Hancock tells SNP MP UK already banned ‘non-essential travel’
Britons arriving in the UK from countries on the “red list” will be forced to undertake a 10-day quarantine period in Government-approved hotels from February 15. Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced backlash this week for his hotel quarantine plan, claiming it is “not practical” to close British borders completely. The Isle of Man closed borders at the beginning of lockdown and this week completely lifted all Island restrictions including social distancing and face masks.
Mr Johnson defended his hotel quarantine plan this week which has been devised in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus as a result of new emerging Covid variants.
Under the current plans, only UK residents and nationals arriving from 30 “red list” countries will have to quarantine in hotels.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions this week, the PM said: “It is not practical to completely close off this country as he seems to be suggesting.
“What is practical to do is to have one of the toughest regimes in the world.”
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The Government must reserve 28,000 hotel rooms across the UK by 5pm on Friday evening according to the Telegraph.
Ministers have reportedly asked hotels to be prepared to accommodate 1,425 passengers a day from February 15.
The quarantine hotel scheme is expected to remain in force until at least March 31 according to the publication with passengers paying up to £800 per person for their stay.
Sources confirmed that the Government will pay the estimated £55 million bill upfront but then attempt to recoup the money from passengers on Thursday.
The rules will impact the UK and Irish nationals travelling from a list of 33 countries which have been identified as high risk in the face of emerging variants.
The list covers much of South America, southern Africa, the United Arab Emirates and Portugal, the latter being recently dubbed the black hole of Europe as cases spike in the country.
Only British travellers from these countries are currently permitted into the country, with all non-UK travellers currently banned.
Quarantine hotels will be established in areas near hotels including London’s Heathrow, Gatwick and London City, as well as Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.
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Which countries are included on the red list?
- Cape Verde
- DR Congo
- French Guiana
- South Africa
- United Arab Emirates (including Dubai)
The Government said it is working “at pace” to secure the rooms it needs.
Discussions are ongoing with more than 60 companies in the hotel and travel industries according to the Government.
A Department of Health statement said: “In the face of new variants, it is important that the government continues to take the necessary steps to protect people and save lives.”
Hotels chosen by the Government for the hotel quarantine programme will also be required to work with Government-approved security staff, who will be responsible for patrolling inside and outside the hotel to “prevent unauthorised access”.
Quarantined travellers will be served three meals a day in their rooms, with hot and cold options.
Tea, coffee, fruit and water will also be available.
The Government is also asking hotels to prepare up to seven items of laundry for unprepared travellers.
The hotels applying to be part of the scheme must be exclusively for quarantine passengers and must respond to the Government by 5pm today (Friday, February 5).
Passengers may not be required to remain for the full 10 days as they will be required to take a Covid test on both their second and eighth days, allowing them to leave if it is negative.
A further announcement of the scheme was promised this week but is now expected next week ahead of the start date of February 15.
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