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UK to introduce hotel quarantine in mid-February

Arrivals into Heathrow from 33 countries must enter hotel quarantine from February 15.

The British government has been under pressure this week to reveal its plans for mandatory hotel quarantine.

It was announced last week that travellers arriving from a ‘red list’ of countries will eventually be expected to isolate in a designated hotel for ten days, similar to quarantine requirements already in place in Australia, New Zealand and many Asian destinations.

So far, no further announcements about the programme have been made.

However, it was revealed in papers leaked to the British media yesterday that the government is currently in talks with airport hotels to reserve more than 28,000 rooms close to ten key UK airports and other ports of entry, including Heathrow and the Eurostar terminal, as well as Gatwick, London City Airport, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Farnborough, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen. It’s estimated that around 1,500 passengers will need to enter quarantine a day.

The leaked document also revealed that the government is planning to start hotel quarantine from February 15, with plans for it to run until at least March 31.

The quarantine will last for eleven nights at a cost of around GBP800 per person. Travellers will be asked to take a Covid-19 test on days two and eight and they must also have a negative Covid test certificate to enter the UK. Travellers will only be allowed to exit hotel quarantine if they have tested negative.

Security guards in PPE will escort travellers from their port of entry to a designated hotel and further security will be posted on all hotel floors. Hotels will be expected to provide three meals a day and seven items of laundry but there will be no housekeeping service. Room service and extra laundry will be available at the expense of the quarantining traveller. It is unclear at this stage whether travellers will be allowed to exit their rooms to smoke or for fresh air.

Hotels will be assessed to check they are Covid secure, including one-way systems, screens at reception, keycard disinfection procedures, separate stairs and lifts for quarantining guests and adequate social distancing signage.

All quarantine hotel rooms will be provided with an ensuite bathroom, tea- and coffee-making facilities, a television or radio, Wifi and individual ventilation systems. Mini-fridges will be made available where possible. Rooms must be left empty for 72 hours after departure before being deep-cleaned and all rubbish must be quarantined for 24 hours before being removed.

There are currently 33 countries on the government’s red list. Arrivals from these areas or arrivals who have travelled to these areas in the last ten days, including for air transit, are banned from entering the UK. There are exemptions for British and Irish nationals who are permitted to enter the UK from these areas but must isolate for ten days after arrival. From February 15, these travellers must enter mandatory hotel quarantine. The red list will be constantly monitored and further areas added if necessary. So far there are no Asia or Asia Pacific-based countries on the list.

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