Britons returning to the UK from 33 countries will have to pay for hotel quarantine from February 15 as part of measures to prevent new Covid variants reaching this country.
Travellers will be expected to pick up the bill for their stay in one of the 16 hotels currently signed up to the scheme, Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed on February 9.
Mr Hancock said arrivals from ‘red-listed’ destinations will have to “book and pay for a quarantine package, costing £1,750” before they travel.
This package will include the cost of their hotel, transport and testing. It will be available to book via an online platform that will go live on February 11.
The Government is also planning to limit the right of entry to specific locations, which are thought to include Heathrow, Dover and Eurostar.
Travellers who try to conceal their arrival from a ‘red list’ country face jail sentences of up to 10 years. There will also be tough fines in place for those who try to evade hotel quarantine or fail to comply with a new triple testing system for travellers.
Other measures being introduced include tougher border checks regarding reason for travelling, while door to door testing will take place in some areas of England following the South African variant being discovered without any link to travel or known cases.
Government documents, leaked ahead of the latest announcement, revealed the strict conditions that will be imposed, including supervision by patrolling security guards. Mr Hancock confirmed that there will be “visible security” in place to ensure compliance.
Quarantine hotels, or ‘directed isolation’ facilities, are already in use across Asia, New Zealand and Australia. But how will the idea work in the UK, and exactly which arrivals will have to comply? Here’s what we know.
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.
Those returning from ‘red-listed’ countries to the UK will face 10 days in a quarantine hotel from their time of arrival.
People will need to remain in their rooms and will not be allowed to mix with other guests.
Security guards will be in place, alongside necessary support, said Mr Hancock “so even as we protect public health, we can look after the people in our care”.
Food will be 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.
Anyone who tries to avoid hotel quarantine will face a penalty of up to £10,000, said Mr Hancock.