Published on : Wednesday, February 10, 2021
The U.K. government has recently announced a series of new measures designed to curb the spread of the new variants of COVID-19. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced tougher border measures and said that the new rules have been undertaken to secure the nation against mutations. From next week, U.K. and Ireland residents arriving into England from countries under the ‘red list’ would be required to book a place in hotel quarantine before travelling. This will include arrivals from much of South America, South Africa, Portugal and elsewhere.
Under the latest rules, from February 15 all arrivals at English ports will be required to undertake 2 mandatory COVID-19 tests on day 2 and day 8 of their 10-day quarantine. Those who have visited a ‘red list’ country will be required to purchase ‘quarantine package’. Travellers will be charged fee equivalent to £1,750 for an individual travelling alone which will includes ten-day accommodation, testing and transport. Hancock confirmed that sixteen hotels with 4,600 rooms have been secured around ports and airports in England to accommodate travellers.
On the other hand, travellers arriving from destinations not on the red list would be required to book two PCR tests ahead of travel to take during their quarantine at home. Visitors arriving without a British or Irish passport will be barred from entry. The health secretary also unveiled a new regime of penalties designed to toughen enforcement. Travellers could face a fine of up to £2,000 for failing to take a booked test, up to £10,000 for avoiding hotel quarantine; and up to ten years in prison for lying on passenger locator forms. Hancock said the measures applied to England, but the devolved administrations were looking at similar measures.
The new measures have been build on those already in place, which include refusing entry to non-U.K. residents from ‘red list’ countries as well as proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 3 days before departure alongside isolation on arrival for all passengers, irrespective of the country they are arriving from. Passenger locator forms will now not only detail the travel journey of a passenger but also their quarantine and testing package. The passenger locator form has to be completed with fines for those who fail to comply.
The government has been working closely with the aviation industry and the country’s major airports including Heathrow, Gatwick and Birmingham to designate arrival ports. These airports account for the vast majority of international arrivals into England and will allow for close monitoring. Anyone arriving at a non-designated port who has visited a ‘red list’ country will receive a fixed penalty notice and still be required to quarantine in a managed quarantine facility.
Presence of security will be maintained throughout, with personnel directing travellers on arrival, in transit and on arrival at the managed quarantine facilities. Security will also be present to ensure passengers remain at their facility and, where necessary, police will be called upon to provide additional support. Any passengers travelling back to England from countries not on the travel ban list will be required to quarantine at home for the same period (10 days) and abide by the same stringent testing regime. In both cases, tests must be booked from a list of government-approved test providers.