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Britain cracks the whip over hotel quarantine

Arrivals into the UK from 33 countries must enter hotel quarantine from next week.

The British government has confirmed that it will be introducing a mandatory hotel quarantine from Monday, February 15 for arrivals from more than 30 countries, including Portugal, the Seychelles, Mauritius and the United Arab Emirates.

Health secretary Matt Hancock told parliament earlier today that British and Irish residents from the 33 ‘red list' countries will be expected to pay GBP1,750 for a ten-day hotel quarantine. The hotel fee includes the cost of two mandatory Covid tests while in quarantine and escorted travel from the airport to the traveller's designated hotel.

The UK government has so far secured 4,600 rooms in 16 hotels and is demanding that passengers book and pay online before travel. Hotel groups to have confirmed that they will be offering rooms include Accor and Best Western. Accor said in a statement that "discussions are well underway with Government and our hotels stand ready to support the call for quarantine... just as we have done in other countries."

According to Hancock, 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.” These ports are expected to include Heathrow, Dover and the Eurostar terminal.

“When they arrive, they’ll be escorted to a designated hotel, which will be closed to guests who aren’t quarantining, for ten days or for longer if they test positive for Covid-19 during their stay,” said Hancock.

Travellers will be expected to remain inside their rooms and there will be “visible security” to ensure compliance. Fines of up to GBP10,000 will be issued to passengers who fail to quarantine. Passengers who try to conceal that they have been in a red list country in the ten days prior to arriving in the UK will face a prison sentence of up to ten years.

All travellers, even if they're not arriving from a red list country, will be required to take a PCR test on days two and eight as part of the mandatory ten-day isolation period for all arrivals into the UK. These tests must be booked online before departure; an online booking portal will be made available from February 11. Fines of up to GBP2,000 will apply to anyone who fails to comply with the new testing requirements.

If a test returns a positive result, the traveller will be expected to quarantine for a further ten days. All positive results will automatically undergo genomic sequencing to confirm whether it was caused by a variant of concern.

The UK government is particularly worried by South African and Brazilian Covid variants which could be resistant to vaccines.

The Scottish government has confirmed that it will require all international travellers arriving directly on flights into Scotland to enter managed isolation.

The 33 red list countries currently include Angola, Argentina, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Cape Verde, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Eswatini, French Guiana, Guyana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Africa, Suriname, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Arrivals from these countries are banned from entering the UK unless they are British or Irish residents. It's believed that Kenya, Nigeria and Ethiopia may soon be added to the list.


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