UK to require travellers from high-risk countries to quarantine in government-supervised hotels

Jan 27, 2021

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The United Kingdom will now require arriving travellers from high-risk countries to undergo their mandatory 10-day quarantine in a government-supervised hotel.

All arrivals coming from high-risk destinations — including U.K. citizens — will be required to undergo their 10-day quarantine in a hotel. The cost of the hotel stay will fall on the arriving passenger and there will be no exemptions. There is no indication when this new policy will take effect.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the new measure on Wednesday.

Related: All of the countries on the UK’s high-risk list

The U.K. has already banned non-nationals and non-residents from 30 high-risk destinations from entering the country. As such, the hotel quarantine applies to those who cannot be denied entry.

Johnson’s announcement detailed the hotel quarantine applies to those coming from 22 countries. At this time, it’s unclear which 22 countries of the 30 countries on the travel ban list the new requirements apply to.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said on Wednesday that the government would consider adding new countries to that list if additional strains of the coronavirus are discovered.

Johnson said that travellers will be met at the airport and transported to their quarantine. The government is working to establish the facilities. Additionally, the government is “working closely” with the administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to align on the same policies.

By requiring passengers to undergo their quarantine at a government-supervised hotel, authorities are hoping to cut down on the possibility of travellers not following the rules. The hotel scheme will allow the government to supervise those in isolation.

“We have to realise there is at least the theoretical risk of a new variant that is a vaccine-busting variant coming in, we’ve got to be able to keep that under control,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said previously.

Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds has called for a blanket hotel quarantine requirement for all arriving passengers, not just those coming from high-risk countries.

Patel announced on Wednesday that the government will also be stepping up its enforcement of those leaving the country. As such, those looking to leave the country will have to complete a declaration that they are travelling for an essential reason. The declaration will need to be provided to the passenger’s travel provider.

The new arrival restrictions in the U.K. are in line with those that have been in place in countries like Australia and much of Asia since March 2020. Arriving passengers have long had to quarantine for 14 days in government-supervised hotel rooms, which has helped to drop the rates of infection in those countries to some of the lowest in the world.

The U.K. already requires that all arriving travellers have a negative COVID-19 test, taken no more than 72 hours prior to scheduled departure. Additionally, all arriving passengers must self-quarantine for 10 days, following the suspension of the U.K.’s travel corridors scheme.

Related: Pre-departure testing and self-isolation for arrivals: Everything you need to know about travelling to the UK

Passengers in England can utilise the Test to Release scheme in order to reduce the amount of time spent in quarantine. After five days of quarantine, a passenger can purchase and take a COVID-19 test. If the result comes back negative, the traveller can forgo the rest of their quarantine.

However, those coming from travel ban countries cannot use the Test to Release scheme.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Featured photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images.

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