The United Kingdom is finally taking drastic measures at its borders, having distinguished itself in Europe by an astonishingly liberal approach (they have remained wide open until now, even at the height of the epidemic). Priti Patel, the Minister of the Interior, confirmed on Friday May 22 that a strict isolation of fourteen days would be imposed from June 8 on all travelers arriving in the country, regardless of their nationality – including the British – and their means of transport (plane, train or ferry). France "Regret" the British decision, the French interior ministry said on Friday evening. Paris, which hoped for an exemption, also announced that "Travelers coming from the United Kingdom, whatever their nationality, will be invited to carry out a fortnight when the British measure (…) will actually come into force".
This quarantine is "Vital" to avoid a second wave of the epidemic "Devastating", insisted Mme Patel, "As the world begins to emerge from what we hope is the worst of the epidemic, we must limit the risk of infections imported from abroad." As of Friday evening, the official death toll from Covid-19 in the country was 36,393. The R0, the reproduction rate of the virus, that is to say the number of people infected by a patient, is "Between 0.7 and 1 in the country", said Patrick Vallance, Downing Street's chief scientific advisor, "Which means the epidemic is contracting."
After briefly studying the exemption for travelers from France, the British government chose the maximalist option: only those arriving from Ireland, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands will be able to escape isolation, by reason for the Common Travel Area.
Scientists, diplomatic personnel established in the United Kingdom, crews and drivers of trains, planes and boats, medical professions are also exempt from quarantine. "Involved in the fight against the coronavirus", customs, police and truckers – so as not to threaten the commercial traffic of the English Channel, a vital axis for the country. And seasonal workers: despite the “Pick for Britain” campaign, aimed at attracting the British to the fields, farmers in the country are claiming to be able to accommodate a quota of 10,000 authorized seasonal workers – mainly Romanian and Bulgarian – to help with the harvest.
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