Quarantine ‘triggered’ for any country with more than 20 cases per 100,000, Grant Shapps confirms

Eufemia Didonato

British holidaymakers will have to quarantine if they return after 4am tomorrow – Getty The UK may impose quarantine on any country with more than 20 cases per 100,000 people, Grant Shapps has said.  The Transport Secretary said once infection rates reach this level it can “trigger” the removal of travel corridors, meaning […]

British holidaymakers will have to quarantine if they return after 4am tomorrow - Getty
British holidaymakers will have to quarantine if they return after 4am tomorrow – Getty

The UK may impose quarantine on any country with more than 20 cases per 100,000 people, Grant Shapps has said. 

The Transport Secretary said once infection rates reach this level it can “trigger” the removal of travel corridors, meaning travellers will have to self-isolate when they arrive in the UK for 14 days.

He told the Today programme: “With France and these other countries, Netherlands and elsewhere, the numbers have now just gone above the threshold, which is about 20 case per 100,000, but measured on a seven day rolling average. 

“That is what the Joint BioSecurity Centre will be looking at,” he said, noting France had “breached” the level. 

In the week to July 25, when the quarantine for anyone returning to the UK from Spain was announced, the case numbers per 100,000 had risen from 20 to 39. As of yesterday, France’s cumulative 14-day total of Covid-19 cases was 32.1 per 100,000; in the Netherlands that figure is 40.2 and Malta 74.8. The UK’s figure by comparison is 18.5.

“The information came out last night, which is why we had to act last night,” he added. “There is no perfect way to deal with this virus.”

Follow the latest updates below.

10:13 AM

Two-thirds of British holidaymakers won’t go abroad if quarantine is in place

Most holidaymakers would be put off going abroad if they faced 14 days of quarantine on their return – but 10 per cent would still be up for travelling overseas, a survey has suggested.

Almost two-thirds (62 per cent) of people said they were very unlikely to travel if they had to self-isolate for two weeks when they got back to the UK, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The survey results were published hours after Britons holidaying in France, Netherlands and several other countries were told that from 4am on Saturday they will be required to quarantine due to rising numbers of coronavirus cases in the country.

A fifth of adults have reported having cancelled their foreign travel plans due to the possibility of quarantine restrictions, while 14 per cent said they would holiday in the UK instead this year.

A third of people said their household would not be able to afford a week’s holiday away from home this year.

09:52 AM

Chopper’s Politics: Douglas Ross, Scottish Tory leader, on Brexit, nationalism and football

The new leader of the Scottish Conservatives and football referee, Douglas Ross joins Christopher Hope to discuss moving on from the independence debate, why UK Government-funded projects in Scotland should bear the Union Jack, and why his football background stands him in good stead in Westminster.

Plus, we test his clout in a perilous round of quickfire questions, and find out he’s not so hot on Scotland’s national snack, the deep-fried Mars bar.

09:38 AM

Reopening industries ‘economic rather than epidemiological’ decision, warns Sage scientist

A Sage scientist has warned that the move to opening more industries from tomorrow is economic, rather than because the risk of coronavirus has receded. 

Professor John Edmunds,  and epidemiologist, and a professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, told the BBC:  “From a scientific point of view, I think we would probably conclude that it’s (the situation) not changed very much.

“And if you take other epidemiological indicators, they haven’t changed really very much over the last few weeks.

“I think you’d have to ask someone from the Government exactly why they took the decision.

“I don’t think it’s really been taken on epidemiological grounds, I think it’s really been taken primarily for economic reasons and there’s of course extremely good reasons for doing that.”

However Grant Shapps defended the decision, saying: “We’ve measured this based on what the Office for National Statistics say about it and they’d expressed concerns about a slight increase in England’s test positives.

“And you’ll recall that we put on hold the measures which, as you mention, are now coming into place. They’ve now suggested that that situation has levelled off.”

09:31 AM

Lockdown lift on indoor meetings paused in Wales

Lockdown rules in England might be loosening, but plans to allow people to meet indoors in Wales will not be relaxed this weekend, the First Minister has said. 

Mark Drakeford has previously he “would like to be able to offer more opportunities for people to meet indoors” from 15 August – but this is now being paused. 

