Explainer: Covid-19 – so how does hotel quarantine work in UK?

Travellers entering Britain from COVID-19 hotspots now have to quarantine in hotels. The tightening of rules comes after the emergence of new variants of the virus in South Africa and Brazil.

Any British or Irish nationals or anybody resident in the UK who is arriving in England and has visited or passed through 33 “red list” countries will be placed in quarantine in government-provided hotels for 10 days, paid for by the traveller.

Under the new rules, travellers must have a negative COVID test during the three days before arriving in the UK.

Passengers must book a government-approved quarantine hotel via the government’s website and complete a passenger locator form with details of that hotel along with a quarantine package booking reference number.

Travellers will have to agree to pay for the quarantine passage before they complete the form and start their journey to the UK. They can only arrive into Heathrow, Gatwick, London City, Birmingham and Farnborough airports. If red list country passengers arrive into a different airport they can be fined up to £10,000 plus the cost of hotel quarantine.

If a person coming from a red list country does not arrange a quarantine package prior to arrival in England, there is a penalty of up to £4,000 plus the cost of hotel quarantine.

What will happen when people arrive in the UK from a “red list” country?

Passengers will be met at passport control in the airport and be guided through baggage reclaim and customs before being transported directly to their booked hotel. Anybody with a car parked at the airport will need to extend their parking period and pay the additional charges.

What will the 10-day quarantine be like?

The day a person arrives at the hotel will be day zero.

Travellers will then have to stay in their rooms for a further 10 days, with security guards accompanying them if they go outside for fresh air or limited exercise with special permission from security.

Needing to smoke is “not a reason to go outside” and is not allowed in rooms, the government said.

The rooms will have been left empty for three days before and are deep cleaned between each guest, with the air conditioning set to not recirculate air between rooms.

Every guest, apart from children under five-years-old, will have to take a coronavirus test on or before day two and day eight, with the kits left outside their hotel room and collected by hotel security.

Anybody who does not take the tests may face a fine of up to £2,000 and have their quarantine stay extended.

If a day eight test’s results are not received before the end of day 10 then guests will have to stay in quarantine.

Anybody who receives a positive test, and anybody with them, will have to quarantine for a 10 further days from that day.

All rooms have a television, wifi, tea and coffee making facilities, basic toiletries, disposable cleaning products and a laundry service will be available.

Food, which can be chosen from a menu daily, will be left on trays outside rooms three times a day, along with fresh fruit, water and soft drinks – all included in the quarantine package.

Guests can order room service 24 hours a day and can order in delivery to reception which staff will bring up.

People have to quarantine for at least 14 days, and up to 24 days if they refuse to be tested, or until they are clear of infection if they test positive.

They are transported to hotels by bus from the airport and meals are dropped off outside their room doors, with one delivery meal a day allowed to be ordered in.

If a traveller receives a second negative test they can leave after day 10.

They will be transported back to the airport they arrived in and can make their way back home from there.

How much will the quarantine measure cost?

The hotels are designated by the government and determined on the day a person arrives. The cost of the package for one adult in one room for 10 days, 11 nights, is £1,750.

For every other person over the age of 12 in the same room it is an additional £650 or £325 for children aged five to 12. Children under five will not have to be paid for, with the government bearing the cost of food and drink for three to five-year-olds.

Full list of countries on UK’s new quarantine “red list”

Angola, Argentina, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Eswatini, French Guiana, Guyana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Africa, Suriname, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia and Zimbabwe.