Lawyers are planning a legal challenge against the government’s quarantine hotel policy, arguing it contravenes travellers’ human rights.
International law firm PGMBM is calling for a judicial review of the controversial programme, which came into force just hours ago.
Under the strict new rules all British nationals who have been in or passed through a country on the UK’s ‘red list’ have to stay under ‘hotel quarantine’ for 10 days after they return to England.
Ministers insist the restrictions are necessary to protect the UK from new strains of Covid-19 developing in other countries.
PGMBM believes that the enforced quarantine of people without knowing whether they or not they have Covid-19, and therefore could pass it on to others, could breach human rights law.
Tom Goodhead, managing partner of PGMBM, said his company appreciated the seriousness of the global pandemic.
“This does not, however, mean that policies which constitute extraordinary violations of traditional liberties and human rights should not face careful judicial examination,” he said.
“It is time for lawyers to take a stand and ensure that the government, which has shown scant regard for parliamentary scrutiny of Covid-19 legislation and regulations, is held to account.“
He likened the quarantine rules to the Tom Cruise film Minority Report, where people are arrested for crimes they have yet to commit.
“Why should it be presumed that law-abiding British citizens and residents would not adhere to home quarantine?” Mr Goodhead said.
“The government has given no indication as to when this policy may end nor has it provided cogent scientific explanations for it. “Detention should be the last resort, not the first. As things stand, inbound travellers would be detained even if they have repeatedly tested negative for Covid-19, if they have already been vaccinated, if they have been previously infected and regardless of their reasons for travel.“
Under the new rules travellers have to pay £1,750 each for the cost of their ten day stay in a hotel.
They are only allowed outside for fresh air and exercise.
Health secretary Matt Hancock has said that those who try to avoid the quarantine, by lying about which countries they have visited, could face up to five years in jail.
PGMBM has launched a crowdfunder to pay for barristers’ fees for the case.
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