The Welsh first minister has criticised the UK government’s hotel quarantine plan, saying it is insufficient to protect the country from overseas variants of Covid-19.
UK residents returning from 33 overseas Covid-19 hotspots will have to quarantine in hotels from February 15.
In an interview with the Guardian newspaper, Mark Drakeford said it represents “another example” of Boris Johnson’s administration doing the “bare minimum” at each stage of the pandemic.
The Labour Party politician told the Guardian: “What ought to happen is the mirror image of what the UK government is doing.
“The UK government has an approach in which the world can come to the UK apart from a red list of countries who will have to observe quarantine.
“I would have done it the other way round. I would have had the default position that anyone coming into the UK would be expected to quarantine and then you would have had exceptions for countries where you were confident that was not required.”
The Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced Scotland will introduce a “managed quarantine” on all arrivals to the country — not just those from a list of “at-risk” nations.
But Drakeford said there is little that the Welsh government can do unilaterally.
“If we try to institute a system of that nature for Cardiff airport alone that will simply displace people to travel to an airport across our border,” he told the Guardian.
“I continue to make the case that a four- or five-nation approach [including Ireland] is needed. We should all build the wall higher to prevent the hard work that people in Wales and elsewhere have done to drive down infection being undermined.”
Meanwhile, The Telegraph has reported that up to 205,000 passengers from countries with new variant could arrive in UK before the hotel quarantine policy comes into force.
It said 22,000 Britons will enter from ‘red list’ areas in the weeks between the policy announcement and enforcement, plus 183,000 from nations with mutations.
Elsewhere, The Times reports that GPS tracking to ensure that travellers quarantine properly could be used as an alternative to mandatory hotel stays.
“Electronic monitoring” would help improve waning compliance with quarantine, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) advises.
Government sources told the Times that there were no plans to track travellers through their mobile phones, such as in Taiwan, but ministers are under increasing pressure over plans for arrivals from high-risk countries to quarantine in hotels.
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