The UK government will on Monday introduce mandatory hotel quarantine rules for arrivals from dozens of countries deemed “high risk” for coronavirus variants, as it tries to stop new strains spreading.
The new policy requires all UK citizens and permanent residents entering England from 33 countries on a wider travel ban list to self-isolate in approved hotels for 10 days and take several Covid-19 tests.
Other visitors from the countries currently on the so-called “red list”, which includes all South American nations, South Africa and Portugal, are currently barred from visiting under lockdown rules.
Arrivals found to have given false information about being in one of the countries 10 days before travel could receive up to 10 years in prison —which has drawn criticism for being excessive.
The government says it has signed contracts with 16 hotels so far, securing nearly 5,000 rooms near English airports, with a further 58,000 rooms on standby.
“The rules coming into force today will bolster the quarantine system and provide another layer of security against new variants at the border,” said Health Secretary Matt Hancock, adding that they would also protect the national vaccination programme as the country worked “towards restoring
The 11-night quarantine will cost people 1,750 ($2,420, 2,000 euros) and includes transport, food, accommodation and security costs, as well as other essential services and testing.
Passengers must have a negative Covid-19 test result from within three days of travel, and book and pay for the package before setting off for Britain.
They will then take further tests on day two and eight of their stays. The hotel occupants will only be able to leave their rooms in “very limited circumstances”, with exercise among them but requiring “special permission” from staff or security.
Anyone refusing to take tests risks a fine of between 1,000 and 2,000, while those who do not self-isolate could have to pay between 5,000 and 10,000.
A limited list of exemptions from the measures include hauliers travelling from Portugal, defence personnel, visiting forces, government contractors and diplomatic missions. -BSS