I managed to miss the press conference in which Priti Patel outlined the details of the Government’s new 14-day quarantine order for international travellers, but it only took a minute, following her announcement, for me to see the outcry on Twitter. Even if you are someone who has avoided the news surrounding the pandemic, you can not have been ignorant of this new policy for long, as every day I spy a new complaint online. But honestly, I’m confused by the scale of the backlash.
Many people have declared that the move comes too late, and I agree; previously quarantine had only been temporarily imposed for people coming from specific high-risk countries, such as China, Italy, Iran, and Japan. This new blanket decision should have been announced months ago rather than as what seems a last-ditch attempt, but that does not mean it’s not necessary. It is obviously better to do the right thing straight away, but it’s better to do it later rather than never; if the 14-day quarantine can still save some lives then I believe it is absolutely justified. Moreover, on last Thursday’s Question Time, Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi explained that it is at the moment when our infection rate is low, that the risk from a spike from a country outside of the UK is higher. If we have managed to lower infection, we don’t want something as trivial as a sunbathing adventure ruining that work, particularly in light of the heartbreaking sacrifices people have made to achieve this reduction.
Another sticking point is that the policy will be difficult, practically impossible, to effectively enforce, but again it is better to try. Having the rule in place may not affect all the necessary people, but it will affect more than if it wasn’t in place at all. Besides the quarantine will be enforceable in terms of the workplace—your boss would certainly notice if you had taken a week off, even more so if you posted on social media and arrived back with sunburn.
And perhaps the hardest pill for some to swallow—you do not need to go on holiday. A holiday is a luxury. It’s not worth risking the lives of others: when it is a matter of life and death, if you are unable to quarantine then I feel like a summer without holidays is a small sacrifice to make. I have just finished my degree so this is essentially my last summer before entering the ‘adult world’ and I would have been planning a month long exploration somewhere. But I’m not angry about the quarantine, not even frustrated. I understand why it is necessary, so I readily accept that if I am incapable of quarantining appropriately, then in sunny England I stay. It’s impossible to mourn over far-away pool-side mojitos when my television screen is filled with people mourning over loved ones.
Of course, I pity the airline companies who are losing so much income, and more significantly the airline staff that are affected. However, I also pity all businesses who are unable to operate at this time, and that does not mean I want my favourite night clubs to open, everyone would agree that would be ridiculous. These are hard times for so many people and businesses, but we should not rush into ‘normality’ at the cost of risking more lives. Besides I love travel—experiencing new cultures and escaping the tedious every day—but we can’t deny it has environmental faults. So whilst this 14-day quarantine reduces the health risk to others, the limited travel it encourages also reduces environmental impact for the time being—another silver lining to consider.
Ultimately, if a 14-day quarantine provides the compromise between allowing some people to travel abroad, whilst fighting off a great increase in infection rate, I welcome it with open arms, hypothetically of course. It is a shame that many people simply cannot take such time off work but losing a holiday is incomparable to losing a life.
Last modified: 14th June 2020