John Holland-Kaye: Travellers must be 'desperate and wealthy'
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Heathrow airport has warned of chaos this morning that could lead to passengers queuing for up to five hours amid the introduction of new travel restrictions. Flights are also expected to be suspended as the airport scrambles to keep up. Heathrow warned ministers the new rules could “compromise” the safety of up to 8,000 passengers a day flying into the UK. Staff have already faced very heavy queues in recent days after a surge in passengers arriving early.
What are the new travel rules for coming into the UK?
From today, all British and Irish citizens and UK residents who arrive in England after visiting a high-risk Covid country have to quarantine in hotels.
The new regulations, which aim to stop Covid variants from entering the country, apply to anyone who’s been in one of the affected countries in the last 10 days.
They will have to pre-book and pay £1,750 to spend 10 days quarantining in Government-sanctioned hotels.
The money paid covers the cost of staying in the hotel, transport to and from the accommodation, and Covid testing.
The Government said it has struck deals with 16 hotels at this point in time, providing 4,963 rooms for the new quarantine system.
A further 58,000 rooms are currently on standby as well should they be needed in the future.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “The rules coming into force today will bolster the quarantine system and provide another layer of security against new variants at the border.”
Mr Hancock added the measures were “important to protect our vaccination programme”.
In addition to quarantining in a hotel, all incoming passengers have to fill out a passenger locator form before they arrive, listing their contact details, departure country and their UK address.
Travellers also have to show proof of a negative Covid test to be even allowed into the country.
The test must have taken place in the 72 hours before travelling, with Border Force officials carrying out spot checks to make sure people comply.
While staying in the hotel, passengers will have to take two more Covid tests on day two and day eight of their quarantine.
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If a positive test result is returned, they will have to pay to self-isolate for another 10 days in the hotel.
There will be a fine of £1,000 for any international arrivals who fail to take a compulsory coronavirus test.
This will be followed by a £2,000 fine for failing to take a second test, with quarantine automatically extended to 14 days at that point.
Airlines can be fined £2,000 for passengers arriving without a completed form and advance negative test result.
A small number of workers are exempt from the quarantine rules, including pilots and some seasonal agriculture employees entering the country for work.
All travellers arriving into Scotland from abroad by plane, rather than just those from high risk countries, now have to stay in quarantine hotels.
People travelling from red list countries to Wales and Northern Ireland will be forced to book and pay for quarantine in England, as neither country has any direct international flights.
Any passenger required to quarantine in a hotel in England needs to book a room online in advance using the Government portal.
The additional rate for one extra adult or child aged over 12 is £650, while for a child aged five to 12 the rate is £325.
You can find the Government’s 33 ‘red list’ countries here.
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