Quarantine restriction chaos on first day as leaked Home Office memo admits rules are impossible to enforce – The Sun
QUARANTINE restrictions could descend into chaos on the first day after a Home Office spokesman admitted it was "very hard to imagine how it would work in in practice".
A leaked Home Office document revealed there was no method for Border Force to ensure details on entry forms were "genuine" unless they are "manifestly false" such as claiming to be Mickey Mouse.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
Border Force officials will face an impossible battle trying to enforce the new rules, which mean anyone entering the UK must self-isolate for 14 days, according to The Telegraph.
Travellers will have to fill out forms detailing where they will be staying for the 14-day quarantine period and the Home Office revealed fines would be doled out for false entries.
But a memo revealed fines for inaccurate entries will only be issued if they are "manifestly false" such as claiming you are called "Mickey Mouse" and reside at "Buckingham Palace".
The leaked guidance document, was circulated to 9,000 Border Force staff on Friday night, ahead of the introduction of rules today.
Passengers can be fined £100 for failing to fill in the online form and up to £1,000 if caught breaking their two-week quarantine.
The document told Border Force officials: "Errors (on the form) may be corrected.
"But where a person has added manifestly false information without a reasonable explanation (for example stating that their name is Mickey Mouse or that their address is Buckingham Palace) and the passenger refuses to resubmit credible information.
"You should consider whether it is appropriate to issue a fixed penalty notice.”
It adds: “You will not ordinarily have access to the electronic records and are therefore not able to check that the record is genuine.
"You should accept the receipt to be genuine unless there are other factors or indicators which lead you to have wider passenger credibility concerns.”
Spokesperson for the ISU, the union for borders, immigration and customs, Lucy Moreton said: “This is a complete and utter farce. Border Force staff are so angry.”
Ms Moreton said there was almost no capacity for checks at Dover, while Heathrow staff had been told to carry out checks on all passengers if possible.
Only 230 tablet computers have been bought by the Home Office to be distributed across the "Border Force Estate" for passengers who did not fill in the quarantine form before arriving in the UK.
Ms Moreton said there was only one additional tablet for each entry point.
The leaked document revealed concerns a massive backlog of passengers queueing for a single tablet will form if the tablet needs to be taken out to be cleaned – increasing the risk of social distancing falling apart.
But passenger numbers at Heathrow have already plummeted down by 97 per cent – only 206,500 travellers used the airport in April.
So it could take time for queues to become a problem as air travel slowly gets back on its feet.
Sources at Heathrow said the online form filling will be catastrophic if passenger numbers do start to rise.
A Home Office spokesman said last night: “It is very hard to imagine how it will work in practice.”
The quarantine rules have sparked fury from travel operators – and British Airways is considering legal action against measures it labelled "unlawful" last week.
More than 500 travel and hospitality businesses are expected to join the legal fights lead by the airlines to reverse the restrictions to save their firms from going under.
The president of the Eurotunnel operator Getlink, Jacques Gounon wrote to Boris Johnson, warning the rules are "fraught with problems".
He said the scheme will cause huge delays for his staff if they have to fill out the forms every time they enter the UK – up to eight times a day.
He added: "Emergency crews will also have to stop and complete the form on their way to an incident."
A group of top travel bosses called Quash Quarantine, including hotelier Sir Rocco Forte who owns hotels in the UK and Europe including Brown's in London are gearing up for a fight
They will lay out plans to force the Government to roll back measures such as backing the judicial review by the airlines or seeking its own injunction.
They claim the rules are driven by politics, not science.
One senior figure went further and accused the PM's chief aide Dominic Cummings of using it as a "tactic" in Brexit negotiations, which have stalled.
Henry Smith, the Conservative MP who heads the cross-party Future of Aviation group in Parliament, said:
“I don’t wish things to go wrong but if it is indeed as cumbersome and bureaucratic as this, then it illustrates how absurd the situation is.
“The thing I am concerned about is that it might be saved by the fact that so few people are travelling. If it was more normal times, it might fall over within minutes.”