Quarantine hotel plans set to be announced
Government ministers are meeting today to discuss further travel measures amid concerns about new variants of Covid-19 originating overseas.
According to news reports, one idea is that travellers arriving in the UK will have to isolate in hotels for 10 days at their own expense.
It’s not yet clear whether the requirement is likely to just apply to people arriving from high-risk countries such as South Africa and South America, or all UK arrivals.
Several other countries, including Australia, New Zealand and China, introduced mandatory hotel quarantine last year. Travellers have to take regular Covid-19 tests while in quarantine, with their stay extended if they refuse to be tested.
Mandatory hotel quarantine will be another blow to the travel industry, and effectively write-off the 2021 summer holiday season.
The government closed all travel corridors on 18 January due to fears about new variants of Covid-19 being transmitted to the UK from abroad. This means all UK arrivals must self-isolate for 10 days.
In addition, anyone travelling to the UK must have a negative test before arriving – or face a £500 fine if they fail to take a test.
National restrictions for England introduced on 6 January 2021 ban all but essential travel.
Prime minister Boris Johnson has come under increasing criticism for not introducing stricter travel rules last year when the pandemic began.
Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, Labour’s shadow home secretary, said: “The Conservative government are again dragging their feet on setting vital protections at our borders, which must involve using hotels to help prevent the importation of further strains of the virus.
“Labour has been calling for a strategic approach to tackling this awful virus and the worrying strains that are now emerging. The lack of strategy means the UK continually acts too slowly and without proper planning in place.
“This continued failure is leaving the door open to new strains of Covid, putting people at risk and undermining the sacrifices everyone is making to address this virus.”