BREAKING: £1750 for quarantine hotel, Up to 10 years in prison for lying on form, test to release remains but 2 extra tests

Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5, International Arrivals concourse, July 2009. Image ref CHE06002d, RP

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Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, has just announced the full details of the new border controls which are hopefully tough enough to appease all the critics. I’m pretty sure absolutely no one will be travelling unless it is extremely urgent and absolutely necessary with what is coming….No influencer will put up with all this for a few pouty bikini pictures by the pool!

Mr Hancock said ” we’ve been taking advice from our Australian colleagues, both at ministerial level and from their leading authorities on quarantine. The message is everyone has a part to play in making our borders safe. And I know this is a very difficult time for both airlines and ports”. The government are working with the Ireland, Scotland and Wales to put in similar arrangements across the common travel area. There was no mention of  the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands which also form part of the CTA. 

Matt Hancock would not be drawn on how long these be measures would be in place. He said that they wanted to exit from this into a state of freer travel as soon as practicable and as soon as its safe. He would not be drawn on whether this would happen when all adults at risk are vaccinated (end of April). He referenced Jonathan Van Tam’s statement last night effectiveness of current vaccines on variants of concern and whether we will need to vaccinate with further booster jab. 

I think what is not clear is exactly what the criteria is in terms of “effectiveness” as goalposts seem to move constantly. Originally this was all about those that were seriously ill with Covid-19. If it is proved that the vaccines do protect against serious illness with Covid-19 as is expected, hopefully, this will allow travel restrictions to be eased. If not we will forever be playing catch up with new boosters and could face border restrictions for many years. 


Hotel Quarantine

  • All those returning to England from one of the 33 red list countries will have to quarantine for 10 days from 15 February
  • All those entering Scotland on onternational flights will have to quarantine for 10 days from 15 February from ANY country
  • Red list countries will be kept under review
  • Some reports say that hotel quarantine will remain until end of March, but will be reviewed weekly
  • They will need to book before departure for hotel quarantine which will cost £1750 for a single passenger (it was not stated if this also includes food)
  • That will include the hotel, transport, and testing
  • The online booking portal will open on Thursday 11 February
  • There will be a visible security presence and people will only be allowed outside when escorted by a guard. 
  • He did not state how much outside access would be given for smokers etc
  • The government has booked 16 hotels with 4600 rooms. Those hotels may not be used by other guests. 
  • Further PCR tests will be done on days 2 and 8 and any positive results will be sent for genomic sequencing to look for new variants
  • If you test positive you will face another 10 days quarantine from the positive test
  • Arrivals from red list countries will only be allowed in a small number of airports, ports, and stations


Home quarantine

  • From 15 February you must test on day 2 and 8 of home quarantine as well as 72 hours before departure
  • Test to release will still be allowed but the day 5 test will be in addition to the further 2 tests on days 2 and eight.
  • All testing will be paid for by the traveller and are expected to cost around £100 each
  • You must book your tests before you depart via the portal which will open on Thursday
  • If you test positive you will face another 10 days quarantine from the positive test



  • There will be much stronger enforcement. Carriers will need to ensure that all the necessary tests have been done or booked and paperwork is submitted or they could be fined.
  • There will be a £1000 fine for passengers found not to have taken the first test. £2000 for failing to take the second test as well as automatically extending the quarantine period to 14 days
  • Those not quarantining at a hotel if required will face a £5000 fine rising to £10,000
  • If you are proven to have lied on your passenger locator form to conceal that you have been in a red list country, you face up to 10 years in prison


Will the travel corridors return?

Matt Hancock said in the questions afterwards after a question about why we aren’t taking stronger measures at the border

There are countries around the world on a so-called green list that have very, very low rates of of of infection and no known variants of concern. So I’m absolutely in favour of keeping the red list up to date. But I also think that it’s important that we’re proportionate when there are countries that have that do not have a record of average of concern.”

This is what at least gives a glimmer of hope that some sense of proportionate restrictions will return after we have vaccinated the most vulnerable. While we need to keep variants out, there is little point having such draconian measures for those that arrive on direct flights from countries with virtually no covid and no variants of concern. 

He also said

“We will use the fact that we’ll sequence every positive test from somebody who comes through the border as a global system of vigilance to make sure that we are always looking for those variants of concern.”

I take these to be positive signs that we may return to a system of travel corridors again that don’t require 10 days quarantine and 3 tests at some point by the summer. 


4 Comments on "BREAKING: £1750 for quarantine hotel, Up to 10 years in prison for lying on form, test to release remains but 2 extra tests"

  1. And for those of us North of the border the 33 red list countries are expanded to ALL countries!

  2. So in Scotland, we need hotel quarantine for all countries but someone from England could go abroad to a low risk country and then travel to Scotland a week later. What will happen if you travel abroad with BA via London. Will the hotel quarantine still be applied despite a domestic arrival in Scotland?

  3. The amount of whining from the UK is ridiculous: Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand have had this in place for almost a year and its the reason why those four countries (with about 60% of the UK population) have had less Covid deaths in the last 12 months than the UK had in the last 36 hours.

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