England’s new hotel quarantine scheme for high-risk arrivals went live today. The scheme means that some will need to quarantine near their airport of arrival for ten days. Those not required to isolate in hotels will need to pay for a pricy COVID-19 test package.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we travel. Indeed, many governments have tried to dissuade travel with travel bans and restrictions. While some governments require quarantine, others take a relaxed view with mandatory COVID testing. While already banning most international travel, the UK government has made it harder to enter England with new rules beginning today.
£1,750 hotel quarantine for high-risk arrivals
The most prominent of England’s new rules going into effect today is the mandatory hotel quarantine for those traveling to the country from 33 so-called ‘Red List Countries’. While direct travel is currently not possible, those coming to England from one of these countries must land at Heathrow, Gatwick, London City, Birmingham, or Farnborough (for private jet arrivals) airports.
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Having cleared passport control, such passengers are then escorted to their Australia style quarantine hotel. For a ten-day stay in the hotels, passengers must pay the government a flat fee of £1750 for the room, transport, COVID-19 tests, and food. An additional adult will cost £650 if they share the room, with children costing £325. Those receiving income-based benefits may be able to set up a payment plan with the government.
Unfortunately, the scheme didn’t get off to the greatest start. The booking portal for hotels was due to go live on Thursday afternoon. However, for much of Thursday and Friday, it was not available due to a technical issue. While airlines have been instructed to reject travel if a quarantine package hasn’t been booked when needed, if passengers do slip through the net, they will be fined £4,000, in addition to the cost of quarantine.
Let’s talk about testing
Alongside the new quarantine scheme, the UK government has also brought in a new testing regime for those arriving in England. If not required to quarantine at a hotel, passengers must pay to take two COVID-19 tests after arrival.
These two tests, taken on days two and eight, are in addition to the pre-departure COVID-19 test required. These two tests cost £210, with a fine of up to £2,000 being imposed if the tests aren’t taken. Again, airlines are being instructed to decline travel if a passenger hasn’t prebooked the tests. At an additional cost, the five-day test to release quarantine scheme is still running. However, passengers will then need to take day two, five, and eight tests.
What do you make of England’s new arrivals rules. Would you be happy to pay for the test/hotel, or will this put you off travel? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!