what works’
Foreign Office rules dictate that holidaymakers arriving in the UK must self-isolate wherever they are staying for two weeks before going out in public
The guidance on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website explains that people must self-isolate when arriving in the UK from other countries.
It says: ‘When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK. You must… not leave the place you’re staying for the first 14 days you’re in the UK except in very limited situations (known as “self-isolating”).’
The rules are understood to include all tourists or people travelling for leisure, but there is a long list of people who are exempt from the restriction.
Politicians and diplomats from the UK and abroad, contractors travelling for ‘essential government work’, those who work abroad or commute from abroad more than once a week, and bus and lorry drivers, for example, do not have to self-isolate.
The French President Emmanuel Macron and his entourage were able to conduct a flying visit on Thursday to mark the 80th anniversary of the two nations’ joining forces against the Nazis in World War Two.
When Professor Piot was asked how he thought the coronavirus outbreak might play out in future if it returns, the infectious disease expert said he would expect subsequent outbreaks to be smaller.
Professor Piot said a resurgence was ‘nearly certainly’ going to happen, adding: ‘I don’t think, and I hope, it’s not going to be a tsunami. If only because it won’t take us by surprise… we know much better what to do.
‘It will depend on whether everybody, every single individual, follows the guidelines in terms of social distancing so we can turn care homes, turn health services… into safe places.
‘Probably what we will see is a series of local outbreaks.., The virus will not disappear one fine day – forget it.’
SPAIN REOPENS TO BRITISH HOLIDAYMAKERS
The first Britons jetted off to Spain today after Madrid lifted its ban on foreign tourists and opened its beaches in glorious 100 degree-plus heat.
Travel firms have slashed the price of a one-week holiday to £300 after Downing Street signalled it could bring in ‘travel corridors’ to 10 countries from July 4, with no 14-day quarantine on return to the UK.
The heatwave set to hit the UK next week will be soaked up by British tourists in Malaga and Alicante today as a small Ryanair fleet flies to the south of Spain.
Spain’s reopening after three months of lockdown comes as travel firms have seized on talk of ‘air bridges,’ and hacked down prices in an effort to tempt families and older passengers into a summer beach break.
Emma Coulthurst, of TravelSupermarket told The Telegraph that before June, the majority were searching for holidays from October, but now this is ‘July, August and September just like a normal summer.’
Seven-night package deals are down 34 percent for Prague, 26 percent fo Zante, 16 percent for Venice, 15 percent for Marrakech, 14 percent for Canary Islands, 13 percent for New York, 12 percent for the Balearic Islands and 10 percent for Turkish resorts.
People enjoy the warm and sunny weather on the beach of Calella in Barcelona yesterday, 20 June 2020