UK Made 'Critical Error' By Not Imposing Border Restrictions At Start Of Coronavirus Pandemic, Say MPs

Ned Simons
·2 min read

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The government made “critical errors” in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic which led to many more people contracting the illness, MPs have said.

In a report published on Wednesday, the Commons home affairs committee said the government should have required people arriving in the UK to quarantine as early as March.

From March 13 until June 8 there was was no quarantine or self-isolation requirements for asymptomatic travellers and no screening or testing at the border.

The committee said the decision to lift the self-isolation guidance for specific countries on March 13, ten days before the nationwide lockdown was imposed, was “inexplicable”.

According to the MPs, having no special border measures for people arriving from Spain and France during February and March, and only having voluntary self-isolation measures for travellers from Italy until March 13, was a “serious error and had a material impact on the number of cases arriving in the UK, and on the pace and scale of the epidemic”.

“Many more people in the UK caught Covid-19 as a result,” they said.

Yvette Cooper, the Labour chair of the committee, said this was “a grave error” and meant the virus “spread faster and reached more people”.

“We are concerned that border measures just weren’t taken seriously enough at the beginning of the crisis, either in the discussions among scientific advisers or in ministerial decision making,” she said.

“It appears ministers took decisions without critical information they should have had, and it has been extremely difficult to work out who took key decisions and on what basis.”

The report supported the government’s introduction of quarantine measures for arrivals from June 8 as well as the opening of so-called “travel corridors” to some destinations.

MPs also said the government had been right to re-impose...

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