However, up to four households – up from two – will be able to form an extended household from 22 August, as long as conditions “remain stable”.

He also said all hospitality businesses would have to collect customers’ contact details to help tracing.

Further enforcement measures are also being introduced to make sure businesses follow Covid-19 safety rules.

09:18 AM

Government urged to trial testing system to reduce quarantine period 

The Government has been urged to deploy a testing system for passengers returning from higher risk countries, to cut down the time required for people to quarantine. 

France, the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks & Caicos and Aruba were all removed from the travel exemptions list, effective from 4am on Saturday. Officials said they were responding to a “significant change in Covid-19 risk” .

The countries join Spain, Belgium and a host of other countries for which people are expected to isolate for 14 days on their arrival in the UK. 

However some countries such as Germany allow passengers to take a test, cutting the amount of time people must quarantine. 

A Heathrow spokesman said: “The UK needs a more sustainable long-term plan for the resumption of travel than quarantine roulette.

“Testing could provide an opportunity to safely reduce the length of quarantine in certain circumstances, protecting both the health and wealth of the nation as we pave a path towards a new normal.

“As ever, our teams will be on hand to support passengers impacted by the travel restrictions but we urge Government to work with us to trial a solution which could help to provide more certainty.”

08:55 AM

Have your say on: Compensation for quarantine

Grant Shapps has ruled out the idea of paying compensation for people who are forced into quarantine, arguing that people who went on holiday did so with their eyes open. 

This is certainly true, but what is also true is that many people do not have the option of working from home, as he did during his 14 days of isolation. 

With much of the quarantine system resting on compliance rather than enforcement, the Government is expecting people to do the right thing. But if people risk losing two weeks’ salary – and potentially their job – is it actually going to work? 

Have your say in the poll below

08:41 AM

Fraser Nelson: This A-level fiasco is just the start of lockdown’s betrayal of the young

“We have just had our futures stolen from us,” one student has told Fraser Nelson after yesterday’s exam debacle.

This is true in many ways. The young are the least likely to be affected by Covid but usually the first to be hit by the reaction to it. Schools were closed before lockdown was implemented and kept closed after pubs reopened. Exams could easily have been carried out under social distancing, had anyone thought it important enough to give students the chance.

A study by the Brookings Institute in America has calculated that, even adjusting for online learning, four months out of the classroom cuts future earning power by 2.5 per cent every year. The World Bank reckons that this “lost generation” will, collectively, earn $10 trillion less because of the schooling denied to them.

As Fraser argues, yesterday’s fiasco is just the start of the betrayal of the young.

08:13 AM

Government urged to extend furlough for arts sector

The Government is being urged to extend the furlough scheme for struggling sectors of the economy such as the arts and entertainment to prevent “significant” job losses.

The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) said workers have returned relatively quickly in areas such as hospitality, including accommodation and food services.

But only 29 per cent of arts,  entertainment and recreation workers having returned from furlough, according to the study.

Fabian Wallace-Stephens, senior researcher at the RSA, said: “The return to work is encouraging news for the millions of workers in sectors like hospitality and construction.

“However, for some sectors such as the arts and entertainment, the numbers are worryingly low and may prove to be the warning signs of significant redundancies.

“The Government needs to give continued, focused support for these sectors of the economy, linked to a clear recovery strategy.”

The furlough scheme, which has sustained the jobs of millions of workers, is ending in October.

07:59 AM

Moving No 10 advisers into Cabinet Office ‘power’ move by Dominic Cummings, says Bob Kerslake

Number 10’s plans to shake up Whitehall by moving policy advisers into the Cabinet Office is a “power” move by Dominic Cummings, a former head of the Home Civil Service has said. 

From next month, the Downing Street policy unit and its chair Munira Mirza will be based in 70 Whitehall, the home of the Cabinet Office. The door which currently connects 70 Whitehall to 10 Downing Street is being removed in a symbolic move that unites the two office complexes.

Theresa May’s former adviser Katie Perrior said it was “just an office move – I don’t think people should read too much more into it”. 

