Quarantine hotel proposals are disproportionate and unworkable

Posted on 11 Feb 2021

Liberty has commented in response to the Government’s plans to force travellers from certain countries to pay for hotel quarantine to reduce the spread of coronavirus. Ministers have warned that people lying about the country they came from could face up to 10 years in jail, and people seeking asylum could be returned.

Sam Grant, Liberty’s Head of Policy and Campaigns, said: “To get through the pandemic, we need strategies that will keep people safe.

“Threatening to jail people for up to 10 years is blatantly disproportionate as cross party MPs have highlighted, and is based on a determination to appear tough rather than create a travel system that works.

“The announcements this week also create huge financial barriers for travellers, without enough support to help those unable to pay. This will only serve to prevent some from necessary travel because they simply cannot afford these outlandish fees. The guidance offers little clarity about exemptions for people with different health conditions for whom hotel quarantine may be fundamentally inappropriate.

“As for immediate expulsion for people seeking asylum – this is cruel, unworkable, and goes against numerous parts of domestic and international law.

“This same blunt approach has been the hallmark of this Government throughout this pandemic. And yet again, Parliament has been side-lined and not given a chance to debate these proposals, despite the enormous implications for our human rights and civil liberties.

“Heavy-handed strategies based on punishment have not worked, they have only deepened divisions in society and put at risk the most marginalised.

“We needed a Government response that supported people. Time and again this has been missing. We must now demand that those in power come up with solutions that address people’s circumstances and ensure they are able to follow public health guidance. We need a response that will protect everyone.”

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