LONDON: Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced tougher-than-expected new rules for arrivals to England from next Monday, including up to 10 years in prison for those who don’t stick to them.
Addressing the House of Commons, Mr Hancock said arrivals from 33 ‘red list’ countries with the highest Covid rates will have to quarantine in designated hotels for 10 days at a cost of £1,750 per person.
This will include two Covid tests taken on days two and day eight of the quarantine.
All other arrivals will be allowed to quarantine at home but they’ll also have to take Covid tests on day two and day eight, in addition to presenting a negative Covid test when they arrive in England.
The test-to-release scheme will continue for arrivals from non-red list countires, so they can end their quarantine early if they have a negative test taken on day five, but they’ll still have to take another test eight days after they arrive.
Anyone who has a positive test will have to quarantine for a further 10 days from the date of their test result. Those who fail to take one of the legally-required tests will be fined up to £2,000.
Mr Hancock announced £10,000 for those caught breaching the quarantine requirement and up to 10 years in prison for arrivals from ‘red list’ countries who try to avoid hotel quarantine by travelling home via another country and for lying on the passenger locator forms.
Mr Hancock said the Government has contracted 16 hotels with 4,500 rooms. However, given that the Government announced previously that it was expecting 1,000 arrivals a day from ‘red list’ countries, that would be enough rooms for less than five days – or nine days if they were all couples.
He said further hotels close to a ‘small number of airports’ would be contracted shortly.
Passengers will have to book the hotel rooms on a new website. Mr Hancock did not say whether they would have to re-arrange their flights home if there were no rooms available on their intended arrival date.
The new rules only apply to England, but Matt Hancock said he was discussing the introduction of similar rules in the devolved nations.