Sunday, 14 February 2021

Is Britain about to botch Covid quarantine?

The British Government has made a mighty hash of dealing with Covid-19. 

Is it now poised to mess up the hotel quarantine program it has imposed several months too late? 

British rules on quarantine hotels for travellers arriving from Covid "red list" countries are far less stringent than those enforced in Australia, the BBC reports.

For a start, those entering Britain from Monday will serve 11 nights in quarantine instead of 15 in Australia - and those in quarantine will be allowed out of their hotel rooms to stroll around. 

The UK government said its hotel quarantine measures were "in line with those in other countries" - which is clearly not true.

At least the penalties will be harsh with those who fail to follow the rules facing fines of up to £10,000, and anyone who lies on their passenger locator forms facing up to 10 years in jail.

Australia's system, introduced early last year, is seen as among the best internationally but as a result of repeated outbreaks among staff and guests, and the arrival of new variants of Covid, the rules in Australia have been tightened and are under review again.

UK Home Office minister Victoria Atkins said the system being introduced this week was "very strong" and its "standards are among the strongest in the world".

In Australia, people staying in quarantine hotels are not allowed to leave their rooms. 

This follows incidents in the early months of the pandemic when security guards and hotel guests were seen to mingle, and were blamed for spreading the virus.

One of these outbreaks led to a surge in cases that forced Melbourne into a five-month lockdown.

Authorities in Britain have issued a conflicting array of messages about policy. 

The upshot is that travellers will be allowed out of their rooms for a limited set of exemptions, including exercise. Smoking, which at one stage had been described as a legitimate reason for going outside, will not qualify.

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