13:30 GMT08 March 2021
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    As the United Kingdom faces new strains of coronavirus entering the country, the government has introduced a policy that would require a list of overseas travellers from high-risk countries to quarantine in hotels upon arrival beginning 15 February.

    The British government admitted on Monday that it had not signed contracts with hotel firms just one week ahead of a policy requiring international arrivals to isolate in guarded hotels for 10 days.

    A Downing Street official spokesman admitted on Monday that while it is yet to sign a single contract with hospitality firms, "commercial specification" has been given to those businesses that may be required to house quarantined arrivals.

    "No formal contracts have been awarded yet."

    No. 10 did not confirm whether British travelers will have a "luxury" quarantine option for a higher price, or if they will be offered a range of options over where they stay.

    A PM spokesman said that the details on how these issues were expected to be resolved will take place later this week.

    “It remains the case that the Department of Health continue to work closely with hotels as we move forward to introduce the policy from February 15", he said. “We are working closely with hotels and other accommodation providers near ports and airports”, he said.

    He did not say what the "other accommodation providers" might be and said that the government was currently prioritising hotels.

    Earlier the same day, the UK Health Minister Health Secretary told Piers Morgan that he "did not know" if any hotels had signed up for the government's quarantine scheme.

    New COVID Variants Spead Across the World

    Amid demands from opposition MPs to introduce a complete restriction on international arrivals, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that border controls are most effective when coronavirus cases are low.

    This comes as 147 cases of the South Africa variant, which Johnson has pledged to eliminate, have been found in the UK. Concerns over international travel arise from more vaccine-resistance mutations from other countries getting into the country.

    Despite the government introducing a list of countries that would be placed on the quarantine list, it was reported yesterday that the isolation rules would only apply to arrivals from 29 of 41 countries that have identified the South African strain.

    “These revelations expose the fact that - as Labour warned - the UK Government’s quarantine measures will continue to leave us completely exposed to emerging strains of the virus", said Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds.
    “Not only are the measures far too slow to begin - 50 days after the South African strain emerged - they are also dangerously inadequate. Tory incompetence is dangerous".

    Therefore, passengers from 35 countries will not be affected by the hotel quarantine requirement and will have to self-quarantine at home for the 10-day period without guarded surveillance. 

    The Daily Telegraph report claimed that documents now estimate that around 1,425 passengers will have to be accommodated daily, with most arrivals coming into Heathrow.

    A coronavirus test will be administered on the second and eighth days of each stay, and a negative result will be required to depart, according to the report.

    Those quarantining will reportedly be served three meals a day in their rooms, with hot and cold options. Coffee, tea, fruit, and water will also be available.

    Around £55 million in funds will be issued by the government in an attempt to recover payment from passengers, according to the Telegraph.

    Under current lockdown rules, all but "essential" international travel is restricted.

    Tags:
    coronavirus, COVID-19, Boris Johnson, Westminster, quarantine
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