First, what's the idea behind quarantine hotels?
The plans, which are based on Australia's hotel quarantine system, mean that travellers coming into the UK will have to self-isolate at government-approved hotels to prevent the spread of Covid-19. People will have to isolate for ten days at these hotels, with round-the-clock supervision from private security guards.
Why has the government introduced this now?
Many countries have had quarantine hotels or government-approved facilities in place for months, but the UK is only just starting to introduce them now. The government says this policy is in line with, and in response to, the latest information. In order to keep mutant strains of Covid-19 out of the UK, mainly from Brazil and South Africa, the government believes now is the time to implement stricter measures for incoming travellers.
As you say, quarantine hotels have been mandatory in other countries for months now, but who introduced it first?
Australia was one of the first countries to introduce mandatory hotel quarantines for all arrivals at the end of March 2020. Other countries that followed included New Zealand, China (for non-residents) and Hong Kong.
So, what do we know from yesterday’s announcement?
UK nationals and residents returning from 22 select countries (they have been placed on a ‘red list’) must quarantine in government-provided accommodation. The countries on this list include South Africa, Portugal and South American nations. Travellers will be met at the airport and transported to their quarantine location, where they will stay for ten days. However, it’s worth noting that although the Prime Minister mentioned 22 countries altogether, the list on the government website currently shows 30 countries. At this time, it’s unclear as to whether the quarantine measures apply to all 30 counties on the website – but we should expect clarification soon.
Are these rules just for England, or do they apply to the whole of the UK?
Currently, these rules only apply to England, although you should expect to see similar rules rolled out across the rest of the UK shortly – Nicola Sturgeon, for example, has said she doesn’t feel the English measures go far enough, so we’ll wait to see what her plans are.
Do the rules differ if you’re not a UK citizen?
The rules apply to everyone wanting to enter or re-enter the UK, regardless of citizenship. It’s also worth noting the government’s ‘Test to Release’ scheme, which allows travellers to take a test after their fifth day of quarantine and forgo the rest of their quarantine period if it’s negative, will not apply to those in hotel quarantine. They will have to complete the full ten days, regardless.
Do we know which hotels will be taking part?
The hotels haven’t been announced yet, but we’re expecting an update in due course.
How much will a hotel quarantine cost?
The current estimation is around £1,500 per person, although this may differ for families or groups quarantining together. This could differ depending on where people stay, but again, we’re waiting for further details on these rules, including what would happen if travellers cannot afford to pay for the hotel.
Will guests be confined to their room or are they allowed to use hotel facilities?
It’s unclear as to what rules will apply here, or whether households can move between hotel rooms.
Do you still have to quarantine if you present a negative PCR test on arrival?
Yes, if you’re coming from a ‘red list’ country, you will have to quarantine in a hotel even if you provide a negative PCR test. In fact, all arrivals are now required to have a negative test, regardless of where they’re coming from.
Are there any exceptions to these rules?
There are no exemptions to the hotel quarantine rules. If you’re entering from a red listed country, you will have to undergo the ten-day quarantine in a government-supervised hotel, regardless of your situation.
Is there a fine for travellers who don’t comply with the rules?
We don’t know yet, although at the moment, those who fail to self-isolate – even in their own homes – can face a fine of £500.
Will the rules be reviewed later?
Like the travel corridors of last summer, the rules are set to change depending on how high-risk other nations are. Currently, only UK nationals and residents arriving from 22 countries will need to isolate in such facilities, but this could easily change depending on the number of cases per nation. We are expecting many more details in the coming days.
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*DISCLAIMER: For more information on quarantine hotels, visit Gov.uk