England hotel quarantine begins for arrivals from high-risk countries

UK nationals and residents must pay for a 10-day stay in government-approved hotels from Monday

People returning to England from high-risk countries will be required to quarantine for 10 days in a designated hotel from Monday.
People returning to England from high-risk countries will be required to quarantine for 10 days in a designated hotel from Monday. Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters
People returning to England from high-risk countries will be required to quarantine for 10 days in a designated hotel from Monday. Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters
Press Association
Sun 14 Feb 2021 23.08 EST

All UK nationals or residents arriving back in England from high-risk countries will begin checking into government-designated accommodation on Monday as the hotel quarantine regime to prevent the spread of new coronavirus cases begins.

People returning to England from 33 “red list” countries – comprised of hotspots with Covid-19 variants in circulation – will be required to quarantine in hotels for 10 days.

Anyone who has been in one of the high-risk destinations will have to enter England through a designated port and have pre-booked a quarantine package to stay at one of the government’s managed quarantine facilities.

The government has struck deals with 16 hotels so far, providing 4,963 rooms, and a further 58,000 rooms are on standby, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said on Sunday.

Travellers arriving from Monday onwards that have not visited a red list country must still quarantine for 10 days at home and complete two mandatory Covid-19 tests on the second and eighth day after arriving.

Matt Hancock, health secretary, said: “As this deadly virus evolves, so must our defences. We have already taken tough action to limit the spread, protect people and save lives.

“With the emergence of new variants, we must go further. The rules coming into force today will bolster the quarantine system and provide another layer of security against new variants at the border.”

People must quarantine in the hotel room but exceptions allowing them to leave include the need for urgent medical assistance, to exercise or attend the funeral of a close family member.

The regulations state that leaving for these exceptional reasons should only happen if the person “has been given prior permission by a person authorised by the secretary of state for this purpose”.

People may only arrive into Heathrow airport, Gatwick airport, London City airport, Birmingham airport, Farnborough airport or any military airfield or port, according to the legislation.

Passengers arriving into England face fines of up to £10,000 for failing to quarantine, and those who lie on their passenger locator forms face up to 10 years in jail, Hancock announced last week.

The cost for a quarantine hotel stay is £1,750 for a single adult.

On Saturday, Heathrow said “significant gaps” remained in the hotel quarantine plan and a spokeswoman said it is yet to receive the “necessary reassurances” from the government.

On Sunday night, the Heathrow spokeswoman said: “We have been working hard with the Government to support the successful implementation of the managed quarantine policy from Monday.

“Good progress has been made to address a number of issues. Queues at the border in recent days have been almost five hours and this is totally unacceptable.

“Border Force today have given us assurance that they will have resource and effective processes at the border to avoid compromising the safety of passengers and those working at the airport, which could necessitate the suspension of some arriving flights.”

One of the Heathrow Airport hotels taking part in the scheme is Novotel London Heathrow T1 T2 T3, and it is understoof that the Renaissance London Heathrow Hotel is also participating in the programme.