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Editor's Viewpoint

Blanket quarantine is too little, too late

Editor's Viewpoint


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'The plans by the Government to quarantine travellers to Britain have had the unexpected political consequence of uniting almost everyone in opposition to them.'

'The plans by the Government to quarantine travellers to Britain have had the unexpected political consequence of uniting almost everyone in opposition to them.'

PA

'The plans by the Government to quarantine travellers to Britain have had the unexpected political consequence of uniting almost everyone in opposition to them.'

The plans by the Government to quarantine travellers to Britain have had the unexpected political consequence of uniting almost everyone in opposition to them. In fact, a Conservative-supporting newspaper has described them as "pure folly... it is hard to think of a more ill-timed, ill-thought-out policy".

Professor Karol Sikora, dean of the University of Buckingham Medical School and a consultant oncologist of international reputation, is more measured in an interview in today's paper, but he is no more convinced of the policy's merits than its other numerous critics.

He believes that the policy is "too little, too late", as the restrictions take place from today. The professor says: "The whole quarantine thing is bizarre. It's a very strange rule. It's unenforceable. Nobody's going on holiday, but there will be a few people who will test out the system by going to Dublin to see if they can get by it."

Health Minister Robin Swann would only say on Friday that there "may" be fines if people do not comply. The PSNI said last night that it was still in discussions about how to process the new regulations.

Meanwhile, the airlines are in a classic holding pattern as they wait to see if British Airways follows up on its threat to take the Government to court. The decision to press ahead with a blanket quarantine, which is widely regarded as unworkable, is curiously at odds with its other policies, which seem determined to get the country back to normal as soon as possible, whatever that means anymore. Not for the first time the Government's theoretical policies have run aground against the hard rock of practicality, and it remains to be seen how the new restrictions will apply - or if Downing Street decides to abandon them. The optimum time to introduce quarantine was four months ago, when skiing parties were bringing the coronavirus back to Britain from Europe, so the current policy does seem "too little, too late".

More welcome, and workable, is the announcement that churches and other places of worship are to reopen for services in England from June 15, with regulation social distancing measures in place. In Northern Ireland the faithful will be hoping devoutly that a similar decision about our own places of worship is not far behind.

Such a decision will be widely welcomed by worshippers who miss the atmosphere of their church.

Belfast Telegraph