Coronavirus: Passengers from Italy not checked at UK airports

The British Government has been slammed as having a ‘half-hearted’ approach to tacking coronavirus as passengers returning from Italy will not be screened, despite the whole country going into lockdown.

Passengers arriving from coronavirus-ridden regions of northern Italy said there were no checks on landing in the UK as British Airways, Ryanair and EasyJet are still flying passengers to and from the quarantined regions. 

The whole of Italy was put under a strict lockdown as the government tries to battle the rapid spread of the deadly bug, which has killed 3,600 worldwide and has infected more than 100,000.

Despite Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte imposing stricter restrictions on travel, people returning to Britain will not be screened for the virus.

Former Cabinet minister Rory Stewart, who is running for London mayor, criticised the Government response to the outbreak.

Mr Stewart said: ‘All passengers coming from hotspots should be tested and quarantined. There is no justification for half-hearted measures.’

The death toll in Italy increased by 133 to 366 yesterday while the number of cases skyrocketed from 1,492 to 7,375. The UK has confirmed 321 coronavirus cases and four deaths.

Return flights to Milan – one of the cities under lockdown – are still being offered by Ryanair, EasyJet and British Airways and are all available to book online while Public Health England confirmed arrivals would not be put in quarantine. 

PHE said cabin crew have been trained to spot and report symptoms – despite having no medical qualifications. 

They did not expand on the nature or extent of the training. Coronavirus can be spread even if the patient is showing no symptoms.  

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: ‘With the Italian government set to extend severe restrictions across the whole of Italy, UK travellers need urgent information about how this will affect their plans.

‘There must be an improvement on the speed with which this information is provided, and there should not be a repeat of the confusion passengers experienced when the restrictions for Milan, Venice and Lombardy were initially announced.

‘Airlines must do the right thing and allow passengers, who will understandably not want to travel, to cancel for a refund, or rebook at a later date or on a different flight.’ 

Passengers arriving from coronavirus-ridden regions of northern Italy said there were no checks on landing in the UK as British Airways, Ryanair and EasyJet are still flying passengers to and from the quarantined regions. Pictured: Passengers arriving in Gatwick airport today

Passengers arriving from coronavirus-ridden regions of northern Italy said there were no checks on landing in the UK as British Airways, Ryanair and EasyJet are still flying passengers to and from the quarantined regions. Pictured: Passengers arriving in Gatwick airport today

Passengers arriving from coronavirus-ridden regions of northern Italy said there were no checks on landing in the UK as British Airways, Ryanair and EasyJet are still flying passengers to and from the quarantined regions. Pictured: Passengers arriving in Gatwick airport today

Two mask-clad passengers arrive in Gatwick Airport in London today after it was revealed that flights from coronavirus-hit regions of northern Italy would still run

Two mask-clad passengers arrive in Gatwick Airport in London today after it was revealed that flights from coronavirus-hit regions of northern Italy would still run

Two mask-clad passengers arrive in Gatwick Airport in London today after it was revealed that flights from coronavirus-hit regions of northern Italy would still run

Jose de Arcos, 32, (left, pictured with fellow traveller Giorgia Grisot) said there were no temperature checks when he landed in Stansted from quarantined Turin today

Jose de Arcos, 32, (left, pictured with fellow traveller Giorgia Grisot) said there were no temperature checks when he landed in Stansted from quarantined Turin today

Jose de Arcos, 32, (left, pictured with fellow traveller Giorgia Grisot) said there were no temperature checks when he landed in Stansted from quarantined Turin today

The Foreign Office and PHE confirmed that nationals returning from northern Italy - the worse-affected region - will not be met by anyone at the airport in Britain, nor will they be put into quarantine or told to take a test for the bug. Pictured: A man wears a mask at Gatwick's arrivals hall this morning

The Foreign Office and PHE confirmed that nationals returning from northern Italy - the worse-affected region - will not be met by anyone at the airport in Britain, nor will they be put into quarantine or told to take a test for the bug. Pictured: A man wears a mask at Gatwick's arrivals hall this morning

The Foreign Office and PHE confirmed that nationals returning from northern Italy – the worse-affected region – will not be met by anyone at the airport in Britain, nor will they be put into quarantine or told to take a test for the bug. Pictured: A man wears a mask at Gatwick’s arrivals hall this morning

A passenger wearing a mask makes his way through Gatwick airport as the number of coronavirus cases world-wide exceeds 100,000

A passenger wearing a mask makes his way through Gatwick airport as the number of coronavirus cases world-wide exceeds 100,000

A woman also dons a mask as she pulls a suitcase through Gatwick airport in London

A woman also dons a mask as she pulls a suitcase through Gatwick airport in London

Two passengers wear masks as they make their way through Gatwick airport as the number of coronavirus cases world-wide exceeds 100,000

London-based bartender Matteo Aprire, 26, arrived into Gatwick on an EasyJet flight from Milan and said he was able to walk free from the airport without any testing. 

