UK hotel quarantine to cost up to £1,750 and will be bookable from Thursday

Arrivals from every foreign country will face two additional Covid tests

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Tuesday 09 February 2021 18:37 GMT
Related Video: 22 countries on quarantine hotel list, Boris Johnson announces

“High-risk” arrivals to England from next Monday, 15 February, will be taken from airports to quarantine hotels, the health secretary has confirmed.

Matt Hancock told the Commons arriving travellers will pay for the room and meals themselves.

"Before they travel they’ll have to book a package costing £1,750 for an individual travelling alone," he said.

"They’ll be escorted to a designated hotel."

He said that 16 hotels, with a total of 4,600 rooms, had been contracted. Bookings will open on Thursday.

There will be visible security in place. Exercise – and smoking – will be allowed only under supervision.

Read more:10 years in prison if you hide your trip to ‘red zone’ country

Mr Hancock also said arrivals from every foreign country except Ireland will face two additional Covid tests: one on the second day after arrival, the next on the eighth day.

Fines of up to £10,000 will apply to arrivals who fails to undergo the stipulated hotel quarantine.

People who misrepresent their travel history on the passenger locator forms face up to 10 year in prison.

Later the Department of Health and Social Care contradicted the health secretary's assertion on cost.

"The charge for a single adult will be less than £1,750," the department said in an online statement.

"Bookings will be made through a dedicated online portal and will include: assigned government transportation; food and drinks; accommodation in a government-approved facility; security; welfare; testing."

The "test to release" system, allowing arrivals in England to leave quarantine with a negative test after five days, will continue – but the day eight test will be required.

Last month the government announced a so-called “red list” of 33 high-risk countries, including Portugal, the UAE and South Africa, for which special measures apply. The aim is to reduce the risk of new variants of coronavirus being introduced by travellers to the UK .

Currently arrivals from those listed nations – which also includes Brazil and the rest of South America, plus 13 other African countries – must self-isolate for 10 days along with their households.

But Mr Hancock said that anyone arriving from 15 February will be confined to a hotel room, under the watchful eye of security staff.

Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has said that the measures do not go far enough. Anyone arriving in Scotland direct from abroad will be required to go into “managed quarantine”.

Further details are expected on Tuesday afternoon from the Scottish transport secretary, Michael Matheson.

The announcement of tighter travel restrictions coincides with Britain's biggest holiday company, Tui, announcing that nearly three million people have booked trips for summer 2021, at prices one-fifth higher than in 2019.

Tui’s chief executive, Fritz Joussen, said: “For tourism, but also for hospitality and cultural enterprises, this trend is a good signal.

“We should do everything we can to quickly return to basic freedoms and make travel possible again.”

But after the health secretary's announcement, many senior figures in the travel industry expressed dismay.

Clive Wratten, chief executive of the Business Travel Association, said: "Today’s announcement of details around quarantine hotels and increased testing will bring business travel to a standstill, preventing thousands from doing their jobs."

Paul Goldstein, co-owner of Kicheche Safari Lodges in Kenya, said: “This horse bolted last March, the lame nag running amok in the stables of Cheltenham, Anfield and Twickenham, yet still this hapless cabinet peddle this utter fiction just to put the final nail in the coffin of the whole travel industry.”

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency said: “Adding layers of complexity won’t help the economy to recover.

"The government must signal that it is looking to open borders again from April – when there will be much less pressure on the NHS and infection/mortality rates will be lower."

In response to a question from Huw Merriman, chair of the Transport Select Committee, Mr Hancock declined to give a possible end date or parameters that need to be met for the measures to be eased.

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