The Government’s response to COVID-19 has been blighted by irrational decision making from the very start, but Downing Street’s new quarantine plans are the most bizarre, contradictory constraints on our freedoms to date.
The blanket approach has enraged the aviation industry, deepened the cracks in the Tory party and sparked fresh anger from Britons, branding the laws ‘too little too late’. Yet I for one, believe these restrictions are by no means a clumsy error, but a stunt.
In March, the UK blindly followed other countries by going into lockdown, but in regard to the imposition of border controls, our leaders failed to implement any quarantine measures to new arrivals when other European countries did so. Now, at the very moment when those countries are relaxing their rules, the UK finally decides to bring our confinement to the next level.
To most, the poor timing of this decision is nothing but another shortcoming of the Government’s chaotic crisis response, but in my opinion, it is no coincidence. As other countries open their borders, the move is an attempt to keep UK citizens at home, to prevent overseas spending and prop up the UK’s domestic economy. If Britons are spending their holidays in Brighton rather than Marbella this year, the rationale will be that the economy will recover more quickly.
Along with a Judicial Review of the Government’s lockdown measures, I am now looking at legal action against the Home Secretary’s Travel Restrictions. Not only are these measures deeply flawed, the evidence suggests they are in fact, unlawful. My opinion is shared by industry leaders, including British Airways’ Willie Walsh and Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary, both of whom are rightly incensed by the Government’s moves, Walsh branding them as ‘irrational and disproportionate’.
The only outcome of this catastrophic quarantine will be to further ravage the aviation and travel industries, whilst doing next to nothing to safeguard public health.
The ridiculousness begins with the significant number of travelers who are fully exempt from the plans, meaning thousands of potentially infectious people will be free to enter our country and spread the virus. Its absurdity continues, as it permits all UK arrivals to use public transport to reach their place of self-isolation and once there, the potential covid-carriers can live with others and even go out on a jolly shopping trip. The law then assumes that that every person will comply with the regulations, against the frightening possibility that at some point, they may be visited by a policeman and their non-compliance will be discovered.
These requirements – which depend entirely upon the self-compliance of the person concerned – do nothing to prevent the virus spread And what of air bridges? Travel corridors? Holiday hall passes? Or some other ridiculous name Boris’s PR team will come up with. The concept of air bridges seems to be a thinly veiled attempt to hold some negotiating power over other nations. It can make no sense at all from a virus control point of view and can only be explained as European brinkmanship.
Since lockdown began, No 10 has continued to remove the fundamental pillars that support our liberty in this sovereign isle. For millions of people, their only opportunity to go abroad has now been denied. Nobody (except the very wealthy who no longer have to work) will be booking a holiday if, on their return, they will be forced to self-isolate for 14 days – the majority of people do not have sufficient holiday entitlement for this luxury. Once again, it is the most hard-working of Britons whose liberties are ruined most.
So, the effect of the Travel Regulations will be to virtually end all further bookings of flights and trips abroad. Airlines, travel companies, retail outlets at airports, maintenance providers, airline meal providers and caterers; these laws will devastate them all. We must seriously question whether the Government has power under the 1984 Act to make these regulations. Are the Travel Regulations, like the Lockdown Regulations, ultra vires the 1984 Act? The legal case against the quarantine on irrationality grounds is even stronger.
The Government has called the ‘proportionate’, but they are anything but. They are just another attempt to block our personal freedom and liberties. By exploring the only avenue available to protest and possibly prevent these measures – the courts – I am determined to make sure that these policies will never happen again.
Simon Dolan is a British businessman