The Mayor of London said Ministers needed to “get a grip” on foreign nationals arriving in the UK, in order to stop the spread of Covid-19.
Sadiq Khan said it is too easy for travellers to enter the capital, and has demanded stricter quarantine measures and more rigorous testing regimes from the Government.
He said powers relating to quarantine rules lie with central Government, rather than the Mayor’s Office. So far, he said, the calls have “fallen on deaf ears”.
Mr Khan has criticised the Government’s unclear messaging on foreign travel, which has led to people being unsure on what they actually need to do.
On international travel, he said:
“Other countries that have been affected have not allowed people to come in unless they properly quarantine for a period of time and there is proper testing.
“If you compare and contrast what happens at our airports in relation to the airports in, for example, Seoul, there is a big difference.
“So I’m really frustrated, as the mayor of a city with a number of airports serving us – Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, City, plus the Eurostar – at the ease with which people can come in to our city, potentially with new strains of the virus.
“And that’s what we’ve been calling on the Government to make sure they stop the virus coming in through other means, and that’s why it is really important for them also to get a grip with international travel in relation to this virus.
“I’m asking for much more strict controls in relation to those arriving in our country, including not least far more testing at the point of arrival and proper quarantining before they leave the airport firstly for the testing and before they can leave their homes.”
National lockdown was “inevitable”
Speaking after the Prime Minister announced a third national lockdown on Monday (4 January), Mr Khan said:
“This announcement by the Government of a full national lockdown was inevitable. It is unclear why it took Boris Johnson so long to reach this conclusion The virus is out of control and our NHS is increasingly at risk of being overwhelmed by an exponential rise in cases, with COVID admissions to hospitals now significantly higher than any time during this pandemic.
“The new variant of the virus is spreading quickly – the only way to get the virus under control is a full national lockdown, as well as the Government taking every step possible to rapidly accelerate the vaccine programme. I continue to call the on the Government to make wearing masks mandatory outdoors when in queues, streets and other crowded places outside. To Limit the risk of new variants spreading, we need more rigorous testing and quarantine rules put in place at our borders and airports. It is also crucial that greater financial support is provided to businesses, the self-employed and those self-isolating which is still woefully insufficient.
“Tonight’s announcement means more difficult weeks ahead for our city. Londoners have already made huge sacrifices, but once again I urge each and every Londoner to follow the rules. Stay at home, protect the NHS and help to save lives.”
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