UK mandatory hotel quarantine to start Feb. 15

Feb 5, 2021

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The United Kingdom announced late Thursday night, Feb. 4, that its mandatory hotel quarantine requirement will begin Feb. 15.

The news was first reported by the BBC, which says U.K. residents returning from COVID-19 hotspots will need to spend 10 nights in a hotel room. The government is asking hotel owners to provide rooms for more than 1,000 people per day. Just hours after the start date of the scheme was announced, the government has already set about block-booking thousands of hotel rooms.

The BBC, citing government documents, also reports guests will be escorted by government-approved security guards when they leave their rooms.

The measure applies to those returning from so-called red-list countries. Only British and Irish nationals, as well as third-country nationals who have residency rights in the U.K. who are coming from these banned countries are permitted to enter the U.K. and will be required to undergo their quarantine in a hotel as of Feb. 15. The cost of the hotel stay will fall on the arriving passenger and there will be no exemptions.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the new measure back in January, but details were not released at the time.

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

The U.K. has already banned non-nationals and non-residents from 33 high-risk destinations from entering the country. The hotel quarantine applies to those who cannot be denied entry. The countries on the banned list are those in which the spread of new COVID-19 variants is a cause for concern.

Americans are not on the banned list at this time even though cases are still rising there.

Related: Everything you need to know about the UK’s hotel quarantine policy

Quarantine hotels will be near airports including Heathrow, Gatwick, London City, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

Johnson said previously that travelers will be met at the airport and transported to their quarantine. It is expected that all the selected hotels will be for quarantine guests only. Once inside the hotels, security guards will patrol the corridors to “prevent unauthorized access,” reports the BBC.

Any quarantine guest who needs to go outside for air or to smoke will also be escorted by security guards.

Three meals a day will be served, with both hot and cold options on offer. In addition, tea, coffee, water and fruit will be made available.

TPG previously reported that “the government is working closely with the administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to align on the same policies”.

“We have to realize 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 had called for a blanket hotel quarantine requirement for all arriving passengers, not just those coming from high-risk countries. Labour is calling the new rules “too little, too late.”

The U.K. requires all arrivals to have a negative COVID-19 test, taken no more than 72 hours prior to scheduled departure.

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

Featured image by JUSTIN TALLIS /Getty Images

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