UK residents returning from abroad, from areas designated coronavirus hotspots will have to quarantine in hotels from 15 February, the government has confirmed.
Hotel owners will be asked to provide rooms for more than 1,000 new people every day
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced earlier this month that travellers still allowed to come to the UK from a “red list” of high-risk countries would be “met at the airport and transported directly into quarantine”.
There are 33 countries on this high-risk list, including South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Portugal and Brazil, and the government has said it will add more if needed. There is already a travel ban in place for non-British citizens and residents who have been in or transited through these countries in the previous 10 days. The government has stated those affected will need to quarantine in government accommodation “without exception”, but further details are due to be announced.
Travellers arriving from other destinations are still required to self-quarantine for 10 days, fill out a passenger locator form and must have a negative test 72 hours of travel. The home secretary has said police have stepped up physical checks to ensure people are complying with self-isolation rules.
Returning passengers are expected to foot the bill for their own stay in isolation. The government said commercial specifications had been made available to hotel firms and other providers, and contracts were expected to be signed early next week.
Quarantine hotels are believed to be planned near airports including Heathrow, Gatwick, London City, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.
Most foreign nationals from high-risk countries already face UK travel bans.
Several countries introduced government-managed quarantine systems early in the pandemic.
Since March 2020, Australia has required people arriving from overseas to quarantine in designated hotels for 14 days, Hong Kong introduced quarantine for high-risk countries in July 2020 and extended this to all countries other than China in November 2020.
Since April 2020, New Zealand has implemented a strict managed isolation and quarantine programme for all arrivals, and since April 2020, South Korea has required new arrivals to quarantine, but only non-resident short-term travellers must quarantine at a government-designated facility – Korean nationals and long-term foreign visitors with a Korean residence can quarantine at home.
Taiwan has operated a hotel quarantine system since April 2020, when travellers coming from higher risk countries had to quarantine either at home or in hotels.