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DUP's Wilson describes UK coronavirus quarantine plan as 'madness'

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DUP MP Sammy Wilson has criticised the quarantine plans

DUP MP Sammy Wilson has criticised the quarantine plans

DUP MP Sammy Wilson has criticised the quarantine plans

A Northern Ireland MP has blasted new government proposals on quarantine for overseas visitors, expected to be announced today, as "madness".

Sammy Wilson warned they could severely hinder the region's attempts to recover from the virus crisis, and claimed they were unenforceable.

The new rules, to be set out by Home Secretary Priti Patel, are due to come into force on June 8.

They are expected to see people arriving in the UK told to isolate for 14 days to prevent new coronavirus cases.

Travellers arriving in the UK will be allowed to leave isolation to shop for food and other essential supplies, and can travel to their location on public transport, but will then have to stay inside for 14 days.

The restrictions will be similar to those imposed during the coronavirus lockdown.

But they have caused unease in the Tory ranks and been condemned by businesses.

DUP MP Sammy Wilson said the rules would have a major impact on Northern Ireland's economic recovery.

"It's madness, a very ill thought out policy," he said.

"We're taking small steps to get back to some sort of normality and we can't be doing something that will just make things even more difficult for tourism, aviation and business as a whole at a time when they're finding things very, very difficult as it is."

The Prime Minister's official spokesman suggested the plans would include a limited set of exemptions, just as there was during the nationwide lockdown.

"For example, I would expect people only to be able to leave the property in which they are quarantining if they need urgent medical treatment, support from social services, food or medicine which they cannot get delivered or get anybody else to bring to them, an emergency in the place they are staying," the spokesman said.

"Travellers will also be able to board public transport from the port or airport to where they will quarantine, although they will be encouraged to use private vehicles instead."

But Mr Wilson said the Government proposals would do nothing to aid the recovery of the economy, and little to prevent further spread of the virus.

He also referred to a loophole dubbed the "Dublin dodge" which involves travelling back to the UK via the Irish capital, which also provides exemption.

"Recovery is not going to be easy, but is anyone really going to think about coming to here if they're to be expected to quarantine for two weeks?" he added.

"It's not practical and in the end it's our businesses that will lose out. The aviation sector has made it quite clear this will cripple them and it will disadvantage businesses facing competition from others around the world.

"We have the Irish Republic saying they're not operating in the same way so we already have a back door into Britain in any case."

Mr Wilson added: "This will kill off the tourism industry for this year.

"There's also a major issue about enforcement. Are we really going to have the PSNI going around knocking on doors to see if visitors are remaining in quarantine? It's stupidity."

The Government is understood to be considering the prospect of 'air bridges' between the UK and other countries which would be exempt from the quarantine rules, a policy favoured by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Belfast Telegraph