* items include readers letters
18 MAY 2020
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The fact that the Government prevaricated over the introduction of the lockdown may have been a contributory factor in the terrible loss of life for the United Kingdom due to Covid-19. We shall never know. Certainly the sight of the crowded London Underground at the start of the crisis was very worrying. It took Whitehall some days to introduce tougher rules.
We are now in the same situation again and once more the Government is dithering. Does it bring in a law that says all arrivals to the UK, whether by land (tunnel), sea or air self-isolate for 14 nights?
This time around the PM has to say no. Prevaricating is dangerous.
And why the lack of decision?
Because Mr Johnson knows in his heart that the gateways to Britain must remain open.
Suppose the clampdown were to happen. How would it be monitored? Is it possible to distinguish between essential travellers such as lorry drivers, airline crews night-stopping as part of their rest requirements, and diplomats. The word immunity springs to mind. Covid-19 knows no barriers.
Other countries will require a reciprocal arrangement. Would you book ahead knowing you may not be let in, or allowed back when the time comes. A short business trip is what it says. 24 or 48 hours. Not a forced fortnight. Zoom is changing the way we communicate.
The biggest loser of course is the economy, coupled to airlines and airports. The April figures for Heathrow in BTN today show the results of pandemic and unless people and goods can move through the airport things will get even worse. That airports, and others, are making tremendous efforts highlighted by the health screening trials highlighted in this issue.
The UK has the world’s third largest aviation sector “offering the platform for the Government to take a lead in agreeing a Common International Standard for aviation health with our main trading partners,” noted in an exceptional joint statement by the senior members of the travel establishment.
Up to now the politicians have been led by the scientists but this time around the PM himself has to say that isolation is not the answer, from a medical, physical and practical point of view. Nor for the economic well-being of the country!
He must prevaricate no longer.
All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum
Allan Schoenherr, Prague, CZ
I find the timing of this very curious. Many European countries, and others worldwide like NZ and Australia put similar measures in place at the start of lockdown as part of a very successful response to the pandemic. The UK did not, perhaps paralysed by fear of hurting the economy? It was probably too late if so. Now it barely makes sense if anyone has been able to wander in the country without so much as having their temperature taken so far? I struggle to see the point here.
Jason Whitaker , Shepperton
Rather than 2 weeks isolation can’t UK airports all have temperature screening and anyone with a high temperature would be instantly quarantined?
Chris Pocock, Uxbridge, UK
In practice, it may be a 15-day quarantine, since it will take that long to get through immigration, with the requirement for everyone (including the Brits) to give an address. Oh, and social distancing means the queue for immigration will stretch back to the arrival gate.
Simon Grigor, Harrow
There may have been good reason to have done this at the start of the pandemic, I can't see the logic of it now. And without getting over-personal, our Home Secretary is the senior member of the Government who fills me with the least confidence..... The Greek approach has been interesting - travellers pick up any baggage and then are bussed straight to a facility (hotel, I assume) near the airport where they stay overnight and take a test. If it's all clear, they're free to go on their way. But of course, not as 'cheap and cheerful' as trusting everyone to stay at home for a fortnight.....
Julian James, London
Is the UK open for business? Will future historians judge Covid-19 as Boris Johnson’s Gallipoli with a retreat on border control, or his finest hour, standing up to the scientists and allowing freedom of movement for all and not just the selected few. Boris has to be pragmatic.
Peter Alderson, Southampton
Boris is no friend of air transport. The media have created public hysteria about ‘foreigners’ importing the virus. Coupled with pressure from aviation haters around airports and the green lobby, I am almost certain that quarantine will be introduced soon and will apply for several months.
Neil Hansford, Salamander Bay
These views are not backed by International facts. Once Australia first closed the borders to foreigners control of the virus was evisent. Problem was we didn't stop US traffic at the same time as China. Then when our own started to return we put them in government funded quarantine hotels for 2 weeks and found many carriers. Self quarantine simply didn't work. Compare the numbers wuth Australia having one million tests, only 7,000 cases and only 100 deaths. Quarantine works particularly when Europe has such porous borders.
Trevor Davies, Harrow
Fine words but will the Government listen. Our local MP sends me an update nearly every day but writing to him will not solve the problem! His enquiry will just sit in the Home Office pile!