Simone Farimon, who works in Kensington, south west London, said that Venice was completely deserted before he flew to Gatwick this morning and no checks were made on him nor other passengers when he landed.

The 32-year-old marble salesman said: ‘There were no checks here, no checks where I started. 

‘I saw some cameras here, and I am a little bit sure they are monitoring us on those, but nobody actually checking us.’

Jose de Arcos, 32, said there were no temperature checks when he landed in Stansted from quarantined Turin today.

Mr de Arcos said: ‘There were temperature checks in and out in Italy but not in Stansted. We were in Turin and there were empty restaurants as it is a yellow area everyone is being cautious and staying at home.’ 

What measures are in place to stop people leaving quarantined-regions of Italy spreading coronavirus in Britain?

Public Health England said all cabin crew are briefed on coronavirus symptoms and what to do if someone reports feeling ill onboard a flight. 

The captain is to call ahead to warn of any sickness and a risk assessment will be carried out before passengers are let off the plane.

It is possible to transmit the virus without any symptoms. 

A ‘bespoke poster for Italy’ will be given to travellers from the country to inform them of what areas are affected.

Information on symptoms and actions to take are provided to passengers.

This protocol has been in place for northern Italy since March 4 and will be rolled out for the whole of Italy by March 11.

Heathrow airport have ‘enhanced thorough cleaning processes and increased the amount of hand sanitisers for staff.

Giorgia Grisot, 30, who travelled with Mr de Arcos, said: ‘Both flights were half empty, we were only there for a couple of days, it was more family reasons I had to help there.’

Newlyweds Sam, 34, and Jasmine Welsch, 30, from Venice said they were expecting to be checked when they landed in the UK.

Mr Welsch said: ‘We were checked when we went into Venice, I was expecting a bit more when we landed n Stansted.’ 

In Manchester Airport, passengers reported no checks provided on landing at all.

Patience Amponsah, 24 said: ‘I was in Vicenza for seven months, there were no tests before I came back.’

Singh Manspreet, 31, said: ‘I was a bit worried but we were away from Milan, there were no cases where we were.

‘I am a little worried, I’m in the UK for ten to 20 days. There were no tests. People in Italy are very worried.’ 

Nullin Divecha, 57, who flew into Gatwick, said: ‘There was some information about washing our hands when we were leaving the plane – that was about it. 

‘There was nobody waiting for us when we got off the plane.’   

Italian Roberto Iotti, 56, who has lived in London for a decade, said: ‘There was an announcement on the plane to be careful about the virus. 

‘There were only 20 people on the plane. I have called 111, and I’m going to self-isolate for the next couple of weeks. 

‘I was surprised they didn’t check my temperature. It’s very dangerous now – it’s better to escape from Italy.’

The Foreign Office and PHE confirmed that nationals returning from northern Italy – the worse-affected region – will not be met by anyone at the airport in Britain, nor will they be put into quarantine or told to take a test for the bug.

In Manchester Airport, passengers reported no checks provided on landing at all. Patience Amponsah, 24 said: 'I was in Vicenza for seven months, there were no tests before I came back'

In Manchester Airport, passengers reported no checks provided on landing at all. Patience Amponsah, 24 said: 'I was in Vicenza for seven months, there were no tests before I came back'

In Manchester Airport, passengers reported no checks provided on landing at all. Patience Amponsah, 24 said: ‘I was in Vicenza for seven months, there were no tests before I came back’

Passengers wearing protective face masks are seen in Malpensa airport near Milan, Italy

Passengers wearing protective face masks are seen in Malpensa airport near Milan, Italy

Passengers wearing protective face masks are seen in Malpensa airport near Milan, Italy

Passengers in Malpensa airport, near Milan, wait for their flight after British Airways said it is still flying passengers to and from coronavirus-ridden regions of northern Italy

Passengers in Malpensa airport, near Milan, wait for their flight after British Airways said it is still flying passengers to and from coronavirus-ridden regions of northern Italy

Passengers in Malpensa airport, near Milan, wait for their flight after British Airways said it is still flying passengers to and from coronavirus-ridden regions of northern Italy

Three British skiers have been hospitalized in Austria with coronavirus after contracting the most ‘aggressive virus strain’ in Italy 

Three British skiers have been hospitalized with coronavirus in Austria after contracting a more aggressive strain of the killer bug, reports suggest.  