But Sir Bob Kerslake said: “In truth it’s about power, the power of the Prime Minister, and his special advisers over Whitehall and actually Dominic Cummings over special advisers”.

Advisers are currently “dotted all over Number 10 – this is a way of keeping an eye on them,” he added. 

“In itself it’s not huge… [but] what is it important to see it as part of a wider set of changes going on. My concern there is not so much about change, it’s about transparency and accountability”

07:52 AM

PM accelerates easing of lockdown from this weekend

Boris Johnson has taken the brakes off the easing of lockdown as he announced that plans for wedding receptions, sporting events and indoor performances will resume.

The Prime Minister said the changes will allow people to “get back to more of the things they have missed” since the health crisis began after rising infection rates appeared to have “levelled off”.

Wedding receptions of up to 30 people will now be allowed from Saturday, as will the reopening of casinos, bowling alleys and skating rinks.

Beauty salons, tattoo studios and spas will be able to offer all close “ services and treatments”.

Read the rest of the changes here.

07:42 AM

Grant Shapps rules out compensation for people having to quarantine

Grant Shapps has rejected the idea that travellers should receive compensation for having to quarantine on their return, even if it affected their ability to work.

It has been argued that people who are unable to work from home should be supported for the 14-day period, with critics warning that without this people will have to make an unenviable choice between health and finances. 

But the Transport Secretary told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that although he sympathised with people caught up in the chaos, they had been warned of possible disruption. 

“People this year will have gone away knowing that there was a significant risk, and because of that people will have gone with their eyes open,” Mr Shapps said. 

07:39 AM

More students from disadvantaged backgrounds go to university overall, stresses Grant Shapps

Grant Shapps has stressed that more students from disadvantaged backgrounds are going to university overall.

On BBC Breakfast, it was suggested to Mr Shapps that he was discounting statistics indicating that children from the most deprived areas have been hardest hit by results being downgraded.

Mr Shapps responded: “I don’t (discount it), it’s just that I’m reading an actual statistic – 7.3 per cent more children from disadvantaged backgrounds, 18-year-olds, accepted to university this than last year, to which you’re coming back and saying I don’t agree with that, but you’re not providing me any numbers.

“So yes I do think that more students from disadvantaged backgrounds are going to university and overall, as I say, we’ve got more been accepted to university than previously as well.

“So look, those are the figures. If you’ve got up some other figures then tell me, but that’s the numbers I’ve got in front of me.”

07:38 AM

Grant Shapps rejects exams ‘inequality’ claims

Grant Shapps has rejected claims that the Government’s exams assessment has been unduly fair on students from deprived backgrounds. 

Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, told BBC Breakfast there was “baked inequality in what’s happened”, with the system benefitting private schools as the expense of those in poorer parts of the country. 

“We believe the only option that the Government have got now is to go back to the teacher-awarded grades because they’ve made such a fiasco,” she added. 

But Mr Shapps insisted that inequality “is not the upshot” of the assessment, adding: “The standardisation model says there hasn’t been any bias.” 

07:29 AM

Grant Shapps defends Government’s quarantine approach

Grant Shapps has defended the Government’s approach to quarantine, saying there “has to be a cut-off” in regards to a time period for those being mandated to self-isolate on their return to the UK from abroad.

The Transport Secretary told BBC Breakfast: “I think the truth of this is, as everyone watching realises, there’s no perfect way to deal with coronavirus.

“Unless you were going to have a sliding scale that sort of said if you stay another 24 hours the you must quarantine for X amount of time, another 36 hours for Y amount of time, you know, clearly there has to be a cut-off somewhere.”

Mr Shapps added: “To be clear, the Joint Biosecurity Centre have cleared our approach to this.”

07:28 AM

Estimated 160,000 people trying to return from France, Grant Shapps says 

Grant Shapps has said an estimated 160,000 holidaymakers are now looking to return from France to the UK.

Challenged as to why people arriving before 4am tomorrow morning would not have to quarantine, while those arriving just after would have to isolate for 14 days, despite the rate being above the threshold now, the Transport Secretary said: “I accept your point”. 

He added: “We have to make a decision on it and we have to do that based on science and medicine, and that’s what we’ve done, we’ve taken the advice and implemented on that basis.”

