UK quarantine policy should be more transparent with Covid testing increased, demands Blair think-tank

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Extra transparency and testing is required to limit the harmful impacts of the Government’s quarantine policy for international arrivals, according to Tony Blair’s think tank.

An investigation completed by the former prime minister’s institute called for the publication of criteria used for deciding whether travellers from certain countries are exempt from the 14-day self-isolation requirement.

Travellers were furious at the recent decision to reimpose the self-isolation requirement for people arriving from Spain, as the announcement was made just five hours before the change in policy came into force.

It labelled the quarantine communications policy as ‘haphazard’ and ‘opaque.’

The Government uses data from the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) to help with its assessments.

However, the Tony Blair Institute recommended that the JBC launches a website showing the criteria for quarantine decisions and how countries around the world are performing against it.

It also called on the Government to:

  • Introduce a traffic light system to highlight which destinations could soon be removed from the quarantine-free list
  • Allow people to leave quarantine if they are tested negative for a coronavirus test taken five days after arriving in the UK
  • Secure reciprocal agreements with other countries to allow travellers to be tested either on departure or arrival

Ryan Wain, strategic adviser at the Tony Blair Institute, claimed the quarantine measures risk “grinding the (travel) industry to a halt”.

He went on: “This doesn’t have to be the case. Testing after five days of arrival can reduce quarantine periods in the UK and abroad, while a traffic-light system indicating a country’s ‘Covid status’ would provide welcome foresight for travellers planning their trips.

“Ultimately, this is about learning to live with Covid-19 and wherever possible Government should adopt measures that protect public health but allow some level of normality.

“In the absence of a wonder drug or a game-changing vaccine, mass testing is absolutely critical to this.”

The study described communication on the issue as “opaque and haphazard”.

Aside from official notifications, ministers “should not routinely be communicating on this issue to avoid unnecessarily disrupting the stock market and travel plans”, the report authors said.



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