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The problem of the last mile

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Saturday evening’s announcement that, from the early hours of the following day, all travellers arriving in the UK from Spanish territories, would have to self-isolate left many surprised and more dismayed. We can’t accuse the Government of acting slowly or indecisively on this one.

Still, one is left wondering how many brain cells they exercised in reaching the decision. In the UK, the media has mainly focused on UK holiday makers but what about Spaniards coming over here and discovering that they have to find a way to spend perhaps their whole trip in isolation (or do we just turn them back at the gates)? For UK holiday makers, it is a blow too. Some can happily sit at home for a fortnight when they get back but that won’t be true of all. If the Spanish side of the journey started in a current hotspot, it is understandable, but what about those travelling from the many areas where the infection rate is below that of the UK?

In particular, I am wondering about the problem of the last mile(s). If the logic is that speedy, decisive action needs to be taken because of the risk to the nation, how are we helping travellers get from their arrival gate to their home without spreading infection? Have we got measures in place to avoid issues if they need to fill up with petrol or pick up essential supplies? Couldn’t we at least test them all on arrival and then repeat that after a few days to give time for any infection to show?

I’m not planning to go abroad anytime soon – any trip itinerary is likely to be curtailed by the virus and this kind of quarantine is a significant risk. However, since the Government gave the go ahead for travel to restart, I think it should be demonstrating deeper thinking in its actions when it feels the ‘air bridges’ need to be shut again.