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Travellers in Czech Republic and Switzerland rush to beat UK quarantine measures

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said Jamaica is also being taken off the safe list.

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Passengers at Heathrow Airport (Aaron Chown/PA)

Passengers at Heathrow Airport (Aaron Chown/PA)

Passengers at Heathrow Airport (Aaron Chown/PA)

Travellers are quickly making plans to return to the UK from the Czech Republic, Jamaica and Switzerland before new quarantine measures are imposed.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced on Thursday evening that those arriving in England from those countries after 4am on Saturday will need to self-isolate for 14 days.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said equivalent measures are being put in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Scotland took Switzerland off its list last week.

Reductions in coronavirus cases mean Cuba has been added to the destinations from which people can arrive in England or Wales without entering quarantine, while Wales has also removed the quarantine requirement for arrivals from Singapore.

It comes as new enforcement powers entered into force from midnight meaning that anyone facilitating an unlicensed music event or “any other unlawful gathering of 30 people or more” could face a hefty penalty.

The Home Office has also said fines for not wearing face coverings where it is mandated – such as on public transport and in supermarkets – will also double for repeat offenders starting today.

People not wearing masks and participants in unlawful gatherings can be fined starting at £100, doubling for each repeat offence up to a maximum of £3,200.

In Wales, indoor visits to both adult and children’s care homes have been given the green light from today.

Visits will be subject to strict controls to help prevent transmission of coronavirus.

Meanwhile, a major media campaign will be launched by the Government next week which will encourage workers to return to the office.

The adverts will promote the Government’s aim to reduce the number of employees working from home amid fears that town and city centres are becoming ghost areas as workers stay away.

Labour has criticised the plans as being “unconscionable”.

The party’s shadow business minister Lucy Powell said: “It beggars belief that the Government are threatening people like this during a pandemic. Forcing people to choose between their health and their job is unconscionable.

“Number 10 should condemn this briefing and categorically rule out any such campaign.”

However, Tory MPs have said that workers need to get back to the office.

Speaking to The Times, Conservative MP Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, warned of “devastating consequences” if workers stayed at home.

He said: “What is essential is that the Government gives a clear and consistent message that it is perfectly safe for people to return to town.

“They should not be worried about infections as a result of travelling on trains and buses. We can all see the devastating consequences for many businesses when a huge proportion of the customers on whom they depend simply aren’t coming into our towns and cities.”

Meanwhile, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, former Tory party leader, told the newspaper: “The Government must have a clear and simple message that civil servants should show the way and get back to work.

“They’ve got to stop mixing that message. The reality is that small businesses that provide the vast majority of jobs in the UK rely on people in city centres being back in their offices.

“If they do not go back many of those businesses will collapse, which will lead to higher unemployment and in turn impact on people’s mental and physical health.”

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