In an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19 variants, Downing Street took the decision to follow the example of Australia, New Zealand and other countries that have already implemented the hotel quarantine system.
The mandatory hotel stay will not be a cheap service, with plans to charge travellers £80 a night. Visitors from the “banned list” will have to pay at least £800 on top of the airfare and other travel expenses to be able to enter the UK.
In comparison with other countries, the planned cost of staying at a quarantine hotel in Britain is somewhat cheaper and the length of self-isolation is shorter.
Australia introduced a government-managed quarantine system almost a year ago, with those in quarantine being charged AUD$3000 (around £1600) for individuals. Travellers have to stay in designated hotels for 14 days, with family groups enjoying lower rates.
New Zealand charges travellers returning to the country for less than 90 days NZ$3,100 (around £1600), and employers are made to pay NZ$5,520 (around £2800) for critical workers to stay in managed isolation. The length of the self-isolation is two weeks.
South Korea requires non-resident short-term travellers to quarantine at a government-designated facility and charges them £81 a day.
Costs for UK travellers going to Taiwan are covered by the authorities, with South Africa and the UK on the list of high-risk locations.
The UK government hasn’t clarified however which hotels or hotel chains will be used by the travellers. Neither has it confirmed how long the system will be in place.
— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) February 5, 2021
It is expected that hotels located near airports Heathrow, Gatwick, London City, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen will be prioritised.
“On Thursday evening, the Department of Health and Social Care issued a commercial specification to hotels near ports and airports, asking for proposals on how they can support the delivery of Managed Quarantine Facilities ahead of formal contracts being awarded. General Sir Gordon Messenger will also play an important role in advising the government on the delivery of the programme,” the government elaborated.
Foreign Office minister James Cleverly said he did not know how many hotels had signed up yet.
However, the government said it was working to secure the required hotel accommodation and holding discussion with dozens of companies in the aviation, maritime, hotel and hospitality industries.
“We are now working at pace to secure the facilities we need to roll out managed quarantine for British nationals returning home from the highest-risk countries, and are rightly engaging with representatives from the hospitality, maritime and aviation industry, and learning from our friends around the world. In the face of new variants, it is important that the government continues to take the necessary steps to protect people and save lives,” a spokesman for the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport department said.
The government confirmed in a new statement that further details will be set out next week on how passengers can book into designated accommodation facilities upon their arrival to the UK.