Airport arrivals 'face £1,500 hotel bill' under incoming England COVID quarantine rules

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Passengers in the arrivals hall at Heathrow Airport, London, after a flight from Croatia landed. The UK government announced that from 4am on Saturday travellers arriving in the UK from Croatia, Austria and Trinidad and Tobago will have to quarantine for 14 days on arrival.
Passengers arriving in the UK from certain countries will soon have to self-isolate in quarantine hotels. (PA)

International travellers arriving in England from a number of countries face a £1,500 hotel bill under incoming quarantine rules, it has been reported.

Passengers landing from countries where new coronavirus variants have been discovered are set to be made to quarantine in hotels, the government is expected to announce on Tuesday.

Boris Johnson will discuss the proposals – designed to ensure people follow self-isolation rules – with senior ministers at the COVID Operations committee.

Under the plans, passengers will have to pay at least £1,500 for a 10-day isolation stay in a hotel, ITV News reported.

Watch: Hotel quarantine measures under review

Home Secretary Priti Patel declined to comment on “speculation” about quarantine hotels as she answered questions in the Commons on Tuesday.

She said the government “will not hesitate to take further action” to protect the UK from new strains, and that “measures are always under review”.

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said Labour wanted a “comprehensive hotel quarantine system with protections to secure us against new strains”.

Rob Paterson, chief executive of Best Western hotels group, said travellers could expect to pay “considerably reduced” prices for a stay in one of the group’s hotels for their quarantine period – although he did not give a figure.

He told BBC Breakfast: “Naturally, we’d much rather be open and trading at our normal levels, but what we’re doing at the moment is just about covering costs.

“Most hoteliers across the entire country are losing thousands and thousands of pounds every month, so a contract just to stem the losses would be a welcome contract for our hotel, and we stand ready to support the government on that.”

The BBC reported the requirement to isolate in a hotel would apply to arrivals from most of southern Africa and South America, as well as Portugal.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi told Sky News on Tuesday that introducing quarantine hotels “is the right thing to do”.

He said: “As we vaccinate more of the adult population, if there are new variants like the South African or the Brazilian variants, we need to be very careful.”

Despite reports suggesting it could take up to three weeks to implement the policy, Paterson said hotels could mobilise “within 24 to 48 hours”.

Various options for quarantining arrivals are said to be on the table, but Whitehall sources suggested that ministers may opt for a more limited system after aviation leaders warned that introducing tougher border rules would be “catastrophic” for the industry.

In a joint statement, the Airport Operators Association and Airlines UK insisted the country already has “some of the highest levels of restrictions in the world” and that introducing tougher rules would be “catastrophic”.

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt said the proposals might need to go further than applying only to those arriving from countries where new variants of COVID-19 have been discovered.

A plane passes over the Thistle Hotel at Heathrow. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to approve plans to force some travellers arriving to the UK to quarantine in hotels to limit the spread of new coronavirus variants. Picture date: Tuesday January 26, 2021.
A plane passes over a hotel at Heathrow Airport in London on Tuesday, as the government plans quarantine hotels for arrivals to England. (PA)

Read more: What you can and can't do under current lockdown rules

Direct flights to the UK from South Africa, Brazil and Portugal have already been suspended, but British residents have been permitted to return through indirect routes and then self-isolate at home.

Australia became one of the first countries to introduce mandatory hotel quarantine in March, while the practice is also in place in China, New Zealand, India, Singapore, the Philippines, Taiwan, Qatar and Thailand.

In Australia, payment plans or waivers for the fees can sometimes be arranged, subject to specific circumstances.

Watch: Arrivals into Heathrow react to possible hotel quarantines

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