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Mandatory quarantine hotels for travellers from 22 countries

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Written by: Emma Lunn
27/01/2021
Arrivals from the ‘red list’ countries, with known coronavirus variants, will be placed in quarantine in government-provided accommodation.

Prime minister Boris Johnson announced the new rules to MPs in the House of Commons this afternoon.

The rule will affect UK nationals and residents arriving from South Africa, Portugal and a number of countries in South America. Other travel from these countries is now banned.

Travellers will have to pay for their stay in quarantine hotels. Regular coronavirus tests will be carried out during the quarantine period.

Johnson told MPs: “I want to make clear that under the stay at home regulations, it is illegal to leave home to travel abroad for leisure purposes. And we will enforce this at ports and airports by asking people why they are leaving and instructing them to return home if they do not have a valid reason to travel.

“We have also banned all travel from 22 countries where there is a risk of known variants including South Africa, Portugal and South American nations. And in order to reduce the risk posed by UK nationals and residents returning home from these countries, I can announce that we will require all such arrivals who cannot be refused entry to isolate in government provided accommodation, such as hotels, for 10 days without exception. They will be met at the airport and transported directly into quarantine.”

Johnson said the Department of Health and Social Care was working to establish quarantine facilities “as quickly as possible”.

Arrivals to England already need to take a pre-departure coronavirus test and self-isolate for 10 days when they enter the country, regardless of where they’ve travelled from. All travel corridors are now closed.

The quarantine hotel move has been widely expected this week. Countries such as Australia and New Zealand have been obligating arrivals to stay in quarantine hotels since last year.

Full details of the plan will be announced next week. Home secretary Priti Patel said people wanting to leave the UK will have to make a written declaration as to why they need to travel. Going on holiday will not be an acceptable reason.

She also said there will be a review of the current exemptions that apply to travel bans.

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