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Home Secretary Priti Patel and Health Secretary Matt Hancock are both understood to be supporting plans to broadly require people entering the UK to have to quarantine for 10 days at a hotel. Travellers from a number of countries that are identified as ‘high risk’ are already subject to this rule.
However, Boris Johnson is understood to be calling for a more targeted approach which would affect a smaller number of countries, the Guardian reports.
Now, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds has accused Mr Johnson of not addressing “gaping holes” in the UK’s defence against Covid-19.
He said in a statement: “If these reports are accurate, the Government is leaving gaping holes in our nation’s defences against different strains of the virus emerging around the world.
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“The proposals are half-baked, slow at being implemented and risk being ineffective at this crucial moment in our race to get Britain vaccinated.
“Labour is calling for a comprehensive hotel quarantine for all arrivals to secure us against new strains.”
A decision on the final quarantine hotel policy is due to be announced at some point today.
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However, even then it is expected to take weeks to put the final decision in place.
MPs have been asked to consider a number of approaches to hotel quarantine requirements, and some have backed stronger measures such as temporarily shutting the UK’s borders completely.
Ms Patel has insisted the Government will do “everything that it can to protect the vaccine from new strains of the virus”.
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Some scientists fear a more relaxed approach to the hotel quarantine measures would not be enough to stop new variants entering the country.
Gabriel Scally, a member of the Independent Sage committee and public health professor at the University of Bristol told the Guardian a targeted approach would be “a very poor sticking plaster”.
In any case, almost all arrivals to the UK currently need to have tested negative for Covid-19 within 72 hours before they depart.
Even then, they still have to quarantine for 10 days when they arrive – though this doesn’t necessarily have to be at a hotel at the time of writing.
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