The UK government confirmed on Friday that mandatory hotel quarantine will be introduced on Feb. 15 for all passengers arriving from hotspots of CCP virus variants.
From Feb. 15, anyone travelling to the UK from a country on the UK’s travel ban list will be required to quarantine in a government-approved facility for a period of 10 days, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said in a statement.
The new quarantine rule will apply to UK and Irish nationals arriving from 33 countries on the government’s “red list,” which include southern Africa, South America, Portugal, and the United Arab Emirates.
The travel bans had been put in place over concerns that the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus variants first found in South Africa and Brazil, which scientists believe may be more transmissible and more resistant to antibodies, could reduce the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.
Britain’s main opposition Labour party has criticised the government’s announcement as “too little, too late.”
“It is beyond comprehension that these measures won’t even start until Feb. 15,” said Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, Labour’s shadow home secretary.
“We are in a race against time to protect our borders against new COVID strains. Yet hotel quarantine will come in to force more than 50 days after the South African strain was discovered.”
“Even when these measures eventually begin, they will not go nowhere near far enough to be effective in preventing further variants. As ever with this government, it is too little, too late,” he said.
A DHSC spokesperson said: “Throughout the pandemic, the government has put in place proportionate measures, informed by the advice of scientists, and that has led to some of the toughest border regimes in the world.
“It is currently illegal to go on holiday, and passengers travelling to the UK must provide proof of a negative test before they travel, and self-isolate on arrival. With increased police presence at airports and more physical checks at addresses to make sure people are self-isolating, we are taking decisive action.”
The spokesperson said the government is now “working at pace” to secure the facilities needed to roll out managed quarantine for British nationals returning home from the high-risk countries.
The government said it had met with stakeholders from the aviation, maritime, hotel, and hospitality industry over the past week, and will continue to finalise plans to enable implementation from Feb. 15.
To learn from other countries’ experience, officials have held discussions with the governments of Australia and New Zealand, where hotel quarantine arrangements have been put in place.