The U.K. government is planning to announce that hotels are to be used to implement a blanket quarantine on all arrivals into the country, to control the spread of Covid-19, and in particular the new variants.
The U.K. has yet to announce which arrivals would be included but it would most likely include southern Africa and South America, as well as Portugal. Arrivals from some high-risk countries are currently not allowed entry, and so the BBC reported that most likely, hotels would be used to quarantine returning U.K. residents/citizens–the cost would have to be covered by people in self-isolation.
Prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to make the announcement by Wednesday at the latest. Hotel quarantine is currently being used for returning residents in other countries such as New Zealand and Australia.
Currently, all U.K. arrivals must be in possession of a negative Covid-19 test, taken within the past 72 hours and then they must quarantine for 10 days, but they can currently do this in their own home. In England, people can ‘test out’ of quarantine with a positive test after five days.
Nadhim Zahawi, the minister responsible for the rollout of the U.K’s Covid-19 vaccination programme told the BBC that “the government is looking at, as the prime minister has confirmed, the hotel quarantine policy, and we’ll make an announcement on this in the appropriate way.”
The news comes as Johnson held a press conference to say he was “truly sorry” about the fact that the U.K. has suffered 25,000 deaths in 3 weeks and the total death toll went past 100,000. Sky News reported Johnson as saying, “we truly did everything we could.”
Reuters reported that the U.K. has the fifth worst death toll from the pandemic and one of the “deepest economic retractions on record.”
In response to the expected announcement, Airlines UK said it saw “no compelling scientific evidence” for blanket quarantine measures and that the industry-which has already suffered greatly–would be jeopardised, particularly in regards to freight, PPE supplies and jobs.
In another devastating blow to the tourist industry, Zahawi told Sky News that the U.K. public should not be booking summer holidays–“there’s still 37,000 people in hospital with Covid at the moment, it’s far too early for us to even speculate about the summer,” he said.