Home Secretary Priti Patel took the lead in tonight’s coronavirus press briefing in prime minister Boris Johnson’s absence.
During a segment on those travelling to the UK – in which she announced strict new measures for those arriving in England – she said the number of passenger arrivals in the UK was down 99% during lockdown.
So, how many people actually have arrived since that day on Monday 23rd March?
Professor John Aston, the chief scientific adviser at the Home Office who attends meetings of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told MPs on 13 May that between 1 April and 26 April there were 95,000 arrivals into the UK by air, of whom about 53,000 were UK citizens.
However, in a recent interview with Good Morning Britain, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that the figure was about 15,000 a day – which is significantly higher. This interview was on April 16, so there is plenty of confusion and unreliability surrounding these numbers.
Professor Aston’s evidence has been echoed for just over a week while the government prepared today’s enforced 14-day quarantine for arrivals – a policy many have suggested would have been more appropriate prior to the UK lockdown.
Ten days before the lockdown was imposed, the government stopped issuing guidance at the border to arrivals from specific countries – including from Italy and China – to self-isolate, and until today, there has been little intervention other than leaflets and posters.
Heathrow’s traffic statistics show that 206,000 passengers used the airport through the entirety of April, but those numbers also include departures.
More to follow.