Health Measures at UK Borders

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:52 pm on 27th January 2021.

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Photo of Priti Patel Priti Patel The Secretary of State for the Home Department 2:52 pm, 27th January 2021

First, I very much repeat what I said yesterday about working with all the devolved Administrations —clearly the Government are doing that, and the right hon. and learned Lady will be well aware of that.

With regard to everyone now going retrospective in thinking that they were the first advocates of bringing in health measures at the border, that was clearly not the case, as I recall from the Select Committee last April—I mentioned that yesterday, too. If I may, I shall reacquaint the right hon. and learned Lady with the measures that were brought in from January 2020: from the minute that self-isolation advice was given by the FCO at the time to the SAGE recommendations on self-isolation for those coming from specific countries; the new regulations and statutory instruments that were brought in on 10 February, with new powers for medical professionals and the police to detain individuals suspected of covid symptoms; the guidance to UK airports; and the travel advice put out by the FCDO—all between February and March.

Self-isolation measures were introduced for specific countries; we introduced mandatory quarantine and the passenger locator form back in June last year; we closed the border to Denmark after the first identification of a new strain—which, of course, we were able to deal with because of our genomic sequencing capacity in the UK; we introduced test and release and the ban on flights from South Africa, which clearly is still in place; and we introduced carrier liability for pre-travel testing.

Each of the measures we have introduced has added another layer of protection against transmission of the virus, and that reduces the risk of dangerous new strains being imported into the UK. The right hon. and learned Lady should reflect on the fact that there is not one single measure that mitigates risk entirely. Every measure that has been brought in helps to reduce risk, protect the vaccine and, importantly, protect the British public and public health.