HomeTravelBritain threatens prison sentence for lying about COVID travel
Britain threatens prison sentence for lying about COVID travel
February 10, 2021
Britain is threatening 10-year prison sentences for people who lie about their international travel during the pandemic — tougher than for many violent gun crimes and child sex offenses.
The strict punishment was announced Tuesday as part of a series of stern measures restricting travel from a “red list” of 33 countries it fears risk spreading new COVID-19 mutations.
“Anyone who lies on a passenger locator form and tries to conceal that they’ve been in a country on our red list in the 10 days before arrival here will face a prison sentence of up to 10 years,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.
Residents from the red-list nations — including South Africa, Portugal and all of South America — are now effectively banned from traveling to the UK.
However, British and Irish citizens are permitted to travel — but must pay $2,400 for a “quarantine package” for a 10-day hotel stay and repeated testing before being free to return their homes, Hancock announced of rules being enforced from Monday.
Those failing to quarantine in the hotels also face fines of up to $13,800.
“I make no apologies for the strength of these measures because we’re dealing with one of the strongest threats to our public health that we’ve faced as a nation,” Hancock told lawmakers.
“People who flout these rules are putting us all at risk.”
The sentence of 10 years’ prison was quickly ripped for being on par with crimes like rioting, threats to kill and burglary with intent to commit rape — and more for many sex crimes, including incest.
“Ten years is the maximum sentence for threats to kill, non-fatal poisoning or indecent assault.
“Does Mr. Hancock really think that non-disclosure of a visit to Portugal is worse than the large number of violent firearms offenses or sexual offenses involving minors, for which the maximum is seven years?” he asked.
He also ripped the hotel quarantine rules as “a form of imprisonment in solitary confinement,” calling them “brutal, inhumane and disproportionate.”
“They are also of limited value because the virus is already endemic in the UK and spontaneously mutates all the time,” he wrote, saying that the UK was “probably a net exporter of mutant viruses.”
Former Conservative attorney general Sir Geoffrey Cox said that he appreciated that the current administration “wants to show that this is serious.”
The rules were also damned for being a further blow to the already crushed travel industry.
“Airports and airlines are battling to survive with almost zero revenue and a huge cost base, and practically every week a further blow lands,” Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, and Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said in a statement.
“Aviation-specific financial support is urgently needed to ensure our sector can get through the year.”