Asked if he would encourage those returning to the UK if they should self-isolate, even if they fall outside of the official quarantine deadline, Mr Shapps said: “That’s not legally required.

“But what I would say to everybody is look out for the signs, everyone knows what we’re talking about – the persistent cough, the high temperature, the change in taste or smell, so everyone should look out for those signs.

“But, no, it’s not necessary to quarantine unless you’re coming back after 4am on Saturday and those are the rules.”

07:21 AM

France warns of ‘reciprocal measures’ as UK imposes quarantine

France is planning to retaliate against the UK Government’s late-night decision to impose a quarantine on travellers arriving from the country, a minister said last night. 

The move, announced by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on Thursday night, means people travelling from the European country will have to isolate for two weeks if they return to the UK after 4am on Saturday.

The Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks & Caicos and the island of Aruba have also been added to the quarantine list.

But, despite imposing a “red zone” around Paris and Marseille, the decision appears to have upset the Elysee, with French junior minister for European affairs Clément Beaune warning of reciprocal measures. 

“A British decision that we regret and which will lead to a measure of reciprocity, hoping that things will return to normal as soon as possible,” he said on Twitter at midnight.

07:10 AM

Holidaymakers scramble to get home before quarantine rule comes in

The late night announcement that France was being removed from the UK’s travel corridor list has prompted chaos at the borders as holidaymakers attempt to avoid having to quarantine for 14 days.  

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, told Sky News: “We have provided a bit more notice than there was in Spain, where I was when I had to come back and quarantine – the rate is a bit behind where Spain was at the time.”

He added there were “The thing with France is there are tree different ways to travel – by air, by sea and by the tunnel.”

However many direct flights to the UK on Friday are sold out, while the cheapest ticket on a Eurostar train from Paris to London is £210, compared with £165 on Saturday.

The cost of taking a car through the Channel Tunnel on Eurotunnel Le Shuttle services on Friday morning is £260.

All trains after midday are fully booked.

P&O Ferries has limited availability, but one person travelling with a car from Calais to Dover can buy a ticket for £200.

07:06 AM

French government designates Paris and Marseille ‘high risk zones’ 

Paris and Marseille have been designated as high-risk zones for the coronavirus, granting authorities there powers to impose localised curbs to contain the spread of the disease.

The declaration, made in a government decree yesterday, follows a sharp increase in Covid-19 infections in France over the past two weeks.

France reported more than 2,500 new Covid-19 infections for the second day in a row, levels last seen in mid-April when the country was in the middle of one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns.

The government move gives local authorities in Paris and the Bouches-du-Rhone area powers to limit the circulation of people and vehicles, restrict access to public transport and air travel, limit access to public buildings and close restaurants, bars and other establishments.

Paris and Marseille had in recent days already made the wearing of face masks mandatory in busy public areas.

07:04 AM

‘Don’t just turn up’ at French border Grant Shapps warns British holidaymakers 

The Transport Secretary has told British holidaymakers “don’t just turn up” at French airports, ports and Eurotunnel as they race to get home before the quarantine comes into force. 

The Government announced late last night that France was among the countries being removed from the travel corridor, meaning people will have to isolate for 14 days on their arrival in the UK. 

Grant Shapps told Sky News people had been given “a bit more notice” than those who were in Spain, noting “I do sympathise with people – I have been there myself and ended up having to quarantine as a result.”

He also defended the decision from criticism by aviation bosses, saying it is a “dynamic situation” and “we have no real choice but to act”.  

06:51 AM

Boris Johnson to stamp Scottish projects with Union flag

Boris Johnson will stamp major schemes in Scotland that are paid for directly by the UK Government with a Union flag from next year, The Telegraph can reveal.

The flag will replace the European Union symbol, which has been used to denote when a bridge or road has been directly funded by Brussels.

The idea has been backed by the new Scottish Conservative leader, Douglas Ross, who said Tories north of the border needed to be “unashamed of our investment in Scotland”.

But it was greeted with dismay by senior SNP politicians, with one accusing Mr Johnson’s Government of “posturing of the worst order” and “trying to force the union flag down people’s throats”.

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