Have introduced tough new quarantine laws to improve compliance and border control to prevent the spread of Covid variants into the United Kingdom .
International arrivals into the UK who fail to take a Covid-19 test and lie on their passenger locator form will face punitive fines and up to 10 years in jail.
Speaking in the House of Commons health secretary Matt Hancock said: “People who flout these rules are putting us all at risk.
“Passenger carriers will have a duty in law to make sure that passengers have signed up for these new arrangements before they travel, and will be fined if they don’t, and we will be putting in place tough fines for people who don’t comply.
“This includes a £1,000 penalty for any international arrival who fails to take a mandatory test, a £2,000 penalty for any international arrival who fails to take the second mandatory test, as well as automatically extending their quarantine period to 14 days, and a £5,000 fixed penalty notice – rising to £10,000 – for arrivals who fail to quarantine in a designated hotel.”
He added: “Anyone who lies on the passenger locator form and tries to conceal that they’ve been in a country on the red list in the 10 days before arrival here will face a prison sentence of up to 10 years.”
Mr Hancock added that the measures will be put into law this week and more resources will be available to enforce them : “I make no apologies for the strength of these measures because we’re dealing with one of the strongest threats to our public health that we’ve faced as a nation.”
He also made the point that it is currently unlawful for people to leave the country, unless for a limited number of legally authorized circumstances, and arrivals from red list countries are banned, except for UK nationals and residents.
Passengers required to stay in a quarantine hotel will need to reserve a room online in advance, with the booking system opening on Thursday.
These travellers will only be allowed to enter the UK through a “small number of ports that currently account for the vast majority of passenger arrivals”, Mr Hancock added.
It follows the revelation yesterday (Monday, 8 February) that at least 147 cases of the South African strain had been identified in the UK so far, however a testing blitz around the country is likely to find more.
Paul Charles, from travel consultancy The PC Agency, said he has seen a Government document suggesting that hotels are only being offered £50 a night to take part, despite those near Heathrow Airport currently charging an average of £77 a night to members of the public.
He added: “It’s no wonder hotels are less than enthusiastic. Their costs will outstrip the income from Government.”
He also warned that the UK economy will take “a massive hit from the lack of certainty over reopening”.