Britain introduces hotel quarantine for travel

Under lockdown rules, holidays are banned, and testing regimes and quarantine are already in place for travellers, but the UK government said on Tuesday (February 9) it would bring in extra measures due to the risk of new variants on which vaccines may not work.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said people could be sent to prison and fined up if they broke the rules which come into force on February 15.

"Anyone who lies on the passenger locator form and tries to conceal that they've been in a country on the 'red list' in the 10 days before arrival here, will face a prison sentence of up to 10 years," he told parliament.

British and Irish nationals arriving in England from the most high-risk countries, those on the "red list" such as South Africa, would need to pay £1,750, around $2,413, and spend the minimum 10-day quarantine in an assigned hotel, Hancock said.

Arrivals in England must currently have proof of a negative COVID-19 test in the past three days and then self isolate for 10 days from departure. The government would introduce a requirement for additional tests, Hancock said.

Video Transcript

MATT HANCOCK: But even with these tough measures in place, we must strengthen our defenses yet. We're setting up a new system of hotel quarantine for UK and Irish residents who've been in red list countries in the last 10 days.

In short, this means that any returning residents from these countries will have to quarantine in an assigned hotel room for 10 days from the time of arrival. Before they travel, they'll have to book through an online platform and pay for a quarantine package costing 1,750 pounds for an individual traveling alone, which includes the hotel, transport, and testing.

Anyone planning to travel to the UK from Monday needs to book these tests, and the online portal will go live on Thursday. If either of these post-arrival tests comes back positive, they'll have to quarantine for a further 10 days from the date of the test and will, of course, be offered any NHS treatment that's necessary.

Any positive result will automatically undergo genomic sequencing to confirm whether they have a variant of concern. Anyone who lies on the passenger locator form and tries to conceal that they've been in a country on the red list in the 10 days before arrival here will face a prison sentence of up to 10 years.