International air and train passengers have spoken of confusion over the UK’s new quarantine rules and dismissed them as “unnecessary.”
Most people arriving in the UK from today will be required to isolate themselves for 14 days, after filling out an online location form giving their contact details and travel details, as well as the address of where they will be staying.
The new government rules were introduced as part of efforts to guard against a second wave of Covid-19 infections. Those who refuse to comply could be fined 1,000 euros in England.
Some passengers arriving at Heathrow reported that they had not been aware of the quarantine rules and had been forced to fill out forms on tablets provided by the airport authorities. They said there were long queues and confusion over how to fill out the documents.
Sarah Hartstein and Guy Potter landed at Terminal 2 in Los Angeles around 8:15 a.m. The British couple worked in the United States.
They said they were going straight into the isolation in Croydon.
Ms Hartstein said the American Airways flight had been “really frightening” because of the lack of social distance, while some passengers at Heathrow had been confused about quarantine measures.
She said: “We filled out online forms saying where we were going to go in isolation. We’re going straight to Croydon.
“We also needed a hard copy of our online form. We had done it, but others on the flight had. There was a lot of confusion and people were being held back.
A Tel Aviv passenger spoke of “chaos” when his plane landed.
He said: “I had no idea about the quarantine. When I arrived, there were long queues. Airport authorities were giving people tankers to fill businesses and saying where they would isolate themselves. It was a very confusing system, no one understood how to do it. I succeeded in the end, but it was a mission. He should have been better organized.
Naomi, a British student who has been studying in Hong Kong for three years, landed at Heathrow today.
She said: “I go straight into isolation. I filled out the forms online. My dad’s coming for me.
Travellers who have embarked on Eurostar trips to Europe have also not been impressed by the new regime.
Hundreds of passengers were at St Pancras International this morning to travel to Brussels and Paris on the first trains from London. Dozens of arrivals from Paris were due to arrive at North London station this morning at 11.30am, all of which will be subject to the new 14-day quarantine unless they are deemed exempt.
Clare Feuillatre, 29, is a sommelier who was fired from her job in London. She returns today to Nantes, in north-west France, and will return to the UK on 23 June – so she will be quarantined before she can return to work.
“I wasn’t thrilled with the news,” she said. “I booked my tickets before the new quarantine was announced, which means I will have to isolate myself for two weeks when I return to London. It’s not ideal, and seems a little stupid – but my work has been quite understanding. As a small business, we have relied a lot on the leave plan to survive, so if I quarantine for two weeks is what we need to do then that is it.
A 51-year-old British traveller, who did not want to be named, works in transport and is therefore considered “exempt” from quarantine rules. He travelled to and from Paris, where he lives, on a weekly basis throughout the confinement.
He was traveling to Paris today, and is expected to return to London to work on Wednesday.
He said: “I am exempt from the rules, but they seem totally useless to me. Why now? We’ve had residents open from the beginning so it seems weird to close them effectively today. I have no idea how it will be for me to return to the campaign on Wednesday. You must fill out a form 48 hours in advance and for now it is too early to do so. So we’ll see. I understand if this is a measure to stop holidaymakers, but if you need to travel for business then that should be as easy as possible. We need to keep the economy upside down and do our essential work.
Kelly Gillet, 28, lives in Paris but was in London this weekend to visit her boyfriend.
The project manager, who arrived in the capital on Friday, had to cancel his next visit to London due to new quarantine rules imposed.
“I have to work,” she says. “So I can’t come back and be quarantined for two weeks. And I have no excuse or exception to be here. She said being outside of her boyfriend, whom she has seen twice since February, had been “tough.”
Ms Gillet said that when she arrived in London, she had “no question as to why I was here, or the purpose of my visit, nothing.”
“I was surprised,” she said. “I heard other people asking from the French side, but nothing when I arrived.”
Speaking about the new quarantine measures, she said: “I don’t think it’s that confusing, it’s a series of forms that you have to fill out, but it seems a little strange to implement it now after all this time.”
Travellers arriving from within the common travel area, which includes Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, will not need to isolate themselves unless they have arrived in the CTA within the last 14 days.
Interior Minister Priti Patel said: “We all want to get back to normal as soon as possible. But this cannot be done at the expense of life.
“The science is clear: if we limit the risk of new cases being introduced from abroad, we can help end a devastating second wave.
“That’s why the measures that come into effect today are necessary. They will help control the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.
At Stansted Airport, most passengers on a flight from Eindhoven in Holland had not completed the forms required by quarantine regulations before leaving because they were not aware of the new rules.
Uwe Bogisch, 51, a car salesman was in the UK to pick up a vehicle.
He said: “I had finished the online form almost no one else had.
“I didn’t fill it out at the last minute because I couldn’t get it. It’s chaos. There are long threads to fill it. Now I take a tube, then a train to Stanstead. I’ll take a car, then I’m back on a ferry tonight.
Passenger Ali Gurkek, from London, said: “It was a total mess, there was no hand sanitizer on the flight or anything. We didn’t know we had to fill the business, so we had to do it when we arrived. There were queues. I agree with the quarantine, but it is a mess.
Netti Rexhmet runs a license out of Chigwell and says he’s up for quarantine.
He said: “I’ve just come back from Holland and it’s a nightmare. It’s too much… I can’t go back to work in my store, it’s affecting my life badly. There is also an all-powerful confusion.
However, some passengers were less critical of quarantine.
Cerys Evans, a medical researcher from London, said: “Quarantine is important, I will isolate you of course. I’m going straight home to bed. Many people on the flight had not filled out the documents before flying.
Kamil Farah, 24, from East Ham, said: “I agree with the lockdown. So many people have died. We have to respect that.