Fresh off a U-turn over an NHS surcharge for migrant healthcare workers, the government appears willing to make further reforms to the immigration system. At this afternoon’s press conference, Home Secretary Priti Patel was asked, first, whether the government would consider handing British citizenship to health and social care workers that have come to the UK from abroad, and second, whether the government would offer automatic visa extensions to migrant care workers, cleaners, and porters (current extensions only apply to doctors and nurses).
While Patel did not reveal specific plans, Patel suggested she actively wants to make changes. She is “looking at various schemes”, she said, and wants to “simplify some of these rules”. She would work with the Department of Health to see “what we can do in this particular space”, she added. It’s not a promise, but it is a hint that yesterday’s U-turn was a taste of more to come.
During the briefing, Patel announced that quarantine rules for new arrivals to the UK would come into force on 8 June. Anyone failing to comply faces a £1,000 fine and, ultimately, deportation. If anyone arrives without a named address where they can quarantine, the government will arrange accommodation, but if the new arrival can’t pay, they may be refused entry.
In other news, a wide-ranging review of current evidence suggested children and teenagers are half as likely to catch coronavirus than adults, and Downing Street hinted that London could ease lockdown measures faster than the rest of the country.