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Covid-19: Stortford MP Julie Marson dismisses Labour calls for hotel quarantine for all new arrivals into the UK

Bishop’s Stortford’s MP has dismissed Labour calls for hotel quarantine for all new arrivals into the UK as “ hindsight and shadow boxing”.

Conservative Julie Marson defended her Government after Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds called for new blanket restrictions to control the coronavirus threat from abroad.

On Monday (Feb 1) it was revealed that new cases of the more contagious South African Covid-19 variant have been detected in Hertfordshire and elsewhere across the country, fuelling fears it is spreading in the community.

Julie Marson MP - Hertford and Stortford. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (44226026)
Julie Marson MP - Hertford and Stortford. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (44226026)

Mr Thomas-Symonds called on the Government “to immediately introduce a comprehensive hotel quarantine system for all arrivals into the UK, thereby securing the country against the import of new strains and maximising the effectiveness of the country’s vaccination programme”.

He also asked it to publish the scientific evidence which informed its decision not to introduce the blanket measure and to announce a support package for aviation, focused on employment and environmental improvements.

The Government prefers a limited 10-day hotel quarantine policy for those arriving from 33 high-risk countries including South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Portugal and Brazil.

Coronavirus variants (44226170)
Coronavirus variants (44226170)

Like her party colleagues, Mrs Marson took no part in the vote and said: "The Opposition’s motion is yet another mix of hindsight and shadow boxing around Government announcements. I back the Government’s strategy and fully support the agile approach they are taking, which allows us to react quickly in a perpetually changing environment.”

As part of Herts County Council’s response to the South African variant threat, surge testing of 10,000 people is under way in the EN10 postcode area of Broxbourne and a mobile centre has been set up at Paradise Wildlife Park, just within Mrs Marson’s Hertford and Stortford constituency.

She said: “It is right and proper that at a time when new variants are emerging across the world, we act to shore up our defences and maintain an agile approach that can react to changing circumstances, particularly in the light of the news on the South African variant, which is affecting part of my constituency.

“Suspending all travel corridors two weeks ago was a painful decision to take. We are a truly international nation, a travel hub, but it was the right decision.”

Stansted Airport terminal (44226188)
Stansted Airport terminal (44226188)

Mrs Marson said “huge progress” was being made in the country’s vaccination programme and paid tribute to the work being done at the newly opened Avanti Meadows Primary School centre and at Bishop’s Stortford Football Club to roll out protection.

She said: “With Herculean efforts and brilliant progress being made each day, we must not on any account become complacent now, but as I said, this decision and others like it come at a cost for the aviation sector in particular. I hold the ambition to safely open the airways as soon as possible. I am particularly keen to support Stansted Airport, where a number of my constituents work.

“We have a secure strategy in place to mitigate the risk of new variants entering the country, and this has been built from a solid platform that has protected our borders for many months.

"With the way in which these measures are now described by some Opposition members, though, I would forgive the public for believing that we have a great big sign on the door saying ‘All welcome – no matter what’, but that could not be further from the truth.

"We are requiring all passengers from abroad to present a negative test before departing for England; we are enforcing mandatory self-isolation periods for arrivals; we have suspended the travel corridors; we are introducing isolation in hotels for British citizens coming from red list countries; and we are increasing police checks, which will be helped by the extra police numbers in my constituency. We will also all continue to act on advice and take all factors into account.”

In all, 262 MPs voted in favour of the Labour motion on Covid security at UK borders and none voted against.

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