More than 300,000 have been suspected of flouting COVID-19 self-isolation rules after arriving in England and Northern Ireland between March and May, according to case files submitted to investigators and seen by the BBC.
The BBC said in its report that the UK government was not able to say how many of those 300,000 were found to have broken the rules or could not be traced.
England in July lifted the requirement for fully vaccinated Britons returning from medium-risk countries to have to quarantine. Visitors from the EU and United States with the same status are also exempted.
However, arrivals from high-risk countries – deemed “red list” in the UK – had to quarantine in a hotel. Those coming from “amber list” – or medium-risk countries – were required to self-quarantine for 10 days and provide evidence of negative COVID tests.
According to the BBC, figures from March 17 to May 31 shows a total of 301,076 cases were referred to investigators for checks on whether they were self-isolating or not. Those self-isolating were called on the phone by call handlers employed by the UK Department of Health and Social Care to check whether they were following the rules or not.
“Cases where the contact ended the call, refused to co-operate, indicated they would break the quarantine or testing rules, or could not be contacted after three attempts were referred to investigators at the Border Force Criminal Justice Unit and the police,” the BBC reported.
Expectations are growing that there will be a simplification of those travel rules, after Health Minister Sajid Javid said on Sunday that he wanted to “get rid of” expensive PCR tests for travelers as soon as possible.
(With inputs from Reuters)