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Police: Hard to know if quarantine rules will be obeyed

ONLY one person has been fined by police for breaching the requirement to self-isolate after arriving from abroad.

The quarantine-breaker punished in Lincolnshire was among just eight recipients of fixed penalty notices for any violation of virus rules in England and Wales in the two weeks to July 20.

The figures do not include fines issued by UK Border Force. But as of July 10 the agency had penalised only three people over quarantine, two of whom were part of the same group.

‘We do virtually no enforcement,’ said Lucy Moreton, of the Immigration Services Union that represents Border Force staff. ‘Most people, by the time you’ve got to the point of explaining which form to fill in on a phone or tablet, and how they face a fine if not, will end up agreeing. But we are seeing increasingly quite a lot of verbal abuse of staff.’

The requirement to self-isolate for 14 days, brought in on June 8, was waived for passengers arriving from more than 50 nations on July 10.

But it still applies to the US, Canada, Portugal and much of Central and South America. Fines of between £100 and £1,000 can be issued.

Compliance has been ‘good’, said the National Police Chiefs’ Council, which released the penalty figures. But chairman Martin Hewitt admitted he was unsure what to expect after Spain was put back on the quarantine list at just five hours’ notice at the weekend.

Thousands of families have jetted off to the Costas thinking they could carry on as normal on their return.

And Mr Hewitt said: ‘It’s really difficult to understand how people will respond. You would hope that people would come back and be responsible.’

A government spokesperson said: ‘The quarantine system is informed by science, backed by the public and designed to keep us all safe. We are seeing a high level of compliance and we expect this to continue.’

Britons should avoid non-essential travel to the Balearics and Canaries, as well as the Spanish mainland, the Foreign Office said last night. Since lockdown began, police have given 18,669 fines for breaching virus rules.