UK Science Advisors Call for GPS Phone Tracking to Enforce Coronavirus Quarantines

CCTV cameras operate in Whitehall, London on August 16, 2019. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP) (Photo credit should read TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images

The British government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has suggested using GPS tracking to surveil travellers who are quarantining upon arriving in the United Kingdom.

The UK’s health quango said that “electronic monitoring” could replace the need for travellers to be quarantined in hotels, which the government has said will need to be mandatory to halt new waves of coronavirus variants entering the country.

Government sources told The Times on Monday, that while there are currently no plans to track arrivals through their mobile phones, the government is increasingly under pressure to develop a solution to keep international travel open while preventing further outbreaks.

In minutes recorded from a January 21st meeting, SAGE said that “digital methods may also be possible” in addition to the forced quarantines. However, they went on to note that there would be “challenges” with electronic tracking. There is presently no law to compel people inside the United Kingdom to carry their mobile phones with them at all times.

Despite privacy concerns, the British public is apparently overwhelmingly in favour of the government tracking international travellers under quarantine. A YouGov poll conducted in January found that 70 per cent of respondents would back such a measure.

Polls have consistently shown that large segments of the public support sacrificing privacy rights and liberties in favour of the supposed safety provided by stricter lockdowns.

A separate YouGov poll last month found that 45 per cent of respondents would even be willing to allow the government to track the phones of British citizens to enforce a lockdown, with 42 per cent against.

Last week, the government announced that from February 15th, international travellers would be required to quarantine in hotels.

However, an analysis conducted by The Telegraph found that as many as 205,000 people from countries with novel variants of the coronavirus are likely to enter the country prior to the mandatory quarantine scheme.

The government has reportedly looking to reserve some 28,000 hotel rooms for an “initial” quarantine period from Feb 15th to March 31st, with a £55 million downpayment to hotel firms.

The money will supposedly be reimbursed to the government from travellers, yet there is no mechanism set in place to recoup money from delinquents.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has increasingly come under fire for its lax attitude towards sealing off the nation’s borders, even drawing criticism from the typically pro-mass migration Labour Party.

Last week, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “More dither and delay is unacceptable. The British people demand we protect our borders — we must act now.”

“People are absolutely incredulous as to how the country is closed yet our borders are open,” a Labour Party source said, adding: “It doesn’t make any sense. The Home Secretary can’t credibly talk tough on borders and then leave us exposed to mutations.”

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