Wednesday, 23 Sep 2020

Man says he's ill but gets on Tube after arriving in UK despite quarantine

An unwell traveller who said he needed to go to hospital after landing at Heathrow Airport claims he had no idea about the UK’s new 14-day quarantine rule.

Having arrived from Switzerland yesterday, he said no one told him that foreign visitors to Britain now have to stay in one place for two weeks and register their address with border officials. He said he was about to get on the ‘subway’ to central London despite his illness.

Those who fail to stick to the rules could be fined up to £1,000. The man said he thought his symptoms were from an ear or tooth infection. He didn’t think he had Covid-19 as he believes he has had it before, although it remains unclear exactly how much immunity coronavirus antibodies provide.

Speaking to the passenger, ITV reporter Martin Stew said: ‘Nobody told you that you have to stay in one place for two weeks? And you could have a find of maybe £1,000 if you don’t stay in one place. It’s quite bad isn’t it? If nobody has told you it’s a problem.’

The mask-clad man said he had ‘other issues right now’ and that he wanted to go to the hospital. As he announced the new system which came into effect on Monday, Border Force director general Paul Lincoln said the Government agency would be ramping up communications to make sure everyone travelling to the UK was aware of the changes.

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After his conversation, Mr Stew explained what had just happened on Twitter. He said: ‘Passenger arriving at Heathrow from Switzerland just told me he had no idea he was supposed to be quarantining.

‘To make matters worse he said he was feeling unwell and was going to take the tube. He didn’t think he had COVID-19 as believes he’s had it before. He said symptoms appeared to be from an ear/tooth infection but wasn’t too sure (and there was a bit of a language barrier). ‘ 

Apart from a handful of exceptions, arrivals will have to provide contact details and the address where they will self-isolated.

But concerns were raised after the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said it would take ‘no immediate action’ to fine visitors found to have given a false address.

A spokesman for the organisation said the bulk of the responsibility for overseeing this new policy fell on health authorities and that police have a ‘limited role’.


One border source told the Daily Mail: ‘It’s been a complete farce. The vast majority of passengers have not filled in forms in advance. Those who have filled it in are given an online reference number, but immigration officers can’t log in to check whether that form has been filled in properly.’ 

A Home Office spokesperson said: ‘Transport operators are required to make sure that passengers travelling to the UK are provided with information on the measures.’

Arriving on a British Airways flight from Washington, Jane Mason said she ‘could have been lying the whole time’ when giving her details.

She added: ‘I completed the online form before I left and when I arrived at Heathrow the immigration official asked me to repeat the address where I said I would be quarantining. After that he just let me pass and didn’t check at all if what I had put down is true.’

Despite Government guidance to avoid public transport ‘unless there is no other option’ the 49-year-old writer said she would be using it to travel to a private central London home rented for her by her publisher.

Another traveller arriving from Washington was seen heading straight to the London Underground. He said: ‘If Boris wants us to stay off public transport then he should arrange taxis for us all. I’ve got to get to work and don’t want to say anything else.’

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