The Government has been told to scrap its mandatory 14-day quarantine for UK arrivals amid fears it will be “unenforceable”.
New arrivals will simply be “trusted” to follow the new coronavirus rules and could bypass the restrictions through multiple “loopholes”, insiders have warned.
The intervention comes as criticism mounts from aviation chiefs and MPs, with Boris Johnson’s former adviser warning it “hangs the ‘closed’ sign on Britain”.
From June 8, travellers arriving in UK airports and sea ports will have to self-isolate for two weeks or face a £1,000 fine – but freight workers and Ireland arrivals are thought to be exempt.
But fears have grown that the quarantine will simply be ignored if adherence to the rules is taken “largely on trust”.
“I don’t think it’ll be enforceable. The more exemptions you give, the more unworkable a policy becomes,” former Labour home secretary Lord Blunkett told the Daily Mail.
“The best thing the Government could do is to get off this as fast as possible and recognise that, given our current infection rate, it’s more likely that other countries would want to prevent our citizens visiting them than the other way round.”
More than 70 travel bosses have written to Home Secretary Priti Patel to denounce it as “the very last thing the travel industry needs” and warning it will drain the already stalling economy.
Andrew Griffith, a former chief business adviser to Mr Johnson and now MP for Arundel and South Downs, said: “A blanket quarantine hangs the Closed sign on Britain just as competitor nations lift their travel restrictions.
“It is unscientific to apply it to countries with a lower rate of infection than our own – if a plane full of passengers from Iceland lands in the UK it would actually lower the average infection rate – and it is devastating for the wider economy.”
Whitehall and Border Force sources told the paper that the already stretched border patrols could see scores of passengers pour into Britain each day untracked, while e-passport holders are thought to bypass checks altogether.
A Border Force source told the Daily Mail: “Frontline immigration officials have never been required to issue on-the-spot fines in this way before. It’s a completely new way of doing things and no-one knows how it’s going to work.”
He said there had been no clear instruction on what to do if passengers simply refuse to sign the form that will tell officials where they plan to isolate.
The online form will reportedly not be linked to passports or a database, meaning border officers will need to manually check each one causing huge queues.
A Downing Street source said: “The quarantine system is a way of protecting the virus coming into the country when we have got domestic levels of transmission down low, but we are of course considering ways in which travel to other countries could be allowed if it is safe to do so.”
It comes as 40 MPs, including seven former ministers, who form the Future of Aviation Group have warned that unless the Government axes the plans millions of jobs in the travel industry will be at risk.
Easyjet became the latest airline this week to slash up to 30 per cent of its workforce, about 4,500 jobs, with British Airways and Ryanair among the other troubled firms.