An international law firm has suggested that quarantine hotels may violate our basic human rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.
The government is considering tightening the border measures. One option is to require hotel quarantine for all comers – including UK residents.
Other countries, including Australia, Thailand, and New Zealand, have already taken similar measures to stop the spread of Covid-19.
However, the international law firm PGMBM has suggested that the enforced quarantine is a violation of our human rights.
Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) states that everyone has the right to freedom and security of person, except in very specific circumstances.
Such circumstances include “lawful detention of people to prevent the spread of infectious diseases”.
However, the law firm PGMBM argues that the proposed quarantine – which would be enforced regardless of whether the person is known to have Covid-19 or not, and therefore whether or not they are infectious – could potentially violate Article 5 of the ECHR.
Tom Goodhead, attorney and managing partner of PGMBM, said: “These proposals to impose a blanket hotel quarantine at the travelers’ own expense raise fundamental questions about denying the freedom of those affected.
“Article 5 of the ECHR expressly states that no one may be inappropriately deprived of his or her freedom. While there is a provision that could allow denial of this freedom to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, these proposals would arrest arriving travelers even if they did not test positive for Covid-19.
“Some European countries have already looked at the issue and decided that the detention of people without a confirmed infection may not fall under the provisions of Article 5.
“Cabinet ministers are now debating whether people should be taken directly from airplanes to the forced quarantine without evidence that these people carry a variant of Covid-19. There is certainly a very credible perspective that this could lead to illegal detention and thus violate the ECHR. “
The government’s Covid-O Committee will meet today to discuss tightening border measures as Boris Johnson comes under increasing pressure to prevent new variants of Covid-19 in the UK.
On Monday the Prime Minister confirmed that the hotel plans were being “actively worked on” and said: “We need a solution that offers us the greatest possible protection against a new infection from abroad.”
Priti Patel, Home Secretary and Health Secretary Matt Hancock are believed to be pushing for mandatory quarantine in government-approved shelters for all comers. However, there is a chance the government may choose to quarantine those coming from high-risk locations with known outbreaks of new variants such as South Africa and Brazil.
The cost of 14 days in a quarantine hotel for an adult is £ 1,692 in Australia, £ 1,630 in New Zealand and £ 642 in Thailand – three countries that have so far implemented the measure.
Paul Charles, CEO of PC Agency, said, “Such a move would destroy confidence in booking and cause a drop in booking revenues for airlines, tour operators and many other travel professionals. As well as a collapse in the number of visitors spending money on incoming expenses.
“Boris Johnson needs to provide a schedule of when they will be removed and anticipate the economic impact on the aviation and travel sectors.”