LONDON – People arriving in the U.K. next month will have to quarantine themselves for 14 days and could face an unlimited fine if they fail to comply, the British government announced Friday.
The quarantine plan has sparked confusion and criticism from airlines, airports and lockdown-weary Britons wondering whether they will get to take a vacation abroad this summer.
Britain did not close its borders during the worst of the country’s coronavirus outbreak, which has been linked to more than 36,000 deaths in the U.K. It is introducing its quarantine just as many other European countries are starting to open up again.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said the rules will take effect June 8 and will apply to arrivals from all countries except Ireland, which has a longstanding free-movement agreement with the U.K. Ireland is expected to announce similar measures for people arriving there.
Patel said that as transmission of the virus within the U.K. slows, the quarantine will help prevent imported cases and stop a “devastating" second wave of the virus.
There will be exemptions for truckers and freight workers, front-line medics and seasonal agricultural laborers.
Britons returning from overseas will also have to stay home and avoid mixing with others for 14 days under the measures, which will be reviewed every three weeks.
That is bad news for those hoping for a foreign summer holiday. Patel told a news conference that the government advice remained “very clear: nothing but essential travel” outside the country,