Holidays abroad have been slapped with further restrictions this afternoon as Home Secretary Priti Patel and Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed the introduction of quarantine hotels for arriving travellers. Anyone arriving in the UK from a total of 22 countries will have to self-isolate for 10 days at their own expense at a hotel. This is the latest travel advice as Patel cautioned, “going on holiday is not a justifiable reason” for travel at this time.
There has been much debate over which destinations the strict new quarantine rules will apply to.
Senior Government ministers met last night to approve the plan.
Travellers arriving in Britain from high-risk COVID-19 countries will have to quarantine for 10 days in government-provided accommodation to stop new variants of the virus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday.
“We will require all such arrivals who cannot be refused entry to isolate in government-provided accommodation, such as hotels, for 10 days without exception,” Johnson told lawmakers.
“They will be met at the airport and transported directly into quarantine.”
So which countries will be affected?
READ MORE: Spain holidays: Spain could ban tourists ‘until August’
Countries that require hotel quarantine
A travel industry source told the PA news agency that the list of destinations this will apply to includes all of South America, southern Africa and Portugal.
Kenya, Ethiopia, the United Arab Emirates and Nigeria could also be added.
A total of 22 countries will be on the “red list,” said Johnson but exactly which nations are on the list is yet to be announced.
The Department of Health and Social Care will share further details on this approach next week, said Patel.
“Discussions with hotel chains are underway” regarding how hotel quarantine will work.
The Prime Minister also revealed that the UK’s ban on leisure travel will be enforced at airports and ports.
He said: “I want to make clear that, under the stay-at-home regulations, it is illegal to leave home to travel abroad for leisure purposes and we will enforce this at ports and airports by asking people why they are leaving and instructing them to return home if they do not have a valid reason to travel.”
“I am announcing further action to strengthen the health measures we already have at the border, but to reduce passenger flow so that only a small number of people for whom it is absolutely essential to travel are doing so and therefore reducing the risk to our world-leading vaccine programme,” said the Home Secretary.
Patel added passengers will have to declare why they want to travel which will be checked by airlines to limit non-essential travel.
Physical checks, as well as address checks, will be carried out “to ensure that people are compliant with the self-isolation rules.”
There will be 1,000 targeted follow-up visits a day, said Patel.
She continued: “We will continue to refuse entry to non-UK residents from high-risk countries which are already subject to the UK travel ban.
The rules are not set in stone, and, as with travel corridors, these new restrictions could change.
On Tuesday Patel told MPs: “Measures are always under review.”
So what will quarantine in a UK hotel entail? According to travel expert Simon Calder, travellers could be forced to shell out as much as £1,500 for the entirety of their stay.
What’s more, they would be detained within their room for the entire time, with no opportunity to enjoy hotel facilities or even a breath of fresh air.
Speaking on BBC News this morning, Calder explained: “If it is going to be like the Australian system which is the one that is often touted then it is really quite interesting.
“You will land at Heathrow, you will be identified by UK border forced being required to go and quarantine.
“You will then be taken to a facility off the airport. It would be lovely to think you are going to be in the Sofitel next to Heathrow Terminal 5, but I fear you may be in the Premier Inn in the middle of Slough Trading Estate.
“You will then be told: ‘You are checking into this room.’ You will not have any visitors.
“’You will not have any cleaners. You will not be allowed to smoke, and there will be guards outside to ensure you comply.
“And by the way that is going to cost you perhaps £1,500 for the 10 days of self-isolation which will include three delicious meals a day.’”
Ahead of today’s announcement, the chief executives of British Airways, easyJet and Virgin Atlantic were among those to sign a joint letter warning that requiring passengers to pay to self-isolate in hotels will have a “dramatic impact” on airlines and the wider UK economy.
Vital freight and PPE supplies would be impacted, and tens of thousands of jobs would be put at risk, according to the letter.
The airline leaders called for “a bespoke support package that can get UK airlines through this crisis”.
They added: “We are writing to you seeking an urgent road map for the reopening of air travel and a package of support for UK aviation that recognises the urgency and scale of the danger now facing our sector.”
Tens of thousands of aviation jobs have already been cut due to the collapse in demand for air travel.