High-risk arrivals to UK must quarantine in hotels from Monday
Passengers arriving in the UK from coronavirus hot spots will be required to quarantine in government-managed hotel rooms for 10 days starting Monday, part of an effort to stop new strains of the virus entering the country.
Keeping out vaccine-resistant variants of Covid-19 is crucial to Prime Minister’s Boris Johnson plans to ease a third national lockdown that has closed schools and hit businesses still reeling from the deepest slump in three centuries.
The UK has now vaccinated 15 million people, a platform the government hopes to use to begin reopening the economy. Johnson wants children back at school on March 8 and has promised to announce a “road map” plotting a route out of the restrictions on Feb. 22.
The tough new quarantine rules apply to anyone who has visited any of 33 countries on a travel ban list in the previous 10 days. They include those where the South Africa variant of the disease is prevalent. Controversially, anyone who attempts to conceal visits to so-called red list countries could face up to 10 years in prison.
“As this deadly virus evolves, so must our defences,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in a statement. “The rules coming into force today will bolster the quarantine system and provide another layer of security against new variants at the border.”
The government has struck deals with 16 hotels so far, providing 4,963 rooms for the new quarantine system with a further 58,000 rooms on standby. The cost of a stay is 1,750 pounds ($2,425) for an individual traveler.
Non-U.K. residents from red list countries are currently banned from entering Britain. The exclusion does not apply to UK citizens returning from those countries, who are required to show a negative Covid-19 test and isolate for 10 days.