Coronavirus pandemic

Former PM Blair accused of breaking UK quarantine rules after US trip

Former British prime minister Tony Blair allegedly failed to self-isolate for two weeks following a trip to Washington.
Former British prime minister Tony Blair allegedly failed to self-isolate for two weeks following a trip to Washington.

LONDON • Former British prime minister Tony Blair has been accused of breaking the country's Covid-19 restrictions after failing to self-isolate for two weeks following a two-day trip to the United States, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

The newspaper said it had obtained pictures showing Mr Blair, who served as prime minister from 1997 to 2007, leaving a London restaurant 10 days after his return from Washington last month.

The Sunday Telegraph said it understood that Mr Blair had appealed to Whitehall officials for special dispensation from the Covid-19 rules, but that he was not issued with the formal exemption letter he would have needed to avoid a 14-day isolation period.

Mr Blair was in Washington for a White House ceremony at which Israel signed agreements establishing formal relations with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

The newspaper quoted a spokesman for Mr Blair as saying he was invited by the US government because of the role he played in the deal, describing the ceremony as a "diplomatic conference".

The spokesman also insisted Mr Blair "posed no risk to anyone" as he was tested before his departure, on arrival at the White House, and again several times since returning to Britain.

Several major figures have been accused of damaging public confidence in the British government's coronavirus response by breaking or appearing to break rules.

In May, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's most senior adviser, Mr Dominic Cummings, refused to quit after it emerged that he had driven 400km from London to northern England when all but essential travel was forbidden.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2020, with the headline 'Former PM Blair accused of breaking UK quarantine rules after US trip'. Print Edition | Subscribe