Three men – aged 61, 44 and 49 – had been staying in Italy before going to a busy ski resort in Saalbach in the middle of the winter season.

The seven other people in men’s group who have not been infected remain quarantined at the VIP resort. 

The rest of the hotel’s guests, its staff and owner all tested negative and have not been quarantined. 

Saalbach is currently hosting the Alpine Skiing World Cup – a hugely popular event that attracts spectators from around the world.

Austria currently has 99 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

The coronavirus death toll in Italy increased by 133 to 366 yesterday while the number of cases skyrocketed from 1,492 to 7,375.

The bug has killed 3,500 worldwide and has infected more than 100,000.

Dr Richard Greil, who is in charge of the quarantine of the three skiers, said that all the cases seen in the region were coming from Italy, which he described as being ‘completely out of control.’

It is widely speculated that Italy has a stronger variant of the virus – known as the ‘L’ variant – but there is no concrete evidence for this.   

Meanwhile EasyJet will cancel some flights to and from the region up until April 3 – when the lockdown affecting 16 million people and covering much of the north – including Milan will end. 

British Airways are ‘reviewing their schedule’ and have offered customers travelling from the quarantined zone full refunds.

Customers who booked with BA – which has already scrapped hundreds of long-haul flights due to the killer bug – before April 2 have the option to change their booking up to another date up to the end of May, or to fly via Zurich or Geneva instead.  

Mrs Welsch added: ‘We got there yesterday it was meant to be our honeymoon, we saw the news last night and decided to come home as we didn’t want to be stuck out there.

‘We just thought about getting home as everything is closed. We were supposed to be there until Thursday but we have kids at home.’

An Australian traveller, who did not want to be named was also flying back from Northern Italy and said she was not checked upon arrival in Stansted.

She said: ‘I was really surprised, I thought there were going to be checks. There were signs at passport control saying if you have symptoms to stay indoors.’ 

BA previously axed hundreds of short-haul flights to destinations across Europe – including Italy – after the coronavirus outbreak lead to plummeting demand for international travel.

Budget airlines Ryanair and EasyJet also previously announced a dramatic cut to flights to and from the region.

Italy’s flag carrier Alitalia have cancelled all flights from Milan and will limit its operations to a handful of domestic flights. Flights from Venice are still operational.

The FCO advises against ‘all but essential travel’ to the quarantined areas which includes Lombardy and 11 other provinces.

Two people wearing protective face masks in Malpensa airport. Passengers returning home from the worst-hit regions are not being checked upon landing

Two people wearing protective face masks in Malpensa airport. Passengers returning home from the worst-hit regions are not being checked upon landing

Two people wearing protective face masks in Malpensa airport. Passengers returning home from the worst-hit regions are not being checked upon landing

A map showing the latest number of infections and deaths in the world's major coronavirus hotspots, including Italy

A map showing the latest number of infections and deaths in the world's major coronavirus hotspots, including Italy

A map showing the latest number of infections and deaths in the world’s major coronavirus hotspots, including Italy

The death toll from coronavirus in Italy increased by 133 to 366 yesterday while the number of cases skyrocketed from 1,492 to 7,375. Pictured: People wearing protective masks queue in Malpensa airport

The death toll from coronavirus in Italy increased by 133 to 366 yesterday while the number of cases skyrocketed from 1,492 to 7,375. Pictured: People wearing protective masks queue in Malpensa airport

The death toll from coronavirus in Italy increased by 133 to 366 yesterday while the number of cases skyrocketed from 1,492 to 7,375. Pictured: People wearing protective masks queue in Malpensa airport

Return flights to Milan - one of the cities under lockdown - are still being offered by Ryanair, EasyJet and British Airways and are all available to book online (stock image)

Return flights to Milan - one of the cities under lockdown - are still being offered by Ryanair, EasyJet and British Airways and are all available to book online (stock image)

Return flights to Milan – one of the cities under lockdown – are still being offered by Ryanair, EasyJet and British Airways and are all available to book online (stock image)

An Italian military police officer checks the documents of a motorist travelling with his dog in San Fiorano, with authorities today imposing checkpoints to enforce a drastic new quarantine

An Italian military police officer checks the documents of a motorist travelling with his dog in San Fiorano, with authorities today imposing checkpoints to enforce a drastic new quarantine

An Italian military police officer checks the documents of a motorist travelling with his dog in San Fiorano, with authorities today imposing checkpoints to enforce a drastic new quarantine 

A stop sign and a roadblock stand in the way of motorists on a road in San Fiarino, northern Italy, which is under lockdown

A stop sign and a roadblock stand in the way of motorists on a road in San Fiarino, northern Italy, which is under lockdown

A stop sign and a roadblock stand in the way of motorists on a road in San Fiarino, northern Italy, which is under lockdown

But Britons ‘are free to return home or complete their holiday’. Nationals who do return home will not be put into quarantine or told to take a test for coronavirus.

