Coronavirus: Ryanair boss says travellers will ignore 14-day quarantine rule

Michael O'Leary says UK government is ‘making this idiotic and unimplementable stuff up as they go along’

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Monday 18 May 2020 09:59 BST
Ground stop: Ryanair is flying only 1 per cent of its planned operations during the coronavirus pandemic
Ground stop: Ryanair is flying only 1 per cent of its planned operations during the coronavirus pandemic (Simon Calder)

As the government prepares to reveal details of its quarantine plans for travellers arriving in the UK, Ryanair’s chief executive has predicted: “People will simply ignore something which is so hopelessly defective.”

Speaking on the BBC’s Today programme, Michael O'Leary said:

“It’s idiotic and it’s unimplementable. You don’t have enough police in the UK to implement lockdown.”

The airline boss predicted: “The 14-day lockdown has no credibility and will be eliminated before we get to the end of June.”

Eight days ago Boris Johnson announced that “people coming into this country by air” must self-isolate at home for two weeks.

The government later said mandatory quarantine would also apply to arrivals by sea and rail. But it has yet to reveal a starting date and how the scheme will work.

Mr O’Leary said: “This government is telling you that you can’t fly unless you isolate for 14 days, yet you can go on the London Underground and you don’t have to isolate for 14 days.

“They’re making this stuff up as they go along, and none of it has any basis in science.”

The government says: “The scientific advice shows that when domestic transmission is high, cases from abroad represent a small amount of the overall total and make no significant difference to the epidemic.

“Now that domestic transmission within the UK is coming under control, and other countries begin to lift lockdown measures, it is the right time to prepare new measures at the border.”

The Ryanair chief executive urged the use of face masks, which he claimed are “remarkably effective”.

In government guidance, the chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, says: "Wearing a face covering is an added precaution that may have some benefit in reducing the likelihood that a person with the infection passes it on."

But he added: "The most effective means of preventing the spread of this virus remains following social distancing rules and washing your hands regularly. It does not remove the need to self-isolate if you have symptoms."

Heathrow airport will offer face masks to all travellers from today and is to introduce thermal imaging for arriving passengers later this week.

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