Thank you to everyone who wrote in about with their latest views on the Government’s plans to introduce a quarantine for international arrivals from next week. On Wednesday, I got the chance to share them in a question to the Home Secretary in the Chamber.
It is disappointing that the quarantine was not introduced earlier when there were deep concerns during the peak of Covid-19 that 15,000 people were still flying into the country every day and the impact this could have on public health. I called on the Government at the time to introduce much stricter controls at the border.
Now on balance I think it’s right that this quarantine still goes ahead because preventing a second wave of the virus must be the top priority. But we also have to factor in that we aren’t where we were a number of weeks ago and other considerations are becoming increasingly important. In the Chamber I mentioned the particular contact I’ve had with people who have loved ones, including spouses, in other countries who are now hoping to make plans to visit them after months apart.
That’s why I called on the Home Secretary to take a flexible approach towards the quarantine moving forwards. We need robust health measures at the border but we must also be prepared to strike a balance where it is safe to do so.
A number of constituents have contacted me over the past few days with concerns about the open border policy that the Government has adopted during the coronavirus outbreak. I must say I share many of their concerns and today I’ve written to the Home Secretary in order to express them. Many countries have decided to take a different approach and I can well understand that at a time when we’ve all been asked to socially distance and abide by tough lock down restrictions, it’s slightly perplexing to see around 15,000 people every day continuing to enter the country. I understand that this is well down on the average amount of people coming into the country through our airports but it’s still too high and it does concern me that many are coming from countries where there have been strong outbreaks of COVID-19 and very little testing has been done on our borders.
My view is that you should only be able to come to our country at this current time if there is a critical need and it really is “essential”. I appreciate that in the past many food producers have been reliant on seasonal workers from abroad and that some attempts were made to advertise these positions to people who currently live within the country, but there is a question as to whether every effort was made. Clearly having to import labour at this time is far from ideal.