Game changer, or just a pointless exercise? The United Kingdom, more than four weeks into home lockdowns across the country plans to enforce a 14 day mandatory quarantine for all returning travelers, according to The Telegraph, and seconded by the Mail on Sunday.

If announced, the move will place the UK in line with the vast majority of countries around the world asking, or forcing travelers to remain isolated for 14 days in quarantine. Many countries have gone as far to create guarded facilities to ensure strict adherence.

With initial peaks already believed to be reached, and such a large portion of the population already infected, many wonder whether this is posturing, a bargaining chip, reassurance for those following stay at home orders, or just a combination of the lot. Or is it the brilliant move which allows a safe easing of stay at home orders?

Since the global covid-19 pandemic began, the UK never altered border procedures. In fact, all returning passengers were stunned to see that there was absolutely no heat or health screenings in airports or immigration desks at all. For any returning traveler, it was immigration as usual, without even an odd machine or two to look at.

Despite calls from the World Health Organization not to close borders, virtually all countries have done exactly that, citing that a minimum 39% of cases tend to stem from overseas travel. Many took further steps by creating government supervised quarantines of 14 days, enrolling all returning passengers in hotels or other facilities to enforce the move.

It’s been seen as vital in eliminating variables from stay at home orders, even if it drove some people so crazy, they attempted to order MDMA to their quarantine hotel rooms.

But in the UK, it was never a thing. During weeks of stay at home orders where virtually all non-essential businesses were shuttered, passengers still continued to flow into the UK, with no specific protocols for returning residents or visitors.

Sure, travelers were supposed to stay at home, but going home to others could’ve brought exponential spread of the virus, in a time lockdowns were intended to eliminate them.

By most scientific estimations and models of virus spread, adding mandatory 14 day quarantine restrictions wouldn’t have done much in the case of the UK, because such a choice would’ve only been effective in a much earlier move. Basically, it needed to be done in the earliest days of the virus’ spread, or it would’ve been too late to move the needle, anyway.

Choosing to do so now begs the question of how it would make a difference now, unless it coincides with great news for the UK public, in the form of easing stay at home orders. Imposing a strict 14 day quarantine on all returning visitors would help to eliminate the variable of overseas travel, if the UK is indeed planning to end stay at home orders once the current 3 week extension lifts.

The remaining question then centers around enforcement. The Daily Mail quotes sources inside the briefings, stating that emergency powers including the ability to visit registered addresses and impose fines or even criminal sentences are on the table.

With travel vital to the UK economy, the move could also be a step towards earning privileges back across other borders. Countries will soon begin to ease travel restrictions, and those seen to have employed best practices are more likely to be included in initial opportunities. If this is a step toward opening travel across borders sooner, rather than later, it’s a great move.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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9 Comments

  1. It’s funny when all the people say ‘omg, the CDC said this, and the WHO says that. We need to ruin everything because the government said so!

    And then, of course, when these groups say ‘don’t close borders..’ everyone says ‘well, those agencies aren’t being safe enough.

    The hypocrisy in this entire thing, is simply breathtaking.
    We would have certainly all been so much better off if we did nothing on this.

    I doubt most people would have even noticed. ‘Huh, worse flu season than normal’, maybe. As life carried on.

    But, we’ve self-militated ourselves, and those scars will show for the rest of this generation as we chose ‘safety’ and being taken care of by bigger and bigger states – over being adults, using our brains and exercising some logic.

    The herd is now terrified of its own shadow.
    What unimaginable damage have we done. 🙁

  2. Far too late and won’t make any difference now that the virus is so prevalent here. Should have been done weeks ago. As much use as our pathetic attempt at locking down the population

  3. One disagreement “such a large portion of the population already infected,” this is not true, only 150K are infected so it is not “such a large portion of the population” of 66million….So there could be more severe wave of infection if some measures are not taken. But I agree that this is way too late. Instead of playing around with herd immunity, that was the time that UK should have closed the border and repatriates should have forced into 2 weeks quarantine.
    However, maybe they are thinking of keeping the border open but implement this quarantine measure to give an opportunity to people who really need to travel because different parts of the world are having waves different times… I really don’t know but that is the only reason I can think of.

  4. Seriously Doug, “I doubt most people would have even noticed. ‘Huh, worse flu season than normal’, maybe. As life carried on.”….Maybe this scenario is what might have happened in the ‘oblivous bubble’ YOU live in, but that bubble must exist in an alternative reality 😂.
    What flu season, in your lifetime, ever killed 20,000 people in A SINGLE CITY, in ANY 45 period ?!? Most people are observant enough to noticethat POP-UP hospitals in public Parks, and the digging of MASS GRAVES, inductive that this PANDEMIC, isn’t a “worse flu season then normal.”
    This is what has happened WITH drastic intervention, CITIES USING ICE ARENAS to hold THE DEAD. Bodies in Streets. The point of informing people is that, Life ISNT going to carry on, for MANY people.

  5. I would be very surprised if this happens now, it goes against all the scientific advice and doesn’t exactly gel with the UK’s ambitions post Brexit

  6. Insultingly stupid and late.

    To implement a lockdown for residents and businesses and yet still allow unlimited unchecked entry to the country? Does the government really think the population is not worthy of that much respect?

    And to think that an insultingly too late gesture of suddenly locking down visitors when you didn’t bother before…. to think that might happen at the same time as a non-thought-through release of lockdown…. is the government really that stupid?

    Children should not go back to school in the first wave. Every had your kid start school and then the whole family gets bug after bug brought home? Kids are super-spreaders. Kids should go back to school last. AFter workers under 50 spend 3 weeks at work, see how many hospital beds we have left. Then let workers under 65 spend 3 weeks at work. Then check again how many hospital spaces you have available to take any increase. After that, work out a formula where maybe kids spend part of the week at school in smaller groups. If that goes well then think about leaving it to the over-70’s and anyone else to decide when it’s safe to come out. By publishing figures every week about progress and where the risk spots are.

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