Quarantine measures are disruptive but necessary to protect the health of the public says Burnley MP
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Burnley man Paul Smith is currently on holiday in Tenerife with his wife Janis and their daughters Lauren (16) and 12-year-old Maya. They flew out on Sunday, July 19th and they are due home this Friday, six days after the quarantine rule was announced.
Paul said he could not understand why the rule had been extended from mainland Spain to all parts, including the Canary and Balearic islands where infection rates were amongst the lowest in Europe.
He said: "The situation here is well under control with Covid rates less than half of that of the UK average so I cannot understand the decisions taken by the government as these are not backed by the science - a mantra which they stated their strategy would be based on."
He went on to say he believed the strategy was causing both consumers and the travel industry a 'great deal of heartache and inconvenience' and claims the Prime Minister should have put regional restrictions in place similar to the ones imposed by the Belgian government.
Mr Higginbotham said today that as soon as the news was announced he asked a number of questions of colleagues to understand the rationle behind it.
He said: "I asked why we couldn’t adopt a more regional approach and what people should do on their return."
Explaining the reasons behind the decision Mr Higginbotham went on to say that on Friday the Spanish authorities notified the European Centre for Disease Control of a significant uptake in the number of cases.
Two thousand new cases were recorded, which, when compared to the previous two days, represented an increase of 75 per cent.
Mr Higginbotham said: "It was this pace of increase, when looked at in the round against the seven day numbers, which represented a significant change necessitating action by the UK Government.
"This was reinforced by the update provided to ministers from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and Chief Medical Officer on Saturday which showed a significant change towards the end of the working week..
"Whilst I know the speed of the decision has been disruptive for many people with the increase in prevalence being so rapid in Spain I don’t think it would be appropriate for decisions to be delayed given the impact that could then have on UK prevalence.
"There was initially a difference between the FCO travel advice and Border Health Regulations (which govern the quarantine period) . As you would expect, FCO travel advice takes a number of factors into account and is distinct from Border measures.
"FCO travel advice relates to the risk to a UK national of visiting a foreign country and a range of factors from healthcare facilities to security to entry requirements are considered. The Border Health measures, including quarantine, are only to ensure the public health protection of the UK."
The MP added that while the measures were disruptive he believed them to be necessary adding: "Having spoken to ministers about this, I know it was a decision that had to be taken in order to protect the UK public and ensure the progress we have made in reducing prevalence here is not compromised.
"All countries on the Travel Corridor list are kept under constant review and this list can change at short notice. "
Paul also raised the issue of the spike in cases in Blackburn and Mr Higginbotham said additional health protection measures had been implemented there including additional testing, community engagement and a pause on the easing of restrictions for gyms and similar facilities.