The government will keep tabs on the whereabouts of thousands of people arriving into the UK by calling them throughout the day, officials have confirmed.
Home Secretary Priti Patel announced last week that travellers arriving in the country will have to self-isolate for 14 days from June 8.
She said ‘spot checks’ would be carried to ensure compliance, with a new service set up by Public Health England (PHE) to ‘contact people at random’.
One in five arrivals will be selected for monitoring and called three times a day at different times on each day, PHE officials told Metro.co.uk today.
Authorities will not visit their addresses in person and instead rely on clues such as background noise suggesting they are ‘on public transport or at a social gathering’ to assess the truthfulness of any responses, they added.
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A spokesperson for PHE said: ‘The isolation assurance service will randomly sample and contact 20 per cent of non-exempted arrivals into England.
‘They will ensure that people understand the restrictions as well as how to recognise symptoms, and what to do if they are experiencing them.’
Anyone suspected of breaking the rules could be referred to police and face a £1,000 fine if officers find a breach has been committed.
The Home Office did not immediately respond to a request to clarify whether the ‘spot checks’ announced by Ms Patel were ever planned to include face-to-face visits.
Meanwhile, PHE did not confirm whether any measures are in place to deter the other 80 per cent of arrivals from breaking quarantine once they notice they are not receiving any calls.
The monitoring service will be run by a private contractor which has yet to be chosen, officials added.
Data collected from the forms will be held in secure Home Office systems and deleted after 42 days unless needed for prosecutions.
Road hauliers and healthcare workers will be exempt from the plans, while the common travel area with Ireland will be unaffected.
But all other arrivals will be asked to fill in forms with their contact details and the address where they will self-isolate, and could be refused entry if they do not comply.
Dozens of travel companies yesterday called on Ms Patel to scrap the forced quarantine plans.
A letter to the Home Secretary signed by more than 70 bosses yesterday said: ‘The very last thing the travel industry needs is a mandatory quarantine imposed on all arriving passengers, which will deter foreign visitors from coming here, deter UK visitors from travelling abroad and, most likely, cause other countries to impose reciprocal quarantine requirements on British visitors, as France has already announced.’
The French government had expressed ‘regret’ that a mutual exemption for travellers crossing the Channel was no longer part of the new regime.
The letter continued: ‘Many people urged the government to impose quarantine regulations during the early phases of Covid-19. Instead, no action was taken and flights from infected countries were allowed to land, disgorging thousands of potentially affected passengers into the wider community.
‘Covid-19 is now under control and we commend the government for its handling of what was an extraordinary and unprecedented situation. However, the economic cost of the government’s action is yet to be seen, apart from the early indicators which paint a grim picture.’
At the height of the UK’s coronavirus outbreak some 15,000 people a day were still arriving into the UK, according to officials, many of them Brits returning home from abroad.
Measures to screen passengers’ temperatures for signs of fever and reduce person-to-person contact only started to be trialled in Heathrow in mid-May.
In April Metro.co.uk revealed how ministers are sitting on a ‘ready-to-go’ plan to train specialist dogs to sniff out infected passengers in transport hubs.
Animals trained by the Medical Detection Dogs have been able to detect every other type of disease required of them but the proposal has been left in ‘limbo’ for no apparent reason, according to the charity’s founder and a senior Tory MP.
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Source: Metro News UK