The Foreign Office advises 14 days of self isolation once back in Britain – but there is nothing stopping people from using public transport or entering crowded places on their way home.

Public Health England said all cabin crew are briefed on coronavirus symptoms and what to do if someone reports feeling ill onboard a flight.

It is possible to transmit the virus without any symptoms.

The captain is to call ahead to warn of any illness and a risk assessment will be carried out before passengers are let off the plane.

A ‘bespoke poster for Italy’ will be given to travellers from Italy to inform them of what areas are affected.

This is a drastically different response to the return of Britons from Wuhan – the epicentre of the outbreak – who were quarantined for 14 days in an isolation compound.

Police check a woman's belongings by the side of a road in San Fiorano at a checkpoint where a lockdown is being enforced

Police check a woman's belongings by the side of a road in San Fiorano at a checkpoint where a lockdown is being enforced

Police check a woman’s belongings by the side of a road in San Fiorano at a checkpoint where a lockdown is being enforced

While regions of Italy are under an extreme quarantine in which people face a three-month prison sentence for leaving locked-down areas, Britons in the coronavirus-ridden zone are free to travel home without facing penalties. Pictured: Travellers at Linate, Milan’s city airport

The Foreign Office confirmed that British tourists in the northern parts of the country 'are free to return home or complete their holiday' under guidelines from the Italian government. Pictured: Linate airport in Milan

The Foreign Office confirmed that British tourists in the northern parts of the country 'are free to return home or complete their holiday' under guidelines from the Italian government. Pictured: Linate airport in Milan

The Foreign Office confirmed that British tourists in the northern parts of the country ‘are free to return home or complete their holiday’ under guidelines from the Italian government. Pictured: Linate airport in Milan

A passenger wearing a protective face mask, amid concerns about coronavirus, walks in Linate Airport in Milan

A passenger wearing a protective face mask, amid concerns about coronavirus, walks in Linate Airport in Milan

A passenger wearing a protective face mask, amid concerns about coronavirus, walks in Linate Airport in Milan

The foreign office advises 14 days of self isolation once back in Britain. Pictured: Those in the orange regions are advised against all but essential travel by Britain's Foreign Office

The foreign office advises 14 days of self isolation once back in Britain. Pictured: Those in the orange regions are advised against all but essential travel by Britain's Foreign Office

The foreign office advises 14 days of self isolation once back in Britain. Pictured: Those in the orange regions are advised against all but essential travel by Britain’s Foreign Office

Passengers depart from a train in Naples arriving from Milan as people scrambled to flee from quarantined regions of northern Italy after the government imposed a lockdown

Passengers depart from a train in Naples arriving from Milan as people scrambled to flee from quarantined regions of northern Italy after the government imposed a lockdown

Passengers depart from a train in Naples arriving from Milan as people scrambled to flee from quarantined regions of northern Italy after the government imposed a lockdown

Mass panic swept in after the Italian government imposed a quarantine affecting 16 million people in the country's northern region in a bid to combat the spread of deadly coronavirus. Pictured: People queue at bus stations trying to leave Lampugnano

Mass panic swept in after the Italian government imposed a quarantine affecting 16 million people in the country's northern region in a bid to combat the spread of deadly coronavirus. Pictured: People queue at bus stations trying to leave Lampugnano

Mass panic swept in after the Italian government imposed a quarantine affecting 16 million people in the country’s northern region in a bid to combat the spread of deadly coronavirus. Pictured: People queue at bus stations trying to leave Lampugnano

Panicked shoppers queue to buy food in Via Rubattino, Milan, after it was announced that multiple regions of northern Italy would be quarantined

Panicked shoppers queue to buy food in Via Rubattino, Milan, after it was announced that multiple regions of northern Italy would be quarantined

Panicked shoppers queue to buy food in Via Rubattino, Milan, after it was announced that multiple regions of northern Italy would be quarantined

A woman sleeps wearing a protective face mask on a bus as she waits to leave Milan

A woman sleeps wearing a protective face mask on a bus as she waits to leave Milan

One traveller wearing a face masks sits on a bus as it gets ready to leave Lampugnano, Milan

