COVID-19: UK introduces mandatory hotel quarantine for travellers returning from ‘red list’ countries

UK nationals and residents returning from “red list” countries will be placed in quarantine in government-provided accommodation – such as hotels – for 10 days, Boris Johnson has told MPs.

The prime minister said the new measures – which will be set out by Home Secretary Priti Patel later on Wednesday – are aimed at preventing mutant strains of the COVID virus from reaching the UK.

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He told MPs: “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.

“We have also banned all travel from 22 countries where there is a risk of known variants including South Africa, Portugal and South American nations.

“And in order to reduce the risk posed by UK nationals and residents returning home from these countries, I can announce that 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.

“They will be met at the airport and transported directly into quarantine.”

Mr Johnson said the Department of Health and Social Care was working to establish quarantine facilities “as quickly as possible”.

It is understood travellers will have to pay to isolate in a monitored hotel, with coronavirus testing carried out during their stay.

The move has been widely anticipated in recent weeks, with critics arguing the government should have taken tougher action sooner.

They have pointed to the examples of Australia and New Zealand, who have had mandatory quarantines since the early weeks of the pandemic and have largely eliminated transmission of the virus within their borders.

Reports in recent days have emerged of competing views in government over how wide ranging the mandatory quarantine should be.

It has been suggested that some ministers have been arguing the mandatory quarantine should apply to arrivals for all countries, while others have been advocating targeting certain nations deemed to pose more of a risk.

Labour has been calling for a blanket quarantine requirement, arguing that not applying it to all travellers would leave “gaping holes in our nation’s defences against different strains of the virus emerging around the world”.

The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford told Mr Johnson that “both the Scottish and Welsh governments want to go further on quarantine measures than what his UK government is proposing”.

He called on the prime minister to “stop his half measures” and introduce “stricter enforcement on international travel”.

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