We should have had a robust quarantine system from start | Matt Mohan-Hickson

Quarantine rules should have been much tougher from the start, says MattQuarantine rules should have been much tougher from the start, says Matt
Quarantine rules should have been much tougher from the start, says Matt
In theory the idea of quarantine is a sound one. But then, so is communism. Unfortunately reality has this annoying habit of getting in the way of theories and ruining them.

If we had implemented a robust quarantine process for travellers arriving in the UK in late February/early March then perhaps our coronavirus death toll might not have been so tragic.

Alas, there is no point dwelling on what could have been. Instead, I have serious concerns about the quarantine system that has been introduced – and how utterly flimsy and unfit for purpose it is.

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I said earlier this year I felt it was an unnecessary risk to holiday abroad, doing shots in Magaluf can wait until 2021.

But for many people in this country they may have family abroad, or maybe they are British ex-pats living in Europe who are now unable to return at all.

Two of my housemates are from Spain and after the school year finished they decided to return home to see their loved ones, only to be surprised a day later with the quarantine.

Yet despite following all the rules when they returned, staying indoors for 14 days is a mammoth task I don’t envy and one of them was never even contacted. They both flew on different days and were surprised at the lack of temperature checks – or checks in general – on their return to Gatwick.

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If we aren’t going to bother enforcing the quarantine how many people are going to bother with it?

It seems like it’s a gesture at doing something without backing it up and punishes those who respect and follow the rules.

For example, one of my friends recently moved to France having lost his job at the start of lockdown. Now he lives in a foreign country away from his family and friends.

He was planning to return for a weekend but since France was added to the quarantine list he can’t do that because he can’t afford to spend two weeks in quarantine as he has a job to go back to, even though it is likely no-one would ever know if he followed the rules or not.

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It would be easier to take if quarantine was strictly enforced but it isn't.

A taste of the good old days as I brave a restaurant again

Having finally braved a trip to the cinema I have now visited a restaurant.

It was my housemate’s idea; he was desperate to take advantage of the final day of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

Having overcome my overwhelming fear of going anywhere that wasn’t the supermarket or the outdoors, I agreed to go. My housemate had booked a table for us at Leilamezze, Southsea. It was a wonderful evening, good food and great company. Yet it was the relief and feeling of normality that was my biggest takeaway from the evening.

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For a few hours I was able to experience a taste of life I had been deprived of for so many months.

Crazy numbers but Sunak’s scheme might have worked

The summer is usually reserved for blockbuster movies, a time when the latest Disney remake rules the box office. But in 2020 it was the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. I remember thinking it a tad ridiculous when it was announced.

But you can’t argue with its impact. Government figures say 64 million meals were claimed by August 25 – an insane number. But it rings true. When I went for a walk I was shocked at how busy restaurants were on the relevant nights.

Another of my housemates is from Portsmouth and his parents went out every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in August. People clearly bought into the scheme so fair play Rishi Sunak.

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