Scotland hotel quarantine: How does it work and what is the Managed Isolation Welfare Fund?

The country has imposed tougher measures than England

Helen Coffey
Tuesday 16 February 2021 10:08 GMT
Passengers arriving at Edinburgh will go into managed quarantine
Passengers arriving at Edinburgh will go into managed quarantine (Getty Images)

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Louise Thomas

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As of 4am on 15 February, a new hotel quarantine scheme has been introduced in the UK.

The aim is to reduce the risk of new coronavirus variants – originating in Brazil and South Africa – entering the country.

In England, travellers arriving from 33 “red list” countries must spend 10 days/11 nights isolating in quarantine hotels near five airports.

In Scotland, however, the rules are slightly different. Here’s what we know so far.

Who has to quarantine in a hotel in Scotland?

Michael Matheson, the Scottish transport secretary, has introduced much tougher rules for arriving travellers than those for England.

He told the parliament at Holyrood: “The UK government continues to rely on a targeted, reactive approach.

“We know that is not sufficient. We have therefore gone further.”

From 4am on Monday 15 February, all people arriving in Scotland from outside the UK and Ireland will go immediately into “managed quarantine” at one of six hotels. Travellers must pre-book a hotel quarantine package prior to arriving in Scotland.

However, a small number of arrivals will not be required to isolate, such as those involved in essential supply chains for goods coming into Scotland.

Regular travellers can request permission to leave quarantine for the day only if a close family member or close friend is dying, or to attend their funeral.

How long for?

All arrivals must quarantine for “at least 10 days” (11 nights). If travellers test positive at any point, they will be required to stay in the quarantine hotel until at least 10 days after the test was taken.

Additional daily charges will apply: £152 for the first adult, £41 for an additional adult or child over 12, and £12 for a child aged 5-12.

Where are the quarantine hotels?

Six hotels close to Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports with a combined capacity of 1,300 rooms will be used to implement the quarantine.

How much does it cost?

Standard quarantine, assuming the traveller tests negative at every stage, costs £1,750 per individual, the same as in England. It costs £650 for an additional adult or a child over 12 in the same household, and £325 for a child aged 5-12. The price includes food and board, tests, security and transport from the airport.

'Red list' passengers arrive ahead of hotel quarantine

Three meals per day as well as fruit and soft drinks, water, tea and coffee are provided in room. Guests can also purchase additional food and drink “through the hotels’ commercial offering on room service.”

What is the Managed Isolation Welfare Fund and who can access it?

For those in receipt of income-related benefits, there is the opportunity to apply for a deferred payment plan through the UK Government, whereby travellers pay back their debt in 12 monthly instalments. The debt, and any missed payments, will also be pursued by the government.

But Scotland also originally announced that a “Managed Isolation Welfare Fund” would be launched for those who couldn’t afford the charge. The Scottish government said details were being “worked through” on 9 February, while Michael Matheson confirmed in his parliamentary statement the same day that “we will develop a Managed Isolation Welfare Fund for travellers who may struggle to meet the charge”. However, since then, further information has not been forthcoming about who qualifies and how they can apply.

The Independent has contacted the Scottish Government for more details.

Do quarantinees get tested?

Yes. All arrivals will have already had to present a negative Covid test taken within three days of departure for Scotland. Upon arrival at their quarantine hotel, travellers will be given two UK home testing kits to be completed on day two and day eight of isolation. Children aged 11 and under are not required to take the tests, but they may if they wish.

Do the rules still apply to people who have had one or both coronavirus vaccinations?

Yes. And also to people who have recovered from Covid-19.

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