One traveller wearing a face masks sits on a bus as it gets ready to leave Lampugnano, Milan

People on buses wear protective face masks as they wait to flee Lampugnano, Milan, after the area was put on lockdown

Police officers and carabinieri talking with relatives as inmates protest in the Poggioreale prison in Naples during a protest

Police officers and carabinieri talking with relatives as inmates protest in the Poggioreale prison in Naples during a protest

Police officers and carabinieri talking with relatives as inmates protest in the Poggioreale prison in Naples during a protest 

The protest at Poggioreale prison flared up because of the announced suspension of talks on the fight against coronavirus infection

The protest at Poggioreale prison flared up because of the announced suspension of talks on the fight against coronavirus infection

The protest at Poggioreale prison flared up because of the announced suspension of talks on the fight against coronavirus infection

A man having his temperature screened outside the Allianz Stadium  in Turin ahead of a football match as the number of coronavirus cases grows around the world

A man having his temperature screened outside the Allianz Stadium  in Turin ahead of a football match as the number of coronavirus cases grows around the world

A man having his temperature screened outside the Allianz Stadium  in Turin ahead of a football match as the number of coronavirus cases grows around the world

The killer disease has gripped Italy where the number of cases rose by 1,247 in the last 24 hours – the country’s biggest daily increase in cases since the outbreak began – taking the total to 5,883.

 Another 36 people died as a result of the virus in Italy, bring the death toll to 233 in the largest outbreak in Europe.

The foreign office claim they are ‘working really closely with the Italian authorities to understand the implications of what these restrictions are’ for Britons in Italy. 

A spokesman added: ‘We advise all British nationals to follow our travel advice for Italy, which is under constant review. 

‘The safety of British nationals is always our number one priority.’

People scrambled to flee quarantined regions after the announcement with airports and bus stations still running.

They were transported back in a secure plane with a separate cabin for anyone displaying symptoms and those who display symptoms on landing were transferred to an NHS hospital. 

A BA spokesperson said: ‘Following the change to the UK Government travel advice for Northern Italy, we are reviewing our schedule, and have contacted all customers who are due to travel today.

‘We are also offering customers booked to fly before April 2, the option to change their booking up to another date up to the end of May, or to fly via Zurich or Geneva instead.’

An EasyJet spokesperson said: ‘We will provide a further update on our schedule in due course.’

The Italian government yesterday announced a lockdown in a desperate bid to combat the spread of deadly coronavirus.

Anyone who flouts the quarantine rules – in which no-one can leave the ‘orange zone’ without a serious reason – could face three months in prison or a fine of up to 206 euros (around £178). 

A woman with a trolley full of shopping can be seen in Via Rubattino, Milan. People frantically rush to stockpile goods after the country's northern regions were put on lock down

A woman with a trolley full of shopping can be seen in Via Rubattino, Milan. People frantically rush to stockpile goods after the country's northern regions were put on lock down

A woman with a trolley full of shopping can be seen in Via Rubattino, Milan. People frantically rush to stockpile goods after the country’s northern regions were put on lock down

Staff check the temperature of a man before he goes into the AC Milan and Genoa CFC game at San Siro, Milan, yesterday

Staff check the temperature of a man before he goes into the AC Milan and Genoa CFC game at San Siro, Milan, yesterday

Staff check the temperature of a man before he goes into the AC Milan and Genoa CFC game at San Siro, Milan, yesterday

While information about the penalty for breaking the rules was released, confusion still reigned from Milan to Venice as residents and tourists tried to figure out exactly when and how the new rules were coming into effect. 

Travellers rushed to train stations and crammed aboard standing-room-only trains, tucking their faces into scarves and sharing sanitizing gel.

News of the impending quarantine was leaked to media early prompting further chaos as people rushed to get out of the affected areas.

Under the quarantine, bars and restaurants will remain open but must ensure that everyone is seated at least a three feet apart or face being shut down.

Weddings and funerals are also forbidden under the new rules.

A Heathrow Airport spokesperson said: ‘The welfare of our passengers and colleagues is our top priority. 

‘A dedicated Public Health England team is operating at Heathrow to respond to any incidents at the airport, and we are working closely with them to ensure our colleagues are following their latest guidance in its entirety to protect themselves and our passengers. 

‘In line with Public Health England’s advice, we have enhanced thorough cleaning processes, increased the availability and provision of hand sanitisers for our colleagues and continue to advise anyone working or travelling through the airport to follow the Government’s advice to maintain good hand hygiene.’

A RyanAir spokesperson said: ‘We are following guidelines issued by the Italian government and the WHO (World Health Organization).’

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