UK and Irish residents returning from 33 “red list” countries will have to pay £1,750 to quarantine in hotels for 10 days, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told MPs.
As part of a new quarantine system due to come into force from Monday next week, the government has booked 4,600 rooms across 16 hotels for those arriving from certain countries.
Passengers will have to book through an online platform before their travel, with the £1,750 fee also including the cost of COVID testing and travel between an airport and their designated hotel.
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“Passengers will only be able to enter the UK through a small number of ports that currently account for the vast majority of passenger arrivals,” Mr Hancock told the House of Commons.
“When they arrive, they’ll be escorted to a designated hotel, which will be closed to guests who aren’t quarantining, for 10 days or for longer if they test positive for COVID-19 during their stay.”
The countries currently on the UK’s “red list” include those in South America, large parts of southern Africa, Portugal and the UAE.
The health secretary said that those placed in hotel quarantine will “need to remain in their rooms and of course will not be allowed to mix with other guests”.
He added there would be “visible security in place to ensure compliance alongside necessary support”.
Mr Hancock warned that anyone who tries to conceal they had been in a country on the “red list” in the 10 days before arriving in England would face a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
He also confirmed that those arriving from all countries would now be required to take a PCR test on days two and eight after their arrival in the country, as part of a 10-day quarantine period.
There will be fines of up to £2,000 for those who fail to comply with the new testing requirements, the health secretary told the House of Commons.
The 33 countries currently on the UK’s “red list” are:
Angola, Argentina, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Eswatini, French Guiana, Guyana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Africa, Suriname, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Over three nights Sky News will host a series of special programmes examining the UK’s response to the pandemic.
Watch COVID Crisis: Learning the Lessons at 8pm on 9, 10 and 11 February.