10 Years In Jail Threatened For Those Breaking UK Travel Rules

The UK will soon bring in a mandatory hotel quarantine for those traveling from its list of red-list countries. Today the government made it clear that it means business with the policy. Those not following the rules could receive fines of up to £10,000 ($13,785) or up to 10 years in prison.

Hotel Quarantine, COVID-19 Tests, Prison
The UK Government has brought in a host of new rules for international travelers. Photo: Getty Images

Governments around the world are keen to ensure that passengers don’t abuse COVID-19 related travel restrictions. After all, in the case of the United Kingdom, they are intended to stop variants of the COVID-19 virus from being brought into the country. Hence, the government is taking a hard line against those abusing the rules.

£1,750 hotel stays mandatory for some

From Monday, February 15th, passengers arriving from high-risk red countries will be required to isolate themselves in hotels upon arrival in the UK. This will see such passengers bussed to designated hotels where they will be separated for ten days.

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So far, 16 hotels have signed up to be designated quarantine sites. This will see 4,600 rooms. The booking system for these hotel places will go live on Thursday, with a stay at the Government facilities costing £1,750 ($2410). During this time, passengers will be confined to their room and not mix with others staying at the facility.

Hotel Quarantine, COVID-19 Tests, Prison
Those arriving from a red-list country will need to pay £1,750 for a ten-day hotel stay. Photo: Getty Images

Increased testing demands

A much stricter testing regime is also coming into force in the United Kingdom. Since mid-January, the UK has been requiring all those entering the country to provide a negative COVID-19 test before arrival. However, two more tests will now be required.

The government will require a COVID-19 PCR test on days two and eight of quarantine. These will need to be booked in advance of travel, again through a government portal opening on Thursday. If either test comes back positive, the quarantine will be extended by ten days, and the test will be analyzed to see if it is a variant.

Interestingly, the government retains its test to release system, meaning that people can leave quarantine after five days. This will mean four tests, all in all, with the addition of the test on day five.

British Airways, Health Passport, VeriFLY
Two further COVID-19 tests will be required after landing in the UK. Photo: British Airways

Harsher enforcement

In addition to the above, the government is also cracking down on enforcement of those breaking these rules. Firstly, airlines will be fined if they don’t ensure hotels and/or tests haven’t been booked in advance of travel.

In terms of individual enforcement, anybody failing to take either a day two or day eight test will be fined £1,000. If both the day two and day eight tests are missed, the fine will be £2,000, with the quarantine period being extended to 14 days. Those who fail to quarantine in a hotel as required will be fined £5,00, potentially rising to £10,000. Finally, anybody lying on a passenger locator form will face a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

Commenting on the measures, Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health, said,

“I make no apologies for the strength of these measures… These measures will be put into law this week, and I have been working with the Home Secretary, the Border Force, and the police to make sure more resources are being put into enforcing these measures.”

What do you make of the UK’s new COVID-19 travel rules? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!