Britons returning to the UK from 33 countries will have to pay for hotel quarantine as part of measures to prevent new Covid variants reaching this country from South Africa and South America.
Home Secretary Priti Patel gave details in the House of Commons after the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, confirmed the measures.
Senior ministers met on the evening of Jan 26 to approve the plans for Australian-style hotel quarantine that will cost travellers up to £1,500 for 10 days self-isolating with meals served in their rooms and supervised by private security guards. Other measures being introduced include tougher border checks regarding reason for travelling.
Travellers entering the country from the selected high-risk destinations will be required to complete their quarantine under strict supervision.
Quarantine hotels, or ‘directed isolation’ facilities, are already in use across Asia, New Zealand and Australia. But how might the idea work in the UK, and exactly which arrivals will have to comply? Here’s what it could look like.
What is a quarantine hotel?
Travellers are confined to their rooms or apartments for the duration of their quarantine: usually 10-14 days, or until they have received two negative test results.
Guests must not leave their rooms, nor accept visitors – and even visiting the hotel’s communal areas is off-limits. Food is delivered directly to rooms, cooked either by the hotel or from a local takeaway service. If in-room facilities allow, guests may also prepare their own meals.
Any breaches usually carry a hefty fine: in Australia, the penalty is A$20,000 (£11,300). It is not known what the UK’s penalty would be, but self-isolation breaches currently entail a fine of at least £1,000. Government officials were recently ordered to study New Zealand’s policy of “directed isolation”.