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Hotel quarantine to cost £1,750

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Written by: Emma Lunn
09/02/2021
Arrivals in England from 33 ‘red list’ countries who fail to quarantine in a government-designated hotel face fines of up to £10,000.

The costs have been announced by the government as it lays out details for the mandatory hotel quarantine regime which will begin on Monday (15 February).

UK and Irish residents returning from red list countries will have to pay for hotel stays, alongside travellers from other countries.

Anyone who tries to hide the fact they had been in a country on the red list in the 10 days before returning to the UK will face a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock set out the plan to MPs in the House of Commons, following criticism that the scheme was taking too long to introduce. The government announced plans for mandatory hotel quarantine on 27 January.

Quarantine and tests

The new hotel quarantine regime requires arrivals in England from red list countries to prove a negative test result 72 hours before they travel to the UK. They will then have to book their hotel stay online before they travel to the UK.

The £1,750 fee includes 10 days in a hotel, two Covid-19 tests, and escorted travel between the airport and their designated hotel.

The government has booked 4,600 rooms across 16 hotels, and plans to add more hotels in time.

Ministers acted after concerns that new coronavirus variants could be imported from abroad and spread across the UK.

Hancock told MPs: “It is of course illegal to travel abroad without a legally permitted reason to do so. So, it’s illegal to travel abroad for holidays and other leisure purposes.

“For the minority who are travelling for exceptional purposes, they will be subject to a specific compliance regime and end-to-end checks throughout the journey here.

“We’ve already banned travellers altogether from the 33 most concerning countries on our red list, where the risk of a new variant is greatest, unless they’re resident here. But even with these tough measures in place, we must strengthen our defences yet further.”

Hancock said the government had taken advice from Australia which has run mandatory hotel quarantine regime since last year.

Currently the hotel quarantine scheme only applies to England, but discussions are underway with the devolved administrations.

This booking system will go live on Thursday, when the government will also publish the full detailed guidance.

Passengers will only be able to enter the UK through a small number of ports that currently account for the vast majority of passenger arrivals.

When they arrive, they’ll be escorted to a designated hotel, which will be closed to guests who aren’t quarantining, for an initial period of 10 days. Travellers will have to stay in the hotel for longer if they test positive for Covid-19 during their stay.

People will need to remain in their rooms, and they won’t be allowed to mix with other guests. Security guards will ensure compliance.

Mandatory testing for all arrivals

Hancock also confirmed that those arriving from all countries – not just those on the red list – would now be required to take a PCR test on days two and eight after their arrival in the UK, as part of a 10-day quarantine period.

The tests will need to be booked online before travel. If either test comes back positive, the person will have to quarantine for a further 10 days from the date of the test and will be offered any NHS treatment deemed necessary.

Any positive result will automatically undergo genomic sequencing to confirm whether the person has a Covid variant of concern.

The existing Test to Release scheme can still be used from day five, but this would be in addition to the two mandatory tests.

Enforcement

Hancock said that passenger carriers will have a to ensure that passengers have signed up for these new arrangements before they travel, and will be fined if they don’t.

There will be tough fines for people who don’t comply.

These include:

  • a £1,000 penalty for any international arrival who fails to take a mandatory test
  • a £2,000 penalty to any international arrival who fails to take the second mandatory test, as well as automatically extending their quarantine period to 14 days
  • a £5,000 fixed penalty notice, rising to £10,000, for arrivals who fail to quarantine in a designated hotel
  • anyone who lies on a passenger locator form, and tries to conceal that they’ve been in a country on the red list in the 10 days before arrival in England, will face a prison sentence of up to 10 years

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